Posts tagged Wasabi Anime
I’m still getting caught up from being in Japan last week, but I figured I’d better address something that happened right before I left the country since (you know) if it’s on the Internet it MUST be true, right?
Last year, Wasabi Anime® (Green Mustard Entertainment, Inc.) added two new conventions to our lineup – PinUpalooza and WasabiCon – which has kept us busier than expected. Currently, we also have two additional new shows in the design phase for later this year and 2014. As such, myself and the Wasabi Anime Team are pursuing other opportunities and will no longer be directly involved with Project Anime. The conference will be run exclusively by the SPJA (the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation) going forward.
Also: the decision to part ways on Project Anime was not an easy one, but it WAS an amicable one. Marc Perez and his team have the full support of myself and GME as they continue to expand Project Anime under the vision we designed together… connecting organizers of Japanese culture conventions with rights holders, production & distribution companies, vendors and each other for the purpose of enhancing and growing the Japanese culture industry domestically and internationally. As a matter of fact, I made it a point to attend the Project Anime Japan Industry Party in Tokyo last week to show my support personally – hence the cool photo in this post.
As one of the conference’s original architects and as the guy who named “Project Anime,” I look forward to seeing the SPJA expand the concept further in the coming years.
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Today a guy by the name of Andrew Pierson asked me for pointers for starting an anime club and making it a success. After recovering from the shock of someone actually trying to start a CLUB in the age of the Internet, I realized it was a great question that deserved more than 140 characters in reply.
So here are my immediate thoughts on the matter:
1. Find a meeting location people want to go to. In the era of Xbox Live, teh Interwebz, and on demand television and movies it’s REALLY hard to motivate people to want to leave their apartments/houses to meet up and watch anime together. Thus, come up with a location that is welcoming and interesting enough that people will come back. Having inexpensive food and drink in proximity is a must when considering this.
2. Create a consistent schedule, plan it far in advance, and stick to it. If you decide to meet the second Friday of each month (for example) – check that Friday for at least six months. It would suck if three of them fall on holiday/events that would stop people from coming… and thus eliminate the usefulness of that schedule. Find something that works so folks remember to do it REGULARLY, then stick to it.
3. Dedicate to a series so people come back. Watch a series and pick up where you left off at the next meeting. This will make sure people return as to not miss an episode. Shows are fun to watch together if everyone is into it. (Hence why people still go to movies.) The number one reason people tell me they go to conventions? To hang our with their friends. Keep this in mind when picking a show to watch.
4. Come up with something that makes watching anime at the meeting different. Try to get your hands on a projector and screen. Folks have big TVs, but creating a way for folks to watch anime in a way they can’t at home will prompt them to want to come out more.
5. Invite a hot chick to the meeting. Or two. The male to female ratio at anime club meetings is usually WAY off. Find an awesome nerdy chick to come to meetings, then guys will show up to see if she comes back. (This is the logic followed by comic stores and video game stores – so I know it works.)
So good luck, Andrew. Let me know when you have your first meeting. Maybe I’ll try to stop by.
This weekend was great. I managed to catch up on a LOT of missed sleep. The batteries are recharged, and tomorrow is my first day 100% mentally back in the post-Japan real world.
Monday day will be spent doing the day job. Monday night I’ve got the following things of priority in the Wasabiverse:
- Planning a trip to Atlanta this weekend.
- Email follow up.
- Florida Anime Experience details.
- Project Anime/Anime Expo details.
Our adventure in Akihabara continued after the Maid Cafe as we further explored the area. While perusing the shops full of anime, manga, electronics, and toys we came upon a prime example of the Japanese fascination with certain elements of American culture. In this case, Kentucy Fried Chicken. Have you ever wondered what Colonel Sanders would look like if he were Asian? Wonder no more:
I saw KFC restaurants all over Japan, but I never found the time to eat at one. (Partly over my fear of this statue; partly over the trauma from the “tongue incident.”)
We passed by Sanders-san and continued our tour of the district. You could easily spend days (weeks?) exploring all the stores in Akihabara. There is seriously so much to look at and buy for geeks that the experience of going there borders on mental overload. The most memorable shop (for me) was this one:
I love retro video gaming. The team at Wasabi Anime has been hosting the Retrocade at conventions for some time, and we currently host a Japanese only video game room at Florida Anime Experience. This store presented a rare resource of video game systems, cartridges, disks, controllers and other elements dating as far back as before the age of Atari.
It was absolutely amazing and it absolutely took my money. Lots of it. Lots and lots of it. ALL WORTH IT. (Those of you coming to Florida Anime Experience 2012 will soon see.)
After way too much time in the video game store (all worth it) we walked around Akihabara some more and saw some amazing ads and signs and stuff. Things like this:
HELLO JAPANESE BOOBIES!
The last place we stopped was an ice cream shop called “ICE.” It professed to have “ice cream made by angel.” Who was I to say no to that?
This was my first experience with ordering food in a very specifically Japanese style. A beautiful young woman working behind the counter (dressed in a super cute pink outfit matching the color scheme of the front of that building) asked me what flavor I wanted. After exploring all the options, I chose the one flavor I had never heard of: kurogoma.
(It seems that kurogoma is a black bean, similar to vanilla, that we don’t have in the U.S. – or so I’ve been told.)
Upon ordering, I stood and waited expecting her to start making my ice cream cone. After a few moments, though, she walked around the counter and came up to me seeing that I was confused. In true way-too-cute-to-be-real fashion, she led me to the back of the shop. There stood a large vending machine with all the flavor options labelled on it:
It seems that you pay for your ice cream in the vending machine and it prints out a ticket. You then hand the ticket to the person working the counter and she creates your ice cream cone. My guess is that this in place to eliminate cash handling/change mistakes.
After standing in the shop and eating the ice cream… Wait. This deserves explanation: In Japan, it is considered rude to eat while walking. Therefore, if you order something to eat you are expected to eat it there or take it somewhere to eat – but you do not eat en route. Does it happen? (Walking while eating?) Sure. I met a friend in Japan that says she does it, but it makes her parents very upset when she does it.
After standing in the shop and eating ice cream, I realized it was time for Rob and I to head back in order to make it to a scheduled event we were supposed to appear at for T.A.F. We headed back to the station to catch the train.
But not before getting one last photo:
First off: I get on a plane for Tokyo in five days. Expect a slew of blog posts once that kicks off.
Secondly: This blog has been slow lately due to being extremely busy with things like, say, planning to go to Tokyo. Gomen’nasai.
What that in mind, some pretty cool shit has been going down.
Approximately once a month I have been flying out to Los Angeles, California to work on an amazing new event called Project Anime (www.projectanime.org.) For years, anime convention promoters have discussed the idea of a “convention convention” where con chairs and owners all meet up for a conference to discuss running their respective events and the state of fandom as a whole. Project Anime is the realization of this thanks to the folks at the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation. They’ve spearheaded the concept and brought in Wasabi Anime to make it a reality.
It’s been a lot of hard work, but if this thing goes according to plan then anime conventions (and convention featuring anime) across North America will gain access to valuable information and resources making the fan experience that much more extraordinary.
That said, those of you who regularly read my blog know that I am cheesy tourist at heart, so I’ve done my damnedest to fit in some local sightseeing on these business trips.
This one photo, though, defines the vibe of the trip more than any other:
That’s myself, some of the executive team from Anime Expo, Rikki “Gir” Simons, and Tavisha Wolfgarth-Simons all about to enjoy pineapple ice cream goodness on in the Enchanted Tiki Room after a long day of business meetings and stuff. (Disneyland is open until midnight on Friday nights!)
And here’s Rikki and I wearing “Dale” hats:
I make no excuses. We were high on churros.
Stay tuned, kids. This summer is going to be one hell of a ride.
Did you know that I have a blog? True story. I started blogging in 2003 with no particular purpose in mind. I just liked the idea of writing for the sake of writing. Ars gratia artis and all the jazz. I figured the only folks who were reading were a dozen (or so) of my friends who are web savvy enough to know what a Livejournal was.
It seemed, though, that more and more people were paying attention over time. Someone recently reminded me of this golden nugget on teh webz: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Tom%20Croom
Yup. That’s referring to me.
So yes: I have a blog and it seems I have been neglecting it lately. The reasons for this, though, are fairly well justified in my opinion. In any case, here’s the most recent thing I need to report/blog about: I’m going to be in Tokyo, Japan this time next month.
Let’s back up and fill in some blanks over the past few weeks first.
1. My hobby is acting more and more like a business.
I have a day job. I don’t talk about my day job for a myriad of reasons (most of which have to do with me wanting to keep that job,) but it’s there. It takes most of my time during the work week and pays the bills. Anything outside of that part of my life is considered my “fun” life. My hobbies. Etc.
When I started Wasabi Anime in 2001, it was as an excuse to help spread the word about the blossoming fandom of Japanese animation in Florida and to have a good time with my friends. Flash forward to a decade later and Wasabi Anime® is now a register trademark (note the snazzy “R” with the circle around it when I mentioned it this time) that is owned by Green Mustard Entertainment, Inc. This leads me to the large number of projects I’m now working on as a result of the hobby/business/evil-online-empire.
2. Florida Anime Experience
The first event designed out of the gate by my team and I to be an annual thing. We’re building an anime convention in Florida that is about pure distilled anime fandom. We constantly tout our “no Halo in the game room” policy as a guiding light for our theming. There’s also the fact that we’re the first convention in U.S. history to score the English voice of Sailor Moon as a guest. Since I started going to anime conventions because I was dating a girl (now my wife) who loved Sailor Moon, this reeks of “destiny.” You can (of course!) read more at www.FloridaAnime.com.
3. InvaderCON II: DOOMCON
InvaderCON (the Invader ZIM convention) was a great learning experience for the Wasabi Anime team on a number of levels. The first lesson was that we can build a family friendly convention experience around a single show. Those sort of conventions (akin to the classic Star Trek conventions of the late Eighties/early Nineties) just don’t seem to exist anymore in my eyes. Hence “we’re takin’ it back” to paraphrase Randall.
The second just as valuable lesson is that the team can run a convention outside our home base area of Orlando, Florida. This year, though, we’re pushing that ability to the limit by putting InvaderCON on the west coast.
No. Not Tampa. Los Angeles.
The convention is still five months out and we’ve already sold over one fifth if the total tickets for the event. The show is destined to be the stuff of geek legend… www.InvaderCON.com
I still have a ton of work to get done on this before the first weekend of July. This is literally me deciding to test a one day show based on everything the lovely ladies from the Mint Chocolate Chippies celebrate and represent.
And classic pinup style, rockabilly culture, and an art style from one of the most colorful times in our history. Cleavage jokes aside, I think Florida needs an event like PinUpalooza and I’m thrilled to see where it goes. www.PinUpalooza.com
5. Other Plans in the Wasabiverse
At any given time there is an imaginary dry erase board that holds concepts for other events and things that my team and I are talking about for later this year and 2013 and beyond. We’re looking at Jacksonville, Florida. We’re talking about anime and comic books and video games and ponies and times of adventure and British doctors and… Well. I’m getting ahead of myself. The point is we’re ALWAYS planning something. Just last week I bought www.WasabiCon.com – just in case.
6. Project Anime
This event is a shared credit with the folks at the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation… aka “the folks who run Anime Expo.” I was approached late last year about the idea of helping put together an event that gathers convention runners from across North America.
An “anime summit.”
A “convention convention.”
You get the idea. I liked the concept and signed on to bring the resources from the Wasabi Empire to help out. It’s been a rocky road convincing everyone of the noble intentions, but the more solidified the event becomes the more folks seem to “get it.” Of course there’s www.ProjectAnime.org.
Which leads me to the title of this post.
It seems our parallels in Japan are looking to walk towards the same path Project Anime is. The organizers at the Tokyo Anime International Fair have invited a number of convention promoters to a private event taking place during their convention next month.
In the interest of planning forward for Project Anime, I’ve decided to tag along with members of the Anime Expo team that are going.
That’s right, kids: I’m going to an anime convention on Tokyo, Japan next month.
Between that and trip back to California in a couple of weeks, I will spend approximately 44 hours on an airplane next month.
THUS, I have been hard at work getting the 1,000,000 other things in place before I disappear from the states for eight days.
Pending WiFi access when in Japan, expect to see lots of blogging/photos/goodness as I represent Wasabi Anime at “the source.”
Karma, though, will be here. Sleeping (like she is doing while I write this.)
Back in August, Wasabi Anime appeared at Gen Con 2011. I took the opportunity to extend my stay there so that Shannon and I could go a couple of hours north and check out Chicago, Illinois – one of the remaining cities in the U.S. that I had never visited. With only a few days in town, we did out best to see things that we felt were the “must see” elements of the city. Here’s the highlights:
The top of the Willis (Sears) Tower. Worth it. GREAT views of the city and the lake. (Click here for all the photos.) There’s even sections near the top where you can look down along the edge of the building. A little unnerving, but epic.
The most striking thing about Chicago (aside from the legend of the awesome pizza being totally true) is how clean the city was. They do a great job keeping the streets free of trash and it all had a very “theme park” feel to it. Do I need to go back to Chicago? Probably not, but I wouldn’t shirk the opportunity if it came up again.