Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Anime Industry Then and Now Section 3: The Anime Boom Era Finale: Con Going Madness and a Harbinger of Things to Come

Blerg. Life stuff. By the end of this week I’m going out of town to my second outing of Acen (Anime Central) and because of my “crazy” work schedule I have very little time to prep for the con (and see Iron Man 2) before I leave. I think I’ll try to wrap up my Anime Industry series before I go but given how I’m beginning the “Anime Recession” era with an article about Abridged Series that doesn’t seem bloody likely.

Oh well, so right now we’re circa 2003-2006, I’ve already gone on about what was going on in the industry but shortly after I graduated college I was invited to a friend to this community college anime con called JAFAX somewhere in the middle of Michigan. JAFAX held two significant points for me, it would be the first con that I cosplayed in (Shishio Makoto from Rurouni Kenshin) and it would be the place where I saw the premiere of the English dub of End of Evangelion (I had already seen the movie in Japanese several time and am still recovering from the mental scars). The friend who had invited me had a sister who was good at making costumes so it was fun getting measured for a tailored costume. I do have to say though that since the costume was a full body suit that thing became a nightmare if I had to use the bathroom. Yesh.

It was around this time period that the whole going to anime clubs thing started to dissipate. You have to think about what was going on at the time, I had Wizzywig to appease my rental needs (by this point that had enough rentals that rivaled my own DVD collection) and I lived in a student co-op (basically a combination student living environment, Smurf village, not quite a dorm and not quite an apartment deal) so I always had anime buddies to marathon stuff with, and with all the companies constantly licensing the new “it” shows going to public anime screenings just seemed futile.

Then shortly after I left the co-ops I met an acquaintance who work at Wizzywig. Suffice to say the bond was short-lived but he did reveal to me how much money the store was losing money and how within the next few years the store was going to be downsizing. Little did I know these were signs of the anime bubble beginning to burst. Similar to companies like ADV, Wizzywig’s financial gain relied heavily riding the anime boom bubble so when the wave was beginning to go down so was their assets. First thing to go was the CDs, then the new anime DVDs, then the old anime DVDs, and the kiss of death for me was when they stopped their rental program and liquidated it. After that occurred I found myself going there less and less, then they moved out of their large store to a much more smaller location somewhere near the local mall that was tucked away in some obscure mini-mall building. I recall going there 6 months ago just to buy a shirt for the last anime convention I went to and I was surprised how all they sold were a few anime/game themed nicknacks and that was it. This would be a sign of things to come.

But I’m going to leave off my the Anime Boom era series on a high note and speak of my first BIG NAME anime con experience Anime Central/ACEN. The irony is I’m returning to this con over the weekend so it makes some sense that I’m reviewing what my previous experience was like.

Well, after re-reading my Live Journal to revisit that era I could say that the whole experience was overwhelming. It was like a 24/7 anime party, the environment was really engaging and the experience was awesome. I went with a group of my co-workers (most who kind of split up during the duration of the convention) and despite all the intense line waiting and cosplay picture taking it was fun.

It was here that I got the autographs of Vic Micgona (Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist), Catlin Glass (Winry Rockbell/ FMA, Vivi/ One Piece), Steve Blum (Spike/Cowboy Bebop and Mugen/Samurai Champloo), Beau Billingslea (Jet/Cowboy Bebop), and Chris Patton (Greed/FMA and Sosuke Sagara from Full Metal Panic series).

…and with this we leave the Anime Boom era where dubs evolved, many series were licensed, and anime was very prevalent on TV. Now we enter a darker time where things aren’t flourishing as much, up next we enter The Anime Recession.

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