Day 1 (Friday, March10)
On Friday Morning at 11:20 AM ET, at this past weekend’s Animazement ’00 convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, one could not help but feel the energy of excitement as the time drew near for the opening ceremonies. Approaching the Raleigh North Hilton hotel from the front, con-goers who may not have been certain that this was the hotel of the convention were at least reassured that something relating to Anime was going on here by the fact of House Of Anime’s large storage truck matted on the left, right, and back door with a full mural of anime-series illustrations.
Con-goers were out in full force, the turnout on Friday alone was staggering. The side-lobby of the Hilton served as registration point at the front desk, to the left of it were two long gropings of tables, from left-right, the lower tables were the pre-registration desk, to the left of it was a table selling Animazement ’00 T-Shirts, on down the row were many pro/fan artists, showcasing their works. From left-right, the upper groupings of tables were composed of companies, exhibiting different works, handouts, posters etc. Of note were Neko-Con R ’00’s setup. On down the tables some distance, Jerry Chu of Bandai Entertainment was setup, on their table were many flyers, posters, a 1/100 scale Wing Gundam model, a brand-new 4-page handout of the Gundam Wing VHS/DVD release, and a 22-25 inch TV. What was playing on that TV clearly was drawing the most attention though, it was a near-complete version, volume 1 of the Cowboy Bebop DVD. The disc is to include five episodes, the usual digital features and loads of extras, namely, Session 0 (or a part thereof), and an awesome menu. Mike Toole of Anime Jump asked Jerry to switch over to the menu, it was really incredible, and visually intense, featuring animated selection variables. Upon selecting a partucular episode, a sub-menu was brought up with smaller thumbnail video clips from different parts in that episode. The menu interface resembled a cross between the computer display that Spike and Jet use onboard the Bebop.
Jerry said that the Vision Of Escaflowne TV Series should see a release date on DVD near June, Outlaw Star is set for DVD release in July, it could feature the same price/format that Cowboy Bebop has.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing will not receive a Subtitled VHS release.
Prelimenary television ratings from Cartoon Network’s Premiere of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing earlier this week rank it as the highest rated Toonami slot show for that day. Midnight Run airings of Toonami are also seeing a significant boost by Gundam Wing’s addition.
Bandai will release Silent Mobius TV and Brain Powerd VHS, switching over to filling tapes with 5-6 episodes very soon, prices will remain the same. Bandai hopes to have both titles released on DVD eventually.
Around 12:00 it was time for opening ceremonies, walking through the main-lobby, past the elevators and down the main hall where the panel rooms were, a line of several hundred people had formed. One point of importance about Animazement, was that although you were aware that close-to several thousand people were here doing something or another at a particular point in time, you never felt that presence of a large crowd. Almost all con-goers were very easy-going, and of-course excited, the energy was there and almost every guest of honor made reference to the high level of enthusiasm of the fans in attendence. Another point of interest is the high female con-going turnout, the ratio of guys-to girls there was maybe 3 or 4 to 1. Costumers were out in high numbers as well, many of the costumes were very well put-together.
At opening ceremonies, all guests of honor were present on stage (Kia Asamiya, Kunihiko Ikuhara, Akira Kamiya, Chiho Saito, Yuu Watase, Hiroyuki Kitakubo, Kazuto Nakazawa, Koichi Tsunoda, Nov. Takahashi, Toshifumi Inagawa, Brett Weaver, Scott Houle, Rachel Lillis, Lisa Ortiz, and Pamela Weidner), the con was officially kicked off and every guest gave an opening statement.
Yuu Watase’s panel was to be held in the same room at 1:00. Many people left after opening ceremonies but the room still managed to be filled to near capacity, with open seats near the back. Watase-san briefly stepped off stage after opening ceremonies, and talked with various attendees, posed with people for photos etc.. In attendence on the right side of the room was Michiyuki Honma, producer of Studio Pierrot, the studio that produced the Fushigi Yugi Anime and who is currently producing Miss Watase’s upcoming TV series Ayashi No Ceres. The panel began, and Watase-san took the stage with Taka, the translator. Questions to her varried from her influence on different works, to how she got her start in drawing Manga, to her favorite character and even some on assertations that some of family-related characters were “closer” than just family (^_^). Watase-san said she had drawn since an early age, she got her professional boost in highschool when she won an art-contest. Those in attendence were very enthusiastic, at one point a troop of cos-players walked in, among them was the giant white cat (Ack! what was that series/character!!??) costumer who won the award for top prize costume on Saturday. At their appearence, Miss Watase laughed, pleasently startled, the crowd joined in also. The majority of questions were focused on Watase-san’s most known U.S. work, Fushigi Yugi, she said that she selected the voice actor of Tamhome out of 10 candidates, and asked the crowd which media they had greater access to, Anime or Manga books, the answer that came back was anime. Towards the end of the panel, the focus of conversation shifted to her recent Ayashi No Ceres Manga / upcoming anime TV series to begin airing in April on WoWoW BS ch. 5 in Japan. She mentioned that in her opinion, the anime had a much better direction and production team than Fushigi Yuugi. It was asked if this series will