Otakon 2012 August 21, 2012Posted by aggrogahu| in Conventions, Figures.
By now I doubt navycherub will make his own, so here’s a report from the perspective of the west coast otaku who went on a trek to the biggest anime convention the East has to offer, Otakon 2012 in Baltimore, MD. (more…)
The Long Lost Kumoricon 2010 Report July 13, 2011Posted by aggrogahu| in Conventions.
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After attending Anime Expo, I started reminiscing about my past conventions, and then stumbled upon my Kumoricon 2010 Confidential post that I never ended up finishing. I still wasn’t in the mood to be productive today, so I threw together whatever top secret scoop I remembered about Kumoricon and put it into that post, and I searched my computer and found the draft and decided to dump it there as well (unedited and no pictures) for a bonus.
So now that password protected post is actually protecting something (it’s not goatse). What is the password exactly?
The password for that post is the abbreviation of the series/project I’m writing, followed by: the thread number of the current scorehero anime thread, minus the last five digits of the filename of bjw’s money-shot Mugi, converted to base Cirno. (more…)
Anime Expo 2011 July 12, 2011Posted by aggrogahu| in Conventions.
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Anime Expo went all out for its 20th anniversary this year, and through luck, I won a free 4-Day pass to the celebration from a contest I entered online. It helped that only four people entered, but the point is that I suddenly found myself registered for the West Coast’s biggest anime convention two weeks before it was going to happen. Summer was about to get a lot more exciting. (more…)
Sakuracon 2011 April 25, 2011Posted by aggrogahu| in Conventions.
Despite being my second time attending, Sakuracon 2011 was an entirely different beast from 2010; this I attribute to how my otaku level has sky-rocketed since last year (can’t say I’m proud, but that’s how it is). I’ve become a fan of Touhou Project, amassed a sizeable figure collection, and started watching 15-20 anime series at any given time for Power Rank, just to cover the main changes. Ultimately, I went into this past weekend with a different state-of-mind, which led to the experience detailed in the following wall of text. (more…)
Protected: Kumoricon 2010 Confidential September 9, 2010Posted by aggrogahu| in Anime, Conventions.
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Otakon ’10 August 14, 2010Posted by navycherub in Anime, Conventions.
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SUPER LATE POST ABOUT OTAKON 2010 INCOMING.
I’ve been staying at my friend Micheal’s house for about the past week since he lives much closer to Baltimore than I do. I am awoken by my mobile going off – Luis telling me that I need to wake up because he’s going to pick me up. Alright, then. I prepare, he comes by, and off we go. First stop is Pham’s house – someone I’ve never met, which is lovely. When we arrive we go down to his basement and play some Marvel vs Capcom. I’m really, really bad at this game, so bad in fact that Pham’s 10-year-old sister beats the crap out of me every time we play. It’s pretty embarrassing but is still fun. Eventually we get a call from Lauren, another person who I’ve never met until now, who says she is ready for us to pick her up so we can go get our pre-reg stuff on. So we do that and drive up to Baltimore, which is like an hour away or so.
As we arrive at the Baltimore Convention Center we notice something strange…there is no line. Literally no line at all. In the past, lines for picking up pre-reg badges have wrapped around the BCC twice, and this year there is nothing. We all think that this will cause a significant deficit in hype-levels, and for a moment it does as it only took all four of us a total of about five minutes to get our badges. I chose the Eden of the East badge because it is the badge for people with taste, of course.
Pham makes a complaint about how none of the badges were moe enough, he ended up with the Hayate badge. Can’t remember which ones Lauren and Luis got. It bothered me that there were two Hetalia badges – I know Funimation was pushing it hard all weekend, but come on. Neither of them ran out all weekend, and that spot could have been used for just about anything else. Oh well!
Despite our disappointment at the lack of a line to wait in at pre-LineKon, the hype still existed as weeaboos of all shapes and sizes decided to loiter about the BCC in their cosplay and such, which brought back all the hype we could ever want. We walked around the building once or twice just looking at and talking to other people who were in a similar situation, having found themselves with a couple extra hours that day. As expected, there was plenty of vanilla Hetalia cosplayers there, but one Canada in particular caught my eye, which is good because Canada is pretty much the best thing about that show.
Eventually we get hungry and hit up a local noddle place, whose name I can’t remember but that’s alright because it wasn’t that great anyway, and we head home to get ready for tomorrow.
Waking up at five in the morning isn’t a great experience. Neither is waking up without having eaten since lunch yesterday, and then having to walk to the closest convenience store only to find that it is closed, then walking to the nearest 7-11 which really isn’t near at all. When we did get there I hurried and got as big a bottle of water as I could get, as big a fountain Coke as I could get (because you know I need that light caffeine fix), another Coke just to be safe (didn’t end up drinking that), and I figured two granola bars would serve me well until dinner (they did, it was a miracle). With resources in hand Micheal and I walked the relatively short distance to the metro and waited, as one of our group decided to be late. Grr.
Two transfers later and we are on a bus headed toward another train. Despite the fact that the buslady looks angry at us for stalling her, we don’t take off for what felt like at the very least a half hour for unknown reasons. The bus is crowded; at least, it feels crowded to me, most likely because I was very tired and stubborn and for whatever reason decided not to put my luggage on the top compartment thing. Instead I felt the need to hold my overloaded baggage with me the entire time. Yeah, I’m dumb. Eventually the bus ride comes to an end at an airport. At the airport we take a quick train ride straight to the convention center, arousing the interest of some strange old ladies on the way. Sorry, ladies.
When we got off the train we dashed straight for the Holiday Inn across the street, where we have reservations. For whatever reason, we weren’t allowed early check in despite being told we should get it (something about the hotel being completely booked), but they allowed us to stick all our stuff in a staff room until check-in, which was good. I also took this time to pick up the stuff I wanted signed and had mailed to the Holiday Inn earlier.
We finally arrive at the convention, just in time to rush a bit quickly to the first Madhouse panel. They showed off some stuff from last season, like Tatami Galaxy and Rainbow, which didn’t get as much response as I would have liked, and other things like the Trigun movie which got more response than it deserved, but alright. They also showed some new projects that haven’t come out yet, like the Iron Man anime that has been delayed like twice already (supposedly airing in Fall, I’m not holding my breath though), REDLIIIIIIIIINE, though I can’t find the trailer they showed us on YouTube, and some new project called Tibetan Dog which looks…interesting. Mayama joked that he didn’t think he would be alive to see Redline actually completed, since he’s pretty old and it was supposed to come out a few years ago. It was a very fun panel, made especially so thanks to Maruyama’s childlike excitement and good sense of humor. You can read more about it at ANN here.
The other major event of the night was the Yoshida Brothers concert, and let me tell you, it was mind-blowing. I really didn’t come in expecting much, but they are insane, even more so live. My friends and I were a bit far back, but that didn’t lessen the experience a single bit. I am so incredibly glad that they took the time to come to Otakon and do this concert, because it was one of the best musical experiences of my short life so far. I am disappointed that I didn’t think to bring a camera, as it would be a great keepsake for that memorable night. My only real disappointment was that the line for autographs was formed pretty much exactly as the show ended, and it was such a mess that I didn’t really want to bother with it despite how much I would have liked to get one.
I can’t really remember much else about Friday – most of it was loitering, taking pictures of cosplayers, and stalking the dealer’s room, which is all fun in its own right.
On Saturday we woke up relatively early to get some autographs from Maruyama and Yuji Mitsuya. Since I don’t really have any Saint Seiya anime material, and Trapeze isn’t licensed, I didn’t have anything for Mitsuya to sign and just gave him my event book. Maruyama, however, signed my BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad boxset that I bought at Katsucon, and he liked it alot, even bringing it up to kiss it. Japanese people are weird.
Afterward we got in line pretty early for an autograph session with Stephanie Sheh. We stood their for a good two hours, but some unforeseen circumstances happened and it ended just as it was about to be our turn. Yeah, it sucked, but what really surprised me was how bad the guy managing the line seemed to feel for us. It wasn’t THAT bad, guy, don’t lose sleep over it. Since we were kinda beat after getting up early and standing there for awhile, we decided to loiter some more while sitting around. We like to call this part of the day “cosplaying as staff.” Meanwhile, a sudden influx of Arakawa cosplayers, including free cookies from Sister! Why doesn’t anyone do Nino? She seems like the simplest one…ah well.
After this I have gotten hungry, so I go with a couple friends back to the hotel to order a pizza. Pham leaves to go back to the dealer’s room for some Haruhi stuff he wanted. His trip didn’t last long, because apparently the fire alarm went off. Yup, I was in my hotel room during the entire fire alarm fiasco, so I have no idea what was going on out there. I was enjoying the heck out of my pizza, though.
One bad thing came out of that dang fire alarm – I went back to visit the dealer’s room only to find a very long line that didn’t look like it was moving, so I went back to the hotel to rest some more, and then went to Saturday’s Rainbow panel. Apparently, the line went by really fast; not only that, but Bandai had Stephanie Sheh signing things at their booth. And I missed it. After standing in that line and coming so close. What the…sigh.
The Rainbow panel was very cool, we watched the first episode and went into Q&A with the director and some other people. The entire time, Maruyama ran around taking pictures. You can read more about that panel at ANN here.
The rest of my day was, once again, pretty straightforward – talk to random people, take pictures, avoid panhandlers, stalk the dealer’s room. I did check out the Artist Alley that day as well, but the auction was too intense for me to handle. The eyecandy was all very nice however!
Depressingly, the last day of Otakon, we packed our things and they allowed us to store them there until we left again. For seemingly no reason at all, the BCC decided to not open the doors until 9:00, which was ridiculous because many panels and such started at nine including the one I particularly wanted to go to. Luckily, we found a way around this – we just went into the Hilton and entered the building through the skywalk. Luckily not many people seemed to realize it was that easy, and we made it to the Directors and Producers panel with plenty of time to spare. So much time, in fact, that I even got to buy some stuff at the dealer’s room first.
The panel itself was very interesting, as well as small and intimate. Everyone there seemed to know what they were talking about, which relieved me because I hate when inexperienced people ask the same questions that are always asked. I don’t feel like summing it all up, but if you would like to read a great review of what transpired check out this ani.me article. I did get another quick signature, though – from the director of Gungrave and Maruyama, again!
Other than that, this day wasn’t quite as eventful. I decided to skip the Home Made Kazoku concert because I was having a great time just hanging out and enjoying the environment on the last day, and soon it was time to say goodbye to Otakon. Thanks to everyone who make it a possibility every year, and I can’t wait for the next one.
Sakuracon 2010 April 8, 2010Posted by aggrogahu| in Conventions.
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So as you may or may not know, I went to my first anime convention this past Easter weekend, Sakuracon 2010 in Seattle, WA. Before I forget just how crazy that past weekend was, I’ll document it here (“those whose memories fade seek to carve them in their hearts”). There’s no way in hell that I cover all the things that I want to in this post without it looking like a giant wall of text so I’ll just make it easy for everyone now and divide the topics into neat little sections without worrying about writing transitions.
I wasn’t preregistered so I was prepared to wait for hours while playing Pokemon. Fortunately, I did Will-Call, which is some new system they were trying out where people who missed prereg and wanted to buy a full weekend pass could fill in their information online and then print out a bar code to scan at the registration hall. To my surprise, the Will-Call booth had no line whatsoever, while regular registration and even preregistration still had huge lines that took hours. However, not having to wait for my con badge was cancelled out while waiting for the concert, which I didn’t mind too much (even though the most I had to eat that day was a croissant with cheese and cookies that Waitress Yoko was giving away) ’cause I got up front and took some pretty awesome pictures.
Cosplay and Me
I’ll start by saying that my friends are pretty awesome. Every time a random person would ask to take a picture of one of the people from the group I was with for the weekend, I felt proud for them. They put in so much time and resources towards finishing their costumes so I was glad to see them get recognition. With that said, I was sofa king jealous >_>. I did take part in two cosplays myself: on Friday I was L from Death Note and on Saturday I was Ishida Uryuu from Bleach (school uniform). However, if you know these costumes, they don’t require too much effort to put together (hardest thing I had to do for any of them was styling my hair). I mean, I think I pull each cosplay off damn well, but even if you get those costumes down to a T, it’s not going to stand out in a con setting. In turn, I resolve to cosplay a character that takes a lot more effort to put together. I’m aiming for Kanon (Umineko) for the next con. Enough about me though:
Cosplay and Others
From what I saw, the popular cosplays this year were Vocaloid, FFXIII, Pokemon, and Hetalia. I think I saw a Miku every 15 minutes or so, and I saw a Len and Rin combo even more frequent than that. There were a handful of Lightnings and Snows. As for Pokemon and Hetalia, there weren’t any specific costumes that were popular, but you just saw them everywhere. The big three Shonen Jump series were still prevalent, but that’s a given. Speaking of which, from my experience, I compiled a list of absolute no-no’s for cosplay:
- L & Light – Way too simple, too common
- Mario & Luigi – Too common, too simple, too old school
- Cloud – Too common, too old school
- Any character that’s not related to anime/Japanese culture – it’s an anime/Japanese convention, gtfo; Waldo, we’re tired of trying to find you; Captain Jack Sparrow, technically you were in Kingdom Hearts, but I’m really tired of seeing your face, you don’t belong
There might be exceptions, but only under rare circumstances, like if you were with a large group or if you pulled off something awesome. By awesome…
…almost counts. You get the idea though.
The best cosplay I saw? Can’t really say. Some of my favorites include the Princess Tutu cosplays I saw, an Irabu-sensei (not the bear-suit or the little kid version, the one in the middle), Talim (SC4), and a guy cosplaying Chun-Li (the epicness of his thighs rivaled those of the actual character). Not the most elaborate costumes (except for Talim), but they were from series I loved and/or they were pulled off well.
I actually did some short research into the aspect of convention cosplay photography for my Digital Imaging class, so I had some idea of what it was going to be like, but actually being there was quite an experience. Courtesy is above all. You have to ask before taking someone’s picture. If someone is already getting their picture taken, it’s usually fine to join in without asking as long as you’re not stepping in front of other photographers. Don’t block the pathways for others. Don’t bother someone while they’re eating. Going around and taking pictures of random people while keeping these rules in mind was actually quite fun.
On another note, there were a couple times where I would recognize a cosplay from a favorite series of mine from across the hall, and, in excitement, go over to ask for their picture without realizing how awful their cosplay actually was until I got closer and they turned around. Out of love for the series and I felt obligated to take a picture as a way to identify myself with that series, but more often than not, this act turned into an in-justice. I won’t call-out any of the not-so-pretty people I took pictures of, but I just want to say that Umineko no Naku Koro Ni and Rosario+Vampire were poorly represented.
My amateur pics can be found on my Facebook.
I can somewhat identify with the concerns that navycherub expressed in Merch Rooms, so you should check out that post if you haven’t already.
I had his same mentality of looking for good souvenirs that you couldn’t really get back at home. I ended up buying 3 volumes of Yostuba! for $30, and figures for Suzumiya Haruhi, Nagato Yuki, Fujibuyashi Kyou, and Furukawa Nagisa, $20 for each. Believe it or not, the prices for the figures were bargained down since I bought Haruhi/Yuki and Kyou/Nagisa together.
I was tempted to buy a Clannad ~After Story~ artbook; if it wasn’t $40, I’d have bought it right away. It was damn amazing, so maybe when I get a job and am not throwing my money into college I’ll start throwing money into anime. Considering how many fansubs I’ve downloaded, it wouldn’t big such a big deal.
Dealer’s room afterthoughts: dealer’s room had a corsets booth, which made me think of navycherub. There was also a yaoi doujinshi booth that had a giant rainbow flag that they would wave around every now and then.
meh… noobs need to stop playing SF4 and play SC4. I did get some games in with random dudes, but I was just sandbagging. It was kinda fun nailing someone with Hilde’s C4B and seeing the guy’s reaction irl. RB2 was meh too; lines were pretty long. I was tempted to ask if I could transfer one of the anime rbas on my laptop to the game to play on stage.
I went to three panels: drawing anime, Mayumi Tanaka (seiyuu for Luffy of One Piece), and voice acting in video games. The drawing anime one wasn’t worth mentioning. Tanaka-san’s Q&A was pretty entertaining despite the fact I’m not all that familiar with One Piece. People asked her to sing a lot which was fun to witness. The last panel’s notable voice actors included Vic, VA for Ed (Full Metal Alchemist), Richard, VA for Batou (Ghost In The Shell), and Ryo, seiyuu for Vegeta (DBZ). Batou’s VA was the only one I was really familiar with. I would close my eyes and match Richard’s voice to Batou’s face, which was pretty fun. It was nice to get some insight on the people behind these characters.
…was not there. Instead, we were graced by the awesomeness of two bands with awesome female vocalist: Dazzle Vision and High and Mighty Color.
Maiko is the vocalist for the Dazzle Vision. She wears a nice loli-esque dress with chucks, and, besides having a nice singing voice, has a nice “death voice”. I only knew one of their songs going into the concert but I was still able to get into their performance. I really liked how she was able to switch back and forth between styles of vocals; I’ll even say that her screaming is better than the guy vocalist of HaMC (that’s not actually saying much, but I really do like Maiko’s vocals a lot).
I initially thought that High and Mighty Color was a mediocre band. I kinda still do, but I really enjoyed their set, which may have been the result of many factors. First off, their female vocalist, HALCA, is super pretty, and in combination with her outfit (choker necklaces, black hoodie, floral spaghetti-strap dress with a belt, black stockings) *me dies*. Secondly, I familiarized myself with more of their songs before hand, which is business as usual for concerts, but strangely, I reacted with a lot more enthusiasm when I recognized a song they started playing; more so than most other concerts I’ve been to. I attribute this to the fact that I associated the music to anime. This kind of culture is always something I’m not terribly open with (by no means do I hide it, but I don’t flaunt my power level in conversation). Being able to openly rock out to a anime/Japanese song that I wouldn’t normally openly rock out to in a concert setting felt really good. That sounds really geeky, but it gets worse (more on that shortly). Lastly, I kinda knew from listening to their songs before, but the guys on guitar are pretty damn talented; both of the guitarists had blazing solos and the bassist went pretty crazy on his solo as well.
Funny story at the end of their set: their last song was “Ichirin no Hana”, which is their most popular song because it’s an opening theme to one of the (numerous) seasons of Bleach. The crowd was singing along (I would if I knew the lyrics); I was rocking out; good times. After they were done there was an ovation where we were chanting “En- core! En- core!”, and me being a super geek started chanting “Mou ikkai! Mou ikkai!” That one didn’t catch on though. Anyways, the band came out to play their unplanned-for encore. The male vocalist says, “Honto ni, rast song…one more Ichirin no Hana!” I got a good laugh out of that. I mean, I’m sure it’s better than playing a song they didn’t practice for, but still, the same song twice in a row is lol. It was still awesome though. Another thing that was pretty funny was how one of the guitarist put down his guitar in the middle of the song and started thrashing around. Props to him.
So in my curiosity, I wanted to check out one of the dances. I ended up going to a rave. This was my first rave at an anime convetion…first rave ever actually. A few people that know me know that I like dancing quite a bit (more than you think I would), but I didn’t really know how it’d be at a rave. The setting was crazy intense; the music was blasting, colored lights and glow sticks flashing everywhere, lazer lights shooting above the crowd and across the hall; no wonder people on X trip out so easily at these things; I liked it. The music was basically non-stop high tempo songs with a driving bass drum. The only time you could really take a breather was during a breakdown/buildup in the middle some of the songs (if you’ve heard sandstorm, then you have an idea of what I’m talking about). Even after that, it’s back to nonstop dancing to 200 bpm techno tracks with even more intensity. This being an anime convention, it wasn’t just any generic 200 bpm techno music; oftentimes it’d be remixes of popular weeaboo music. Never had I had so much fun dancing than when the DJ was blasting a Motteke Sailor Fuku remix…told you it’d get worse. It was the feeling I had at the concert of being able to openly enjoy anime culture, but to the power of 9001.
Some weeaboos can’t dance for shit. I can’t really think of anything else to say related to that, but it needed to be said. Maybe this will be a nice transition to the next section.
The Cons of Sakuracon
I hope this won’t detract from the rest of that amazing weekend, but I felt I needed to share these too.
- “I lost the game” – Why were there so many people walking around with a sign like this? It’s not funny. Nobody alive is still playing the game. If you want to whore attention, cosplay or something.
- Kyle’s GPS – especially on the streets of Seattle in Seattle traffic. The thing lagged a lot so we missed quite a few turns and highway exits we were supposed to take.
- People working the karaoke room – it literally took 10 minutes between each song ’cause the people at the computer were still googling the song the next person wanted to sing.
- Convention food – mostly for the super-inflated prices. Even Subway’s $5 foot-longs were $7. That’s unacceptable. Also, screw that burrito place for listing a misleading price for a bare-bones burrito and charging extra for adding things like cheese.
I’ll say once again that the group I went with was awesome: you guys were definitely part of the experience. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of what I wanted to say, but I’ll end it here. I look forward to going to another con (possibly with my fellow wideface blog posters), ’cause after Sakuracon 2010 I was already thinking about what 2011 would be like.
Merch Rooms February 27, 2010Posted by navycherub in Anime, Conventions, Essay.
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Recently I attended Katsucon 16. It was held at a wonderful (although quite ritzy, and therefore expensive) hotel that basically had a fully-fleshed out town inside of it…but I digress, I might write a post about the actual convention later. Right now, I would like to discuss the merch room, as there was some controversy about it both during and after the convention, and since this is a blog, I will give my unwanted opinions about it all! How wonderful for you, right?
Now, I got the idea for this post after stumbling upon a very funny comic written by an attendee of this convention. The whole comic is pretty good, but this one in particular grabbed my attention.
I don’t know if the “Yes, we have goggles” sign actually existed, but to be quite honest I wouldn’t be surprised. You don’t really expect con-goers to be paying attention, right?
Anywho, this image is pretty accurate. If I counted right (and I made my rounds about the merch room many times) there were three total vendors selling manga, and four total vendors selling anime, not counting Funimation’s booth because who would buy the overpriced stuff directly from them, anyway?
To go into detail, one of the vendors selling manga was only selling manga and had them for really cheap, but didn’t have anything that has come out even remotely recently. I mean, I’d love to buy ten books for $40, that’s a great deal, but I had a hard time finding even three books there I hadn’t already owned (or had any interest in), not to mention that they weren’t in the greatest condition. The other two vendors had more extensive selections, similar to what one could find in a local Borders or Barnes and Nobles. This isn’t bad, but it didn’t really entice me to buy much from them, because like I said earlier, anything I could find there I could find back home anyway. Why would I spend my money on something I could buy any time when I could be looking for things I don’t see every day? To give just one example, one of the vendors didn’t even know what I was talking about when I asked about Sunshine (Hidamari) Sketch. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy much manga even though I truly wanted to because it felt like a waste of a convention to buy things I could buy anywhere.
Now, I don’t buy anime often, but from what I’ve heard the lack of competition in the dealer’s room lead to disappointing prices and small-to-non-existent price drops on Sunday.
What lead to these things? I have a few ideas. For one thing, the anime industry pretty much exists as a result of piracy. Strange on the surface, but anyone who is in the culture at all knows what I’m talking about. As a result, these fans simply don’t buy much product, so vendors don’t feel the need to come out to conventions often, causing a lack of competition. A lack of competition leads to monopolies, which leads to higher prices. This is followed by those anime fans who already aren’t extremely excited to buy product to buy even less after seeing what they have to pay. I know plenty of people who have cited this as a reason they do not buy any anime or manga when it does release here. And if they aren’t buying, why bother trying to sell?
So the result of this is that vendors have come to sell things that aren’t anime and manga, and I’d imagine they have had plenty of success with this. Many of these things have little to nothing to do with anime. An example from the comic is the “military uniform” vendor. I passed that a couple times, and I was very confused. They were selling the strangest “uniforms” I have ever seen, and had a whole rack dedicated to Nazi-wear, mostly swastika-branded arm bands. What does this have to do with anime? Well…nothing. So what is it doing here? Apparently anime fans buy these kinds of things. I don’t know why these two interests converge, but somehow they do.
Now, you can make arguments for certain products being appropriate pretty easily. Corsets and wigs, for example, are common items used for cosplay, which is definitely relevant to conventions. But the fact that this kind of merchandise (and the very much non-relevant stuff like the Nazi outfits) very much outweighs the actual directly anime-related product speaks volumes about the state of the industry right now, and perhaps about the fans as well. I, for one, don’t entirely mind; money makes the world go round. I am quite disappointed with the situation, however, and I wish anime fans would simply buy more anime-related products. It’s hard to support an industry that barely exists.