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Anime NEXT 2006

Having recently covered Anime Boston, Toon Zone decided to send me off to the very heart of suburbia, the Meadowlands, for Anime NEXT. Staged across two hotels and the Meadowlands Exposition Center, Anime NEXT 2006 was the fifth edition of the event. Having grown from just over one thousand to over five thousand this year, the con is definitely on a path to continue its success in the coming years. Its success has taken organizers to the point that they are looking at the possibility of moving the convention to a larger area.

All griping aside, Anime NEXT was a reasonably run convention, aside from some difficulties with the concert on Friday night. Saturday was spent mostly in the freezing cold panel rooms at the main building for industry business. (Those will be covered in subsequent articles.) Post industry time there was a very nice hour-long panel with Mr. Maruyama and Rintaro, who discussed quite a bit about their shared production history. Rintaro let it slip that it was not, in fact, him playing the base clarinet on the Metropolis soundtrack but rather a group of much more musically adept friends filling the role. They opened the panel with a run of clips from their various productions over the years including NANA, Black Lagoon, Yawara, X-TV, and more. They discussed the difficulties in getting a production up and running and the differences between Japanese and US creative culture, including a much lower incidence of theft of ideas in Japan than in the US. They closed the panel with an animated short put together by Madhouse about a bike ride between Rintaro and Katsuhiro Otomo.

Once the main paneling had wrapped up for the day, I dropped into the Nintendo discussion panel before getting some dinner at one of the nearby restaurants. Once dinner was over, the surreal portion of the evening kicked in. Setting in front of the Meadowlands Exposition Center was a fully working copy of the 1960′s live-action Batman television show’s Batmoblie.

Sunday was a relatively light day. I watched a bit of Basalisk with some friends before sitting in on a History of Anime panel that filled the rest of the afternoon.

Anime NEXT is certainly a fun convention, but it is not quite ready to rumble with the big boys such as Otakon, Katsucon, Fanime, AX, and Anime Boston. Hopefully with an improved meeting site–should they chose to move–the con will be able to reach the next level. They are certainly on the right track.

See Toon Zone’s additional coverage of FUNimation and Del Ray.

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