AnimeFEST 2017, AKA Yuri On ICE!!! Con, was a great year! I can’t remember the last time I felt so busy at a convention. Between all the interviews we had lined up, all the Yuri On ICE!!! events and all my friends from out of town visiting, it was insane.
There will be a few separate posts that I’ll branch/link to here once they are all completed. Zach will be posting the interviews for all thirteen of our lovely guests. I’ll be doing an article on the popular Itabag craze along with the even that I attended while at AnimeFEST. We’ll also have a guest post by Melissa and her coverage of the convention as this was her first convention not tabling in artist alley. Please look forward to all these!
AnimeFEST tried something new this year with the days running from Thursday-Sunday instead of their usual Friday-Monday. In the past, Monday’s numbers were incredibly low due to people returning to school (unless it’s a year being held Labor Day weekend). With Sunday being the last day this year, there was still a significant decrease, but not nearly as deserted. The convention was still held at the Sheraton in downtown Dallas with The Majestic serving as a supplementary venue for movie premiers, cosplay, and concerts. Even with the increased numbers for this year, the venue did a decent job with the capacity, say for a few choice panels.
Speaking of crowds, AnimeFEST was not prepared for the YOI fans that came from all over the world to meet the creative staff. I’ve never seen all autograph lines be capped before, or so may panels. People were literally coming just for YOI and it was insane. Lines were formed hours before panels or autograph sessions started despite the rules that were tried and tested by staff and volunteers. It was chaotic anywhere there was a YOI event. Crowd control was a disaster, fans were upset, a ton of miscommunication, and really both sides were to blamed. Things could have been handled better if AnimeFEST had known what to expect and attendees were more rule-abiding. I can’t blame the upset on the fan side, though. If I weren’t in press, who knows if we would have gotten in to any of the Japanese staff panels that were held. I’ve never seen it this crazy before. If you have any complaints and/or suggestions, please direct them to their Facebook or email contact on their website. Here’s some crowd shots to give an idea.
Melissa will be going more into depth of the content of the YOI panels, but several were hosted. Mitsuro Kubo, Sayo Yamamoto, and Tadashi Hiramatsu had 1-2 panels a day talking about the developing process of the series, showed off sketch-to completion of several of the characters, and talked a lot about skating. My favorite panel was the Saturday panel held in Main Events with the US staff where the English voice actors asked the Japanese staff the questions fans left in the Funimation lounge throughout the weekend. While people were getting seated, attendees were blessed with watching the Blu-Ray special from volume 6 of Welcome to the Madness! Oh, and let’s not forget the History Maker sing-along.
In addition to the Japanese YOI staff panels, there were lighter panels for those that are fans of the dub in particular. Josh Grelle and Micah Solusod put on a Yuuri Vs. Yurio panel and much hilarity was found. And for the shipper in you, Josh and Jerry Jewell had a Viktor and Yuuri panel and talked to each other in character and took questions.
Along with Yuri on ICE!!!, two other staff groups from Japan joined the line up. Returning to AnimeFEST is director Kenji Kamiyama with the premier of his new film, Napping Princess. The film was shown after Opening Ceremonies on Thursday at the beautiful Majestic Theater. Napping Princess is a gorgeous movie set right before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. One day her father is kidnapped from their repair shop, and it’s up to her and her ability to dream and live in her fantasy world in real time to find where they took him and why. You can look forward to seeing Napping Princess later this summer in select theaters. We interviewed Christophe Ferreira, the head designer of the film. Please look forward to that interview.
Lu Over the Wall was another movie that made its premier at AnimeFEST. It is the second film by the newly formed animation house, Science Saru, by Maasaki Yuasa and Eunyoung Choi, both of which we had the pleasure to interview! Lu Over the Wall is, what friends of ours called, an adult version of Ponyo, following similar elements of finding home and childlike wonder.
L.M.C was this year’s Japanese band guest. They are a duo and have done theme songs from Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, and Hitman Reborn! It’s good to have them in Dallas after their cancellation at A-Kon back in 2009.
Another musical talent – now local – Caleb Hyles put on a concert and sing-along Disney panel like he did at A-Kon in June.
The popular Ani-Idol commenced, as well as the annual Make and Take workshops. This year’s Art Auction was especially impressive with a single piece that Mitsuru Kubo drew at a live-draw panel, sold for $6,900!!
Funimation provided a chill space for attendees. In the past I’ve known it to be for subscribers, but here it was a crash spot for anyone that knew it was there. You could watch anime on the body pillows and play games with Funi reps.
Despite the bumps in panel run times and miscommunications, it was a great year. We’ll see you next year!
Take a look at this year’s cosplay sightings!