Friday, June 14, 2013

Up Next, AnimeNext 2013

It has occurred to me that I have or will be traveling to a convention every month. It was AnimeBoston last month, and this month was AnimeNext.

To be truthful I haven't attended AnimeNext since their move to the Garden State Exhibition Center in Somerset. As a New Yorker it was no longer a casual commute but a long trek that seemed more hassle that it was worth. However when they announced Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and MC Melody Doll
as guests, I had to repack my bags and travel to New Jersey.

AnimeNext is the starter convention for the summer and anyone interested in getting into the scene. It is small but it is just right if you are not quite ready for the big cons like Otakon and NYCC. I was not sure what to expect since I was too use to the Meadowlands.

Doubletree Hilton lobby.

Dealer's Room

Aside from Vertical, Mediablasters was the only big industry name I saw in the dealer's room.

The food was less desirable but this con was more about just hanging out with friends as soon as summer starts.

Saturday's lunch and dinner consisted of this turkey club.

Unless you had a car or staying at the Doubletree Hilton, you could not travel too far without worrying about cars hitting you. In my last-minute case I was staying at the Holiday Inn, the hotel right across from everything.

To quote Uncle Yo “It's an outdoor con.” It was spread out between the exhibition center, the Doubletree and the Holiday Inn -- any in between green was left for photoshoots and lounging with friends.

Rain, rain go away. Come again after con.

Much better.

Which was very true as the weekend progressed to rainy to sunny. Walking in the rain from the Doubletree to the Exhibition Center under narrow pathway is never comfortable – whether you are a Lolita, a cosplayer, or a regular attendee.

Baby designers were hard to miss.

My poor wallet. My closet however...

However for Lolitas it just gave them a better chance at browsing the Baby booth constantly and a chance to attend an exclusive tea party with the designers and Isobe.

Many faces of MC Melody Doll

MC Melody Doll's panel was very informative as the “Real History of Lolita Fashion.” In truth, the history is vaguely muddled when you try to pinpoint the exact moment. It was full of honesty, letting the audience know that the history of Lolita fashion is “open source” and it encompasses everyone's knowledge. So if you had something to share, share it.

She mentioned a book written by a Japanese Lolita about being a Lolita. Also that one reason that "Lolita" definition is so miscontrued because Japanese had made their own definition of the term associating it more with girlish innocence than with Nabokov. What is interesting to note was that the term “Kodona” is not used in Japan to describe the boystyle counterpart (rather they use 'ouiji' –it was a reference used by Western Lolitas (non-Japanese).

Panelists giving a synopsis of Cooking Master Boy.

I had attempted to attend UncleYo's standup shows, twice in fact, only to be told by owrd of mouth that it was out of room before it even started. Saturday involved filling time before both fashion shows and having a good angle to take photos. I caught some of Anime Under the Radar, which examined a few shows you might have missed and should see. Naturally there was an audience participation portion to recommend stuff. One panel I wish I had gone to was Anime Cult Classics, a panel I later learn was anime made by cults.

Everyone wants to be a cat.

Because a cat's the only cat,

The MintNeko and Lolita fashion show were back to back—both actually serving as a good compliment. There were some attendees worried about getting a seat for both, but fortunately they did not clear the room – letting those who wanted to go as they please and letting others to join the show. What I did enjoy was that there was a special press area for those taking pictures, giving me a prime spot at the corner of the stage.

Who knows where it's at.

Everybody digs a swingin' cat.

MintNeko's line is focused on several cats, all characters Mint has created himself with back stories. Like cats, each outfit and model reflected a different personality – some were sleepy, some were cool, some were cute, and some were just being a cat. During the Q&A he mentioned he was very much influenced by Vivienne Westwood and listened to Smashing Pumpkins. While his line is full of cats, Mint said he did not own one himself but there were a lot of strays nearby the h.Naoto office.

Baby, the Stars Shine Bright showed both there lines – Alice and the Pirates, their classic and more aristocratic style and Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, the sweet, feminine, and soft color line we all know. The music (including a remix of Debussy's La Mer) highlighted their latest prints like Clockwork Tea party, and Marionette Doll series. While Baby was full of soft pastels and strawberries and lots of pink with Wiz Me Over the Rainbow, Juicy Baby Love Love, and Some Day Over Ranuculus.

Alice and the Pirates line.

Baby, the Stars Shine Bright

Masumi Kano

Saki Tachibana

Akinori Isobe, CEO of Baby, the Stars Shine Bright

MC Melody Doll helped as well.
Their Q&A varied from typical questions like will there be more plus-size clothes (They are looking into it but no plans), setting up an East Coast store (Would like to have one in NY but no definite plans but TokyoRebel carries both lines.), and if there was a mens' line (Alice and the Pirates has a lot of aristocratic clothes sized for men). There was one question which hushed the room and it was about what they thought of replicas. Replicas any like any counterfeit runs rampart in the fashion industry, even in Lolita. It was an odd, perhaps daring question but their response was simply: 'While it is ultimately left to their customer, they intend to create clothes made with such good quality that you would want to buy it (no matter the cost).'  For more pictures check out Life's Sweet Essentials.

An intimate Meet & Greet with the designers.

MC Melody Doll's "Lolita Truth Bombs

A full house.

Sunday was a casual day of last-minute purchases and saying goodbyes before catching MC Melody Doll's “Truth Bombs” panel. If you weren't aware of who she was she lip synced her video “Throw It In The Bag” just for kicks. She was real, facetious, and revealed her secret love of brolitas.

As I grabbed a taxi to the New Brunswick train station, I saw the extent of how much of the convention depended on the outside – there were attendees on the grass just lying about soaking in the company and the sun. Everyone was enjoying the outside as if it was a picnic in Central Park. Overall AnimeNext was convention I would certainly attend, depending on the guests. Right now they do have a special discount that you can pre-register for next year for only $35. Valid until tomorrow.

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