The NL issue 877 - Animania
Author: Darryn King
Friday, 21 September 2007
Animania, Australia’s biggest celebration of Manga, Anime, games and Japanese culture, hits Sydney this weekend. The NL spoke to Louis Lee, Animania’s head honcho, about the festival.
Just how massive is the interest in this scene in Sydney-
I think the scene in Sydney has been growing steadily these last few years. Appreciation clubs for anime, manga and Japanese popular culture in general have been around for years, but it’s only been recently that there has been a sudden burst of interest as more anime movies (such as Spirited Away and animated featurettes Animatrix) and TV series (particularly children’s series such as Naruto and Yugioh!, or ‘cult’ shows such as Cowboy Bebop and Ergo Proxy) have hit the mainstream.
Where previously you seriously had to look hard in the Sci-Fi / Fantasy section of your video store to look for anime, stores now have entire sections dedicated to the genre. Access to both anime and manga is now a lot easier and widespread, and with this there is a new generation of children who are growing up with anime and manga (not just stumbling across it), so I think we’ll see an even greater increase in its popularity. It is a very exciting time!
Why do you think Japanese culture - particularly anime - has been embraced so widely, and not just by people with Japanese heritage-
Japanese popular culture in general is very unique, very visual and very attractive – you can’t help but be drawn to the cutting-edge (and sometimes way-out) fashions; the heart-racing games; or the great depth that anime and manga, as completely different mediums, have to offer. There is something about the Japanese culture too, a high-tech society operating the latest technology and steeped in remarkable history of samurai warriors and ninja warlords that appeals to our imagination.
With anime in particular, I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that it is not simply ‘cartoons’ but a medium that covers a very wide range of genres, from children’s cartoons to romantic dramas and even to adult erotica. As a medium, it is very flexible and one can venture into a life-like interpretation of a situation or into the completely fantastic and unimaginable. It definitely provides a healthy diet for the mind to explore and further the imagination – and not only that, it is of course just simply entertaining, fun and addictive to watch!
So what is the Animania Festival all about-
Animania Festival is all about bringing the Japanese and wider Asian popular culture, anime and manga scene to Australia. The Festival provides an event where anyone, from massive ‘hardcore’ fans to those who have just recently discovered anime / manga, can experience the fan scene.
What are some of the attractions of the upcoming Animania-
There is definitely a little bit of something for everyone! Those who like to get involved can try their hands at some digital art and sketching in the Artists Area, origami mini-workshops, games competitions or maybe sing to their heart’s content with some karaoke! Those with a flair for words could try out our new Fan Fiction competition.
The Festival also offers a wide range of stage shows including sword demonstrations; band and street dance performances; Duel Artist, our on-stage art competition where unknown artists chosen on the day are faced off against known anime-style artists from the local community; the Great Debate (this year, Pirates vs Ninjas!) and Olympia, our own twist on a typical Japanese-style game show.
We also feature a Food Fair and oh, the shopping is perhaps one of our larger attractions too – many anime / manga distributors and stores come to sell their wares and special prices, anything from books and DVDs to all the plushies and models you could dream of. Artists and community groups provide unique stalls displaying their works as well.
We’re also featuring a discussion panel series which began last year, Animania Insight. The series brings together a panel of guest speakers to discuss with the audience a range of topics from anime in education to the deeper ideas of gender behind ‘Boy’s Love’ or ‘Yaoi’ in anime.
And then there are the many, many competitions with many prizes up for grabs, including WACOM tablets!
All in all, the Festival is a chance to experience and celebrate anime and manga at its most vibrant in Australia.
Oh man, I’d love one of those… What about the main event- Tell us about the Cosplay.
The largest and most visual attraction is always the Cosplay Competition. Cosplay is a truncation of ‘Costume Play’, where individuals masquerade as their most favourite anime / manga / game character. And it’s a lot more serious than simply ‘dressing up’ as some individuals dedicate months to creating the ultimate costume that pays homage to the character and brings them to life. It’s quite something to see, say, Final Fantasy characters walking past you in the hallway.
You must’ve seen some pretty crazy outfits - was there one Cosplay that was particularly memorable-
Cosplay is by far one of our biggest events and you do see some pretty awesome and freaky costumes. I have to say one of the most memorable sight for me was seeing Domo-kun - a fuzzy, brown monster-like creature with beady black eyes and an open mouth full of jagged teeth - slip on the main stage. He needed two or three people to get him back on his feet!
What about those of us who are just curious about Japanese culture - will Animania be a good way to experience it for the first time-
Definitely! Everyone attending the event is friendly and it would be a fantastic environment for everyone and anyone to come and experience it!
WHAT: Animania Festival @ Town Hall
WHEN: Friday 28 September - Sunday 30 September