Monday, August 7, 2000

Wow. It’s been quite a weekend.

Saalon and I went to Otakon Friday through Sunday. ‘Twas all sorts of fun. Here’s pretty much what happened, as well as I can remember:

I picked up Saalon at BWI on Friday at 12:30, then we went straight to the Baltimore Convention Center. After wandering the streets for a few minutes, we finally found the center, which turned out to be literally across the street from the garage where we’d parked. Duh.

The first day, we attended a panel on digital animation, which was very interesting. Scott Frazier, the guy who lectured and answered questions, has been doing anime for quite awhile in Japan, and was obviously very knowledgeable on the latest stuff going on there (he has a great article in the current edition of Ex). He demoed a software suite that takes scanned images, figures out the various lines, lets you color it intelligently based on the lines, then lay all of those images out on a backdrop and animate them. Even better, you can do that in batches, so making a change in one image will affect the rest of the images.

We then looked around the Dealer’s Room, and each grabbed a copy of visual experiments: lain, the artwork for serial experiments: lain. Then we checked out a few miscellaneous video rooms, including some music videos (anime clips arranged to music), until finally watching Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz with several hundred other screaming Gundam Wing fans. It was the first time that the dubbed Cartoon Network version has ever been shown, AFAIK. Boy, was THAT cool. We were going to stick around for Mystery Anime Theater 3000, but the line was long and it was getting late, so we decided to head home.

Saturday morning, we went to a panel with Yasuyuki Ueda and Yoshitoshi ABe, the creator/producer and character designer of lain, respectively. They got to talk a bit about their involvement with lain, answering ssome questions on style and meanings. Two smart guys there, though ABe seemed very shy. Both of them spoke through a translator, though Ueda knew a bit of English.

Next was a panel on character creation, with Yoshitoshi ABe and Kunihiko Ikuhara (of Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena). ‘Twas interesting to hear about how they approached things from a character-creation perspective. In particular, ABe presented 10 or 11 notebooks full of sketches to the lain animators, whereas Ikuhara submits three pages’ worth per character.

Then came a panel with Boa, the band that created Duvet, the lain theme song. That was fun because they all know English (they’re British), so the panel was much more lively than the previous two. They talked a bit about how they think up songs (through evolution, mainly), and their plans for the future.

We also paid another visit to the Dealer’s Room, where I grabbed a translated copy of the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga, volume 4, which picks up where my DVD leaves off. They were having a “buy 1, get 1 free” sale, so I also picked upa Maison Ikkoku manga for the heck of it.

On Sunday, we had nothing in particular to see, so we just wandered around the Dealer’s Room. Saalon found two Tenchi manga, which I bought, and that was about it. We looked around in the video rooms a bit, then I drove Saalon to the airport and came home.

heh. By doing a Google search on Yoshotishi ABe, I see that this very page is the 5th highest-rated. Guess I talk about the guy a lot, don’t I?

Which shouldn’t be surprising. His designs are unbelievably gorgeous.

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