Miami materializes on top of downtown Looville by way of the Philadelphia Experiment. The nuke goes off and it rains homeless people, babies, Mexicans, and old women dressed like Britney Spears for 100 years. The tourists come dressed like Crocodile Dundee and the palm tress have acid in their veins. It’s fun to take a trip.
To LA. Sick, weird, rusted, blasted, and yet still kind of a turn on for it.
Holed up on the top floor of the Renaissance Hotel waiting for room service to arrive starring down at the Japanese tourists posing in front of the Babylonian Kodak Theater. Even from way up there you can spot them by the shoes: either white sneakers or the ones with the pointy tips. Two days later, Aki is speeding around in her banged up car from Orange to Hollywood Blvd. “Go back to high school!” she yells in Osaka dialect to a throng of tourists numbly walking past a lone protestor who stands with a sign in support of Michael Jackson.
Sunday night, Wes and I eat with the geriatrics at Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset. A 70 year old woman in a frayed red wig steps out of car and away from the valet parking area. She’s wearing Ugg boots. After the food, I’m thirsty for something suffocating and cold. We go for drinks at the Standard. It’s early and barely anyone is there…except for an out of towner in jeans and what looks like a Dragon Ball Z club shirt. He orders a Budweiser and sits there waiting for something wonderful to happen. We leave before he does.
Note from the Tokyo Anime Fair itself: Salarymen from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government darting about like ants. Errant boy publicists from the American branches of Japanese companies. A pair stray textbook US otaku and his girlfriend dressed to impress in Anime Expo shirts. Fred Patten, awkwardly thanking me for the flowers and the call. Out of the hospital barely a week and ready to rock a con already. But what sort of con is this?
The ballroom has some 33 booths. But 23 of them belong to tourism and travel companies. There’s the JR train, the Hato Bus, the Hotel New Otani. The ten anime studios present attract the most attention. Most are in bed with US studios and distributors already, but that doesn’t stop everyone else from looking for some kind of “in” or business card to take back like a war medal. I’m wearing my finest from the Marui department store in Tokyo, but I should have packed an off the rack suit. It’s that kind of crowd.
The Vice Governor of Tokyo shows up demanding that we all go to Japan. During the presentation, a photographer with a yakuza style punch perm sits in front of me, stray curls like hairs in a film gate. Carl points out later that the Gov. is cracking down on petty otaku crimes in Tokyo, you know, like being a anime dork, so the place can be cleaned up for a new IT center, like that living computer in Appleseed maybe. It makes no sense that with one hand, the government wants to promote themselves internationally using anime, and then whack the pee-pees of the people who support it back home.
And then Stan Lee shows up and works the room. Why? I’ve no idea.
The next day, the walls in the ballroom have dramatically closed in. The tourism people have all vacated the premise, and only the anime studios, and the stragglers like myself, remain. But it was Studio4°C who wound up impressing me the most. They handled much of the production on The Animatrix, are working on a new anthology called Genius Party featuring many Animatrix alumni like Koji Morimoto, Shinichiro Watanabe, and Mahiro Maeda. With a host of radically different art styles and no massive SF franchise to back it up, it looks every bit like something in the tradition of Robot Carnival or Memories which is comforting in this day and age. Another Studio4°C work in development is called Sachiko, which the flyer claims is the “first feature length film” of Koji Morimoto, who helmed Beyond, one of Anmatrix’s best segments.
Arthur Smith, the gaijin from Gonzo did some nifty time travel trick and told me “Sam Jackson came to Japan as an invited guest for a special party we organised for Samurai 7 and Afro Samurai - and not only did he wear a katana, we gifted him one for the honor of his presence.” Seems Sam will be doing voices for Gonzo’s Afro Samurai, set for 2006.
“Joel Silver is not looking at Last Exile as far as I know...although that would be great. There is, however, a producer who works with New Line who is looking into two of our titles for live action adaptation...Last Exile and Burst Angel. And Speedgrapher has taken the interest of several TV companies but there is no solid interest from Hollywood yet...although early comments feel good.”
The Tezuka Production people claim that the new Phoenix anime will be airing on PBS later this year. I suggest that a DVD of Tezuka’s experimental shorts might not be a bad idea, but they point out “we have them available in Europe, but not in the US. This is not the right market for them.”
Looking at Toei’s booth, pushing Air Master and Naruto, they may be right. The suits there, in typical fashion, smile benignly back and say nothing.
I hear Steely Dan's Gaucho LP in my head the whole time I'm there. The bath towel is all covered with coffee. I stuff it under the sink hoping it will bio-degrade before the help arrives. The fat old sun refuses to set over the Hollywood Hills until I try and take a picutre. It takes me six hours to get home on a one hour flight. But hey, that's show buisness.