A year ago: the Tokyo International Anime Fair

Every year, the Tokyo International Anime Fair gathers the different organizations and companies behind many of Japan’s anime and manga titles. Considered one of the largest anime trade fairs in the world, it is usually held for four days, in the latter part of March, in Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba. The first two days are reserved for industry people and the press, then it opens to the public on the third and fourth day (typically on a weekend).

We got to go last year and being curious as to how it was going to turn out this year I searched online for news on the 2011 fair, which was slated for March 24 to 27. With the earthquake and tsunami that recently devastated parts of Japan however, it wasn’t surprising that they cancelled this year’s fair. For those who were planning to attend the fair for the first time this year, here are some anime fair photos–though they are from the 2010 exhibition, I hope it gives you an idea on what goes on inside this anime heaven of an event.

Fans of all ages (from kids excited to see Chibi Maruko-chan to grown ups drooling over the displays) get a chance to find out new things being planned for their favorite anime series, buy some spanking new merchandise, gape at the awesome sight of some life-sized anime characters up close, and just bask in the fun, crazy, and wonderful world of anime. (All photos were taken by the hubby)

Enter the hall of happiness

Continue reading

Tokyo, Day 9: The day we didn’t go to Ghibli Museum

On the ninth day, we had originally planned to head over to the Ghibli Museum. We knew you have to book months ahead if you plan to go during the peak tourist season, which was when we were going. Purchase of the tickets can only be done at certain travel agencies in certain countries—the Philippines not included. This meant we had to ask someone in Japan to buy our tickets in a Lawson’s convenience store. So we did. Two months before we arrived. But by the time our friend headed over to Lawson’s to get the tickets, the only ones available were for sometime in May. My Studio Ghibli dreams were crushed. (But check out this one blogger who got to go.) Oh, but there remained a silver lining. We were still in Japan and it was a free day without anything planned. (Pardon the low-res photos, my net connection sucks so these are easier to upload.)

Bandai mothership calling

P had originally wanted to see the life-sized Gundam statue that was erected in Odaiba a year before. But it had been moved out of Tokyo and into Shizuoka. So when he spotted the Bandai logo on top of a building as we were about to cross the blue bridge over Sumida River, it was like the mother ship calling out to him. I have friends who’ve gone to Paris and who headed to the Eiffel Tower just by keeping it in its sight. (Not a recommended thing to do.) This is how we ended up across the street from what looked like the Bandai office building, where statues of Bandai characters lined the sidewalk—including Ultraman and Kamen Rider. P had a nerdgasm. We took an embarrassing amount of photos before going inside, where toys and more Bandai characters were in display on the ground floor.

 

Kamen Rider equals nerdgasm for P

Hello, Ultraman

My favorite sight inside the Bandai building--it's the sergeant!

Keroro toys, hmmm.

Of course we had to go inside. (Too bad you can't take pictures inside)

When we got out, it started raining. We were hungry and I was still craving for tapsilog (which is a Filipino breakfast consisting of tapa or cured salty beef, sinangag or fried rice and pritong itlog or sunny side-up egg) or any –silog for the matter. I didn’t want tea, miso soup, beef bowl, ramen or onigiri that morning. Without a Filipino restaurant in sight, we ended up in McDonald’s.

Then with our one-day Metro card (bundled with the limousine bus ticket we bought in Narita the day we arrived) and our JR Pass, we took the Ginza line from Asakusa to Ueno, then from Ueno we took the JR line to Harajuku. Yes, we were creatures of habit and Harajuku seemed to be a pretty straightforward and manageable area to explore for the day as Meiji-Jingu and Yoyogi Park were also just short walking distance from the station exit. (I just promised P we were not going to set foot in crowded Takeshita-dori again.)

Continue reading

Tokyo, Day 3: Drunk on anime, art and a killer view

Totoro and friends!

Once we booked our flight to Japan in January, my husband went about searching for tours and events where he could geek out to his anime-and-manga-loving heart’s content. As luck would have it, we were going to be in Tokyo during the annual International Anime Fair. To be held in Tokyo Big Sight, it was also a chance to see Odaiba, a waterfront island city in Tokyo Bay made on reclaimed land. Packed with malls, amusement centers, theme parks, and architectural wonders that make it look like one big futuristic, though odd playground for the Japanese. We got a glimpse of it (along with the view of the harbor) riding the Yurikamome line, an un-manned train that goes from Shimbashi Station (where we got on) to the island.

Tokyo Big Sight, the site of the Anime Fair, reminded P of Voltes V’s Camp Big Falcon

While we would read later on that this year’s fair was scaled down compared to previous years, for Tokyo-International-Anime-Fair-virgins such as ourselves, we were still more than impressed with the sheer size of the exhibition hall and the many booths that had their anime titles—both old and new—on display. Large inflatables of Pikachu, Doremon, Detective Conan, Totoro and a few other popular anime characters hung over the jam-packed space of kids and grown-ups (including my husband), all thrilled to check out their favorite anime.

It was the shiny life-sized armor suits from the adult-geared tonkusatsu or live action series GARO, which has “Knights” fighting to save humanity from “Horrors” or demonic manifestations, that got P all giddy. C, who went with us, introduced us to a large, seated inflatable of Anpanman, a superhero popular among children whose head is made of bread filled with bean jam that can be replaced with a newly baked head. How awesome is that?

One of the installation art pieces at the Roppongi Crossing 2010 exhibit

After all the crazy, cool explosion of anime, we headed to the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills for a look at contemporary Japanese art scene and the view I had wanted to see on our first night in Tokyo. C actually wanted to take us to the more manicured Shinjuku Gyoen for more cherry blossom viewing after the Anime Fair, but the temperature had dipped, so he suggested we were better off staying indoors. To a museum, perhaps? “We could go to the Edo-Tokyo Museum or Tokyo Tower?” I offered, peeking at the items in my itinerary, which were becoming more like suggestions rather than set-in-stone activities. But C said he had a better idea, where we could get art and a killer view in one place.

In a heartbeat, P and I agreed. Me, the girl who liked to make lists and follow them according to plan. Sure, C was the Tokyo resident and it was only natural we relied on him on where to go, but I was also starting to realize that it was surprisingly exhilarating to not follow the plan and not always know where you’re going next.

Cityscape of Tokyo at dusk

The exhibit at the Mori Art Museum was entitled “Roppongi Crossing 2010: Can There Be Art?” A question posed to a diverse set of artists and answered (obviously in the affirmative) with arresting photos and videos, innovative installations, sculptures and other forms of visual arts. But the most breathtaking vision you can see from the Mori Tower is the vastness of Tokyo dotted with city lights in the bluish cast of dusk.

Before I raised my camera to take a picture, I stopped and just looked: this city, one of the biggest in the world, stretching out to the horizon in a seemingly endless flicker of lights. So this is what happens when you don’t always follow the plan and see where the day (or in this case, a friend) takes you. You get pleasantly surprised and a knockout view. Years back, while a friend and I sat in front of an open field and the conversation turned personal, she asked, “Why is it when faced with something vast before us, we can’t help but look inward?” I didn’t have an answer then. Faced with the sheer size of a bustling city, or a mountain range, a canyon, an ocean, we get to see just how small we are and have to wonder where we fit in all this. It was time for a drink.
Continue reading