Post-Event! Art at Waku Waku +NYC

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In our desire to bridge various aspects of Japanese pop culture, Waku Waku +NYC worked to celebrate the efforts of artists in New York and Japan. We hope you had the chance to see all of the wonderful artwork on display, but if you didn’t get the opportunity here’s a handy summary of all of the art-related goings-on at our event!

Time After Time Capsule

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Perhaps nothing embodied the philosophy of “Play with Japan” more than our guest Sebastian Masuda. A Japanese artist that challenges the borders between fine, popular, and commercial art, Sebastian brought with him a large, adorable teddy bear sculpture as part of his “Time After Time Capsule” art project for display at Brooklyn’s Transmitter Park. Overlooking a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline, the idea behind the Time After Time Capsule is that people from around the world can write messages to place into the time capsules, which will be sealed and then re-opened for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. To help attendees create kawaii art for the capsule, Sebastian also held workshops for attendees, and artists young and old participated. Perhaps we can say that kawaii transcends generations.

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The Power of Kawaii

Sebastian is also known worldwide as an ambassador of “kawaii culture,” joining Misha Janette for the panel “NHK WORLD Kawaii International: Kawaii Beyond Cute.” While kawaii fashion is often associated with an image of safety and innocence, there is also a strongly political component underlying the movement whereby “kawaii” becomes a political defiance of the status quo. An enlightening panel to say the least!

Local Artists + Mascot Contest

Art wasn’t limited to just our guests, however. In addition to our artist alley, featuring awesome artists from all over the US, Waku Waku +NYC also held a mascot drawing contest prior to the event, with the goal of giving artists the opportunity to have their work displayed at the Brooklyn Expo Center. Creating renditions of our resident mascot Tucker the dog, large banners could be seen all around, showing to Brooklyn and the world the creativity of our local artists. We’d like to thank the winners for providing some incredible and fun art, and we hope that they’ll be proud to have Waku Waku +NYC on their list of accomplishments.

Tucker of course loved the attention, and many attendees could be seen taking photos with him.

What did you think of the art at Waku Waku +NYC? Did you check out the artist alley in the Exhibitor Hall? Are there any other artists, be they gallery or otherwise, that you’d like to see? Did you take any photos with Tucker? We’d love to know!

 

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Post-Event! Food at Waku Waku +NYC

Post-Event: Food at Waku Waku +NYC

If there’s one thing that set Waku Waku +NYC apart from the typical Japanese pop culture festival, it was the food. Sure, there are plenty of general Japanese culture events that serve samples of Japanese food, but we brought in some of the best restaurants around to give a taste of Japan.


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Hot Dishes

Two varieties of ramen were available from two of New York’s most popular ramen restaurants: Kuro-Obi/Ippudo NY and Totto Ramen. While it might have seemed redundant at first glance, in fact the two shops provided unique experiences because of the differences in their broth. Kuro-Obi/Ippudo NY used a combination pork and chicken broth, while Totto Ramen went with pure chicken, allowing more people to taste the joys of ramen. Kuro-Obi/Ippudo NY also served roast pork buns that were a kind of cross between Japanese chashu, Chinese char siu, and peking duck. Some might say that the weather was too hot for ramen, but true ramen lovers knew that it wouldn’t be the case.

If you were looking for less soupy affairs, curry from Curry-Ya was another one of the sit-down specialties, and possessed a sweeter flavor that worked well for the summer.  BentOn also provided delicious yakisoba that was fun to slurp up.

On-the-Go Street Food

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Bowls and utensils might have been too unwieldy for some looking for a quick bite to eat, but fortunately Waku Waku +NYC provided lots of dishes that were perfect for eating on the move. Chief among these were the delights from Dotonbori Kukuru. The restaurant’s Takoyaki Meisters showed what authentic takoyaki from Osaka, the birthplace of the fried octopus dumplings, was all about. Complementing the Osakan street food was daigaku imo from La Poppo, which finds its origins not in Osaka but in Tokyo, as a classic snack for hungry college students.

Even “handier” foods were also available for attendees, namely yakitori from Teriyaki Boy and both katsu pork cutlet sandwiches as well as katsu skewers from KATSU-HAMA. Both yakitori and katsu are increasingly common foods, but many restaurants shortcut the process, resulting in mediocre takes. Teriyaki and KATSU-HAMA, in a delightful contrast, use authentic cooking techniques for their signature dishes, and you could of course literally taste the results. KATSU-HAMA provided both pork and chicken katsu, which allowed a greater variety of people in a city as diverse as NYC to enjoy Savory Square. BentOn accompanied their yakisoba with gyoza.

Toeing the line between grab-and-go and sit-down was the rice burger from Yonekichi. Providing a fork just in case the “bread” got to be too unwieldy, the highlight of Yonekichi had to be their salmon burger. Rice and fish are long-time partners in history, and this was an exciting take on the combo.

Drinks and Dessert

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For tea fans (and if you’re into Japanese food you’ve probably noticed that tea is a big deal), ITO EN and MatchaBar were in full force, bringing a variety of tea brands. MatchaBar made their signature matcha fresh on the spot, while ITO EN’s bottles were not only very convenient but also incredibly refreshing. Coffee fans weren’t ignored, however, as Hi-Collar showed Waku Waku +NYC the world of Japanese coffee. Stronger than American coffee, it was a must-try brew.

And what better way was there to end (or indeed begin) Savory Square than with some delicious dessert? Beard Papa’s signature creampuffs came in a full plethora of exotic flavors (Calpico stood out the most!), and you could see them making the cream right on the premises. For something lighter, BentOn provided shaved ice. If your willpower didn’t waver from all of that, then you had to face ice cream from ITO EN (if the tea hadn’t gotten you already), as well as taiyaki from Otafuku x Medetai. Red bean paste received many converts on that day, while adherents to the popular Asian dessert filling came away satisfied. The last leg of the dessert temptation gauntlet was the luxurious flavor of ROYCE’ Chocolate, whose matcha chocolate seemingly transformed people’s views of the world. Suddenly there was BR, “Before ROYCE’.”

So, what was your favorite food at Waku Waku +NYC? What foods would you love to see next year? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Post-Event! Anime at Waku Waku +NYC

When people think Japanese pop culture, anime and manga immediately spring to mind. In this respect, Waku Waku +NYC sought to have anime and manga-related content for our event, but we also wanted to give our attendees some rare opportunities. Between our incredible guests, unique performances, and rare screenings, we hope you had a wonderful time.

Screenings

Waku Waku +NYC featured such popular anime as Kill la Kill, Sword Art Online, and Dragon Ball Z (with Dragon Ball screenwriters Takao and Makoto Koyama doing Q&A afterwards!), but there were a couple of very rare and special works in our lineup. The first was a screening of the 1000th episode of Chibi Maruko Chan, the long-running show featuring Japan’s favorite snarky little girl. Showing what happened the day Maruko Chan was born, the audience was full of people who had heard of Chibi Maruko Chan and its popularity, but had yet to see what the show was really like. During the event we gave out surveys asking what they thought of the anime, and the response was overwhelming: “We want more Chibi Maruko Chan!” We hope we can answer your requests for next year!

This crowd is PUMPED for Chibi Maruko Chan! #wakuwakunyc #chibimarukochan pic.twitter.com/597CHXCmlF

— Waku Waku +NYC (@wakuwakunyc) August 29, 2015

The second was a new remastering of Sanrio’s 1970s stop-motion film The Nutcracker, directed by artist and Waku Waku +NYC guest Sebastian Masuda. The only one of Sanrio’s 1970s major animated films to not be licensed for the US, Sanrio fans and fans of classic animation could see the film in exquisite quality. To call it “restored,” would not be doing it enough justice, because it looked even better than it did when it originally showed decades ago!

Voice Actors Justin Cook and Max Mittelman

We also brought two voice actors to Waku Waku +NYC, Justin Cook and Max Mittelman, though it might have been a little unfair to call them only voice actors. After all, both have experience and talent in other areas. Justin Cook began working as an ADR Engineer for FUNimation, helping to record the sound used for dubs, and eventually found himself behind the mic. Max Mittelman’s panel also involved teaching attendees how to beatbox, and if we see a generation of beatboxing voice actors, we’ll know how to thank. One thing that was really great was how willing they were to talk with their fans. I happened to catch Justin Cook waiting for the bus, just chatting it up with a few attendees, including Android 17 and 18 cosplayers!

Takao and Makoto Koyama

As mentioned above, Takao and Makoto Koyama were guests at Waku Waku +NYC, which was their very first event in the US. Takao Koyama is renowned throughout Japan as one of its most celebrated animation screenwriters, with credits on Dragon Ball Z, Saint Seiya, Might Gaine, and more. His son Makoto, who also works in anime and games as a writer, is building up quite the resume himself.

At their panel, Takao talked about some fascinating aspects of anime writing and production, but what perhaps surprised the entire audience was the fact that Takao Koyama explained how he got his first writing job at the famed Tatsunoko Pro anime studio: he lied. Straight from the horse’s mouth, a young Takao told the studio that he had experience writing scripts when the very opposite was true, and after getting hired took a crash course to learn. However, it soon became apparent that he was in way over his head, and it was only through continuous on-the-job training that he got to where he is today.

Another interesting bit of trivia from Takao was the fact that he had written many scripts for the anime Don Dracula, which was canceled after 4 episodes. Based on the work of “god of manga” Osamu Tezuka, the entire series was actually pretty much completed before the sponsors pulled out. However, Takao also had this to say: if Don Dracula hadn’t died, then he probably would have never written for Dragon Ball Z! After all, most of the staff that worked on Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z were alumni from the previous Akira Toriyama anime, Dr. Slump, and Takao only got that opportunity because Don Dracula got canceled. Talk about a twist of fate!

After the event, Makoto Koyama commented on Twitter that he was surprised how much New York anime fans love Android 16 from Dragon Ball Z! What do you think might explain the characters’ popularity? Anime News Network Panels Speaking of Osamu Tezuka, he was one of the many subjects covered by our educational programming track, courtesy of Anime News Network. Author, scholar, and journalist Roland Kelts gave a fantastic presentation about the life and work of Tezuka, about his historical context growing up before, during, and after World War II, and his connection to both classic Japanese art and modern anime and manga. It was a great panel for those who might have heard of Tezuka. Quite helpfully, someone’s uploaded the panel to YouTube for you to watch!

The other panels included one on journalism and anime, one that went through the anime production process from beginning to end (SHIROBAKO fans take note!), one about studying and writing about anime and manga in an academic setting, and a panel titled “Anime that Time Forgot” by popular writer and presenter Mike Toole. In this age where information is at our fingertips and records of anime are easy to find, it can be easy to forget how some things can simply get shelved away, never to return. Notable “forgotten anime” included Eagle Sam, based on the 1984 Olympics mascot, and Penguin Memories, a gritty, realistic war story where all of the soldiers are penguins. There weren’t any indications that anime based on birds tend to get forgotten more than others.

SHINKALION

If we’re talking about the biggest anime-related surprise at Waku Waku +NYC, however, it might very well be Shinkansen Robo SHINKALION from East Japan Marketing & Communications. Based upon the ubiquitous bullet trains of Japan that allow commuters and travels to get from one side of Japan to the other in mere hours, SHINKALION is an awesome media property with animations, toys, and more. Waku Waku +NYC attendees were given the opportunity to meet SHINKALION in person, and even though they might not have known who he was before Saturday, they jumped at the opportunity to pose with the mighty robot, including Anime News Network’s Mike Toole, and a certain flute-playing hero in green!

 

 

So what was your favorite anime event at Waku Waku +NYC? What screenings would you love to see, and what guests would make your day? This year was awesome, but we want to make things even better for next year!