Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Post NYAF 2008 with Peter Tatara

Check out my Pre-Anime Festival with Peter Tatara.

Since the end of the festival, Peter Tatara has been feeling "sleepy." The New York Anime Festival was a great show. They were aiming for 17,000 and ended up having over 18,000 fans and attendees. Peter said "I'm very proud of it, but once a show wraps, we don't kick up our feet until next year." Not only was Peter very happy with the event but also his boss Lance Fensterman. "The show went over very well, but -- like me -- we're already looking ahead." They are "all deep in planning for New York Comic Con 2009" and New York Anime Festival 2009 "is already in the works."

Last time I spoke to Peter he said, "I honestly don't know what I'll be doing during NYAF yet." Of course during the festival Peter had things to do. All of his activities were related to his responsibility to the festival. "Tighten bolts. Patch leaks. Put out fires. If there was something that needed fixing, that was my job." On a lighter side of his duties he had dinner with Kikuchi-san.

With his duties at New York Anime Festival, Peter had to make sure the process of turning NYAF into reality was going smoothly. He arrived at Jacobs Javits Center a day before the show around 9:00am. While walking onto the exhibition hall, the booths "were midway through construction." At the time it was not yet complete: the convention was still setting up. It was on its way to completion. "It's an amazing thing to see something that only exists on paper for most of the year transform into something real." He didn't really have an exact set schedule for any day. He just had to be there within enough time do his job. "I jumped around the panel rooms, registration, guests, etc. As for Sunday, I got home around 11 or 12 and was up at 6 to greet guests before they left for the airport."

According to Peter, "most of the show ran very well and very smoothly." Their biggest concern was with the Akihabara Stage. "We featured a number of performers and artists on this stage, and we were worried before the show that sound might carry too far into the panel rooms." Guess what? Their concern came true. "We tried as best we could to keep the volume down, but it was something we had to deal with all weekend." Blasting loudness.

Even with the issue of loudness coming from the stage, the "fans were very happy." Even though the overall feeling of satisfaction was present, there were some mixed reactions in regards to the big concert's location. Instead of having the event at the Jacob Javits Center, it took place at the Knitting Factory. "I understand the want to have everything in one building, but we can't do large scale concerts inside the Javits, so for both the New York Anime Festival and New York Comic Con going forward, if it's big and musical, it will be in a different venue." Understandable.

Another related event that fans had some reactions to was the appearance of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who was the Guest of Honor. "Morimoto was standing room only. Prior to the show, some blogs were confused as to why Morimoto was at the show." I also asked Peter in a Pre-Anime Festival interview about that too, so I could understand the confusion. "The answer's because he's awesome. His events were all packed, and the Chef was thrilled. He's never been to an anime convention and had no clue his fanbase included anime fans."

Another event that had a large fan base, which included fan participation, is the Lucky Star Dance contest. There was "about a half dozen complete entries." The winners of the contest were announced a few weeks before the show." Yes, they did get prizes and goodies for being the victors! "They won tickets to the con as well as a nice selection of DVDs and swag from Bandai."

Not only was there a dance contest, but there was competition in the cosplay realm: World Cosplay Summit Masquerade. The parade of colors and creativity of magnificently display of costumes. "The World Cosplay Summit, WCS, was a blast. We've got some of the best cosplayers in America coming to NYAF. Looking to ages, we had a few youth entrants (who weren't in the running for the WCS) and twenty five teams that ranged from 18 to 40 who were aiming to win the tickets to Japan." So did Peter have a favorite? "I know a lot of the cosplayers participating and am good friends with a few, but I can't have a favorite. I support everyone entering the competition." The victor of the competition, Team USA, was crowned at the end of the night, whose names are India Davis and Becky Licata. Team USA will be going to Japan in the summer of 2009 to represent the USA. "They've already done a few interviews and are actively blogging at"

Another fan related issue was room changes. On Sunday there were Lolita events, but the original rooms were changed the last minute. I did not even realize this change until I went looking for the event room. It was not just me that got confused it was both fans and some of the volunteers. So I had to ask Peter why were the changes done last minute? Peter said "On Sunday, we swapped the rooms the Lolita events were in. We moved the Baby, The Stars Shine Bright fashion show into our biggest room in anticipation of larger crowds." Do not worry Peter. Even with the confusion of room changes, the volunteers were able to guide many others and I in the right direction.

Now Peter is an anime and manga fan himself and has certain people he looks up to. Peter met his childhood heros Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano shortly before Opening Ceremonies of the festival. "I was nervous at first, simply because both men are hugely important and I didn't want to goof it up, but things went very well, and some great bonds were made. We're keeping in touch, and I hope to be able to bring them back to NYC again." Good job Peter!

So with all the events going on both inside and outside of the Jacobs Javits Center, did he have time to attend any? Peter attended as many as he could. The New York Anime Festival had many events happening at night. As a result, Peter had to pick and choose which ones he should go to. "I made damn sure, though, I was running Hideyuki Kikuchi's Birthday Dinner."

Making sure he would be at the birthday celebration, it became his most memorable moment of NYAF 2008. "It was fantastic -- completely and utterly fantastic." Kikuchi's Birthday Dinner was held at Jekyll and Hyde Club in midtown. "Jekyll and Hyde is a horror-themed Chuck E. Cheese's and I knew it would either be a big hit or a complete failure. Kikuchi-san ate it up as did all the attendees. It couldn't have gone better."

Even though the excitement is over, would Peter relive the moment of NYAF 2008 again? "I'd very much like to be able to go back and attend the con. I'd like to be able to sit through Kikuchi's panel, Morimoto's panel, Amano's panel, and Tanaka's panel. I'd like to be able to watch the entire Masquerade, listen to the Far East To East Showcase, and enjoy the After Party. There's a lot of fun stuff I don't get to take in that I'd love to be able to go back to."

Thanks again Peter! Thank you for the pictures Peter!
If you want to learn more about the New York Anime Festival please visit
© 2008 Linda Thai

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