Wednesday, October 17, 2012

“Five Attractions” Report – Anime Weekend Atlanta 2012


September 28 - 30, 2012 This was the weekend that saw the 18th year of Anime Weekend Atlanta, the largest anime convention in the Southeast. While this convention is well known for many things, such as its high attendance numbers, its all-star guest lists, and top quality cosplayers, here were my top five attractions.

h.NAOTO This is the second year for Anime Weekend Atlanta to welcome a Japanese designer from Kincs. In 2011, IBI and MINT dazzled with their two very distinct aesthetics, but this year, the one and only h.NAOTO graced us with his presence and unique vision. I was surprised and delighted by the depth of his work, and the depth of his knowledge and point of view; which he openly expressed during his panels that weekend. His responses to fan’s questions were eye openers and you could clearly see the audience hanging on his every word and absorbing the insight that he provided. It was a wonderful opportunity to get such a candid view of the world of h.NAOTO. In addition to his Q&A panel with the fans, he held a more private panel with a handful of local designers, taking the time to review their portfolios and give crucial advice and insight.

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Eyeshine I can honestly say that I’ve never laughed so much during a panel. Eyeshine’s impromptu “song-panel” was hilarious; some attendees were laughing to the point of tears. While still carrying some of their humorous and laid-back nature, they displayed their impressive musical abilities as they crank up the intensity on stage. I hadn’t heard their music at all prior to that performance, but I was genuinely blown away at how catchy their music was. It was a delight. A pleasant surprise came in the form of the band performing the infamous Power Rangers opening theme. This is a band that really knows how to have fun. “Unforgettable” is a word that I believe suits Eyeshine well, they truly leave an impression on you, and in the best way possible. This goes for both the music and the members of the band.

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heidi. – With Anime Weekend Atlanta being one of my local anime conventions, I’ve always felt proud of their history of bringing great Japanese bands to the South-East. Like many others I was extremely pleased and excited when heidi. was announced. Having listened to their music for years, and was glad to have the opportunity to see them perform, especially since heidi. is often praised as being a superb live band – I was highly anticipating their show and they exceeded all of my expectations. The only down-side to that concert was the fact that it had to come to an end. The quality of their compositions and Yoshihiko’s rich and unique vocals truly make heidi. a gem of the visual kei scene. The band members were cool, kind and approachable off stage and it was truly a pleasure to meet them.

For more in-depth coverage on heidi.’s panels and a bit of fan perspective – please read my companion article.

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You Kikkawa Truthfully I can say that I don’t listen to very many Japanese pop idols, but Kikka’s music was incredibly good and upbeat. I’ve found myself listening to her latest album quite often in the weeks following the convention. Her bright and bubbly personality, both onstage and off, was infectious and endearing. I believe the last time an idol performed at Anime Weekend Atlanta was back in 2005 when idol Yoko Ishida took to the stage. She too had very good music, while still upbeat, Yoko had a smooth maturity to her sound; in contrast Kikka’s music sounded very youthful, she seems to be at the forefront of today’s music trends. Anime Weekend Atlanta was Kikka’s U.S. debut, and I hope that she will soon return to America, her performance here proved that she already has a dedicated following. It was fun to watch her audience all but perform right along with her, knowing all the lyrics and dance moves, down to the smallest gestures.

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Fashionistas Having attended Anime Weekend Atlanta since year 10, one of the things that I’ve enjoyed is watching the steady growth of Atlanta’s J-Fashion community. From what I had seen in the past, it had only been small groups of people sporting Lolita and other Japanese street fashions, but each and every year this number had expanded, to the point where you practically can’t turn a single corner without encountering someone in Japanese fashion. Even outside of J-Fashion, there had been a rise in Steampunk and Neo-Victorian trends. Sweet Lolita (and Lolita Fashion in general) seems to have become especially popular for people of all genders, backgrounds and walks of life and it’s a beautiful thing to behold. I enjoyed seeing how everyone expressed their individual sense of style within this fashion sub-culture, no two Lolita’s looked alike. I’m eager to see how Atlanta’s J-Fashion community will continue to expand from here.

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Anime Weekend Atlanta 2012 was on the best years yet, I think the convention is really creating a well-rounded experience for attendees. Fashion, musicians based is both the US and Japan, bands and idols alike – it goes way beyond anime and I think that’s something that people have truly come to appreciate; I know I certainly do. 2013 is fast approaching, and I’m already looking forward to what’s in store.


Find out more about Anime Weekend Atlanta at their [ Official Homepage ]

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This article is the second in the “Five Attractions” series, written by C.Thomas (CMT), edited by Alicia R. Thomas.


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