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The death and life of Anime Con 2011

21 Sep
From CALF Short Films
The second animation convention organized by The Japan Foundation was held at Marwah Studios, in the heart of Film City, Noida. Of course, where this is anime aplenty and the promise of manga and much more, Comic Addicts were bound to be present in force. 
My initial taste of the Anime-Con felt bitter, for I was expecting a slightly better infrastructure to be in place. Events were even as I arrived getting delayed and pushed back. The events that were occurring seemed to be competing for an audience that was mostly disinterested. I suppose the venue being in Noida took away a chunk of the anime fans from far parts of Delhi and Gurgaon. Add to that the rainy weather and it is understandable if many of the diehards chose to stay in.


Why are they still calling themselves diehards? An anime con touches down in your city, and you miss out on it? Poor form Otaku-wannabes. Poor form indeed! Genshiken a recently founded anime appreciation club was present, nice to see. Although the much publicized Gaming Arena was a damp squib, with one console, one TV and a perpetual line coiled around it. The workshops were useful, however imparting knowledge at a festival has always put me off. I want anime and manga around me and I want it in the bucket loads. Where is the cosplay? Where are the comics? Where is everybody? My spirits by this time were sinking fast. They sunk further when the hyper expensive bento available at the Ai cafe proved to be another disappointment.

Relenting to the energy that seemed nearly palpable in the very air around us, I too was about to write off Anime Con as a badly mashed together festival sorely lacking in its target audience, all in all a poor excuse for me making the two hour trip from Gurgaon to Noida. However at that moment something caught my eye, a hoarding for the Anime Theater and an arrow pointing inwards. Without a second thought I made my way towards this ‘Theater’ expecting in my heart another disappointment. The theater was in an obscure corner right near the entrance. A door ajar led into the darkness. With the promise of sound and light and perhaps entertainment.

It was in the darkness of the theatre that my eyes finally opened. I entered this place still every inch the cynic, I came here thinking about the same clichéd movies that are screened from time to time. I came here totally not expecting a revolution. But what was this? The movie in front of me whose title unfortunately I missed was a kaleidoscope of colors and music. As abstract art and designs melded on screen in a psychedelic extravaganza. Mesmerized I promptly found myself a niche and propped myself. My mind which had been stunned into submission by the film was regaining its voice. And once more I thought this was probably a short which would be followed by a Naruto movie or something. It was ten minutes into the short ‘Hand Soap‘ that changed all that. This is not your run of the mill anime appreciation festival. This is their best and brightest, this is the future of anime. Pure experimentation given life. Believe me when I say this to you, this is a whole new dimension in animated cinema. Leave behind the simple shackles that bind our reasoning, forget the Shonen playbook. This stuff, is art. The shorts I witnessed were the creation of Kei Ōyama. And they were each unforgettable.

My delight in the theater was marred only by the annoyance at the public around me. I dont blame them for not understanding, most of this stuff was abstract. I cant understand much out of it either, but its the imagery that counts and the impact it has on our mind. And impact both conscious and subconscious. What I do mind however is how they do not even attempt to understand. They shy away from the imagery and the rich sound. Hiding behind loud jokes and nervous laughter rather than admitting to themselves that this film for some inexplicable reason was making them uncomfortable. Look at it, not away from it. All around me were people who did not want to be here. Which made me question once more, where were the people who did want to be here.

The show was over soon. And the lights came on, much to the relief of the confused audience. I rose as if from a dream and walked on out. Mixed bag of feelings rattling in my head.

I had witnessed something extraordinary in animation. Something you do not usually see, and something any fan of anime would give and arm and a leg to see. Sad part was, I had witnessed it alone. Anime Con was indeed a badly mashed together festival sorely lacking in its target audience, the film screening however was a big fat diamond in its crown. A revolution in animation and cinema that has passed us by completely unnoticed.