My second full weekend in Tokyo was dominated by two events, the Tokyo International Anime Fair 2008 and a hanami party organized by Kevin that was cut short by rain.

Tokyo International Anime Fair
The fair took place in Odaiba, at Big Sight, a unique looking exhibition hall dominated by it's Conference Tower, a glass and titanium-paneled set of four inverted pyramids mounted on large supports. Kevin and I got there at a little past noon, hoping to avoid the morning queue. Unfortunately, the Japanese seem to be pretty into their anime. The line snaked along the entrance platform, across a pedestrian bridge, down a set of stairs and made a left crossing a street. Looking at the satellite map, I'm estimating the line at the point where we got on to be around 800 meters. Amazingly enough, I guess the people at the door were pretty efficient. The line moved along pretty quickly and we were in the fair in less than half an hour.

As one would expect, the fair was packed. I don't know much about anime, but you could tell which studios were popular based on how hard it was to move by their booth. While the Japanese are very proper in most aspects of their daily lives, I noticed that in crowded situations such as the fair, the inner Asian comes out. At times I was being pushed around so much, it felt like I was back in Chinatown, trying to get out of the Grand Street stop. Before the day was over, I was so fed up with the shoving, I stopped budging for other people so I made it a game to cut direct lines through the crowd to wherever I was going.

Kevin served as my guide filling me in on the concepts and storyline of most of the popular anime. The most interesting piece I saw wasn't by a major studio but by a relative unknown in the Creator's World section, their version of Artists' Alley. Manning his own booth like many of the other creators in this section, Koide Takayuki had a large assortment of postcards for sale (and a book) featuring his ink illustrations. I purchased a set of two Stegosaurus illustrations for ¥100, not because it was his best illustration (it wasn't) but because Stego is my favorite dinosaur. Yeah, that's right, all you Triceratops lovers can suck it. You may sample some of them at his website, It's too bad the resolution is so low on the website images, you can't really appreciate the level of detail and the texture he creates in those illustrations. Do yourself a favor and check out his animations, coupled with the music, it's pretty mesmerizing; again, I would have appreciated higher resolution videos. Real creative mind, I should have bought the book from him, but was expecting to get an eyeful of his work on his website. Since that's not the case, I'm considering ordering it from before I leave Japan.

Cosplay / reyazu
I was expecting many fans in costume (cosplay), but that wasn't the case at all. I think I see more fans in America dressing up for comic conventions compared to the number I saw here. More on this in the next entry.

The island the Big Sight sits on has an interesting history that I won't bother repeating here. I'm not sure if garbage was used as landfill material, but there is mention on the web of landfills nearby Odaiba. I've made a big deal about how clean Tokyo seems and how much they recycle, but I was disappointed to find out that they bury their plastic rather than washing and recycling it. If you care enough to read about Tokyo's garbage treatment, check out this informative Japan Times article.