Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Japanese animation creates a stir

Published:Saturday | August 25, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Patrons dress like their favourite characters from Japan animation during a convention at Waterfalls recently. - Contributed
Patrons dress like their favourite characters from Japan animation during a convention at Waterfalls recently. - Contributed
Patrons dress like their favourite characters from Japan animation during a convention at Waterfalls recently. - Contributed
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Japanese animation, popularly called anime, seems to have found favour with a Jamaican audience. The most recent example of the genre's growing popularity came by way of a convention held at The Waterfalls lounge in Liguanea, St Andrew, recently.

According to information coming out of the event, the Third Annual Anime Convention in Jamaica included more than 300 participants decked out in costumes depicting their favourite anime characters.

The convention was sponsored by the Embassy of Japan in Jamaica, in association with anime group JA Cosplayaz.

Waterfalls was fittingly deco-rated for the occasion in drapings depicting the red and white colours of the Japanese flag and gold-coloured balloons symbolising the island's sunshine.

Japanese anime (animation) is a dramatic way of telling stories, geared to appealing to young minds by using highly styled characters featuring large eyes, funky hair styles and diminutive bodies presented in futuristic and artistic settings.

Samurai Champloo and InuYashu are two popular Japanese animes. They use religious connotations, powerful speeches about humanity, futuristic technology, and commentary filled with dramatic irony, satire and wit to communicate sublime messages and their personal views on both historic and current events impacting the world.

Increasingly, many American-produced movies are inspired by Japanese anime and include Avatar: The Last Airbender (Avatar: The Legend of Aang in Europe).

Japanese ambassador to Jamaica Hiroshi Yamaguchi, who opened the convention, said "I consider this event as one of the most significant cultural functions of the embassy for your generation ... animation for Jamaicans is becoming the equivalent of Jamaican music for Japanese".

The lounge was filled with young anime enthusiasts who visited displays from anime industry artists
Peta Anne Smith, Negash Davidson and Marcus Bird, who all featured both
Japanese and Jamaican characters.

Jamaican animes
created by the three anime artists include Pree, an endemic Jamaican
parrot couched as an investigative journalist on assignment; Adey, a
character that transforms into 'Anancy', a Jamaican folklore spider full
of pranks and mischief; and, on printed shirts, the anime Chibi Rasta,
an iconic representation mixing Japanese cuteness and Jamaica's
Rastafarian culture.

Traditional Japanese anime
characters were a major feature of video games being played by
convention members that kept many eyes glued to the screens as
conference attendees competed with each other.

Several
other displays were on show, promoting origami, the Japanese art of
paper folding; anime posters; calligraphy demonstrations; and
documentation on entry requirements to the upcoming 2012 Tokyo Anime
Competition, all to the scent of Japanese finger foods prepared by the
Japanese Embassy's resident chef.

Live
entertainment

Then the music shifted the mood of the
crowd as the DJ pumped up the favourite tunes of popular Japanese anime
cartoons and video games, signalling to convention members the beginning
of the evening's live entertainment .

Janel Polson
sang First Love by Utada Hikaru, featured in the
video game Kingdom Hearts; Stephanie Black performed the para para dance
along with hand movements somewhat akin to the popular macarena dance,
but instead using a quirky anime style; and Simon Frater did a
choreographed demonstration of the sword kata. The band Last Minute
Business performed songs from the anime Shika No Uta,
which is the theme music from the USA anime TV series Samurai
Champloo
.

To test the knowledge of
convention members on the attributes of their favourite anime
characters, the question-and-answer segment of the programme had
everyone at attention. Here are some of the easier questions. See how
you make out with the answers to these questions: (1) In 'Detective
Conan', what is Shinichi Kudo's best sport? (2) In 'Ranma', what happens
to Ryoga when he gets doused with cold water? (3) Kiddy Grade's Ecclair
uses what as a weapon?

Video
presentation

The video presentation was next,
featuring Jamaican folklore-inspired animes and clips from the previous
two Jamaican anime conventions held in Jamaica. The Cat Dog
Frenzy
, created and animated by Andrea McLean, had convention
attendees in fits of laughter as they watched what happened when a
cunning cat decides to steal an innocent dog's lunch. Another anime
video clip, created by an Edna Manley Art School final-year student,
depicted the evolution of art in a futuristic Jamaica using, among
others, imagery of the mythical 'rolling calf' - a beast of the night
much feared in the Jamaican countryside; colourful Jonkunnu dancers; and
the graceful swallowtail butterfly.

Next was the
much-awaited costume parade, the evening's highlight, as many convention
attendees had come out in anime outfits, some dressed as their
favourite anime characters from cartoons, movies and video games. Others
were dressed in outfits from Jamaican anime characters from Jamaican
folklore, or legendary personality icons.

Over 30
costumed convention members joined in the parade. Combining crowd
response to costumes along with points for originality and creativity,
the evening's judges made a tough call on who the winners for the parade
were: Pokeball from 'Pokeman' - which was the crowd favourite - took
third place. Faust from 'Guilty Gear X-2' took second place, and
Bridgette from 'Guilty Gear X-2' took first place, winning a furoshiki -
a Japanese gift wrap.

With the formal programme now
over, the dance floor was opened for all to enjoy their favourite anime
music beats.

To see video clips from Jamaica's third
annual anime convention, you can visit
www.youtube.com/user/JACosplayaz, and to learn more
about anime in Jamaica, you can view the JA Cosplayaz Facebook page at
www.facebook.com/groups/jacosplayaz/.