A Visit to the Manga Cafe

This morning I was able to run down to the Manga Cafe.  I chatted with manager Kris Zoleta about the cafe, surrounded by racks of graphic novels.  The room was a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of the convention, and with all of those books, there were more than a few that I wanted to curl up with on a bench and read.

Kris told me that the manga library was introduced to the con in 2005, but due to a department move, it wasn’t included last year.  It was back on the schedule this year, bigger and better, as the Manga Cafe.  Kris has been a staffer for three years, and he started working in the library.  In fact, it’s the only department that he wanted to work in.  The guy takes after my own heart, though I’d be too busy reading all of the books to get any work done.

The books were donated or purchased with a manga budget, and there are over 2000 thousand volumes!  They have both English translated and Japanese manga, and the books are packed up at the end of the con to be used again next year. 

It took about 13 hours to set everything up.  The racks gave them a bit of trouble, as some of them kept collapsing.  Kris sheepishly admitted that he under-estimated the amount of shelving that they needed, and therefore they didn’t have enough room to display all of the Japanese manga, of which there are over 500 volumes.

The hours for the Cafe are 8 am to 2 am, but Kris is hoping for a 24 hour schedule in the future.  The busiest times are after the exhibit hall closes to about 11 pm, and at times, there’s a line to get in.  They have seating for about 50 people, and once all of the chairs are occupied, they can’t allow anyone else in.  He guessed that people were spending between fifteen minutes to two hours in the cafe. 

The procedure for utilizing the Manga Cafe is easy.  Hand over your badge at the door so they can sign you in, check your bags, and then take your time perusing the manga lining the walls.  In 2005, individual titles were signed out, but this year they’re experimenting with a more user friendly system.  When I asked about inventory shrinkage, he commented that he didn’t think it would be a huge problem.  Getting caught stealing a book means a lifetime ban from the con.  Hopefully most people will agree it’s not worth the risk.

Some of Kris’ favorite series are W Juliet, Gentleman’s Alliance, and Yuu Watase titles.  Poor Kris has been so devoted to getting the Manga Cafe up and running smoothly that he hasn’t even had a chance to visit the exhibit hall yet!  Hopefully he’ll be able to sneak away before all of the manga is snatched up by the hoards that have descended on the Long Beach Convention Center!

Guest Post – S.K.I.N. Concert at Anime Expo 2007

While I was running through the exhibit hall tracking down publisher booths and attending manga panels, the resident Manga Maniac in-training went to the S.K.I.N.  Here are Kim’s impressions of the hotness of Gackt.

After hearing that the premiere tickets for S.K.I.N. were sold out I thought I’d have to wait in another line in order to get a ticket. Apparently I was wrong when I heard that staff members were passing out S.K.I.N. tickets for free at the information booth. After fighting a large crowd I was able to get my ticket and realized the concert was starting at 30; my phone told me it was almost 4:00.

 I quickly found my way to the line at the Arena to get into the concert and found out that they were checking bags. The girls in front of me asked the staff members if they could take pictures and the girl checking everyone’s bags said that they were allowed to take pictures, just not allowed to record anything.  During the concert, this proved to be false.  All during the concert, people were told to put away their cameras and phones.  Some numbskull was thrown out of the arena for trying to record the concert.

I found my way to a seat and ended up waiting and waiting for the concert to start. Sadly people left because they had panels they wanted to go to and they had already been waiting for a few hours. There were still seats on the floor unfilled when the concert finally started at about 6:00.

When the concert started they played three songs and in the middle of the fourth song Gackt stopped the song and introduced the band members. He had his band mates play a solo on their instruments which took about fifteen minutes. Then as Gackt shouted "I am!" the crowd shouted back "Gackt!" numerous times. Then he went on with "We are!" and the crowd shouted back "SKIN!" about a gazillion times.  As much fun as that was, if I had to pay $50.00  for a premier ticket to hear them shout for about half the concert I’d have been pissed.

During the shouting phase, I noticed that some people were starting to leave. Then they started back in the middle of the fourth song and at the end one of the guitarists smashed his guitar to pieces on the stage and threw some of them into the crowd. Then Yoshiki took a part of the guitar and threw it at his drums and threw the sticks into the crowd along with many bottles of water.

The concert was only 4 songs long, but I was hoping they’d play another  but that’s a bit impossible with the drums smashed and the guitar in pieces and in the crowds.  Though I did find Gackt’s Dragon Microphone quite unique. 

Gackt hotness – intense. Those pelvic thrusts were scorching.  Miyavi hotness – burning.  Those leather pants were drool worthy.  Waiting around time – about three hours of unfun.  Concert duration – about sixty minutes of screaming and yelling.