Garden of the Moneygrubbers
last modified: Sunday, February 06, 2011 (4:09:49 PM)
Content with my last experience at the "New People" museum in San Francisco's Japantown, I decided to attend the "Garden of the Sinners" US premiere on February 6. Although I absolutely loathe the trek to Japantown as it is in an incredibly inconvenient location, the chance to meet and possibly receive sketches from both Ufotable president Hikaru Kondo and Aniplex producer Atsuhiro Iwakami were enough of a pull to make me go. Prior to event, I had not heard about this series. From what I read on Wikipedia about the series, Garden of the Sinners is a psychological thriller, and usually, I don't watch anime from this genre.
I should have known that this event would be less smooth simply by the fact that no one at "New People" could bother to return an e-mail or a call. I asked, twice, if the two guests were planning on holding an autograph session. While I understand that it depends on the guests, I would have appreciated just a simple "I don't know" e-mail. Or, if replying to several different people was too much of a hassle, a small update to the event on the website would have sufficed. Due to available seating in the New People theatre, the event was limited to (roughly) 143 people. Less than 60 people showed up for the event, and all of us were crammed into a small room outside the theatre prior to the event. No attempt by available staff(meaning, one person) to create a line was made. Instead, two groups of people ended up merging together, with some people calling out others for what they viewed as an attempt to 'cut' in line. Prior to the beginning of the movie, Iwakami & Kondo showed up. Both of them seemed displeased, perhaps because the theatre was no where near capacity. Or maybe their accommodations were not up to snuff. Whatever the reason, they were not happy campers. Their translator kept trying to urge the audience to purchase one of ten sets of the "Garden of Sinners" package that they had available by telling everyone of the special booklets and packaging that we would receive for the low, low price of $400 for all seven movies. The majority of the audience was not impressed with the constant reminders.
After watching the first two gruesome, but artistically pretty movies, Kondo and Iwakami held a short panel. Similar to other panels that I had previously attended at anime conventions, the questions were pre-scripted. Towards the end, Kondo became upset, expressing that those in the audience must have already seen the movies, for free, online. I, apparently, was not the only one in the audience who did not like the accusatory tone, and someone in front of me held up his imported Japanese release DVDs as an indicator as to how he knew about the series. Iwakami, though, seemed more reserved and said nothing about the matter.
After attending many artist panels, I've gotten used to the inevitable "I know you *ILLEGALLY* streamed/downloaded this online" tirade. And while, in some cases, it might be justified, in the case of "Garden of the Sinners", I don't think it was. GotS, outside of Japan, doesn't have the following that Bleach, Naruto or One Piece have. A good portion of the attendees were there for the guests, though, by the end of the three movie marathon, most attendees were so put off by the insinuations and Kondo's speech about "one day walking into everyone's home and see the special GotS booklet only available in the $400 package on everyone's coffee table" that they walked out after the event. I'm not sure what VizMedia or Aniplex were planning, but, treating paying guests this poorly does not serve them. There is no reason to insult paying guests by accusing them of piracy and thriftiness. In a perfect world, the ten movie packages would have been scoped up before the event.