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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.
Garden of the Moneygrubbers pt 2Sunday, February 06, 2011 - 6:16:46 PM

But California is still in a recession. And most anime titles appeal to younger audiences who may not be easily able to afford the movies, especially if they have rent and tuition bills pay. So, while I can sympathize that illegal downloads hurt anime sales, I also think that the prices for these DVDs and the attitude of those in the industry, is not helping things either.

Needless to say, by the end of the five hour program, half of the attendees left. The autograph session, begrudgingly, didn''t begin until 7pm and less than 30 people actually attended. I asked, once everyone went through the line once, if the two artists would be willing to sketch anything. Like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel, I was informed that I should consider myself lucky that they would even sign anything for the attendees. And while that comment really stings, I couldn''t believe that, apart from a photo for one purchaser at the end of the event, they weren''t willing to do anything special for those that actually bought the movie package at the event. It was as if we, the attendees, should be grateful that they graced us with their presence. It must be nice to live in a world where you''re better than everyone else. Maybe you get to that level when you know you''re going to be animating the latest hot TYPE-MOON property, Fate/Stay Night.

I''m rather disgusted by this spectacle. It not only makes me not want to buy the movies, but to refuse to collect anything Ufotable related. So, congrats Kondo-san, I''ll be saving more money on anime artwork thanks to you.

re: Garden of the MoneygrubbersWednesday, February 09, 2011 - 7:57:09 PM

i was curious about this anime/movie, but after reading your entry, it makes me torn on wanting to watch it and not watching it.

yes, i can understand them being upset over piracy but at the same time they need to understand as you pointed out some cant afford to go out and buy the dvd.

out of curiousity, after what happened, were you wondering if you should have just stayed home.

re: Garden of the MoneygrubbersSaturday, February 12, 2011 - 3:42:31 PM

I did not enjoy the movie, not soley because of Kondo''s attitude, but I didn''t care for the storyline. Although I enjoy plots where characters have some sort of ordeal that they must go through, I always feel that, upon accomplishing that task, they should be rewarded with something. That was not present in GotS. I wanted Shiki to finally acknowledge Mikiya''s feelings and maybe admit that she felt the same way. end left me feeling very, why did I bother wasting 5 hours of my life to watch this?

The artwork is well done. I could have lived without some of the violence, but, nothing compared to the CG effects in "Spartacus, Gods of the Arena".

re: Garden of the MoneygrubbersSaturday, February 12, 2011 - 10:42:54 PM

Sounds like a pretty bad experience in my opinion, if I were you I would''ve walked out ages ago. To be honest I''ve never actually gone to an event where I meet up w/ the artists and watch anime US premieres. But reading from your experience, I''m pretty shocked that it''s "normal" for artists to accuse they''re promising customers of watching their anime online. Are jap artists in general arrogant like that? If so I''m incredibly turned off. Kinda makes me feel insulted and disappointed that they don''t value or appreciate the people in the US who truly support and enjoy their work. Kudos for you for not buying anything from them!! They may sneer down at us all they want, but in the end karma will bite them in the ass one day. Looking at it business-wise though, they''re not very smart are they? :P