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Katsucon 2 Report

Holiday Inn Executive Center
Virginia Beach, VA
March 8-10, 1996

[Note: This article has not been updated since it was written, so most of the links are now broken.]

Katsucon returned to Virginia Beach during Spring break weekend this year. Despite some bad travel weather, most of the guests actually showed up this year. ^_^ Because this year's con was happened later that last year's, I was able to attend without missing too many classes. Everything seemed to run smoothly (for a convention), and all of the attendees I met were having a great time. Though I spent most of my time in the video game room, I did manage to check out some of the con events. Since this is the 3x3 Eyes Info site, my report will be biased toward 3x3 Eyes news.

I was very happy to see the Guest of Honor, Masakazu Katsura. Video Girl Ai is one of my favorite anime and manga series. At his guest panels, he answered many questions and asked a few of his own. One of the most interesting things he refused to talk about was a computer project he is rumored to be currently working on. I heard speculation that the project is a computer game based on Video Girl Ai, and that it will be a fighting (fighting?!?) game. I can't wait to hear more.

Many con-goers were looking forward to only one thing on Friday: the opening of the dealers room. I was pleasantly surprised by the selection of merchandise available, since many of the dealers had a long way to travel. Prices on import merchandise still seem a bit high. (To check the current dollar-to-yen exchange rate, look here.) There were some bargains, and just about any American anime release could be found for a good price. I saw almost all of the 3x3 Eyes CDs and even the second episode of the new anime on laserdisc. A.D. Vision was selling the first of the Blue Seed videos and giving away Blue Seed posters. I still haven't heard who has the rights to release the new 3x3 Eyes OAV series in the US, but I didn't ask around. Neither Streamline nor Manga Video attended the con. ^_^ I spent a bit too much money, but where else in Virginia can I find the Marmalade Boy Best Album?

As I said earlier, I spent most of my time in the video game room. I spent part of the time serving as a con volunteer, making sure nobody walked off with any of the game systems. I also donated my Sega Saturn to the room, so I played a lot of Virtua Fighter 2. There was a NeoGeo machine running Samurai Showdown 3 that I believe was in use the entire time the game room was open. I wonder if some of the people at the con ever slept (probably not). I was able to play a little Samurai Showdown 3, Toshinden 2, and even the original Samurai Showdown. The game tournaments went fairly smoothly, and sometimes the room was packed with spectators. If my computer was more portable, I'd take it to the next con just to set up some DOOM (or Quake) matches.

One of the highlights of the convention for me was the opportunity to meet Toren Smith. Toren founded Studio Proteus and has translated more manga than I've read, including the 3x3 Eyes manga recently published by Dark Horse Comics. He is also somewhat of a legend in anime fandom. (How many people do you know who have had an anime character named after them, by Gainax no less?) Toren's monthly Manga Newswatch can be found at the Dark Horse web site. At the convention, Toren used his guest panel to outline the future plans of Studio Proteus. I won't say much about most of the panel, other than to mention that Blade of the Immortal will be awesome. Also, Toren tends to speak of future Shirow publications in terms of the year when they should be completed. (Luckily all of the dates he mentioned were in this century. ^_^)

Unfortunately, Dark Horse will not continue the 3x3 Eyes comics immediately after the "Curse of the Gesu" series ends. (If you have checked Dark Horse's schedule for the upcoming months, you already figured this out.) Due to some confusing sales figures, the series may be continued at a later date if Dark Horse receives enough encouragement from fans. I created the Support Translated 3x3 Eyes! page to explain what happened and offer some solutions. Check it out, and tell your friends. I'll be updating this page with any information I receive from Dark Horse Comics.

The day after the panel I stopped by the Studio Proteus table in the dealers room to chat with Toren Smith about every fan's favorite subject: copyright law. Toren is a nice, straightforward guy, and I felt comfortable talking to him even though I was rather nervous about the whole thing. Of course, once I started talking I forgot half of the things I wanted to say to him. (I'll definitely take a pad and pencil to the next convention I attend.) Toren Smith is a businessman, and he knows that in order to be successful his company has to make money. He is therefore very concerned when someone violates one of his company's copyrights in a way that can hurt profits. Also, he is bound by contract to protect the rights of the Japanese companies whose works he is translating.

One topic that came up during Toren's guest panel was the Studio Proteus translation of Oh! My Goddess. Dark Horse was very reluctant to publish the title, and forced the first translated issues to skip around to supposedly tie in with the anime episodes being sold by AnimEigo. Toren hoped to publish a complete translation of the early manga, order intact, as a graphic novel. At this time Dark Horse discovered translations of the first two Oh! My Goddess manga volumes were being distributed on the Internet and sold at conventions. Dark Horse felt that the market for commercial translations of the early manga had disappeared, so the order of the previously translated issues remained scrambled. There is no word from Dark Horse if a graphic novel will be published.

I asked for Toren's feelings about fan translations. He said that all translations distributed without permission are technically derivative works, and therefore violations of copyright. I mentioned that so far Dark Horse had translated less than two of the twenty-one 3x3 Eyes manga volumes, and fans tend to get impatient. He nodded, and I got the impression that his company will leave fans alone as long as they are not doing something that is directly and obviously hurting his business. (I hope this is true.) I mentioned that I own most of the Japanese 3x3 Eyes manga, but I still buy the Studio Proteus translations. He pointed out that research by his company has shown that die-hard, convention-going fans like me only make up 40 percent of his customers, a statistic that I found a bit surprising. In a sense, he can always count on that 40 percent (he mentioned that 3x3 Eyes fans have been especially supportive), but he has to sell a title to the other 60 percent, the average comic buyer, in order to be successful. All I can say is that, with the titles coming from Studio Proteus in the near future, Toren shouldn't have to worry too much about making a profit.

Finally, I asked Toren about fan use of copyrighted material such as artwork, something I have been personally worried about recently. I was happy to learn he is a supporter of fair use. In case you don't know, fair use is the part of copyright law that allows someone to, for example, review a movie without having to get permission from the movie company. Toren said fans were free to use, say, cover art from Studio Proteus titles in a fanzine (or Web site ^_^) as long as the content justified its use. In other words, you can review a comic, but don't try to scan it and publish it (or upload it to the Internet). His rule of thumb is to limit use to one copyrighted graphic for each page of text you write. The same rule applies to large quotes of copyrighted text. By this time, I had forgotten all of my other questions for Toren, so I thanked him for his time.

Since the subject of the convention was animation, there was a lot of anime shown. I ended up watching surprisingly little. One problem was that the video rooms were full for the popular shows, like the first two episodes of the new 3x3 Eyes anime and Ranma 1/2 Super. The anime I did see included the first episode of Slayers subbed, which was hilarious, and Shin Megami Tensei unsubbed, which was just weird. I also caught a bit of some shonen ai shows, which is an experience I don't know if many fans have had.

Since I got back from the con, I've been reading other attendees' comments on rec.arts.anime. I'm always a little depressed when I hear about cool things at a con that I missed. (There was anime on the hotel TVs?) I wish I had seen the CosPlay, but at least I was able to see both groups of Sailor Senshi (I'll never look at some of the participants in the same way again). I'd like to thank the Katsucon staff for doing a great job, and I can't wait for Katsucon 3 (Katsu-san?). It seems like the con may be forced to move to a bigger hotel, judging by this year's attendance. I don't think I'll volunteer next year (I need my sleep), but since the Katsu guys are here in Blacksburg, maybe I'll try to influence their choice for a Japanese guest. -_^ I'd also like to thank Rich (a.k.a. ZZYZZX), the VTAS president, for rooming with me. Since I still have a few dollars left, I'll be attending Otakon '96 in August. (The fact that the Otakon party was held in the hotel room next to ours has nothing to do with this decision. ^_^) Expect another report then, and I'll try to remember to take my camera.

David Park
Foreign Correspondent, Yogekisha

3x3 Eyes story, art, and characters Copyright © 1987-1999 Yuzo Takada / Kodansha.
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Last updated: March 1, 2011 3:39AM UTC