Hamster Games

Just back from AnimeFest in the Czech Republic where, I taught my Storylining in a Corporate Environment workshop (the people who brought you Zombie Hitler, Choc Shock and Hattie Bast: Mummy’s Girl). The two teams of competing delegates digested the usual set of factors influencing animated TV shows, and then spat out ideas tainted with the usual degree of mentalism. The almost unpronounceable C<3R3 of Exe-CUTE-ors featured transforming mecha-students at corporate-sponsored high schools, leading a revolution against their exploitative masters after one pilot finds love in the locker room with a girl from a rival team. The other, the inspired Hamster Games, featured a gaggle of schoolgirls, unaware that their fluffy pets were in the middle of a vicious war against hellspawn, fought in the house at night with kitchen utensils and hamster superpowers.

As ever the victims teams had to battle against time constraints, corporate concerns and the everyday misery of having to run a team with no discernable leader. “Monoculture”, that perennial storylining problem, when copying other people means stuff just looks like everybody else’s, came to the fore, as did the perils of pitching. One team went in with a full-on movie-trailer for their concept, but forgot to use some of their best and funniest lines. The other team went for a more traditional approach, but fatally neglected to preface the whole thing with either their high concept: “CUTE + MECHA”, or their major inspiration (“Romeo & Juliet”) which might have saved them from a lot of abuse at the hands of their rivals.

cz legion armoured trainI also had the chance to drop in at the Bank of the Czechoslovak Legion in Prague, an intricate Rondo Cubist building like some sort of transplant from a world of steampunk deco, built with the spoils from the collapse of Tsarist Russia and the fall of the Far Eastern Republic, by the survivors of the army that fought its way across Siberia on an armoured train (^^ look! an armoured fricking train! ^^), in order to get back to Europe the long way round. But it’s not a tourist site per se, it’s an operational office building, so we celebrated by getting Mikiko Ponczeck to take some money out of the ATM.

Meanwhile, at the con proper, I was asked to sign copies of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis, Anime: A History and the long out-of-print Erotic Anime Movie Guide. And I was asked: “What is your favourite kind of meat?” Which has never happened before.