Last year, I was lucky enough to get invited to the first showing of the No Game No Life movie by Sentai Filmworks. It was a ton of fun! (Well, except when I was almost barred by the police from attending the event.) Now, nearly a year later, Sentai Filmworks was kind enough to send me another invite to one of their film premieres: Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn. What was different? What did they improve upon? Did I actually get tazed this time? Stick around, and I’ll tell you all about it!
First: check in. Last time, press check in was simple. I showed up, flashed my driver’s license and was told where the red carpet walk was being held. I wasn’t given a wrist-strap, a ticket or even a sticker that said I had special privileges. But was definitely assured that it was okay for me to go there and do my job. Unfortunately, the police disagreed. This year, thankfully, they had it all. A table with a handy sign that said press check in. A sheet of paper I had to sign and finally, a lanyard that said press on it. As someone who would rather not run afoul of the LAPD again: thank you, Sentai Filmworks, for streamlining this.
Moving on, there was the red carpet event. This probably featured the biggest difference between the two years. At No Game No Life, we were treated to the voice actors of the movie. Overall I think that there was maybe around 20 or so people directly tied to either the movie or at least to the series or was a friend of someone in the show. This year, when I was signing in, I was handed a paper packet. Figuring it was a movie bill for press I took a brief glance on my way to the theater and realized it was 6 pages of photos of random famous people that had just been invited to the premiere. I think of the 76 people that were invited to the premiere six of them were directly related to the actual movie, not including the Sentai Filmworks team that was there coordinating the event. Now granted, No Game No Life was being premiered in dubbed format while Made in Abyss was being shown in the original audio, but the guest list was noticeably smaller this time around. While it’s a great shot in the arm to have people like Miss Indiana at the premiere, it’s just not worth putting on the talent listing like they are actually a part of the movie.
As for the movie itself, I was a little worried going in this year. I wasn’t able to watch the entire series beforehand and I thought that I’d miss something important. As it turns out, not watching the series beforehand was probably the best thing that could have happened. As it was a rundown of the series high points, something similar to the Eureka Seven that Funimation had done recently. It’s basically a great primer for anyone unsure if they want to invest the full time into a series. While the movie lacks all of the slower points that give a character a chance for development, it’s understandable that something like that would need to go in favor of getting to the story. It made me excited to see the series including all of the slower parts. We will certainly have a full review of the film in the next couple weeks, so look forward to it.
Both years there was also a Q&A session of the voice actors (No Game) and some major members of the Director team (Made in Abyss). Honestly, there wasn’t that much of a difference. Save for maybe the english actors being asked one or two additional questions since there wasn’t a delay in translation. Overall though, it was a fun experience to hear some of the fan questions of both the few lucky audience members and the Sentai Filmworks crew getting some of their questions answered. They also had a little gift give away on random anime knowledge for some totebags of goodies. So slight improvement over the two years is that this year had nifty prizes for knowledgeable attendees.
Finally, the hardest thing to compare is the after party. Last year, I’m not sure if there actually was an after party, or if this was something that they instituted this year. So while I can’t compare it is something that I did still want to mention. First was the venue, a restaurant at the top of the Ritz-Carlton with a fantastic view of downtown LA, simply fantastic as a native Los Angelite to get to see in his life. Not surprisingly, the food was delicious. I may have had a few too many of the beef skewers, but I regret nothing.
At previous events, there was a bit more mingling with the press and VIP guests at events like these. Unfortunately, they were cordoned off for the evening at the event. I had been hoping to maybe talk to some of the actual crew, but I can understand not wanting them to get mobbed by the dozen or so people there covering the event as press.
Overall, I have to say that this year was a major improvement over last year. Great after party food and atmosphere, a treat for those lucky enough to see the movie in the Q&A and trivia game they played, and of course the movie itself was wonderful. It goes without saying that my experience might be improved due to the lack of police intervention, but pay that no mind. The only downside to the whole event was the enormous talent list that wasn’t really related to the movie itself.
Overall, it was an awesome experience, and I hope that we are lucky enough to get invited to their next premiere. Thanks Sentai Filmworks, for the invitation!