Tomorrow marks the opening of San Francisco's NEW PEOPLE experiment, a unique otaku-centric center in San Francisco's Japantown. After months of construction and planning, and what seems like a crazy flurry of finishing touches in the last few weeks specifically, NEW PEOPLE is opening its doors.
NEW PEOPLE is a shopping/community hang-out, planned and sparked by Viz's president Seiji Horiguchi, and was funded with Shogakukan yen. To commemorate the opening, they're throwing a hell of a launch party-- with a whole day of artist appearances, signings, music, and street fair with local vendors. MTV IGGY and other print/web/tv media will also be in effect to cover the opening. Here are the highlights for me:
+ Yuichi Yokoyama live painting event!
Holy crap! The artist behind Travel, New Engineering, and other conceptual manga and paintings is making his inagurural American appearance for the NEW PEOPLE opening. He will be painting at the Buchanan Mall/Post intersection from 12:00 to 2:00pm, with a signing at the NEW PEOPLE store from 3:00 - 4:00pm. For other posts I've made about his work, follow the Yokoyama tag.
Here is a video from PictureBox/Comics Comics Mag blog of Yokoyama painting. I'm beyond stoked to potentially meet this guy and see him in action!
+ Signing with Yoshitaka Amano
I think high school Ryan would be more pssssssyched for this one, but it's still a super interesting choice of artist and I'm looking forward to seeing his paintings at the NEW PEOPLE gallery, Superfrog (more on that below). Amano events this weekend:
Panel Discussion welcoming Amano: 12:00PM
Autograph Session: 4:00PM -5:00PM
Finally, here is a full rundown of what is actually in the NEW PEOPLE WORLD building, from their press releases:
BASEMENT: VIZ Cinema
A 150 seat theater featuring contemporary and cult live action Japanse films, along with Viz anime and licensed films. The films premiering at the theater launch will be the 20th Century Boys live action adaptation trilogy. They are also planning to show the Death Note, L, and Nana flicks in the near future too.
1ST FLOOR: Coffee Shop & Food
Just what every otaku needs: organic coffee and Japanese delicacies. Not sure if these are stands, or a space to hang out and chill. Could be a great spot for hosting drawing meet-ups, etc.
MEZZANINE: NEW PEOPLE: The Store
Not sure what this exactly will feature, but it sounds like a curated collection of gadgets, trendy toys, shirts, manga, imported Japanese books, housewares, other stuff. Featured items on the site include signed copies of Travel by Yokoyama, and the new Cornelius CD. I had assumed this would be a Viz-only shop originally, but that definitely does not seem to be the case. Interesting.
2ND FLOOR: CLOTHES
6-7 different Japanese boutiques, with a focus on kawaii clothes and gothic-lolita. I guess we can expect to see even more San Francisco teenagers rocking arm-warmers, eye patches, and lace in the very near future.
3RD FLOOR: Superfrog Gallery
Very cool, a small gallery featuring contemporary, pop/manga artists from Japan. The kick-off exhibit is new paintings [DEVA LOKA USA] by Yoshitaka Amano. I haven't heard any other artists on the list, but I am gonna try to find out this weekend. Who is in charge of the planning, I wonder? Yes, I'm thinking a Suehiro Maruo gallery showing next year to coincide with the release of Panorama Island.
I'm excited to see if this thing catches on and is viable after the initial opening. If done well and offering interesting shows/shopping, it could be a great place for otaku to hang out in San Francisco. In an interview with the SF Chronicle, Seiji from Viz said, "...If it works, we will bring it to other cities. New York, Paris, London. And I believe we will succeed. Because this generation of new people -- they are curious, they're experimental, they're open to the rest of the world, and to unfamiliar ideas. So doing this makes sense."
For a full listing of NEW PEOPLE happenings, check out this event guide here [PDF]. They also mentioned related events, like a Japan Girls Rock show at nearby Yoshi's, featuring Bacteria Vacuum, noodles, and TsuShiMaMiRe.
Maybe I'll see some of you Bay Area folks there tomorrow, and full report and pictures coming on Sunday for everyone else!
UPDATE: Via Patrick Macias' twitter, we have pictures of the NEW PEOPLE building before it's opening, via the MTV IGGY site. Looks chill!