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I had been invited to host a Q&A with renowned “Gundam” creator and sci-fi novelist Yoshiyuki Tomino at The New York Anime Festival. But when my handler and I arrived at the designated room, we found it empty and dark. “Over here,” a staffer called from across the hall. “Too many people.”

The auditorium we entered was cavernous — the largest room in the city’s biggest convention venue, the Jacob K. Javits Center — and its seats were filled from front to back, with a string of fans and photographers lining the perimeter. My handler escorted me backstage to greet Tomino, who was squinting through the curtains as he scanned the room. He turned to me and said: “I am very surprised.”

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