Okay! So things started off a little lame because of the fact that the line for pre-registered guests was the longest it has ever been, while the line to simply register was... well, nonexistent. It was ridiculously annoying. Why even pre-register if you're going to wait over an hour and a half longer to get inside like that? The only plus was that my 3DS picked up over 50 weapon gems for Kid Icarus: Uprising while I was in that line, as well as some items for Resident Evil: Revelations and Super Mario 3D Land (and every time I emptied them out, I immediately got more). There were so many people with 3DS's, I loved it. The "Brony" shirt I was wearing also got a large number of compliments and bro-pounds (or should I say, bro-hoofs?).
After finally getting IN, Kelsey and I ventured forth and I immediately spotted some friends of mine just from walking around (Kyle, Nasser, Ralph, Justin B, etc.) and we all said "hi" and messed around. The good thing about the first day of a con is that you get more of a chance to really get used to all the surroundings, since all the biggest events happen on Saturday. Instead of running to get to panels, you can relax more, meet new people, and see what all the dealers and artists are selling. On top of getting some great cosplay pictures (which you can view on my Facebook!), we also found some awesome stuff to throw our money at. I got an S.H. Figurearts Gokai Red figure, and the two Yu-Gi-Oh! R mangas I was missing (still sealed with the cards inside thankfully!).
After all of that and lunch, we went over to some panels. First we went to 'WTF Moments of Anime and Manga,' a panel that started off amazingly, only to get a little sidetracked near the middle due to some annoying patterns from the audience. I liked the panel, but had sort of mixed thoughts on the way the time between presentation and audience interaction balanced out. Too much audience interaction can make some panels go a bit out of control, and while I thought the girls doing the panel did a great job, things did get a little insane by the end. After this was the 'Abridged Series Panel,' showcasing all sorts of people from different abridged versions of our favorite animes and such. Aside from the people hosting this panel being a little... well, nuts, the videos shown were a mix of great and decent. They made abridged episodes of Angelic Layer, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and even Kamen Rider Fourze (or as they called it, Kamen Rider Four Shizzle(... Eh, it was okay at best.). I wasn't really excited about much of anything for Friday panel-wise, so Kelsey and I also went to the Sailor Moon abridged panel (as that's her favorite anime ever!!!) and Sailor Moon Abridged is actually really funny, whether you like the Sailor Moon series or not. They showed a new episode and kinda screwed around because they had extra time to do nothing.
Not too much else went on that night besides walking around and meeting new people (like the awesome DJ Cutman, who makes beats with video game music!). I wasn't really interested in the Berryz Kobo concert, after I watched a video of them singing for two minutes and felt like a pedophile, but that's okay because it all led up to...
That's right; this was the big one folks!!! Where to even begin...
We came right over to the 'Saturday Morning Cartoons' panel, only to find out the poor guy's disc broke in half during his travel of multiple states to get here, so we were stuck watching Muppet Babies for a while, (which wasn't bad since he picked the Indiana Jones and Star Wars episodes), but still, when you're missing the first part of the new Thundercats season finale for that, you tend to get a little disappointed. It didn't help finding out he had some bad-ass stuff on that other disc like Sonic SatAM and 80s Thundercats. It's alright though, because we all had fun joking around and then headed to a panel called 'Writing for Dubs,' hosted by Funimation's Leah Clark. This was probably the first panel I was actually legitimately interested in for the day, as I never did quite understand the dubbing process for these shows, and she even made us keep most of the things she talked about a secret due to the confidentiality of her job. It was basically like a Wonka Factory for anime dubbing. There's no other way to describe that. After the panel, she was kind enough to sign little flyers of the series "Panty & Stocking" for everyone. She was a very nice and funny woman, and I hope she comes back again next year.
There was an independent game design panel, but for some reason, I decided not to bother. I can't explain what it is, but for some reason I just didn't feel too compelled to bother. I suppose I've heard enough about how the industry works to feel it worthwhile again (though the guy hosting it, and other panels at this con was hilarious, and I'll get into how I know that later).
Next up, I decided to try the "Robotech Industry Panel," hosted by Kevin Mckeever, Robotech's chief marketing coordinator. He started with a slide show presentation about how far the series has come, and then into the future. He also talked about the current models and toys being released as well, and went on to answer questions and even gave us random prizes for asking them (I got a brochure for the documentary with a timeline and one of the soundtrack CDs). Some lucky people made off with some expensive models too. Lucky people, heh. I had asked him if there were any plans to bring the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross series back into production (as the old AnimeEGO sets are long out of print and expensive as hell on eBay). To my surprise (and joy!), he told me they were actually looking into releasing it once again. This made me very happy in itself, let alone getting free stuff just for asking about it!
The absolute STRANGEST, and I mean STRANGEST moment of the con occurs in this next paragraph. Seriously, I can't even begin to describe how completely odd and random this was. Okay..., so right as me and Kelsey are leaving for a bit to go grab some dinner, we notice the girls of the Jpop group Berryz Kobo are outside right in front of the Double Tree hotel, doing an interview of some sort. Kelsey goes to ask their crew if she can take a picture, but they decline (which didn't surprise me really). As we start to walk toward our car, suddenly, I notice one of the girls from the group start to walk away from the rest and actually walk toward me. Maybe a couple of feet away tops, she smiles really big and starts waving at me. Me, not knowing what the hell just happened, kind of stopped in place (confusing the hell out of Kelsey, who had no idea what was going on), and smiled and waved back, apparently kind of flustered according to the way Kelsey described it. After that, the girl walked over to one of the crew people and started saying something to her in Japanese, continuing to look and smile directly at me. After a few seconds and them just talking the whole time, we finally started to walk back to our car again. At this point in time, Kelsey can't decide if she finds this all hilarious or wants to wring my neck until my eyes pop out. I... still don't know what to say. She made a funny comment afterward like "Why do you get hit on by hot Asian women and all I get are ugly and creepy guys!? I'd have preferred the Asian woman honestly!" Good times... I think...
Following that strange experience, and joking about it all through dinner while Kelsey contemplated more laughter/ways to commit murder, we came back to see what I believe is AnimeNEXT's first attempt at a tokusatsu panel, called 'It's Toku Time!' For those who don't know, tokusatsu is the Japanese word for "special effects." It is used as a genre title for various shows like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider (Japanese Power Rangers if you will). I admit, I was probably more excited for this panel than any other. I think they only thing I could find wrong with it per se, was the fact that the panel was supposed to be an intro to tokusatsu for people who don't know about it, even though almost all of the audience (including myself) was already a fan of multiple years. This made it very difficult for Kelsey to know what the hell was going on when people wouldn't stop shouting catch-phrases. A great start though, and I'll be thrilled to see them come back to do more panels again.
Immediately following the toku panel was a Pokemon panel, called 'Pokemon Power Hour With Dave Lister.' This panel has been done a few times in the past with this convention, and this was our first time going. They played all kinds of fun games with the audience like trivia and dodge ball, with some nice prizes thrown in like gym badges and plushies. They even added a mystery gift for players of the DS games to download, but to my dismay, it only worked for versions of Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, and maybe Gold and Silver as well. I had specifically left my travel case with all of those games at home, because I thought if they were going to add anything, it would have to be for Black and White. I was sadly mistaken, however the event was great and the crowd was beyond fun and lively. It's fun being in a room filled with teenagers and adults, who also aren't afraid to admit they love this series too. Did I mention it was hosted by that hilarious guy who hosted the Indie Game Development panel too? Epic win. There was a panel about bronies and anime fans after that, but I think Kelsey and I were too tired to bother at that point in the night. Que...
The final, and usually most depressing day of the con. For the short amount of time the con is open till on Sunday, we actually still got quite a bit done, making rounds through the dealer's room for a last-second look, as well as the artist alley once more. I even picked up the most amazing bumper sticker ever, saying "My Other Ride Is a Gundam."
I also wore a shirt that had so many compliments, one guy actually asked if he could take a picture of it!
We also ended up with some more great cosplay pictures and even some funny and cute shots of the two of us. It was nice and happy.
So to sum everything up, this year's con not only addressed a lot of my complaints from previous years, but actually made a lot of things better (minus the dealer's room location. There's nothing right about having to walk around a building just to enter one area, especially when it could have rained at any time!). I had a great year and already can't wait till the next. Who knows what we'll see in the future years to come? I can't wait to find out. Thanks for reading!