05 April, 2009

Tekkoshocon VII (Second Day)

Note: This review was originally posted on a message board forum in a conversational format. It is being re-posted here for posterity, and has been backdated to the date of its original posting. You can read the discussion in its original format here.

Second Day:

Went a little later today since I could stay as long as I wanted. Still, there were things I wanted to see in the afternoon, so I didn't take too long getting out there. I was on the road by 1, and in the convention center by 2. Parking appeared to be more readily available today, but instead of risk it, I just went to the same place as yesterday - if it works once, it'll work twice. Turns out they have a flat weekend rate of only $5 which was a nice surprise at the end of the day. Also, lucky for me, I discovered that the road the garage is on curves around and if you follow it for 5 or 6 blocks, it takes you right to the front of the convention center! Weather today was still chilly, but decidedly less rainy, and perhaps not as much wind.

First on my schedule was the Naruto photoshoot. I ended up deciding not to bother taking any pictures (for complex but logical reasons), but I watched the group for a bit. Lots of Akatsuki members, including more than one Hidan. It seems that Kisame (crocodile face) is the new Zabuza in terms of the Naruto series' huge sword wielder. There was one Jiraiya - when he showed up, half the group glomped him (orz); two Rock Lees - one of which actually had that "Bruce Lee"-ish look; and most of what all else you'd expect. I noticed a conspicuous lack of Kakashis, though. And I didn't see an Orochimaru (although there was an Orochimaru-subordinate-style version of Sasuke) - not that Orochi's necessarily a popular cosplay choice, but I thought he'd be cool to see.

After I finally got bored of watching the Naruto group, it was about time for the kendo demo. Just then I bumped into Audrey, daughter (or whatever kind of relative she is) of the Primatives, who I've seen at countless Open Stages and Primatives gigs over the recent years. Last night at the Open Stage, Lila told me she was at the con, but I didn't actually expect to bump into her, considering the crowds and whatnot, so that was nice.

The kendo demo was really cool. It was the best part of the con, and I'm really glad I went. It was hosted by the kendo group over at Pitt, and there was about - well actually exactly - seven kenshi demonstrating, of various degrees of proficiency (the sensei is a fourth dan; the junior-most member has been practicing for less than a year). The first session was informational, then they breaked for about 5-10 minutes before going through a makeshift practice and quick mock-tournament. It was very informative from all sides, and gave us a chance to see kendo in action, up close.

Afterwards, it was getting towards 5:00, and I had to visit the Dealer's Room again (which didn't close till 7), so that was next. I had a real hard time deciding on what to buy. Let me tell you, I was this close to buying a C.C. body pillow ($40), just for the hell of it, but as I was browsing the wallscrolls adjacent, a couple of girls walked by and said, "hey look, body pillows! Now you can feel more like a pedo than ever before!" Regardless of the accuracy of their statement (or rather, the lack thereof), I decided against going for the purchase.

I was also seriously considering buying one of those Asuka figures I saw/mentioned yesterday ($45), but instead, I ended up taking the cheaper route and getting a few smaller figures and an issue of Megami magazine with Hayate no Gotoku! featured on the cover. The figures I got from a really cool booth with a really cool guy who had a really cool figure display, such that I feel bad that I don't remember what store he represented. He had a policy on the "blind box" figures, that if you buy more than one of a series, and get duplicates, you can return it, which is pretty cool. But I didn't feel like gambling this year, so I went with some individual miniature figures on display. All Eva figures, incidentally. I'll show them to you later. Oh yeah, there was another booth offering a 50% discount on their manga, but when I asked them if their expensive Chobits art books were included in that discount, the guy said no; otherwise, I would have bought one of those...

After the Dealer's Room, I was planning on getting some dinner, but I spent more time in there than I had planned, walking up and down the aisles, trying to decide what to buy (aside: there was a really good looking Asuka cosplayer behind one of the booths), and the Fate/Stay Night photoshoot was coming up, so I stuck around (also, upon my exit from the Dealer's Room, there was a group of dancers in the main hall, including a surprisingly convincing Haruhi - who was actually - wait for it - more attractive, I think, than the 2D version :shock:). I had a little extra time to kill, and from what I could tell, the Masquerade was just letting out, so I found myself a seat on the ground and watched countless cosplayers march past, as they came out of the Masquerade in droves. Saw a really cute Cammy cosplayer, who was surprisingly taking more pictures than I saw her posing for. There was also a C.C. with a slightly different outfit than the other(s) I'd seen - it was all white, and actually looked quite sexy. It's amazing how many attractive people there are in a group like this. You expect the fat, smelly nerds - and they certainly represent - but there are a lot of attractive girls there, too. And the costumes speak for themselves. It's enough to make a ronery man cry.

I bailed on the Fate/Stay Night photoshoot, because I saw the Ilya, and for a younger sister character, let me tell you - in the most delicate terms I care to conjure - to describe the cosplayer as "small" would be a stretch. I also saw a Rider in the Dealer's Room, but she wasn't quite up to par with the 2D version. So I just broke for dinner, instead. I left the convention center and walked around the corner, to a Subway I located on the restaurant map included in the con book. Lots of congoers there, which is a neat atmosphere in a regular place like that, but luckily it wasn't to the point that it was crowded, and I couldn't get a seat/service. So no problem there.

After dinner, I sat in on a few episodes of Higurashi in one of the video rooms. I keep hearing about that series, and how good it is, so when I saw it on the schedule, I figured it'd be the perfect introduction, to decide if it was worth watching. It was pretty good. Very creepy. Murder mystery type of vibe. I'd like to see more.

After that, I finally, mercifully, had the chance to sit in on some AMV's. I caught the top 6 of some Top 25 AMV Countdown, which was generally good viewing. I actually had seen most of those Top 6 - included were I Wish I Was A Lesbian, the Right Now video, Memory Dances (the Ghibli video), Euphoria (I think it's called - the RahXephon one). But good viewing, nonetheless. Then they aired a "Short Attention Span" special, consisting of 30 minutes worth of 30-seconds-or-less AMV's created to entertain those of "differently-advantaged" attention spans. The quality ranged from crappy to quite good, so it was generally a good watch. Though the two Berserk clips that were used were godawful, unfortunately.

After that, I ended up watching a crappy Naruto parody dub (though short), as the result of a dreaded schedule change, which then left me wandering at around 11:30pm. I was thinking about heading home, when, as fate would have it, I bumped into Audrey & her gang again. I let her convince me (with very little resistance) to check out "the rave". I didn't exactly do any raving, but it was a neat atmosphere. Except that, for me, being in an atmosphere like that is incredibly depressing. Being so close to that world just amplifies the metaphysical distance between me and everybody else, while reminding me of those things in life that I so desire and yet lack. The feeling is awfully similar to heartbreak.

I followed "the gang" up to the roof, and then hung out at their hotel room for a little bit - being in a hotel room really ramps up that vibe of "being at a con". Then we hung out in the parking garage a bit before going our separate ways - each of them home, in one form or another, but obviously different homes. It was a pretty good end to the con, and I'm glad I bumped into Audrey because it added a whole alternate perspective to the experience I wouldn't otherwise have had.


03 April, 2009

Tekkoshocon VII (First Day)

Note: This review was originally posted on a message board forum in a conversational format. It is being re-posted here for posterity, and has been backdated to the date of its original posting. You can read the discussion in its original format here.

First Day:

I was in the city by noon, but it took me almost an hour to find a place to park. I suppose it was naive of me to think the Convention Center would have enough parking space to accommodate. I did a sweep and all the parking garages I found within a few blocks were also full. I eventually found a place that was within about 15 minutes walking distance, provided you know which direction to go - something I wasn't entirely sure of, but I did get off in the right direction, and was able to find my way without trouble (getting back to the garage was slightly trickier, though).

The Convention Center is huge, and nice. Plenty of room for the con. Plenty of room for the congoers. Panel rooms, video rooms, everything is huge. Except the Dealer's Room, which is about the same size if not bigger than it's ever been, yet when all the other rooms have so much extra space, it makes the Dealer's Room feel small, because it's supposed to be the biggest room at a con, right?

I caught the Claymore panel after orienting myself and checking out where everything was. There were less than twenty people at the panel, and it was basically a casual chat/question-and-answer session with Stephanie Young, the English voice of Clare. Naturally, the subject of the discussion focused more on voice acting (obviously from an American perspective) than Claymore itself, but I still stayed and listened in. You could tell Stephanie was very excited about getting the role, and loves the series. I learned that they call the boy "Rocky" in the English version. I think "Lucky" would have been a better choice, but hey...not like I'm ever gonna watch that version anyway. ^^ Stephanie, as I presume many voice actors do (for anime in America, at least), had a pretty laidback and charismatic personality.

And after the panel ended, one person there commented on my Behelit. ^^ When I originally got it, it was like, "cool, but I got it so easily, everyone's gonna be wearing them". But, with Suncoast not around anymore, I guess it's even rarer than ever before.

I saw a few cosplays that caught my eye. There was a good looking Gaara, complete with sand gourd, at the Claymore panel. I wanted to get a shot of her, but she picked up and left in the middle of the panel. :| I also saw a good-looking group consisting of Tsunade, Sakura, and Naruto. There was also a couple C.C.'s (unless it was the same one on multiple occasions, which is possible), accompanied by a Zero. Saw some Sailor Senshi. Even a Hidan (from Akatsuki). And a Saber. I have to admit I wasn't feelin' the whole camera thing, though. I did take some shots from the roof of the convention center, however, during a lull in the rain (did I mention that it was cold, windy, and rainy?).

I was happy to hear some Japanese anime in some of the video rooms, though other ones were sportin' English. That show Doug likes to see at cons was playing, the one with the hand-girl. I saw a Trigun AMV (not the "45" one) in the AMV room but didn't stick around long enough to see more. When I came back later, they were doing an AMV Creation Panel, which was somewhat interesting. I'm rather disappointed, because one thing I'd really like to see is the "R and NC-17 AMV Contest", but two out of three sources say that it's scheduled tonight at midnight, so I'm gonna have to miss it... :| Too bad they have to section those AMV's off from the main exhibition. Why can't they hold an adult anime convention? :(

Dealer's Room had this weird mood lighting. Made it kind of hard to see the merchandise terribly well. I'm not sure if it's entirely the fault of the room itself - that that's the only lighting that room has - or if it was the decision of the staff. Lots of neat weapons for sale, including a lot of steel replicas, like the Sword of Omens, and a miniature version of Zabuza's cleaver (and by miniature, I mean that it's about the size of a regular sword :lol:), those were two that caught my attention.

I saw a number of figures of interest. A couple Asuka's I've had my eye on (this one and this one), as well as a number of others I wouldn't mind having. A few of those "blind box" sets caught my eye, but I hate that I don't know what I'm getting. I don't want to end up with a stupid Shinji, when I could have a hot Asuka, or even a cool Rei! :cry:

That's it for now. Might add more if I think of it later.

Second Day