With posts like this one, I always wonder how much (if any) preface is required before diving into the meat of the post. For the people whom I expect to read this, no preface is necessary. On the other hand, someone else might read it who would benefit from a preface. If nothing else, it gives me a place to start.
Tekkoshocon is a Pittsburgh-area anime convention (ignore the sentai-themed original art, it's a genuine anime con :p), which was held in the big ol' convention center smack dab in the middle of the city for its second time this year. Tekko saw its first year in 2003 (if I've counted backward correctly), the first year I was out of town during the season - thus I was not aware of the con until two years ago (almost three, but not quite). That year ('08), the con was in transition, searching for a new larger space, to accommodate its growing size. It wasn't until the next year (last year), that they secured the big ol' convention center mentioned above, which gives them plenty of space to grow into. At this time, the con is still relatively small compared to the bigger cons in the country (because of my personal experience, I can't help comparing all cons to Otakon), but also a lot larger than the local Comicon from around the turn of the millenium that hosted meager amounts of anime-related programming (and merchandise) before Tekko existed.
This year, Tekko, for me, went down much like last year, despite the fact that I found someone to actually accompany me (a decided difference). As the con approached, I began to prepare myself. For my mix "tape" (read: CD), to listen to in the car, I put together a bunch of tracks from my anime music and Japanese idol groups folders. Representing the idol groups, I chose a handful of AKB48 tracks, reinforced by some SweetS and Berryz Koubou. The other half of the disc featured anime tracks, including (but not limited to) three songs from K-ON!, the opening theme to Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan (because it's catchy, and it reminds me of how ridiculous that show is), and Dame! from Hayate no Gotoku, sung by the voice of Nagi-ojousama (Kugimiya Rie). At the end were a couple of classics, songs that I can actually sing and play - Shinken from Love Hina (Aoyama Motoko's character song), and an excellent song from Serial Experiments Lain called Tooi Sakebi. Closing the disc was the ending theme from Chobits (Ningyo Hime) which has a melancholy, minor feel to it that I like.
The week of the con I began to adjust my schedule from "nocturnal vampire" mode to "lazy teen" mode (sleeping until noonish), so as to soften the impact of the schedule change and to prevent me from being completely miserable at the con, because I'm not used to being awake when the sun is in the sky. Usually these efforts at schedule readjustment fail spectacularly, but this time it worked out pretty well, with a few minor kinks.
The weather, which was gorgeous throughout the week (going up into the 80s), expectedly (provided you're a pessimist) dropped just before the weekend. Luckily, con-going is largely an indoor activity, so the weather's not terribly important, but festivals are more...festive...when the sun is shining. At any rate, the weather followed last year's pattern in that it was cold, windy, and cloudy on Friday, but a bit nicer and sunnier on Saturday. Weird how that worked out.
So we arrived at the convention center on Friday around noon. I scoped out parking options ahead of time this year and thus managed to squeeze into an open lot just across the street from the con center (the lot attendant put up the "Full" sign just behind us as we pulled in). It was better than where I parked last time which required a brisk trot across the city to go from car to con (and back again). The convention center garage itself was full on Friday, but had space for us on Saturday (also mimicking last year's pattern).
We secured our badges and then took a seat to scour the schedule for interesting programming. There's usually not a whole lot in the schedule that grabs me - I look at cons as more of an atmosphere to experience than a series of specific things to do/see - and this year was no different. I was pleased that the schedule labeled which of the video rooms were dedicated to subs and which to dubs (between the four regular viewing rooms, there were two and two). But, unfortunately, most of the good shows I was familiar with (School Rumble, Gurren Lagann, Claymore, Strike Witches, Record of Lodoss War, Last Exile, Irresponsible Captain Tylor, Lucky Star, Mnemosyne, Revolutionary Girl Utena...) were playing in the dub rooms :/. Still, con-going means the potential for finding new shows is good (although the chance of stumbling upon an especially good one may be slim).
While passing the queue that was forming in anticipation of the initial opening of the Dealer's Room, Audrey (re: The Primatives), a shiriai no hito whom I introduced last year, called out to me. I was hoping I'd bump into her, although there was no second meeting this year. Granted, I wasn't quite as unaccompanied as I was last year.
One thing I like to make a point to do for sure at an anime con is watch some AMVs. We got that out of the way early. It was request hour, and to my satisfaction, they played some pretty good AMVs, including the classic Eva/Engel, and a new (to me) AMV using the Sunscreen song, this time with visuals from Naruto (it was pretty good). There were other less recognizable ones, and some silly ones, but I was happy with what I got to see. I'm kind of torn about the way they schedule AMVs at cons. There's the AMV contest, for which people send in submissions prior to the con to be judged at the con. Those are the AMVs I'd really like to see, but the AMV contest is really popular, and thus there is the potential of not getting in, and plus it might conflict with other schedule interests because it takes some time. The AMV-dedicated room spends a lot of time showing other AMVs - old ones and such, usually based around various themes. Those are good to see, too, but I kind of wish there was more opportunity to see the ones enrolled in the contest outside of the actual contest...
After lunch (at the same Subway I scoped out last year), we spent a couple hours in the Dealer's Room. As usual, I held back on buying anything on the first day, waiting to give myself time to mull over what I wanted to spend money on. Selection was comparable to last year. Lots of weapons, lots of figures (although not necessarily the ones you were looking for), one or two dedicated video booths (though in all fairness, official releases just don't hold the excitement of bootlegs), at least one dedicated manga booth, lots of t-shirts and wall scrolls (obviously biased towards the more popular series), plenty of kawaii mono, various cosplay costumes and accessories, and all the sorts of things you'd expect to find in a Dealer's Room at an anime convention (just, not as many of them as at Otakon :p). I picked up a hentai manga at one point and the vendor shouted at me because he apparently thought I was underage (or something, it was hard to understand him). I should have been flattered, but instead I just became self-conscious. ;_;
Finally escaping the hustle and bustle of the Dealer's Room, we went up to check out the roof. The weather was not cooperative, however. The wind and the cold made it pretty much unbearable, so we came back in promptly. We were wandering about the con, when purely random circumstances directed our attention toward the Fashion Show that was just starting on the main stage. Looking at the schedule, I noted that it was an "EGL" Fashion Show, which only confused me, but I decided that, being a fashion show, it was worth a look. When we got inside, it became immediately clear to me that EGL = Elegant Gothic Lolita (and shame on me for not knowing that, because I distinctly remember learning that once before). Knowing this, there was no question about staying to watch.
The first part of the show was a presentation on Lolita fashion, the different styles, and the philosophy behind it. For obvious reasons, the presenters (as I imagine many who wear the fashion do) made a point to disassociate Lolita fashion from the implications of the original term as penned by Nabokov. An important aspect of Lolita fashion is that of modesty (which is normally something I am opposed to), and so it's clear that the intent is not to sexualize. While I understand and respect this (really, I do), methinks the lady doth protest too much.
The second part of the show was an actual fashion show, featuring a number of models (read: EGL otaku) dressed up in various Lolita styles. As for me, I can go for the Gothic and Punk styles, but I have a bit of a Sweet tooth, and Hime speaks for itself (provided you know that "hime" is Japanese for "princess"). Classic is kind of dull :p. Of course, the best style is Ero, but I get the feeling it's kind of fringe, and straddling the line (which, frankly, makes it exciting).
After the fashion show, I was sufficiently moved, and feeling bold, so back in the Dealer's Room, I finally worked up the courage to actually browse through the various feminine fashions available. Is it weird to wish I could wear these clothes? I feel literally attracted to them. I don't wear them because I know how they'd look on me, but I still want to. I think I know how the ugly girls feel, because I want really bad to be pretty, but I don't have any realistic expectations of fulfilling that desire in my lifetime. Regardless, I'm really tempted to wear a Lolita outfit (complete with skirt/petticoat and appropriate shoes - something really cute - along with hair and, presumably, makeup?) next time I go to a con. There are only two things stopping me: the first is cost; and the second is finding something that would fit me. :(
We left the con early so I could make it to my performance at an Open Stage in the evening (I'm a guitarist, remember?). Unfortunately, it seems like the best 18+ oriented programming was taking place on Friday night rather than Saturday night, which means I had to miss it. Still, I wonder how much I'm really missing, because I can watch hentai at home - it's easy enough for me to procure if I am so inclined - and I can choose what to watch (because honestly, people's sexual interests are highly diverse). Plus, I can avoid the potential audience reaction of "lulz naked anime chicks, isn't this humorously pathetic, guyz?" And if you think I'm just being paranoid about that, then please explain to me why there is an MST3K style hentai viewing on the schedule. :p
Anyway, at the end of the night, I tried to get some sleep to recharge for day the second of the con, but obsessive thoughts of gothic lolitas invaded my mind and tortured me for not being able to be a part of their group, and I wasn't able to rest very well. Still, day the second came no less quickly.