Aki-Con 2011
Bellevue, Washington
Hilton Hotel
October 7th-9th, 2011
By MICHI/ AnimeSeed.com

 

Okay. So. Aki-Con happened and I attended. This was my 4th Aki-Con and to be honest. I wish I hadn’t gone. It was the same weekend that Geek Girl Con at the Seattle Center in Seattle, Washington was being held. But, I went to Aki-Con. I don’t regret the decision. I actually had a lot of fun at the convention. But, I only really went to see a few people that I don’t normally get to see. Bad or good it was the decision that I made.

 

I attended Aki-Con on Saturday only because of prior commitments and last minute decisions. The convention was held at the same place it was last year, only a month earlier this time. I actually got up to the convention about 11AM and went straight to see my friend Amidoji and Lacey. They finished getting ready and we went down to the convention area.

 

I got my badge first off. I asked the Pre-Registration people where I would pick up my Press Badge. They told me Registration or to ask Nicole. Well, I managed to find Nicole really quick, as she was coming out of the Registration booth. She told me it was at Pre-Registration. They found my badge, but there was no paperwork to look at, or confirmation that I was really who I said I was and who I said I was with. At least they checked my ID this year. After I got my badge, I finally looked around the convention area.

 

And oh my god.

 

Now, my Uncle is a firefighter with the Seattle Fire Department, so I know fire safety. And I swear Aki-Con was a walking fire trap. Their Japanese Temple arches where zip tied to the doors, which would prevent them from closing in an emergency. There where character cut outs that you could stick your face through in the hallways, and the Free Stage in the middle of the first floor. Isn’t the Fire Marshall supposed to come check on events like these?

 

I guess my inner staff was coming through during the entire time that I was in attendance at Aki-Con. There where a lot of little things that I kept noticing that kept annoying me. The hotel staff for the most part was very rude to many of the attendees. Now, I understand that you have all these underage kids running amok in your hotel. But, this event is bringing you a large amount of money. There where also a lot of kids that where not paying attention to common rules and knowledge.

 

Several times Amidoji, Lacey and I would get into an elevator and there would just be a kid sitting there. And at least 50% of the time, I would ask them if they where getting off at the next floor. They would tell me what floor and when we got there, I would look at them pointedly. The hotel had a strict rule of only 8 people per elevator and with kids sitting in the elevators; it was hard to get groups up and down to the right floors.

 

When I went into the Dealer’s Room… I developed a sudden case of claustrophobia. There where so many people shoved into such a small space. It was hard to get around. People where stopping in the middle of the hallways to chat or look at something or take pictures. I don’t believe there was even room to get a wheelchair through the aisles of the Dealer’s Room. I was floored. I did a circuit through the Dealer’s Hall with Amidoji and Lacey and then got the hell out of there.

 

It was after that we ran into Smidge. And after gathering the Boy, we decided lunch was a good idea. Of course, just as we where finally getting out of the area, we ran into a group of about ten people that I knew and that didn’t know I was going to be at the convention.

 

The funniest reaction was actually from Shun Hayashi, a photographer (see his work at http://www.silenceral.com) that I’d known for several years. He actually stared at me like I was a ghost. Yes, I am here. Yes I am not in cosplay. Yes, I have a social life Al.

 

After lunch though… The more that I was in the common convention area; the more I felt the building urge to yell at someone. Or at least yell at a staff member. This is strange for me because I generally keep my cool with staff members of any convention that I attend.

 

So, Amidoji, Lacey and I retreated to their room for a bit so I could cool down and Amidoji could change back into her Human Luna (Sailor Moon S) costume.

 

We spent time wandering around the convention, I went off with some friends of mine for a bit just to chill and drink. Mainly so I wouldn’t end up losing my temper at a hapless kid.

 

After that, I got my stuff, said my goodbyes to my friends and headed off to meet up with other friends.

 

Overall:

To be honest, I wasn’t at Aki-Con long enough to get the best opinion of it this year. But, I do admit that I wasn’t happy with what I saw. It seemed disorganized and while there was a higher staff presence this year… It didn’t seem to do too much.

 

As I’ve said before Aki-Con is a good starter convention and a great place to test run costumes. Though in the same vein, Aki-Con is growing very rapidly and it seems those that make all the decisions do not want to admit that. They keep trying to cram too many people into a too small space. I believe that Aki-Con needs to realize that they’re growing and they need to move to a bigger space, even if it means leaving Bellevue.

 

Yes, the location and hotel is gorgeous, but it’s too small to suit the needs of the convention as a whole. Far too many people come to the convention and far too many people want to continue coming.

 

Other than hanging out with my friends and seeing a ton of people (though not too many since I had only eight hours and knew half the convention), I did have fun. I talked a lot, I saw a lot. I just wish that it was better managed and in a better location. But, only time will tell.

 

Posted by Riotblade on October 11th, 2011 | No Comments

Kumoricon 2011
Vancouver, Washington
Vancouver Hilton & Red Lion on the Quay
September 3rd to 5th

By MICHI/ AnimeSeed.com

 

Click the image to open in full size.

 

Kumoricon this year was a little different for me. I didn’t come with the people I have for the past several years, I staffed and I didn’t cosplay. It was an interesting, new experience for me, but one I did enjoy.

 

This was my 9th year attending Kumoricon and it’s been interesting to see the convention grow from the first one in 2003 when it was in Eugene, Oregon to what it is now. It still has that small con feel that I know many people crave, especially those of us who attend almost nothing but large (10,000+) conventions.

 

This year, Kumoricon returned to the 2007 location in Vancouver, Washington and we were in two hotels this year. The Hilton (were we were in 2007) and the Red Lion on the Quay. This is a first for Kumoricon, but it worked out. The convention didn’t seem as crowded as the previous two years, then again, being near Ester Short Park probably helped too. I got to Kumoricon a little before 9PM. I got my badge, got my room key from my roommates and went to dinner with Kato Shiroi and a handful of our friends.

 

Day One (Saturday) –

For Kumoricon this year, I was the Hall Cospaly Coordinator. That meant I wandered around the convention (two hotels, plus the areas cosplayers hung out) and took pictures of costumes that I liked or where really creative. I also handed out shiny blue ribbons and had people sign release forms. I admit right now that it was hard to cover the entire convention by myself, but I did the best I could.

 

Now because I did not interact with attendee registration, I have no real knowledge on how the registration staff was, or how fast the lines where. But from Twitter messages a friend was posting, the lines where quick and short, and quite often there wasn’t one.

 

The hotel staff at the Hilton (where I spent most of my time) was very friendly and helpful, moreso than I felt they where (at another location) last year. The convention staff was equally friendly and made the whole experience that much better.

 

I took around 60 pictures, 17 of them where group pictures, before I went to dinner with some friends. After that, we went straight to Bressler’s Whose Line is it Anyway? Panel. This was my second year participating and again, I had a ton of fun! And I must say, that Todd Haberkon (guest of honor) makes a fabulous Godzilla movie! The Director of Publicity got him to come to the game for just a bit. He played in a couple of games and one of them was Party Quirks. He was a guest, so his quirk was “You’re an entire Godzilla movie”. I swear the audience couldn’t stop laughing, I know at least that I didn’t. I got to talk to him for a bit afterwards. He’s a really nice guy and just because he’s a voice actor (popular role atm Italy from Hetalia), doesn’t mean he isn’t a person, but that’s another rant for another time.

 

There wasn’t a lot of adult programming that I was interested in. I wish that they would have had the sake tasting again. That would have been amazing. But, things do change every year, so maybe there will be something that catch my eye. After the Whose Line panel finished, I wandered around the convention for a little bit more, but didn’t see any costumes that really caught my eye. I was getting pretty tired at this point, so away to bed I went.

 

Click the image to open in full size.

 

Day Two (Sunday) –

This day brought about more people and more costumes. I didn’t seem to take as many pictures this day, but I just can’t be every where and I know I missed so many costumes. But I was busier because the panel I was co-hosting was this day. Like every year since 2008, we once again had the Crossplay 101 panel, but unlike previous years, we did not have the Late Night version. This was our third time with the present slide show and I, personally, got feedback from people about how they felt the panel went. I also had quite a few people coming up to me to ask questions throughout the day. I did have to duck out early from the panel.

 

Because Hetalia is so big right now, the line for one of the panels was huge and needless to say help was needed. I was able to get some help to get things sorted out so there wouldn’t be any fire code violations. From there it was more wandering about the convention, taking pictures of people and just generally remembering why I attend conventions.

 

This day had higher energy and more people because it is considered the “main day” to attend because that’s when the Cosplay Contest (Masquerade to some) is. It was still fairly easy to get through the convention space. As the weather was gorgeous all weekend, a lot of people where hanging out in Ester Short Park.

 

The Cosplay Contest Green Room I found was a great place to take pictures of cosplays I absolutely loved and I got to talk with some of my friends. The Cosplay Contest wasn’t as long as some that I’ve been to, and there where some really good skits. But there was also a lot of skits that made me go “Eh?” and alot of dance skits. Anime Hunters did the half-time show. And as always, they delivered. I unfortunately had to leave before the winners where announced (food was needed).

 

I realized that I did a lot of wandering at the convention this year, as opposed to previous years when I was sitting at the Sakura-Con booth or in the Cosplay Contest green room most of the time.

 

Around midnight, I headed to the Adult version of Bressler’s Whose Line is it Anyway? Panel. I couldn’t stop laughing during most of it and even when I was in a game, I couldn’t stop. Everything everyone was saying was way too funny. And I was pretty delirious from being exhausted. A good portion of the participants where drunk, and considering we could say pretty much whatever we wanted… It led to some interesting scenes. And I certainly know that the audience was enjoying the adult version of the popular panel. Though around 2AM I finally crawled back to my hotel room and went to bed.

 

Click the image to open in full size.

 

Day Three (Monday) –

Final day of con. I actually didn’t take any pictures this day, as I spent the morning and afternoon with the Director of Programming in Main Events for Cosplay Chess. I sorta lied when I said I didn’t cosplay. I did wear Billy Katagiri from Gundam 00 for all of three hours for Cosplay Chess and just for Cosplay Chess. It was another year of White winning in an epic match of Anime vs Video Games. Next year, we’re shooting for Good vs Evil!

 

Anyways, before Cosplay Chess, I actually packed up my stuff (just a single duffel) and lugged it down to the hotel front desk. I got it into bag check and was able to get it out again after Cosplay Chess to change into street clothes. From about 1:30 or so on, I was in the Programming Office, working on picking the Best of… For the Hall Cosplay stuff I was in charge of.

 

Then came Closing Ceremonies… We started half an hour late because we where waiting for a file. Apparently convention attendees can really entertain themselves. Well, once Closing Ceremonies got started and all the official stuff was out of the way, we learned that this Kumoricon was the last one the Anime Hunters would be performing at together. It was a bit sad as the past four years they’ve been a staple at the convention. But, it’s not like the members won’t be around anymore, they just each have their own lives.

 

Then I announced the Hall Cosplay Best of… Everyone seemed to appreciate the costumes that those of us in the Programming office chose. After Closing Ceremonies, I grabbed my duffel bag from the Hilton bag check and off I went to meet my ride and head home.

 

Click the image to open in full size.

 

Overall –

Kumoricon was a blast. I know a lot of people had decided not to go because of the past two years, but what can you do? I still had a lot of fun and was grateful to each and every person I came across. The panels (those I did go to) where entertaining and fun. I defiantly will be going back again in the future. Kumoricon is chill for me, even though I did staff, I didn’t feel like I was stressed out. It was a nice change of pace for me personally to not spend all weekend worried about cosplay or whether everything I was running would go off without a hitch. And I have started to remember why I love conventions so much and why I keep coming back year after year to them.

 

Kumoricon is growing and changing and I am excited to see what they have in store for their 10th year in 2012! Kumoricon will be held at the Vancouver Hilton and Red Lion on the Quay in Vancouver, Washington and will be over Labor Day weekend once again. Those dates are September 1st-3rd.

 

Posted by Riotblade on September 18th, 2011 | No Comments

PAX PRIME 2011
August 26-28, 2011
Washington State Convention Center
By Gintsuki

 

I attended the 2011 edition of the Penny Arcade Expo on the West coast (aka PAX Prime) for the entire 3 days it was in session and managed to only go to one panel and, personally, try out one game. One might wonder how that is possible with spending over 8 hours at the convention center on a daily basis. Wear an extremely popular cosplay, that’s how. Every time I’d stop to take out my phone to text or to take a picture I had someone asking to take mine.

 

Cosplay: Oerba Dia Vanille
Game: FFXIII

 

Day by Day Play:

My first day there I spent by myself (though I did manage to run into a friend of mine). For the most part I wondered around the main exhibit hall in awe of all the massive booths and their big shiny screens showing off their games.

 

Firefall, developed by Red 5 Studios, was the most heavily advertised game there; banners on ALL the escalators, banners around the escalators, a statue right outside the main entrance of the exhibit hall and a massive booth set up full of PCs for people to tackle their game with. I only watched the trailer, but based on that it looks like an intriguing FPS/TPS – space themed, of course.

 

My favorite booths to walk past were the ones for the games created for the Microsoft XBOX Kinect; a device that requires no controllers to play. Games for this console have mainly revolved around dancing and exercise but as this year draws to an end we’re going to be able to use it to transform into a Jedi Knight, a fruit slicing ninja, and a zombie killing machine.

 

There were also two stages set up for people to try out Dance Central 2 and Just Dance 2, which were both very entertaining to watch. The lines for the Kinect games were relatively long, which caused some people to not have a chance to test it, but there were other things to do. I kept busy with an MSNBC interview, giving away headphones over a live stream for Turtle Beach, appearing in the crowd for the filming of the G4 X-Play PAX Prime episode (airing Wednesday, September 7th) and posing for countless pictures. I ended the day with participating in the Crabcat cosplay panel which turned out to be non-contest contest where everyone was a winner.

 

The second and third day I went with a friend of mine who cosplayed as Lightning which made us twice as popular. We snuck into more booths to use their photo centers where they would print your pic and email it to you, too. Gunnar had several styles of gaming glasses for you to sport while you posed for their cameras, other booths had it set up so you were “posing” with their logo or video game characters.

 

On the second day I became aware of the random real-life games they have going on during the event. There is a scavenger hunt with barcodes (put on by PAX), a word game with buttons(put on by Square Enix) and in the indie game area there was a station where you could get turned into a zombie by a makeup artist and then you had to “bite” other people and turn them into more zombies – all of which had some sort of prizes to be won by participating in them. My friend and I managed to get in on the word game where we collected a $25 gift certificate to their online store.

 

Booth babes had been banned from the event for the first time, but that didn’t stop people asking us if we had been hired to be there. Good Old Games had hired two old ladies to sit in chairs and knit between handing out freshly baked cookies as their booth “babes”. The booths relied more on creating extravagant booths to draw people in. Telltale’s Jurassic Park had a booth set up with a “high voltage” fence with foliage and jeep mixed with their console stations. Bethesda’s Skyrim had a massive dragon hanging over their area while Trion World’s Rift booth took you to another world with towering, glowing foreign foliage.

 

Besides stopping for photos, on the second day we succeeded in the EVGA cosplay contest which was whittled down to the top ten and were snagged up for two interviews with random Podcasters and a mod-hosting website.

 

On the third day a worker at the Nintendo 3DS station managed to tempt me to try an available console. I drooled over Zelda in 3D while I had photographers stepping in to take my picture. I got a lot of my personal questions answered about the Nintendo 3DS and am now considering buying one. It comes equipped with this really awesome feature called “augmented reality” where you simply point the console at a card that you can sit anywhere and the card turns into a 3D interactive shooting game. We spent the majority of the third day out on the Sky Bridge where Turtle Beach grabbed me to say “hi” on their live stream, again, and we meet and posed with a lot of fellow cosplayers. It was nice not to walk around so much, especially since we had done nothing but walk the previous day.

 

As we were leaving the Exhibit Hall on the final day a local major newspaper (The Seattle P.I.) snapped a pictured of me which ended up being featured in their online gallery. We’re also in official PAX Prime Cosplay galleries for G4, The Escapist, Square Enix, Gamers Radar as well as a Post-PAX cosplay contest put on by Nerd Trek.

 

Overview:

 

All-in-all, PAX is a really fun expo to attend. Every day offers something different, whether or not you’re attending their many panels. The most cosplayed characters were Moogles, Portal 2, Halo and League of Legends, though my personal favorite was the duo dressed as Clayman and Hoborg from Neverhood. As a cosplayer, it was a bit unorganized – all contests were discovered by hear-say (the information center knew nothing about them) and there were no photo sessions held; at least that I managed to “get wind of.” There are lots of lines; for both panels and games, so it’s best to wait until the late afternoon/ evening to try to play something because there are less people hanging around then-especially the first night for some reason. Watching games is just as enjoyable to me as playing them and the ample amount of TVs showing off live game play, mixed with the larger than life booths, kept my eyes entertained. Everyone I talked to was really nice and friendly, but there were definitely your shy nerds just there to get their game on, who avoided even eye contact.

 

And now, for the ultimate question:

 

Would I attend another PAX?

 

Hell, yes.

 

Posted by Riotblade on September 6th, 2011 | No Comments

Anime Boston Report
Hynes Convention Center
April 22-24, 2011
Knightfall

 

DAY 01: Friday

 

The first thing of any anime convention is the registration, and Anime Boston was no different. Upon entering the Hynes, guests found themselves in a terrific atmosphere. It was big, clean, had three floors with much to look at, and an awesome view of Boston. The days attended were Friday and Sunday this year.

 

As guests streamed into the large entrance hall, there was a surprising number already in cosplay. Not to mention pretty decent ones at that. Many were pulled to the side for some photo shooting. Everyone there seemed to already be having fun.

 

At Opening Ceremonies Andrea Finnin, the Chairman of the convention spoke. Gifts were thrown into the crowd, so even though some guests didn’t get great seats, they still got something out of it. There were announcements on some of the recent events in Japan: the passing of a few producers and VAs, the earthquakes/tsunami that took place the month before, and the events they were holding to help out in the relief effort (ie- the blood drive [hosted by the 501st!!], charity auctions, etc.)

 

Next was the introduction of the Guests of Honor. Anime Boston had a good line-up, and all of the guests were enthusiastic. Among the musical guests was the all-girl band Stereopony, better known among most for the OPs/EDs in such anime as Bleach, Darker Than Black, and Gundam 00. Among the VAs were Sean Schemmel, AKA the voice of Goku, and Greg Ayres, better known as Koyuki in Beck or Yamazaki from N.H.K. A full guest list is included at the end of this article.

 

All guests got ‘swag bags’ that included a map and schedule. This was good, because with all of the halls, and escalators, and rooms, it would be easy for someone to get lost.

 

In the dealers room, many seemed overwhelmed. They might have never seen so many anime/game related merchandise, all in the same room. Those that had been to an anime convention before might not have been surprised, and would know to wait until Sunday to make their purchases, as some dealers frequently have items marked 50% off. Make sure you ask the vendors specifically though, as the item you might have your eye on could very well be gone by the end of the weekend, and might not even be discounted then.

 

All the walking guests must do can be hard on the legs and feet, but the perfect place to take a break was in any of the rooms where panels were hosted. There guests could sit through talks about the history of anime/otaku, or the VA panels and listen to them talk about their lives and how they came to be voice actors. These panels were not only educational, but entertaining as well.

 

The VAs all had a good sense of humor, and were very approachable. One of the things Michael Tatum talked about was how he was “scouted” to be a VA by one of his friends. He shared how his friend kept pushing and pushing for him to audition, up to the point where he was “threatened” to do it “or else”. He finally went for the audition. The recording session ended up taking 4 hours. Here Tatum thought he was failing miserably as he was being instructed on how to project his voice. After the recording was finally over, Tatum asked his friend “Does it usually take this long for auditions, or am I just that bad?” His friend responded with “Oh no, it usually takes about 15 minutes, you scored the job in the first 5, and they now finished dubbing the first 6 episodes. Congratulations, you’re now a voice actor!”. The panels allowed a lot of insight for fans in how their favorite shows are put together.

 

DAY 03: Sunday

 

The last day of the Anime Boston 2011 had come. There was an hour gap between the opening and the main event, which gave time for everyone to mingle, and for lots of cosplay pictures. Cosplay Chess was one of the most popular events, and this year’s theme was magic vs science.

 

The first contestant playing for Team Magic was none other than Link (The Legend of Zelda), accompanied by the infamous ‘annoying fairy’, Navi “Hey! Hey listen!”. And playing for team science, the oh so well known scientist, Pokémon’s, Professor Oak! Seated across from each other they called the cosplayers who represented each chess piece to come out onto the battlefield. Among the characters of team magic were Sebastian Michaelis(Kuroshitsuji), Vivi Orunitia(Final Fantasy), and playing as king, England of Hetalia. As for team science, a few of their Chess Pieces were Edward Elric(Fullmetal Alchemist), Little Sister(Bioshock), and playing as King, America also of Hetalia. It was a fierce battle of brains and brawn…plus anime and game references/memes galore. Every time a piece was captured, the corresponding cosplayers would act out the battle. The end result being team science as the victors (of course). It was entertaining, to say the least.

 

Not as many panels were open on Sunday as there were on Friday or Saturday, but there was still plenty to do.

 

And so began the beginning of the end. The time for the closing ceremonies had come. Anime Boston staff did a decent job wrapping things up. All of the guests were called on stage for the farewell, and credit was given to all of the people working behind the scenes. The staff credits were then displayed on the screen while playing Portal – Victims of Science – The Device Has Been Modified. The hosts tried to convince the guests that it was all over, but no one bought it. They still had the results of the AMV contests left. They showed the winning AMV’s to the crowd’s delight, and after they were done, it was time to head home.

 

There were so many things for guests to see and do, that any single person could go for a week, and still not see it all. This anime convention is one that makes you want to keep coming back.

 

-All hail Britannia!!-

 

As promised, the full guest line-up.

 

Japanese Guests
*girugamesh
*STEREOPONY

 

Voice Acting Guests
* Brina Palencia
* Christopher Ayres
* Greg Ayres
* J. Michael Tatum
* Richard Epcar
* Sean Schemmel
* Spike Spencer
* Trina Nishimura

 

Guest Artists
* Studio Capsule – Robert and Emily DeJesus

 

Industry Guests
* Jonathan Klein – CANCELLED
* Tom Wayland

 

Musical Guest
* Mari Iijima
* MC Frontalot
* Odaiko New England
* Ten

Posted by Riotblade on May 12th, 2011 | No Comments

M.E.W. Con
Manga & Exotic Worlds Convention
Dec. 31, 2010 – Jan 2, 2011
Sheraton PDX Hotel
By SailorKagura

 

M.E.W.con, which stands for Manga & Exotic Worlds, was over the New Year’s weekend at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Portland, OR.

The Cosplay Contest was held early the first afternoon and was ended with a promise of the winners during Opening Ceremonies. Many of the costumes were well-made and appreciated by this long-time convention attendee.

 

Later the same evening, Opening Ceremonies introduced the convention, explaining its 17+ rule as an excuse to not abide by rules and act like teenagers in a R-rated movie, which was specifically alluded to with a vulgar performance by two cosplayers. The aforementioned Cosplay Contest winners were never announced during, and this reporter left at the conclusion of the ceremonies, having another obligation to attend.

 

The main highlight–as it should have been for a convention over the New Year’s Holiday–was the evening dance and countdown to 2011. The con attendees rallied together in the small dance hall to welcome in the New Year.

 

Overall, M.E.W.con lacked any real semblance to a well-organized convention. There was a distinct lack of interactive events, which lead to quite a blasé impression for this reporter.

 

Posted by Riotblade on March 31st, 2011 | No Comments
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