I find that it’s been hard for me to write up my thoughts on things like going to conventions (or just writing in general recently). Part of it is me worrying if I got everything down that I remembered or wanted to remember (but that’s what other people fact checking are for! \o). Part of it is that I feel like there’s a lot that I want to say, but it’s going to be tedious as it’s long as the pre-reg line was on Friday (took about an hour 45 minutes to get in); i.e., me being a lazy bum. And part of it is that other people have done it beforehand. But I did achieve a lot more in this con than I was expecting to; getting autographs and pictures with some guests (more like one guest :3), meeting up with Internet friends I’ve met with before and meeting plenty of new ones in the process (so many that I’m not sure if I can name them all), spending all of my spending money in one hour on the first day at the dealer’s room (still not sure how I did that), taking pictures of cosplay with my recently acquired camera (pics up soon I thinks), doing more karaoke than last year (and how) and so on. For not really having a definite plan for this year’s Otakon, I still had a blast.
It was completely random spotting omo along with meeting animemiz for the first time immediately after picking up my badge, but since we all had the same destination, the first Yutaka Yamamoto Q&A, it made me quickly relax and fall into a comfortable groove that stayed with me for the whole con. At the panel, I ran into other people I knew, and ended up sitting next to Bayoab (crazy fast typer, by the way, but I guess most would know that) in the front row to see Yamakan as close as possible. From his opening “wa wa wa wasuremono~” to the thoughtful answers he gave to the questions that people brought up, I thought the director was a cool guy who knew what he was talking about and wasn’t afraid to state some difficult views on the state of directing and anime in general.
Things I enjoyed during Yamakan’s first panel:
- his thoughts on how directors need to be more honest with each other and more willing to take risks and go wild in anime
- how though he feels that one is not to get so emotionally invested into directing, he’s broken that rule a couple of times
- how dances were something that he really wanted to do in general (and in coming up with the Haruhi dance on his futon)
- his succinct answer on moe that makes sense (‘if you’re into it, it’s “moe” for you’)
- how making characters stay consistent and true to themselves is the most important thing to him in a show
- how he believes that Haruhi made fandom more “out there”, focusing on the “festival” surrounding the show, but less on the show itself (where the show takes the most priority
- how he enjoys doing work where “people are being like people”
- Running into other people like Scott, 21stcenturydigitalboy, mrvacbob, kransom, mdl and so on.
It was an entertaining and educational (in my opinion) experience.
From there, I decided to skip the Madhouse panel (given that I tend to like those things, I’m not sure if that was a good idea or not) and go to the Anime Recruitment panel ran by four panelists involving the pair that run Reverse Thieves. The panel included guidelines on how to introduce people receptive to trying out anime (I was only slightly miffed at the not picking something “slow-paced” as the first anime, but then again, I’m strange in that way) and examples of shows that could appeal to really general subsets (stuff for moms/dads, stuff for geeks, stuff for stoners, etc.), followed by Q&A and free stuffs. Overall, the main thing stressed was that before one even decides to introduce people to this hobby that they’ve been focusing on (with great quotes like “I’m not just a creepy person in the dark” from the introducer and “That’s yet another Saber figure. How unusual” from the person being introduced) is to know that persons likes/dislikes, and what they’re receptive to, which is an important point that I tend to forget every once in a while myself.
I did ask a question about how one could prepare to be willing to actually go and introduce anime to others, since that obstacle is the most important part of the whole thing in my opinion. In my experiences, there’s a mental roadblock that I create in worrying about what the people I introduce anime to feel about the medium in general, and if they’re willing to try it. And while I’ve overcome that obstacle myself, more advice on things to expect and deal with would be helpful. I feel like I got a good answer for it (be prepared to try again if necessary, or stop trying if it doesn’t work, and know your audience), along with the second half of Heroic Age and the chance to shake hands and say hey to Hisui and Narutaki, so that was all good for me.
Next came the first of two Aniplex panels, this one being a TBA panel. It turned out to be a Kannagi appreciation panel which was great because I enjoy the property and because it was another chance to experience Yamakan, this time with the animation producer Satoru Shimizu joining as well. Things I enjoyed during this panel:
- The voice casting process, with 30 applicants auditioning for all three of the main female roles. Enjoyed hearing that apparently both Miyuki Sawashiro and Haruka Tomatsu tested great for both Nagi and Tsugumi, and that the eventual casting was mainly based on the look of the corresponding seiyuu. This means that now I really really really really really really really really want to hear Miyukichi’s Nagi. It would be cool to hear Tomatoes’ Tsugumi as well, but Miss Sawashiro takes preference here by far. :3
- How Yamakan wanted the OP to reflect Nagi as idol (hence the dance by herself among other things) and the ED to reflect Nagi as the divine. And that the Op was drawn in 30fps instead of standard (?) 24 for that more realistic feel.
- How Yamakan asked the audience how Americans see how gods and goddesses worked in Japan, especially considering Zange’s appearance, and the generally positive response from the audience to the question
- Three cosplayers from Aniplex as the three female characters, and them doing the OP dance with my good friend W-General joining in. Rock on man.
And I was able to ask the director himself if he had any specific philosophy applied to Kannagi compared to other works, to which he replied that he was aiming for a “boy and girl living together under one roof” type of show and all of the tension-filled (heart pounding or otherwise) moments that haven’t been done in a while, which was something at least. For actually being able to ask a question (as I was too nervous in getting the question right in my head, then finding that elements of the question were asked before in the previous panel), I managed to get a Kannagi poster (from the Tsugumi cosplayers no less. I can almost die happy now), which would have been already something that I hadn’t expected. But after the end of the panel, somehow some members of the audience were able to get Yamakan to stay and get pictures, including myself with him, which was a fun plus.
After briefly staying in the panel room to see Aniplex’s industry panel (basically a showing off of their recent wares), I left and decided to explore the dealer’s room. Again, it was interesting how even though I had set goals for what I wanted to by and that was it, I managed to find some interesting things that I never believed that I could find, and I quickly found myself bereft of all my set away spending money. But I’d like to think that it was all for a good cause. If anything, it allowed me to waste some time before going to line up with omo, Moy, Link, SDS, W-General, animemiz, paranda, VManOfMana, alexd00 and others hours before the MELL concert…
Which was an epic blast, enough that my right ear was almost shot after the concert. I think the live band accompanying MELL helped out with my enjoyment a lot, since the experience is a lot different then hearing the studio produced work. I felt the drummer laid down the beat that helped pump things up, and the keyboardist (apparently from a band known as Soft Ballet) was having a super fabulous time on stage firing up the audience and the singer herself, who I felt left everything on the stage (and them some, when I think of one moment during the concert) and of course rocked me hard. Of course I was really feeling it during the songs I know (fist pumping my way though Red Fraction and the encore with Rideback more than other songs), but props to the others with glow sticks and doing Wotagei through out the entire concert (especially Paranda and W-General), as they were really troopers.
Having been thoroughly rocked, several of us remained in the autograph line afterwards either with something to sign or willing to purchase something to sign (myself in the latter). And we were psyched enough to remain in the line for about an hour and a half for that goal, despite all of MELL’s CD selling out for the con about a third of a way through the line (which was pretty “whoa” to me). I ended up buying a drawstring bag which she signed, along with getting a picture taken with her that I need to remember to get later on. As Moy mentioned in his Day 1 entry, another cool thing was how MELL’s crew went through the autograph line with a video camera asking people what they thought about her concert. I was worried if the focus would turn to me, since I had no idea what to say, but when the camera (unfortunately) turned to me, I think I managed to say something that made sense and didn’t sound awkward. Omo helped with the mood as well, and hopefully MELL gets a kick about how he feels as well.
After that there was a small meetup with some of our little group of attendees along with some more friends of omo’s (and acquaintances of mine) at a bar called Pickles. Sadly, I didn’t try their specialty fried pickles, but I enjoyed the bar’s fries. Hopefully I can get a chance to eat there again the next time I’m in Baltimore. I left early to get some sleep, since I felt that Saturday would be a big day, and so after a fun discussion with my roommates over baseball and some of what we each focused on anime-wise, my Day 1 of Otakon 2009 came to a close.