Otakon 2012 Day 2: Panels, Podcasts and… Pictures

By TheBigN

To start off, I was remiss in not mentioning the random get-together on Friday that was had over a lack of mahjong sets available. In another example of how some of the best things that occur often come unplanned, the hope that someone had an available set for some riichi outside of the Internet was dashed. But a conversation about life, randomness and Tanto Cuore (loved how the way to explain the game went as “Dominion with maids”, given that I’ve never played that card game either) ensued with people such as 7thWraith, Eternal, and others. In terms of importance, there wasn’t that much, but that moment was worth something in measures of enjoyment, and always a good reminder as to why I’ll probably only really enjoy going to conventions where I can meet up with people I know.

Flandre Scarlet Cosplay.

Flandre Scarlet Cosplay. Best Touhou cosplay I saw at the con. She even had fangs!

After grabbing breakfast from a nearby Subway, I started off at the NIS America Anime Panel, mostly drawn by a ticket raffle with the of getting some interesting stuffs, like Limited Edition sets that weren’t available anymore. One thing that I liked NIS America doing that I wish other companies did was tell the audience their “standards” in terms of what shows they decide to get, as well as how they tried to cope with competing with fansubs and other companies by using Limited Edition items and packaging.  Granted, while that information could have possibly ascertained elsewhere, but it spoke to a frankness that, in my albeit limited experiences with industry panels, I haven’t seen a lot of companies do at conventions. That, and the plant Beatrice cosplayer used to introduce the Umineko no Naku Koro ni anime as their new property was pretty epic. The panelists totally played the audience in going with the plant, and while I wasn’t too much of a fan of the final product, the announcement was a good way to end the panel.

Then came the seiyuu onslaught, where I went to Ai Nonaka‘s, Yuuka Nanri‘s and Aya Hirano‘s Q&A sessions back-to-back-to-back. I think in terms of atmosphere, I enjoyed Nonaka’s the most. She was very personable, and I enjoyed the effort she took in speaking English and playing off of the audience. I also did like how she was dead set on being a seiyuu for a long time, and how she enjoys her craft and the people she worked with. I asked two questions of the many in the Q&A, focusing on what type of characters that she prefers doing (answer: no general preference, but she would like to voice more male roles) as well as what anime she would liked to have been a part of as a member of the main cast if possible (answer: Doraemon, but she does enjoy the guest roles she does get on that show). But let’s be cheesy here; Aipon has a pretty unique voice in anime, but I think she also has a pretty unique perspective and personality as a seiyuu. Did wish to hear her as Kurama from Yu Yu Hakusho, but I guess I’ll take Fuuko from CLANNAD as Kurama as well. Also, kudos to whoever asked the Kafuka Fuura/Ichijou levels of craziness question.

As for Yuuka Nanri, it was fun to see Masao Maruyama sitting to the left at the front before the Q&A started. Nanri herself was pretty thoughtful with her answers, and I enjoyed how she got something out of working with Yuki Kajiura (for whom she gives a great deal of appreciation for how Kajiura approached music and helped her become a better musician ) and Yoko Kanno (for whom she was impressed by the fun that Kanno had when making music). I also liked that she reads source material first to get a bead on some of her roles (especially my favorite of her roles that I know of, Saori Chiba of Wandering Son). I asked her a question about the hardest things about being a seiyuu (getting everything right in as little takes as possible) and about being a musician (having the focus solely on her when performing), and questions to her in general were less spontaneous than that  of Aipon’s. The panel didn’t have quite as much energy to it as well, as I found the more exciting things being one of my friends doing epic wotagei with glowsticks to a PV of a live concert with one of the songs from Nanri’s newest album, as well as seeing the opening to Kids on the Slope for the first time, which makes me want to actually check it out now.

I was surprised by Aya Hirano’s poise. I frankly didn’t really know what to expect from her since I haven’t seen videos of her in action, but calm, cool and collected wasn’t the initial observation I had of her. Seeing how she was like that during her Q&A session made me come out pretty impressed with her, especially when someone Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin‘ by trying to get her to comment much on her recent controversy in 2011 which led to her being dismissed by Lantis. Given that she notes that in high school, she was known as Rei Ayanami, maybe that poise was always there. In her case, I think what came out as memorable other than her “Thank you for your concern” regarding the controversial question was how much playing Haruhi Suzumiya impressed so much on her. And that she acknowledged the area I was sitting in along with omo and Momotato when asking if people watching Seikon no Qwaser following a request to say a line as Katja. Someone please translate the line she shouted out!

And now a character un-related to the three previously mentioned seiyuu, Cure Black.

And now a character un-related to the three previously mentioned seiyuu (I think), Cure Black.

Because of the non-stop seiyuu Q&As in a role, I missed autograph sessions for Nanri, Aipon and Gen Urobuchi, though I likely would have been unable to participate in the latter two anyway given they was associated with Aniplex’s ticket promotion for buying their wares. As revenge (or just because people hadn’t eaten yet), a group of us (including Link, Moy, @starcreator and alexd00 along with others) instead of going to Aniplex’s industry panel went to California Tortilla  for lunch, ending up waiting upwards of an hour for what was apparently supposed to be a fast food burrito/salad. But hey.  Afterwards, I zoned out in the Dealer’s Room for a while, then met with my comrades from my college anime club/Otakon Game Show for a nice dinner at Hull Street Blues Cafe, which was about 1 mile away from the convention. On my way back to the convention from the hotel I was staying at, I ran into Hisui of the Reverse Thieves, who was on his way to a podcast being run by Ed Sizemore. As I noted my interested, Hisui decided to bring me along, and so came one of the more fun moments of the night.

The end result of the podcast was pretty cool, though the quality of the audio prevented it from being posted up on Anime News Network (ah well. My debut there will come in the future). The topic was on experiences regarding the current Otakon and how things have changed from before, and it was great getting a different perspective on things from people with various experiences in anime culture (being a part of a conversation with the creator of ANN was a bonus!), but the best part (as tends to be in things of this nature) was the conversation before hand, where we little more freewheeling and frank about the interesting things seen at the convention. Not to mention how one of the panelists came across an impromptu crossplay makeout session when grabbing water. Conventions are definitely where people come out to play, I guess.

Following the podcast, I killed some time at the Game Room, where this time people were actually playing mahjong(!) at the time. At the time, the panel I was waiting for was close, so instead of joining in a game, I ended up killing time with some Project Diva in the room. Afterwards, I went to the panel “Type-Moon: Unlimited Panel Works”, which was a basic rundown of the history of TYPE-MOON along with their past, current and future project as described by Hisui of Reverse Thieves along with his roommate at the convention. It was a nice primer with a lot of stuff that I already know, plenty of things that I didn’t know, and a lot of humor to go along with. The majority of attendees were familiar with the official (and not-so-official) works anyway, and some tried to trip up the panelists as well as bring memes into the picture showing off their enthusiasm, but the panelists kept things running smoothly. Really hoping for an “Advanced Level” panel in the future for future Otakons, because I think it’s worth it.

And I think it’s worth it to stop here and post about Day 3 another time.

Gilgamash from the Fate series.

Gilgamash from the Fate series. Even when just in sandals (cosplayer had taken off shoes prior), he’s still badass.

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