Monday, September 28, 2009

New Cosplay Crew Announced

According to Slade Hashimoto via Twitter over the weekend, "Katie Bair, Li, and I [Slade] are the new Cosplay Directors for the Sacramento Conventions!"

I'm assuming Dan's already found a replacement for Imari and her crew, who resigned as the Cosplay Director at the most recent Sac-Anime in August.

I wish the three of them luck on their new positions, and I look forward to seeing their outputs.

NOTE 10/15: I am not with the cosplay crew, contrary to what some people have tweeted me. I copied the exact tweet from Slade's account, and I have updated to reflect the fact that it's him and not me.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hard Decisions for January 2010

Now comes the hard part.

Sac-Anime Winter 2010 is scheduled for January 9-10, probably back at the Radisson.
Anime Los Angeles 6 is scheduled in the same weekend, January 8-10 at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott near LAX.

I've been wanting to cover more cons outside of my usually scope from the past couple of years, and ALA looks like a good opportunity. However, Sac-Anime will ultimately be cheaper than ALA but there's a lot more upside in expanding coverage and audience reach if I pick ALA over Sac-Anime - I can finally cover a Southern California anime convention.

I had a hard decision to make, and I need to make it soon.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sac-Anime Summer 2009 Review - Overall Impressions

Like I mentioned before, there were high expectations going into the Summer 2009 con. The new venue was the headliner, with both its benefits and drawbacks.

If there was one word that people were throwing around Sac-Anime, it would be "cluster fuck." It was really crowded, especially between Artists Alley were the hallways were narrow due to the tables. Now I don't think the con expected this amount of traffic (remember that the lines for Saturday and Sunday were going snaking through the interior of the hotel out the lobby) and/or the success of that layout. With the January dates set (Jan 9-10), it does feel like the con will be returning to the Radisson and by then a new layout will be in place...I hope. Either than that, it was a good place with big rooms for panels, the Masquerade, the rave, and console gaming. The Grove was a nice area for both the concerts and the Rock Band Freestyle. The staff were friendly and were catering to the request of everyone.

I must mention one thing. If you haven't heard already, Imari Chan announced her resignation from head of the Cosplay department at Sac-Anime at the end of the Masquerade around 9pm. Word didn't come out until later in the night and into Sunday when word really got out, and she did announce it again at the end of Fashion Show. First off, I told her how bad I felt that I mentioned her in my preview piece for the con without knowing that this would be her last. She's not quitting the con circuit though, and I wished her luck on her future endeavors. Now what got me is all the rumors surrounding this - I heard there was infighting with staff, infighting with the higher-ups like Dan, she's taking half her staff with her, and much much more - I haven't heard an "official" reason why all of this went down and I hope we can get some explanation soon. But seriously, I wish you luck Imari for your future, and odds are I'll be seeing you at FanimeCon 2010, or ALA if both of us go.

In all, it was a good con for a first-time location. Everyone seems to be working as well, but of course there's always problems and we can't avoid that.

Anyways, that concludes my Sac-Anime Summer 2009 Review. Big thanks to Wendell from FanimeCon for making my Rock Band experience much more awesome and Tom Tonthat from Traveling Valentine for the company (you can read his review of the con here). See you all soon!

- Matthew Miranda, California Conventions Blog

Sac-Anime Summer 2009 Report - Sunday

The cool thing about the "Express Yourself" option is that there's no hassle with the front desk. No check-in, no check-out. All I had to do was get everyone cleared out by 12pm, and I had everything packed in my car around 8:30am. This gave me enough time to go to Starbucks for breakfast and be back in time to get the parking near the front so that I don't have to walk far when I decide to go home.

Again, nothing really happening so I decide to chill out (again) in the console gaming room playing more Rock Band and a bunch of Touhou-style side-scrolling shooters out of Japan which were really cool. I'm surprised that they had those type of games released out for the 360 and the Wii, especially the 360.

Another benefit to staying at the hotel was that there was a private autograph session with a limited-edition lithograph. I was able to see everyone again as well as Karen Dyer, a Sunday-only visit. More autographs and networking abound.

Shortly after that, I head over to the Dealers Room to buy the items I need for the Sunday Twitter Giveaway. I buy a Saber plushie (from Fate/Stay Night) and 5 boxes of pocky to give away. Half an hour later, Ramon shows the tweet and wins the grab bag. Keep in mind that this is the first thing I've bought at the Dealers Hall, and I'm not counting this because I'm not taking this home.

I finally get to hook up with Tom Tonthat from Travel Valentine around 12:30pm. He and his crew decided to watch the Cosplay Fashion Show, and somehow I forgot to bring my camera with me. It was a good showing especially the Ponyo group -

- now, at this point I would post "Ponyo on a Boat" for comparison but Studio Ghibli took it down...on YouTube.

There's also a moment where I interact with the hostess of the Fashion Show -

(12 seconds in) When she goes "Does anyone know what it is?" there's a pause where she looks down and then she goes "BlazBlue! Very good!" That was me telling her the answer. Also, *insert Jin ice car joke here*

Finally, I get something to eat for lunch with Tom and company. We went to Extreme Pizza for an afternoon meal and reflect on that's coming next on the horizon for us con-goers.

By 3pm, the con seems to be winding down...or I think it is. It's still a packed house, and I was told that people were still buying badges, probably for the Resident Evil panel that went down a bit earlier. At this point, there's a bunch of video game tournaments going down, one of them BlazBlue. Since I have a liking for BlazBlue even though I completely suck at fighting games, I decide to watch the tournament alongside the SF3: Third Strike and Halo 3 2 vs. 2 that was going on.

Two hours before the con closes, and I really really really want to buy something before they all take down shop for the con. The only thing I do buy is a mini-card commission of Chihiro from Persona 3; ironically I'm cosplaying from Persona 3 as well.

Soon everything would be almost done, and with Sac State in my mind I call it a con and go home. Usually I would stick around and see were the staffers were going to go eat since they enjoy my company, but with all the equipment they needed to haul back on top of reflecting on what happened during the weekend I gave everyone, including myself, space. Maybe another time.

I still have one more part - the overall reflections of the con.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sac-Anime Summer 2009 Report - Saturday

Going out of the January con, I had high expectations. New venue, my first convention over the drinking opportunities.

Somehow, someway, I woke up at 5:45am in the morning...can't sleep, already have that con adrenaline going. By 6:30 I'm out the door and on my way to the convention. I wanted a big breakfast before the con, so I stopped by Dennys off of J and 3rd. A Super Grand Slamwich and some twisted OJ was the way go to. By 7:30 I'm already at the Radisson hotel, ready to pick up my pre-reg badge since pre-reg opened up at 7. With nothing to do, I sit outside and take time to chat with the game room staff despite them setting up. I even had the chance to test out Rock Band with Wendell from FanimeCon - it was nice to see him again. Meanwhile, it's getting hot with the forecast expected to be beyond 100 degrees, and in my Persona 3 uniform it got really hot. Luckily I had two Gatorades on ice...which I drank before 10am.

With the option to check-in online before the day, my room was ready around 9am. It was a bit far from everything, but then again so was everyone else. I take a small break, watch a small bit of the Ted Kennedy funeral, and get the high-speed internet working. I also adjust my Sleep Number bed to be really really really soft, although I would firm it up a bit later that night. With the long lines forming at the con, it was time to me to head back to check out the opening. I also needed to find my roommates - actually, they were people that I contacted them about sharing a room with me through the forums. It actually took them awhile to find the room mostly because I gave them the wrong room number, but it was nice knowing that I didn't pay the full price to stay the night.

From the get-go, it was packed and the narrow hallways didn't help. It wasn't as bad in the beginning but as the day got hotter and more people came it really got crowded. At least the choke points were there, everywhere else I could get through easily. There wasn't much to do in the morning so I stayed in the console gaming room, which surprisingly was air conditioned and was one of the coldest rooms at the con. I also make my rounds in the Artists Alley and the Dealers Room.

By 1pm, I'm 45 minutes away from doing my interview with Akai SKY, so I blitz on over to Subway to grab something to eat. I make it back in time to actually eat before I do the interview. I've already posted the interview, and thanks again to Akai SKY for doing the interview with me.

Right after that, I decide to play the 1st Twitter Prize Giveaway - today it would be the limited edition t-shirt that came with the pre-reg. After going from the panels room to the console gaming room, Robert Tokunaga finds me and wins my t-shirt. Needless to say others were mad at me.

Eventually I do get back into the Voice Actor panel and somehow I get called on. I ask Liam O'Brien if he had remember me from the last con and a Geass question.

(go to 4:59)

Also, during the panel we all "lost the game," but Liam was confused so I looked up the term and handed my BlackBerry for him to read it. He wanted to take it, but was joking and gave it back to me.

(go to 5:49)

Afterwords, I get into the autograph line to network and get autographs.

By 4pm, I was actually ready to grab dinner since most of what I had to do was during the evening. Since Costco was next door, I decided to go on a food run for the room, grabbing a whole bunch of Chicken Bakes and a whole pizza, all for under $30. I also took a shower, something that I really needed.

I knew the Masquerade line was going to be packed, so I didn't even bother to see the Masquerade, although later I did get a small peek - I got to see Bleach characters dancing to "Yuki, Muon, Madobe nite."

In between that, I witnessed something amazing - people going crazy over a pallet worth of Venom Energy. If you remember the June con, they were there handing out free bottles which I got like four or five. Anyways, they had a whole bunch to give away so I helped the console gaming staff truck boxes full of them - and also ran over Ramon's foot in the process...oops, sorry man. I get one to drink to kick things off.

8pm hits, and it's time to get a photoshoot with Cole in. We had some trouble getting good shots with the sun going down, but there were fantastic shots that she got of me - I'll post those a bit later.

I also notice that the Rock Band Freestyle tournament is going on. True story: I was walking with her on the other side of hotel grounds when all of the sudden I hear the guitar intro to (Don't Fear) The Reaper blasting through the hotel. They had the sound system cracking and it was freakin' awesome.

With the night still young, there was one thing I wanted to do - drink at a convention for the first time. I just had one though - a Heineken since I knew I'd be pounding Venom Energy.

Cosplay Poker would be starting soon, and I knew with the experience I've been gaining I'd have the edge. Yes, I did try to play bully but eventually ran out of cards with the blinds eating up my chips like Light taking his "potato chips...and [eating] it!" So with me out, I find myself shuffling cards since I wasn't the all-time dealer for the final table. I also hear the sounds of the rave going on, which actual good music. I wish that went until the early morning but it had to shut down by 2 in the morning.

Through all of this, there was one surprise waiting for me - a Carrot Juice Tournament. Yes, that game from Rayman Raving Rabbids. But with this one, this one was unannounced - it was part of their Easter Egg attempts at the console gaming room. With not having played that game in over a year and a half, I did poorly - one I did the double switch I knew I was done for. Hey, at least I knew that I took 3rd in the inaugural tournament. The crazy thing was that Robert was dethroned - by a mear six tenths of a second. The difference between first and second place was four hundredths of a second - all times were in the 2'10" range, nowhere near the record time of 2'18". Robert gave up his crown, but to someone who truly deserved it.

It's near 2am now, and time to get one last chat in with BSaphire before she leaves for the night. By 2:30am I'm back in my room trying to sleep...

Tomorrow, I will post the Sunday portion of the report as well as my overall impressions of the con.

History of the Carrot Juice Tournament

My review of Sac-Anime Summer 2009 is coming soon, but before we get to that, a bit of back history because we're going to need it.

Back before Sac-Anime Winter 2007, BSaphire announced that there would be unique, late-night video game tournament involving Carrot Juice.

This is from the game Rayman Raving Rabbids on the Nintendo Wii. The mini-game works like this: with the Wiimote you aim at the Rabbids that are trying to attack you and with the nun-chuck you go up and down pumping carrot juice into the goggles of the Rabbids to knock them off. The reason why this mini-game is so funny is that the motion that you make with the nun-chuck is the same motion that you use know...THAT.

With that announcement, everyone started to train, and when the time came everyone was ready to go. Me, Jonas, Robert, Bart, and a couple of others who I forgot competed. Robert went up first and established the 2'18" mark - a mark that hasn't been contested since this started. Of course, Robert won and was knighted "King of the Carrot Juice." Jonas came in second, and everyone was surprised when they found out that I came in 3rd place.

So far there has only been one...until Sac-Anime Summer 2009.

Interview with Akai SKY

I conducted this interview during sound checks on Saturday before they performed that afternoon.

Me: So what was your first performance like back at the Scottish Rite Center in July of 2006?
Umi: was fun, I think, I mean definitely that was our first was my first time in Sacramento, it's just cool to be in another city.
Hayashi: I think we were the first band to play at Sac-Anime.
Me: I think so.
Hayashi: Yeah, because that started a trend of having the bands come and play here, which is a great venue by the way, Sac's always been good to us.
Me: My second question is do you like the move to the Radisson? I mean look at this beautiful place!
Umi: We just got here a little while ago, obviously we haven't been here before but the stage is really awesome-
Hayashi: The Grove is awesome...[we've also played] at the Scottish Rite Center before and the other hotel but this is great. There's a lot of people here.
Me: What's the one thing you like about Sac-Anime?
Umi: Um...
Hayashi: The water.
*both laugh*
Umi: Yeah. Definitely I think the people. I've been walking around the halls and people are like "Oh my gosh, you're," so, um...they're very warm.
Hayashi: The kids already listen to a lot of music, no matter what it is. I think there's also a level of professionalism here at this con. We knew that Chris was coming to do sound again, we really loved working with him last time.
Me: My final question is the future plans for Akai SKY in terms of tour dates and event locations?
Hayashi: Our very next gig is actually next weekend during Labor Day in Las Vegas. We'll be playing with Halko Momoi [and a couple of other bands that we know], so it'll be good to play with them.
Me: Well thank you for your time.
All: Thank you.

I know that somewhere in the interview Ryuusei had a say in the interview, and Jinra was "mute" the whole entire time.

Thanks to Akai SKY for taking time out in their preparation to do the the interview with me!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Anime Cons and the Economy

With school underway, I begin my journey to an Economics degree at Sac State.
Besides working with the notion that our generation of economists will oversee the future after this depression, I think I can bring that knowledge to both people who run conventions and the people who attend them.
I'll bet you that a lot of people are wondering "Why hasn't K-ON! been licensed in the States?" or "Why is Viz putting all their effort into Bleach and Naruto?" The majority of the anime industry can be described through economics, and one of my dreams is to travel the cons talking to attendees on why things are in the industry - of course, in simple terms because some economic concepts can be hard to grasp.
But I can't get to that until I two-three years.

Anyways, I'll be posting the Sac-Anime Summer 2009 Review tomorrow, and hopefully the interview with Akai SKY before the end of the week.