Thursday, June 30, 2011

Anime Expo 2011 - Tsunami Scoreboard, Pre-Coverage Edition

The forecast calls for a slight lull in the usual summer swell we expect from Independence Day weekend in the Golden State where the summer sun, sand and surf are world famous for tourists and locals alike, but here at CaliConBlog we allow neither glassy nor shark-infested waters to dampen our spirits. As the saying goes, the calm comes before the storm and in just a few short hours, thousands of shoebies, locals and gurus from all over the west coast, and even internationally, will take the Los Angeles Convention Center by storm and spend their hot and steamy summer nights doing what nerds do best--the infamous Anime Expo con-crawl!

Don't get us wrong--the attendees of Anime Expo are anything but sluggish. With the second-largest anime convention in the country sitting right here in the backyard of the Greater Los Angeles area natives, there's always a mad dash for badge pick-up and last-minute concert ticket purchases. Cosplayers lurk in the pre-reg lines as though the sidewalk is a fashion runway, gamers bring their portable systems and geek out on the front steps and fangirls and fanboys trade opinions and series recommendations as a gaggle of housewives might swap recipes for pot-stickers at a PTA meeting.

The hallways buzz with excitement and even though it's a whopping 100 degrees in the shade, the atmosphere is cheery and as bright as the sun. Not a cloud in the sky today as our five-member team suits up and ships out for the 2011 Press Junket at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Downtown LA, and the the million dollar question remains.

Only one person comes to mind when I think of the best possible phrasing of the question, so I'll let a certain One-Eyed Dragon take it from here:

Will Anime Expo finally come out on top or will this summer's swell be a total flop? The Tsunami Scoreboard predicts one of the hottest summers yet, so you definitely don't wanna miss this!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kintoki-Con 2011 Report: Part 4 - Epilogue

I talked to a lot of attendees, staff members, and guest of honors over that weekend, and all of them agreed with me: for a first-year convention with this amount of expectations, this convention really came through. Some people were comparing it to a Northern California version of Anime Los Angeles and the start that ALA had. The only problem with that analogy is that ALA is opposite of AX (January-July) while Kintoki-Con is right after FanimeCon and right before AX, but I can see the future success if the parallels hold true given how popular ALA is now.

Like the other start-up convention this year in Sacramento, the key to future growth is correct any and all mistakes and hammer out what you did best. Bringing back guests like Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Richard Epcar, who also shared a positive opinion on Kintoki-Con, is a great way to build for 2012. There have been discussions on what rates are being raised and what is staying put on Facebook through their account this early and this quick after the convention, which is another positive move.

I had a running dialogue with Co-chair Eric over the weekend, letting him know what was working and what needed to be fixed and improved. As press, I like this dialogue and he really seemed to take notice. We need more convention chairs like that, someone is genuinely listening and wants constant feedback to improve the product they have put out over the weekend. With the amount of feedback that they have been receiving over the weeks, this convention is bound to improve by leaps and bounds, and for us Northern California cosplayers, conventioneers, and members of the press such as myself, this is a convention that we would love to see flourish.

I would like to thank both convention chairs, Eric San Gregorio and Nicole Stockel, for inviting me to cover this convention. I was very honored to cover this convention and I look forward to covering it again next year. Special shout-outs to go the Maid Cafe and Gaming Room staff for giving me an insider's look for unique angles and views of their work in progress. And a special thanks to all my readers who have been reading this report and past reports - you are the lifeblood of this blog. Without you, we'd be telling our stories and experiences to a bunch of tubes.

That concludes my report of Kintoki-Con 2011. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it to Anime Expo due to financial reasons but you can find the rest of my staff there for their coverage. If you see any of them out and about this weekend, say hi to them for me.

私のレポートを 読むためにありがとう。
Thank you for reading my report.

-Kintoki-Con 2011 Report End-

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kintoki-Con 2011 Report: Part 3 - Sunday (Day Two)

The lounge on the 15th floor was open all night, and I had fun playing Portal 2 and Child of Eden at two in the morning while partying up the night.

At some point, I had to call it a night so that I could get home, try to get some rest, and be back at the convention before 9am because Richard and Mary had another panel.

Since this was their autograph session, it got people to get up early for this panel. However, the room layout didn't change since last night's Moon Stream concert, so there wasn't a set-up for their panel. But the two didn't need microphones; instead, they got two chairs, we all sat in a semi-circle, and had storytime.

During the 2nd Q&A session, Mary brought up last year's Anime Vegas and the Code Geass Panel in which she responded to an attendee's question with a question of her own. I actually remember that moment since I was a part of that panel.

The reps for Anime Destiny (UC Berkley campus) watching The Simpsons.
After their autograph session, it was time for my favorite moment of the convention: getting an interview with the two.

I would like to thank Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Richard Epcar for allowing me to accompany them over the weekend and for the interview. It was recently announced that they will be returning to Kintoki-Con next year, so I look forward to seeing you two again, hopefully this time with more members of the blog!

I was hungry after this, so I hook up with Ramon and Craig to go grab some lunch over at Downtown Plaza. I ended up picking up Panda Express with that delicious Orange Chicken.

Back at the convention, I get my last glimpses of the Dealer's Hall and Artist's Alley. But this time I got sidetracked by getting photos of the Moon Stream autograph session.

Earlier in the day, I asked Rodney if I could bump up my photo shoot from 4pm to 3pm. He agreed, so about a half hour before the shoot I went back to my car to rest and rehydrate. He's not done posting all the photos on his gallery, so once he's done I'll make a separate post.

After I was done, I was looking for things to do to round out Kintoki-Con. It was before 4pm, so I actually got into the Moon Stream Q&A Panel, which I both took photos and filmed.

Somewhere during the panel, I fell asleep with all the exhaustion from this convention. Moon Stream woke me up, and it was caught while I was filming - such an embarrassing moment!

Now it was time for really check out Dealer's Hall and Artist's Alley for the last time.

With the convention winding down, I make my final rounds enjoying the last few moments.

Soon enough, it was time for head on home. I said my last goodbyes before heading on out.

-Sunday (Day Two) & Kintoki-Con 2011 End-

Kintoki-Con 2011 Report: Part 2 - Saturday (Day One)

I was up early on Saturday since the convention opened up early at 8am. By 7am I was off to Jim Denny's for a decent breakfast which consisted of one giant pancake - the Hubcap. Unfortunately, I didn't finish it all and I gave the rest to someone who I had met yesterday and became good acquaintances quickly.

At the hotel, people were waiting in line waiting to get their badges.

At Artist's Alley, people were setting up their booths for the weekend.

I also went to go check out the gaming room. This was when I found out that the Masters of Games Tournament, something that I wanted to cover, got canceled due to the low amount of pre-registered attendees and the lack of televisions from a supplier. I found out later that they were going to try to get this tournament going regardless, but that left me a huge time gap between now and 12pm.

It was already getting hot - Dotachin in a Sacramento summer weather is much different than Doatchin in San Jose spring weather - so I eventually found myself poolside relaxing until things started to open up.

I had a bit of time to explore the convention before 12pm, so I went first to Dealers Hall then I went upstairs to the 15th floor to check out the lounge.

The best thing about this floor is that the four balconies give you a virtual 360 degree view of Sacramento and surrounding areas. It's something that you have to see for yourself.

I went back downstairs to the gaming room to check out again, which by then they were at full strength. I found myself playing a couple sets of songs from Rock Band 3, something that I did constantly throughout the convention.

During this time I went to go talk to my photographer, Rodney, about my photo shoot tomorrow. I shared my vision so that he wouldn't be left in the dark about what I wanted to do. We were both glad to get that out of the way so quickly.

My first panel of the day was the Richard and Mary Q&A, and we had more insights into their careers and their favorite moments.

I actually left a bit early to cover other parts of the convention, but as I found out later when I came back they were still having their panel.

Downstairs in the Main Events room, Capital Roots were having a dance competition. I was just in time to photograph the top 16 battling it out for that $1,000 grand prize.

After they were done with the top 16 I went back to the Dealers Hall to browse again.

I came back just in time for some photo ops before heading off to lunch.

And with that, I was off to lunch at Subway on J Street.

The guy in the Ouran blazer is Luis, and we were having a chat about this convention so far when he brings up Anime Expo last year and that huge event they were having - which was the event that I helped organize for the SoCal Host Club. He told me he was in line for the main event, so I must of been the one who cut him off with my calculations due to time constraints the huge line that we had. He was hoping to see us again this year, but I told him that the club got declined.

Back at the convention, I came in just in time again to see the winners in the adult division.

With the Maid Cafe opening in a couple of minutes, I head over there to get some photos and a video.

I would be back later for some more shots. For the time being, I chilled out in the gaming room and the lounge on the 15th floor.

Eventually I went back to the Maid Cafe to get some more pictures.

I found myself helping a maid out conduct a game of Pokemon Master Trainer, a board game that came out during the height of the Pokemon craze in the late 90s. For some odd reason, the maid left and instead of calling over another maid (which they told I should of done, but didn't mind this result), I continued the game having prior knowledge of this game. It made me feel that I was a part of the SoCal Host Club again before I left, and maybe if I didn't have my duties has press that I would be part of a Maid/Butler Cafe.

I spent a lot of time here, so by the time I left Masquerade was just about to start. So I take my seat and enjoy the shortest Masquerade that I've ever been to. At least it was better than FanimeCon's and had some variety.

Outside, Yukie Dong was doing a Niconico live broadcast, so I stuck around to see the whole show.

After she was done, we head outside for the interview that I missed at FanimeCon.

It was barely 7pm, so I had two more hours to eat at the place where I had recommended - Upper Crust Pizza.

Back at the convention once again, I catch the closing of the Maid Cafe.

Right as I got back to the game room, they were finishing up their SSFIV: AE tournament with the final two matches, which I got to record.

I found myself for the rest of the night at Richard Epcar's Out Takes Panel and partying it up all over the con...

...long into the night.

-Saturday (Day One) End-