Monday, October 3, 2011

Anime Destiny 2011 - Robbie's Report

Anime Destiny was a one-day convention, held at UC Berkeley's MLK Student Union. I've said before that there's nothing wrong with holding a convention at a college - in fact, the location usually means there's affordable food and parking nearby, although given the size of the campus, I wouldn't have minded at least a sign or something saying, "Hey! The con is here, you don't have to wander around campus looking like a lost street performer." Fortunately, I managed to find the building with a little help from fellow attendees, so I can bring you this report.

I arrived right as they were opening, and obtained a press pass without any difficulties. I also took the time to sign up for the masquerade, assuming that with a small convention, my Spirit Albarn cosplay might finally earn an award of some kind. Boy was I wrong. More on that later.

The convention was split between two floors of the building. On one floor had the registration, dealers' hall, and video game room, and main events, while the above floor had the screening room, tabletop games, and panel room. I stopped by the opening ceremonies in the main events room, and the performance was decent, but the performers on stage seemed to be lacking in enthusiasm. Their moves were rehearsed, yes, but rehearsed movements without the proper energy just seem mechanical.
The opening ceremonies

Following that, I took a look at the dealers' hall. It was more of an artist alley, with very few tables for actually selling DVDs, posters, and other fun convention swag, but the artists with work on display had some amazing artwork and crafts. One table had the Pokemon gym badges made out of some sort of glass or plastic, and they looked incredible; too expensive for me to afford, but incredible nonetheless. Another table had sunglasses painted to look like anime-esque eyes, while remaining see-through from the inside. There were some very clever designs, such as the Sharingan or Geass, and are well-worth checking out if you ever get the chance.

When I went to the gaming room, however, I found that it was still setting up. They were busy labeling controllers and trying to get a projector to work, while all the downloaded content on their Rock Band game was inaccessible, as they couldn't access the internet. Although they had a good selection of games and systems, I feel they should have taken care of the setup and solved these sorts of problems before opening.

I stopped by the panel room to see Foxberry's panel "Conventions 101." As an experienced con-goer, she made sure to inform the newer attendees of basic convention rules and manners, from the should-be-obvious-but-sadly-often-overlooked "No glomping," to the lesser-known tidbits like "staring the Japanese guests of honor in the eyes can be intimidating and rude." The panel was well-organized and interesting, so hopefully it will make a fangirl think twice before giving someone a tackle-hug, and remind a fanboy to shower and get some sleep.

Meeting up with other friends, we decided to take part in the scavenger hunt. It was a very clever idea that the convention had, and easily one of the highlights for me. We spent time hunting down items or pictures (including a Hi-Chew bubble gum wrapper, which I'm still surprised we managed to find at a friend's table), and managed to earn a small prize. Other parts of the scavenger hunt were specific tasks, such as getting a group of four people to sing the Pokemon theme song (needless to say, we gladly obliged).

The tenth and eleventh Doctors decided to park their TARDIS nearby
Howl moved his castle over to Berkeley to attend
The World Ends With You cosplayers strike a pose

At 2:00 was the Bay Area Conventions gathering (you might remember BAC, one of this blog's affiliates, from my Sac Anime report). While waiting for attendees to show up, we held some quick improv games, then took a group photo. It was a short gathering, but still fun, and it had a good turnout.

Shortly after, I had to check in for the masquerade. As I mentioned before, I was cosplaying as Spirit Albarn from Soul Eater, and I was hoping that the scythe blades that I had coming out of my back would be impressive enough to give me a good chance, especially since it was a small convention. The other competitors had incredible costumes, though, and some impressive skits, so I knew my chances weren't that good. Especially since the large scythe blade encountered some trouble earlier in the day, and it needed some emergency repairs. Nothing hurts you in judging like visible duct tape.

Chell and GLaDOS, winners of best-in-show at the masquerade
Panty and Stocking, post-zombie apocalypse
The Albarn family. Not pictured: Maka telling Spirit she hates him for cheating on her mother and walking off.

Still, most of the masquerade competitors had incredible costumes. There were the occasional performances that made no sense, or the unkind competitor, but those were very few. For the most part, the contestants did great. Sadly, the same could not be said for those hosting the masquerade. It was clear that they were unprepared and unpracticed, from the constant mispronunciation of names, to the way they got the order of performances mixed up, and they didn't even let the cosplayers know what order they'd be in except for announcing, "These guys, on deck. Next guy, on stage." The performances weren't separated according to walk on or skit, either, simply by "they brought music," and "they didn't bring music." Thus, all the walk-ons who did not bring their own music went on stage in awkward silence, in spite of their great costumes and poses. I'm sorry, Anime Destiny staff, but you were really off your game for the masquerade.

The judges
Ling Yao/Greed from Fullmetal Alchemist
Luka shows us her dance moves
This probably isn't how Touhou characters fight, but it was certainly amusing
Alice poses while looking for Wonderland
This Alice found Wonderland, and the Mad Hatter, Blood Dupre
Spirit gives a little speech
Winner of best performance. This was the only picture I could get where he wasn't moving too fast to capture.

While we waited for the judges the make their decisions, one of the groups from the masquerade went up to give away Vocaloid CDs they made. That wouldn't be a problem if it was part of the programming, but the staff completely forgot about Angel Hearts, who were supposed to perform. Angel Hearts is a group of cosplayers well-known for performing dances to songs from various J-pop bands, IDOLM@STER, etcetera, and were invited as guests for this very purpose. For them to be passed over is quite negligent on the staff's behalf, but they corrected their mistake shortly after. I have to praise the group on their performances; for song after song, they continued to dance with perfectly rehearsed moves and bright, wide smiles on their faces. So my compliments to Angel Hearts, they did a great job.

Angel Hearts
Speaking of guests, Anime Destiny had several bands and singers performing. Kurenai, DJ Coco, and several others were on the guest list, performing at separate times each day. Yet that was as far as the guest list went; no industry guests, no voice actors, no one actually involved in the anime industry. I can understand if they couldn't afford any, but it's still unusual for a convention to have that many musical guests yet no industry guests.

After the masquerade, things began to settle down. I bid farewell to my friends, grabbed a quick dinner, and hit the road. All in all, it was an okay convention. There wasn't anything particularly outstanding about it, and it seriously needed better organization, but it could have been worse, and for the price of admission, it wasn't too bad. That's all I really have to say about it; I had a good time, at least, and that's what counts.


  1. I don't know about the judges, but your scythe blades definitely looked impressive to me! Your skit was fantastic as well. It made me laugh!
    All in all, it was nice to meet you! Perhaps we will run into each other again at some other NorCal convention. :]

    -that GLaDOS

  2. Thanks, Guavi, it was nice meeting you as well! Hopefully we'll meet again soon. I know a friend of mine is getting a Portal group together for Sac Anime Winter that I'll be joining, if you'll be there.

  3. If you want to know more about the pokemon badge guy:

    He's a pretty nice guy and is also at Fanime every year. They're also probably the most accurate looking badges I've seen.


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