Monday, October 3, 2011

Anime Destiny 2011 - Ray's Report

Location: MLK Student Union @ UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Date: 2011.10.01 (Saturday)
Cost: $10
Prior years attended: 2010

AD is second-to-last in what I call "con season" (July through October, when a lot of conventions and cosplay-related festivals take place in NorCal). Like Kin-Yoobi Con and HyperCon, it is a small convention, catering more to local cosplayers and anime/manga/J-game fans rather than trying to attract an audience on a state or national scale.

Things started with me picking up Jaidin in San Jose, then swinging back to pick up Alex before parking at Daly City, where we took BART down to Downtown Berkeley. A camera and silly poses ensued during the trip.

As we got off, we were a little sidetracked by the local Spirit Halloween store, so we stopped to take a peek. After looking at some of the costumes and costume accessories, Alex bought a foam sword, which became the subject of many silly things that were to come.

Upon arriving at the convention venue--the MLK Student Union just off of Bancroft and Telegraph--we noticed that there was surprisingly little cosplay activity in the outdoor area immediately outside of the building. It took a walk to the fountain and encountering a few Touhou cosplayers and such to figure out that registration was inside the building, on the 3rd floor. Kind of a bummer that registration was held inside this year, since having it outside last year allowed the con to get more attention.

Also on the same floor was the console gaming room. Since I tend to have a bias against fighting games and Rock Band--the usual suspects of most con gaming rooms--I gave it very little thought. The same floor was home to the dealer's / artist's hall, consolidated into a single large room this year, and the main event room. On the 4th floor was the screening room, panel room, and con ops. The 5th floor was left completely unused; a shame considering that the outdoor courtyard provides some great opportunities for photoshoots.

Attendance this year was pretty dry; it felt like there was hardly anyone here. Perhaps contributing to the lack of attendance was Spirit of Japantown in San Jose (featuring Yukie Dong and the other Fanimaids) taking place on the same day, which forced a split of attendance.

Touhou and Vocaloid were the prevailing cosplay fandoms at this convention, with at least 6 Touhou cosplayers and 7 or so Vocaloid and UTAU cosplayers. Persona 3 and 4 had some representation as well, with me and and acquaintance as P4's protagonist, a bit of P4's Investigation Team, and Akihiko. A few friends dressed as a trio of The World Ends with You characters. As far as the "big three" cosplay fandoms go: two Hetalia cosplayers (DeCreep as Sealand, and someone else as Prussia), no Kuro (at least from what I saw or know), and a few Homestuck cosplayers.

After registering, we went to Subway to catch up with Max, Kaela, and company, where I got a 12" tuna sub for $5. (To compare, SJSU's Subway charges $6 for a 12".) I mostly hung around with them for a bit before going off to the BAC Gathering.

I normally don't go to BAC con gatherings a lot as I tend to be busy elsewhere, but with my friends and I having absolutely nothing to do, we decided to check it out. Eliteslayer did a few photoshoot games, and we did the usual group photo.

After the gathering, there wasn't really much to do. Some of us went to the Dealer's Hall to see what was available. I had the fortune of running into a fellow P4 main cosplayer, complete with a "WEAK" sign. (For those unfamiliar with Persona 3 and 4, it shows up whenever a character is hit with an element they are vulnerable to, and is a major element of the battle mechanics.) Since I had no cash left, I mostly went window shopping, looking at various artists' works, before taking off.

I attended the Masquerade. I'm not sure exactly what went down as I was sleepy (3 1/2 hours of sleep, yay) and dozed off for a few minutes, before we decided to leave. Didn't help that lighting was near-nonexistant. I recall a Vocaloid skit of sorts, a Touhou skit involving a dispute between Reimu and Tenshi (a la TH10.5), and a Hanyuu (from Higurashi) skit.

Other highlights include some friends and I awkwardly greeting everyone on purpose, then going off with them for some random 4th floor stuff (since the hall was empty), and getting to know some pretty chill Vocaloid cosplayers, including a Len who I knew as the Luka carrying a Takoluka plushie at Sac-Anime. We all hung around until 7 PM or so when the con closed, then some of us flocked to Subway for dinner.

As far as con swag goes, I picked up a $3 photo-size print of Luka...using 12 quarters, most of which I had brought a bunch of quarters from home; I was strapped for money as mentioned.

  Since Alex decides to sleep over with a local friend for the night, Jaidin and I started going home--not too far on our way back, we ran into Darth Ryu, who was also BART-bound. We all made our way back to Downtown Berkeley, and stopped by John's Ice Cream for a bit. I used my pocket change to grab a scoop.
The wait for BART was pretty long (20 minutes, which is pretty long by BART standards; then again we allowed a train to pass so we could finish our ice cream, and it was nighttime), so we hung around on the platform talking about the old days of Fanime and Fanime staffing, among other things. We hopped on a car, found some seats, only to find a bag of what was presumably weed in one of the seats, so we switched cars. We bid farewell to Darth Ryu and transferred trains to get back to SF, and the rest of the way home we talked about a wide variety of topics, from the Touhou games to planning out a panel on con etiquette.

Overall, AD this year wasn't too hot, particularly in comparison to last year which had better attendance and a wider variety of cosplays along with some main events worth coming to. Perhaps next year, scheduling won't be as conflicting and AD will bring in some local guests; perhaps that will bring back the flair that last year's AD had. Honestly, my friends' attendance--as well as the presence of some new friends--was 95% of the reason I managed to enjoy myself here.

Would I go back next year? Depends very largely on who's going. If I don't see any close friends going next year, I might skip since I'm worried there will be nothing to do otherwise.

~Ray Scarlet

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