Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sac Anime Winter 2012: Robbie's Report

Sac Anime Winter was my first convention of the new year. So what can I say about this? It wasn't a bad convention; far from it, it was actually one of the better Sac Anime cons I've been to. Yet I still have this sinking feeling in my gut when I think about it.

So let's begin with Day 1, Friday, when I arrived at the convention. While the Press Pass policy limited us to two passes for three reporters, I got a free VIP pass due to the person in charge of our room registering early on and receiving free passes. Ironically, the pre-reg line was longer than the at-con registration, which caused no shortage of complaints from those in line.

I wore my Spirit Albarn cosplay, now repaired from its last use at Anime Destiny. Needless to say, it did not survive this con either. I got some good mileage out of it, though, gaining several compliments. Vic Mignogna himself was shocked by the scythe blades, and I admit, seeing him fan out over my costume was a pleasant reversal from the usual fans freaking out over him.

This brings me to my first compliment for the convention: the guests. They had a wonderful assortment of voice actor guests this time, as per usual. Some of them were no strangers to Sac Anime, while others were first timers. Meeting Tara Strong was a thrill, as she was a very kind and cheerful woman who's done so many incredible voices.

After checking out the various rooms and dealer's hall, I went to the Soul Eater panel, where I was a panelist. We remained in-character as we answered questions and generally joked around with the audience. When they ran out of questions to ask, we began a game of "20 questions," which the audience did quite well at. Laughs were had, I was hit with a book, and in spite of a few stumbles here and there, it went quite well.

Immediately after, I rushed to change into Wade Wilson for the Marvel/DC gathering. (I cosplay the version from "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," as while many people dislike that movie, I felt Ryan Reynold's performance as pre-Deadpool Wade was great.) The gathering went on for a good while, where several incredible cosplayers posed for awesome pictures. We had plenty of X-Men, two Iron Men, a Captain America, some Young Justice characters, and several others; some personal favorites are of me fighting heroes like Wolverine or Captain America.

The Marvel/DC gathering: Rogue, Phoenix, Captain America, Gambit, Punisher, Wolverine, Storm, Emma Frost, Siryn, and Wade.
Shortly after that ended, I changed back into Spirit once again for the Soul Eater gathering. While the sun had already set, the night did help serve the mood of the series, albeit making it difficult for me to take pictures with my flash-free DSi. Once more, good times were had, pictures and videos were taken, and I had a generally enjoyable time.

Following the gatherings, I decided to visit the karaoke room. Normally I tend to perform the Pokerap at anime convention karaoke, but this time I opted for a song more in-character from Spirit, albeit still from Pokemon. Suffice to say, singing "Two Perfect Girls" went over very well, and it ended with the audience cheering and clapping in spite of my poor singing.

After dinner, my first day of Sac Anime came to a successful end. I went to two good gatherings, had a good panel, my costume was praised, and I sang my lungs out. Not a bad day 1.

The Predators hunt their prey: unruly fans who annoy them.
Probably won't find the droids you're looking for in the dealer's hall, but there will still be plenty of swag to buy.
Some incredible Legend of Zelda cosplayers
For Saturday, I began the day as Giovanni, leader of Team Rocket, for the Pokemon gathering. For the past several Sac Anime, I've hosted the Pokemon gathering, but I felt that I've hosted it long enough, and it's time to pass the torch on to someone else. (This torch burns with the fires of Moltres, of course, but that's beside the point.) So as this was my final time hosting the gathering, I was determined to make it a good one.

Before that, though, I got in line for autographs again. The morning's autographs were from Tara Strong and Quinton Flynn, both of whom were a pleasure to speak with. While waiting in line, some of us began learning to sing the "Teen Titans" theme song, with the help of another attendee on guitar, which we performed for Tara. Unrehearsed and tone-deaf as our singing was, she still seemed pleased by our performance, and it really was a pleasure.

For my Pokemon gathering, I was concerned that we might have some difficulties with conflicting gatherings, since there was a Kuroshitsuji event at the same time and place, but we split the yard, and there were no problems with a lack of space. Plenty of Pokemon and trainers showed up for the gathering, with more appearing and leaving later on, but we had time for several good photos and battles. Having forgotten my speakers at home, I couldn't play the Pokemon soundtrack during the gathering, but it was no great loss. While several people I were expecting or hoping to attend couldn't make it, we had enough new attendees to cover their loss, and it all went quite well.

Pokemon gathering group shot
The evil teams: Rocket, Magma, Aqua, and Plasma
An epic battle ensues
Following that, I intended to change into Randy Marsh from South Park to meet up with some friends to cosplay from it together. That had to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, though, among which was the fact that it was really hot, and South Park cosplay is meant for cold weather.

Yes, the weather this winter was surprisingly hot. While last year had most of us freezing and huddled inside, this year's weather felt more like spring, maybe even summer. Of course, I had chosen many warm weather costumes to wear, expecting it to be cold. Go figure.

When I attended "Whose Line Is It Anime," I was thankful for my VIP Pass, as it allowed me to bypass the long line and get my seats early. The event had each of the guests on stage, performing improv, and they were hilarious. Every one of them was clever, witty, and very funny; Troy Baker's dancing was a particular thrill. They often used the voices and characters of ones they've voiced, and while I was never selected as an audience volunteer for any of the games, I can say I managed to get Troy to do Greed's voice and Quinton to do Timon's.

However, while the actors themselves were incredible, I do have some complaints. The person hosting Whose Line didn't explain some of the games particularly well, causing some confusion. For example, normally when people play "Let's Make a Date," you don't ask an audience guest to describe a bunch of dates off the top of her head; that's an entirely different game. It wasn't that he was bad at it, just that he needed more practice. The guests called up for "Sound Effects" also continued to throw in random sound effects without being given a proper cue, but one of them explained that they couldn't hear what anyone else was saying, due to the sound systems. Personally, I think it could have used the help of someone with a little more experience hosting improv games… who, me? Why, thank you for saying so, I suppose I could if you really want me.

As the sun began to set, I switched costumes to a humanoid Wheatley from Portal 2. I was supposed to meet with some friends to do a Portal group cosplay, but due to sickness caused by bad food, my friend was delayed, and the group postponed until a later convention. Instead, I once again hit the karaoke room, where I sang the "Looking For Group" parody of "Part Of Your World," titled "Slaughter The World." I killed the audience, in more than one sense. I should have aimed for the announcer, though, since he asked if it was from Homestuck, then brushed off my answer with "So basically, Homestuck." No, Mr. Announcer, not all webcomics are Homestuck, get used to it.

Unfortunately, I ended up missing the masquerade, and arrived in time to see the winners. One friend's My Little Pony group won Best In Show, while another friend's Alex Mercer costume won Best Craftsmanship, so I'd like to offer my congratulations to them and all the other winners for a great job.

I didn't attend the rave, as I never do, so I ended my day with that. So far, so good, and hopefully, Sunday would be even better.

Avatar Aang, now an old man, parts us with these words of wisdom: "The Legend of Korra will seriously rock!"
Zoro from "One Piece" prepares to draw his swords
This Canti had a camera connected to the monitor that displayed everything he saw
Chell and Wheatley
Winner of Best Craftsmanship
Sunday was the debut of my Greed cosplay. (Original Greed, not Ling!Greed.) Unfortunately, I couldn't get my wig spiked in time, so I was Greed with his hair down. I got in line for the VIP autograph session, where we'd be the first ones up to meet all the guests. I have to say, these VIP passes were really useful; saved me a lot of time in line. After meeting each of the guests, it was time for the Samurai Senshi panel.

Some of you readers might remember that I do the voice of Ichiro the monk in the web series "Samurai Senshi." Once again, we hosted a panel talking about the series, this time with some video content to go with it. Yes, Samurai Senshi is heading to YouTube as an animated series, so check it out. The panel started out small, but we gained an audience as it went on, and ended on a high note. We did some role playing in-character, explained about the series, and showed the animated prologue.

Once that was over, I decided to head to the card game room for some Yugioh. As soon as I sat down to play against someone, though, the person running the room, without provocation, demanded that everyone who was not competing in the tournament leave. This would make sense, if not for the fact that the tournament had not yet started, and would not start for another half hour at the least. Perplexed, we moved to another room to begin our game, but that staff member still deserves reprimanding.

At 2:00, I was to host the Bay Area Conventions gathering. It took a little while to get everyone gathered by the fountains. It took even more time to get them to listen to me and line up for photos. Once that was over, in spite of my attempts to get people to stick around while we waited for more people to leave, most all of them ignored me and split off. My attempts to start any sort of games failed, and anyone who arrived late was disappointed to see that it had already ended. I tired my best to make it a successful gathering, but nobody would cooperate or listen, and it completely fell apart.
The BAC Gathering. Ten seconds later, all but four of them would be gone.
Fortunately, a much better gathering took place shortly after that. My final event for the day was the Scott Pilgrim gathering, and I quickly switched from Greed to my Young Neil cosplay. The gathering was well organized and great fun, which resulted in great pictures. (Unfortunately, I was unable to take them, due to my Nintendo DS being used as a prop instead of a camera for cosplaying as Neil.) That allowed me to end my day on a high note, so I said my goodbyes to my friends and left.
Setsuna Sakurazaki from "Mahou Sensei Negima," a personal favorite series
Another favorite, "Ranma 1/2." This would probably be a good time to plug "Ranma 1/2: The Abridged Chronicles," but that would be shameless of me, wouldn't it?
Ed, Winry, and Greed
Now, Sac Anime has always had a problem with the general maturity level of many of the fans, as well as the large crowds. It hasn't changed much this time, although with a little less shouting and glomping in the halls, but not enough of a change to be significant. I still had people knock around the nearly-broken scythe blades on my Spirit costume without apologizing or even looking back, and there were still people honking horns in the crowd. It's seriously time to move to a better venue.

That brings me to my next point: the hotel was even worse than usual. They plastered large signs on the doors saying "No outside food or drink allowed," although at least little was done to enforce that rule. The internet connection was always down, and it's clear they didn't like us cosplayers filling up everything.

I'm also still dealing with an extra charge of over a hundred dollars from the previous Sac Anime that the Radisson has charged me. I'm continuing to fight it, but they insist that someone was smoking in my room, in spite of the fact that no one has. Those lying thieves are trying to rip me off, but that's a rant for another time.

Which brings me to some good news: Sac Anime will not be at the Radisson much longer. They've finally realized it's gotten too large for that hotel, and they're moving to the Sacramento Convention Center. I don't know if the switch will be made for the next Sac Anime Summer or if it won't be until Winter, but either way, so long, Radisson, you won't be missed.

So, how did this Sac Anime stack up? It was both the best and worst in different ways. The guests were amazing, the events were loads of fun, and it's always good to meet with friends. But at the same time, several things I wanted to do fell apart on me, and returning home to find the hotel is still insisting upon their lies and trying to steal my money kind of ruins the whole weekend. I have a lot of good memories of this convention, but the bad ones might end up corrupting those.

Y'know what? None of those negative things matter that much. So I couldn't meet up with some friends like I'd hoped, and so the BAC gathering fell apart on me. In the end, I still sang the Teen Titans theme song with some other guys to Raven's voice actress, and that makes this con awesome.

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