Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Animation On Display 2012: Robbie's Report

Well now, Animation on Display 2012 was quite the convention for me. Not necessarily because I had so much to do, but because everything that happened made it so much trouble for so much fun.

Our story begins on Saturday morning, as I arrived at the convention. My throat was a little sore from a cold I had caught the past few days, but after a lot of rest and medicine, I assumed I was in good enough health to go. I was debuting my cosplay for Nikaido from Ben-To, as I was supposed to meet up with a friend also cosplaying from that series, but I later found out he was unable to make it.

As I picked up my badge, I noticed that the pre-registration line was longer than the at-con registration. This is the second time I've seen this sort of thing happen, contrary to previous years where the pre-reg line is short and quick, while the at-con takes longer. I actually think this is a sign of the growing ages of attendees; when we're young, we have to rely on our parents to get us to the con and provide us with the money to register there. Now that we're older and have jobs, we can sign up ahead of time, thus having more people pre-reg. Of course, this is just my theory.

Anyways, the earlier portion of AOD was spent meeting up and chatting with friends. I got a quick photoshoot of my Nikaido costume at the nearby supermarket (it's a fitting location for the series, and thankfully, the manager was nice enough to let us take photos there), then stopped by the autograph line to get autographs from Neil Kaplan and Cristina Vee. There were several other guests at the con I was unable to meet, but given the lines that they tended to have, I had to pass.

Following lunch and more wandering about, it was time to check in to the hotel. That's where my problems started.

Now let me begin with some good news: you remember my conflict with the Woodlake Hotel? Well, the credit card company ruled in my favor, and I got to keep my money. So that's one problem down, now it's time for another.

You see, the Hotel Kabuki didn't have our reservation. It simply didn't have us on record. Well, it thought we booked a room, yes, but for the weekend before the convention, which we didn't. The friend who booked the room made sure they knew it was for the con when reserving it, and when she called again to add my name to the reservation, she reconfirmed the fact. Yet they still had nothing, and that means we didn't have a room, as they were totally, 100% out.

Of course, the manager said things like, "You should have checked this when you booked the room." Well, we did. Multiple times. Someone on your end screwed up, and we were about to pay the price. They didn't even give us any notification that we'd missed our supposed reservation date, they just didn't say anything until it was too late. We didn't want to cause a fuss, but boy was it hard not to when we were about to be stranded in San Francisco without a place to stay.

Thankfully, Ray, a fellow blogger on this site, and his roommate Jaidin were upgraded to a suite, which meant they had plenty of room for us, and were generous enough to let us stay with them. My thanks once again to the two of them for their kindness, it seriously saved us. It wasn't until that night that we got another e-mail from the hotel with a reservation confirmation for this weekend, and we're still not sure if it was the one we were supposed to get or one for a room that opened up. Either way, it was too late for them to change anything.

So once again, a hotel screwed up, and nearly cost us big. This is an occurrence becoming all too common to me these days, and I can safely say that I do not like it.

At any rate, we were settled in, and I changed into my 11th Doctor costume, since no one was recognizing Nikaido. I noticed how after 5 hours of cosplaying as Nikaido, not one person recognized me or asked for pictures. Within five minutes of cosplaying the Doctor, I was getting called over left and right, and this was even without my fez. People love the Doctor, apparently. No complaints here.

As I spent more time wandering the convention and meeting friends, I noticed that it was even more crowded than last year. I think there's still room to grow, but they need to reorganize the rooms and booths to allow for more room for walking. It was definitely hard to navigate the crowd, and it was so noisy that I had to try and talk over the crowd sometimes, which was really, really bad for someone with a sore throat.

I didn't get to go to too many events, but there were two panels I was sure to check out. First off was Foxberry's "Photoshop for Cosplayers" panel, where she went over the uses of photo editing software for cosplay photos and the various tools and techniques. It was well-done, and her experience really shows, although I couldn't stick around for all of it.

I was also sure to visit the "Rattata: Top Percentage" panel, the partner to the incredibly popular "Magikarp: A History" panel. It discussed the memetic status of the Pokemon Rattata, its potential and abilities, and even the trainer who made it famous. They clearly put a lot of work into researching and preparing for the panel, in spite of it taking much less time than they had planned for. I also bet on the wrong Rattata during the video showing off a racing minigame, which just goes to show why I'm not a gambling man. The panel itself was very amusing, and I can see it becoming just as successful as the Magikarp one.

As the day grew later, I hung out with several friends in our hotel room, chatting and having a good time. At that point, my voice was worn out from all the talking, and became very raspy. In order to save my voice, I started writing down everything I wanted to say, and still managed to carry on a decent conversation.

We split for dinner, intending to return in time for a small mixer. Unfortunately, it took so long to be seated and place our orders that by the time our food arrived, it had already started, and by the time we left, it was long over. I did get to place a reservation under the name "Doctor," though, so I'll still consider it a win.

My voice now thoroughly gone, I returned to the room to rest. We had some other friends over for hanging out and chilling, but with my voice as dead as it was, I couldn't really join in many conversations. Opting to pass on the late night shenanigans for the sake of my health, I called it a night not too long after.

Sunday came along, and my voice did not. I changed into Hatori from Fruits Basket in order to meet up with other friends cosplaying from the same series, although as everyone was packing up to check out, there was plenty of time.

When I met up with my friends, we mostly spent time wandering about and enjoying the convention. I must have spent at least ten minutes trying to find Waldo on a picture in the artist alley, but now I'm thinking the artist tried to pull a fast one on me…

At any rate, my friends and I got lunch at Sapporo-Ya, which unfortunately served all sorts of ramen except for the kinds I enjoyed, leaving me with a meal I didn't particularly enjoy. That happens when you're a picky eater, though, so it's to be expected.

Following that, all of the Fruits Basket cosplayers met up for derping about the con. We got some photos taken, had some in-character shenanigans, and generally had a good time. I had to leave early to change for another cosplay I had scheduled, so I split off to change into Elan from Order of the Stick, with a friend joining me as his evil twin, Nale.

One of the first things we did was go to the gaming room for some Rock Band. Why? Because Elan is a bard, so it's totally in-character. When I was there the previous day, we played "Bohemian Rhapsody" on it, causing a staff member to note that both that song and "Never Gonna Give You Up" would be played constantly that convention. So naturally, the first thing we did once that song was over was play some Rick Astley; they were simply asking for it.

It's at this point that I'd like to mention the extreme irony of my costumes that some people noticed. I cosplayed as two Doctors, yet I was sick. I cosplayed as a bard, but I had no voice. The world has a cruel sense of humor sometimes.

When we left the gaming room, we waited a bit for a photoshoot I had signed us up for with BlizzardTerrak, a friend of ours. The garden behind the hotel was a hot spot for photoshoots, given the scenery, and many people got some excellent pictures there, ourselves included. It was pretty windy, but fortunately, we were wearing cloaks, and wind just makes cloaks look really cool. Once that was over, I said my farewells to friends, and hit the road.

The next day I discovered that my sickness and muteness is due to a nasal infection, which has me bedridden on doctor's orders, so I really hope I didn't spread it to anyone. I was very careful about where I coughed and what I touched, but it's still possible someone got sick from me, in which case, I sincerely apologize.

Now then, how was the convention? In spite of everything, it was actually quite good. The hotel caused me no small amount of stress, but once that was taken care of, I saw plenty of friends to chill with, some incredible costumes, a few good panels, and generally had a good time. I didn't see to many guests or events, but I spent time with people I enjoy seeing and enjoyed myself. Of course it would have been better if my voice managed to last throughout the convention, but these things happen, so the only thing one can do is make the best of it and be safe. There were some flaws, and it wasn't exactly the drama-free con I was hoping for, but it worked.

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