Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sac Anime Summer 2012: Robbie's Report

This summer promised to be a hot one, but that didn't stop people from showing up in all sorts of awesome, elaborate cosplay at Sac Anime Summer 2012. After all, what's a little heat stroke compared to good times with friends in awesome costumes?
This was Sac Anime's last convention at the Woodlake Hotel, and I, for one, am glad to be rid of it. Sure, there was some nice scenery around the pond and pagoda for pictures, and the pool was useful in the summer, but those few benefits didn't outweigh the bad. The crowds were still all-too crowded, the hotel continued to try to screw over attendees, and I haven't forgiven them for trying to rip me out of a hundred dollars from a previous convention.

I arrived at the hotel on Friday morning, dressed as Hunson Abadeer (Marceline's father) from Adventure Time. The line was relatively short that morning, so I picked up my pass quickly enough. Later that day, when Ray picked up his badge, we found that they mistakenly marked us both off the check-in list when I picked up my badge, but that was dealt with quickly enough.

It took some time for me to get my face made blue for my cosplay, made possible thanks to the help of a friend. (Say what you will about Homestuck fans, they know how to apply body paint properly.) Soon after, I met up with other Adventure Time cosplayers, and we wandered the halls.

There wasn't too much to do for most of the day, but we had the Adventure Time gathering. It had to be delayed a bit due to costume-based holdups, which cost us a few attendees, but there was a secondary gathering to make up for it, which went quite well. The cosplayers for the gathering organized quite well, and everyone seemed to have a very good time.

Following that, some of us began filming a Gangnam Style cosplay video. Of course, that song would be played several times throughout the convention; like Caramelldansen, Rickroll, and Nyancat before it, it's the new memetic song. Most of the evening was spent filming, including a scene in which I had a dance-off against Finn, and eating french fries stolen from Marceline in the background of another, until I left to get dinner.

After eating, I made my way to the karaoke room. Open mic didn't start until 9:00 that night, but I signed up to sing Voltaire's "Brains," which seemed fitting. Following that, I checked out the swap meet, hung out with friends, and let my feet rest for the evening.

Professor Utonium takes the Powerpuff Girls to the con
In an alternate ME3 ending, everyone goes to Sac Anime. Fans were still not satisfied.
Adventure Time, c'mon grab your friends
We'll go to very distant lands
When Saturday came around, I debuted another new costume: Relius Clover from BlazBlue. It was one I commissioned from a friend, give or take some parts I made myself and with help from other friends, and one I was looking forward to trying out. The first thing I did that morning, after getting breakfast, was to wait in line for the autographs.

Now, the convention was trying a new rule: no lining up until half an hour before the event begins. While well-meaning, it was a futile effort, as people still lined up. The security said they'd be made to disperse anyways, but everyone there knew that they'd just step aside, then return to their spot in line soon after. In other words, they were waiting in line to wait in line. Eventually, even the staff stopped trying to enforce that rule.

At any rate, once the line started moving, I got to meet Roger Craig Smith, Laura Bailey, and Travis Willingham. Travis I was the most excited to meet, since he provided the voice for Relius. Upon meeting him, I mustered up my best Relius impression: "Fascinating… a wonderful subject of the voice actor. I must know - how can you change your voice in such a way? I must experiment on you!" I was really pleased at how well he and Laura (who also provides a voice for that game) reacted, as they were getting a kick out of it, and they both signed my BlazBlue game for me. Happy to have met them and made an impression, I continued on through the con.

At 2:00 was the Marvel/DC gathering. I changed out of Relius and into Superboy; a simple costume, but one that would suffice for the weather and gathering. The gathering did have some organization trouble, with two people trying to set it up on Facebook and the Sac Anime forums without each other's knowledge, and it didn't seem like either of them were at the gathering itself, and the spot we were supposed to meet at had an Avatar gathering going on at the same time. As such, we relocated to the fountains.

Once that was out of the way, though, it went quite well. There were some impressive costumes there, and people seemed to have a good time. Once it was over, though, I changed back into Relius; the weather had begun to cool enough that the long sleeves didn't leave me quite as flesh-meltingly hot as before.

After meeting up and chatting with fellow BlazBlue cosplayers for a bit, I left to see "Whose Line Is It Anime." The line was still incredibly long, (the "no lining up until 30 minutes prior" rule seemingly completely disregarded at this point), but I managed to get in early with my press pass. After seeing how well the voice actors did last year, I was looking forward to a good show.

I was disappointed.

My problem wasn't with the actors - they did a great job with what they had, and kept everyone entertained. But even they knew that the improv games they were given were no good. While the host of the games was personable enough, he clearly had no idea how improv games were supposed to be run. For example, the original "Whose Line is it Anyway" show has a game called "Let's Make a Date," where three contestants are given odd personality quirks, then the "bachelor" has to ask them questions as though they were on a dating game to figure out what each quirk is. This version of "Let's Make a Date" had him bring up two audience members and one of the actors, then had them all describe a date they supposedly had with another actor. There were no quirks, no setups, just "Describe the date. Go."

It seems he completely forgot the all-important "game" part of "improv games."

There was another one called "Psychiatrist," where the actors were supposed to have issues or quirks that they spoke to the psychiatrist about. But instead of having the actor playing the psychiatrist diagnose them, the host told us all what his problem was and just had them act it out from there. The actors seemed equally disappointed with the way it was set up, but they played their confusion and frustration for laughs.

Even staple games of "Whose Line" such as "Props" and "Questions Only" he somehow managed to mess up. I have to doubt the host ever watched an episode of "Whose Line" in his life, going by how he directed the games. No offense to the man, he wasn't bad at keeping the audience engaged, but he had no idea how to run an improv game.

I'd like to take this moment to volunteer to do it myself next time. I know how to run improv games, and I've watched plenty of Whose Line. Leave it to someone who knows what he's doing.

At any rate, once that was over, I got dinner and went back to the karaoke room. This time I performed Jonathan Coulton's "Skullcrusher Mountain," an appropriate song for a cosplay of an amoral scientist.

I didn't attend the masquerade, but I heard quite a few complaints about it; not about the skits, but the organization. Apparently one of my friends was spoken down to because it was possible that her skirt might possibly show some panties while she was dancing (they didn't), while nothing was said about people cosplaying far more scantily-clad characters. Another one was not allowed to enter the masquerade since she was cosplaying from "Legend of Korra," which, while anime-inspired, is not strictly an anime… and yet another group of "Legend of Korra" cosplayers was allowed in without doing anything anime-related in their skit. Talk about inconsistency; I don't know if it was a lack of communication or what, but it's entirely unprofessional.

However, I do have some friends who won various prizes in the masquerade, so congratulations to them. Their wins are well-deserved.

At that point, my boots were killing me (seriously, those were not comfortable boots), so I switched to casual clothes and wandered the con at night, until I decided to call it a day.

BlazBlue and Guilty Gear 
The crawling chaos who creeps into conventions - Nyarlathotep!

Young Avengers Wiccan and Hulkling
Sunday morning I put on my Ryoga cosplay, and got in line for the VIP autograph session to get the ones I missed. Due to the length of the line, people were limited to two items per guest and no pictures, but it was still good to meet them.

After that, I met up with some other friends cosplaying from Ranma 1/2. We got some pictures taken, and looked around for one other friend who was supposed to be joining us, but that plan had to be changed for various reasons. It happens. (I also forgot my umbrella - whoops.)

At noon, a sombre mood fell over the convention, as we paid our respects to a departed friend. Harison Randall, a well-known cosplayer and attendee at Sac Anime, was killed in a hit-and-run earlier this year, in which he sacrificed himself to save his girlfriend. The courtyard was filled with friends who were there to show their respects to him; it was truly a testament to how many lives he'd touched, and what he meant to the Sac Anime community. I made sure to be there as they spoke in his honor; although I'd only met him a couple of times, he was always a cheerful, friendly guy with a clear passion for cosplay, and he is missed by many. I think that the memorial service showed just how much he meant to everyone at Sac Anime, and honored his memory well.

I spent the remainder of the day wandering around and hanging out with friends, getting the occasional picture, and taking one last trip through the dealer's hall for anything I missed.

Still, there wasn't much left to do at that point, so around 3:00, I left Sacramento.

May the odds be ever in your favor... you'll need it in this line.

Captain Jack Harkness and Captain Jack Sparrow. I smell a fanfiction~

Applejack and Apple Bloom
So, how does this Sac Anime compare to others? Well, I'd have to say that this one was satisfactory. The best part, by far, was hanging out with my friends and meeting some new ones. The most fun I had was when I was with groups of people, and I hope to do that more at future cons.

The usual annoying fanbunnies that normally crowd the convention seemed to have calmed down, and I didn't hear anyone being super-obnoxious in the halls or see anyone get glomped without permission. There were certainly a lot of Homestuck and MLP cosplayers, as there tends to be at Sac, but they were all as well-behaved as any other attendee, despite the stereotypes surrounding them.

Of course, it did have its problems, such as the aforementioned issues with Whose Line, not to mention the crowding situation.

With over 7,000 attendees, it was a really freaking busy convention. The small halls of the hotel proved super crowded, with lines stretching out the building for not only the events and autographs, but even for registration. It became a difficult task to move around anywhere inside, and even the outdoors areas were filled with people.

The move to the convention center is well-needed, as it will be large enough to comfortably hold all the people here; at least it'll be easier to move through the halls without running into someone every other minute. Of course, just being gone from the Woodlake Hotel will be nice - no more trying to screw us over.

So all in all, it was a good enough convention. Maybe not the best ever, but I enjoyed myself, and by Sac Anime standards it was quite good.


  1. Hey, I'm one of those people from the Legend of Korra masquerade skit. I'd just like to clarify that we were told we could only compete if we had an 'asian themed' skit as our cosplays didn't qualify. When I applied, we were almost kicked out because our skit didn't meet their 'from asia theme'. But since we incorporated Psy's "Gangnam Style" dance we were still able to perform. So it wasn't limited only to anime, but just media originating in Asia. I agree that it's a terrible rule and I wish your friend could have competed as well.

    1. That's good to know, thanks for clarifying. I hope it didn't sound like I begrudged your group at all; it's the ruling and the apparent inconsistencies that I have an issue with.

  2. The accident that affected Randall and Gemily West affected me on two levels. It happened near one venue that my mother and I hold dear to us, Chautauqua Playhouse, located in the La Sierra Community Center. The actual location has been with us for nearly thirty years, serving prior to Chautauqua's taking root there, as a rehearsal location for one other group I was a member of, Sacramento Children's Theater, operated by the late Alex H. Urban. I would later appear in a play on stage at Chautauqua, and my mother would go on to costume or help costume several shows here. I understand that members of West's family had some involvement with the goings-on there as well, and has contributed funds to lighten the burden on the Randall and West families.

    It wouldn't be until I saw the Facebook event for his memorial that I learned he was an anime fan. In both respects, along with the fact I grew up in this area, this event hit really close to home.

    I wish both families the best in these trying times. I really enjoyed taking part in the celebration of who he was, how he enjoyed his passion and the camaraderie felt by those whose lives he'd touched.



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