Monday, February 25, 2013

Nate's Report: Animation on Display 2013

A new month thus another con to go to; fortunately, it is right here in the bay area. First off, I have never been to Animation on Display before so I was entering this con having high hopes that it was going to be exciting. It just sucks that I was able to only go on Saturday due to my college actually having school on that President’s day holiday. Although I may not have had the full experience of AOD, will that affect my overall view of the con? Well let’s just see.

On Saturday morning, myself and a group of friends drove from my place to the San Francisco Japantown area where AOD was held. We went to sign up for registration which has a convenient way to do the process. They leave off paper on a table where you can write up all of your party’s names and pay all together, which thinking about it is a faster way to register than just waiting for one person in line. We got our badges in about 5 minutes. It was pretty short especially that early in the morning.

SF Japantown before AOD began. The calm before the con.... 

I then attended my first panel which was Christine Cabanos' focus panel. The panel was pretty much a Q&A with the VA. This was an excellent chance for me to talk to her about her career as a voice actress and what her next upcoming roles will be. Sadly, she wouldn’t give any details about her future roles but it was an interesting panel hearing her experience as a voice actress for games and anime. Then the next hour, Christina Vee met up with Christine Cabanos and another Q&A panel was held with the two of the VAs answering questions from their delighted fans. But first, they sang a song from a Disney Princess movie and they actually did a good job as a duet. They both were great singers and I was very pleased with their performance. I asked a question saying if Madoka Magica or K-ON! was the better anime to voice for. They both agreed on Madoka Magica and it makes sense, the anime is a great piece of work. They also did say they are voicing their same roles for the K-ON! movie that will be coming out to the states soon. Many people were asking them about their roles in voice acting for various video games and anime. They replied with answers that satisfied the crowd. Overall, the panel was very informative and the fact that I finally got to see Christina Vee! 

Christina Vee (left) and Christine Cabanos (right) taking a sip of water before their panel at AOD

Then it was off to autographs. I received Kyle Herbert’s photograph and signature on my AOD booklet. Then it was to Christine and Christina (Confusing right?). I brought some of my stuff for them to sign from the game Skullgirls and the animes Madoka Magica and K-ON! They both voiced notable characters within their games/shows and it was just a fan moment seeing them sign my stuff.
Posing for a picture with Christine Cabanos (left) and Christina Vee (right)

I then wandered around the con, or more like wander around Japantown since the hotel AOD was in is pretty small. I met up with a couple of my friends, catching up with them since we last met. I was also taking photos of cosplays that were around AOD Saturday. I was pretty pleased with them so far as most of the cosplays in the con were recognizable to me. I grabbed lunch at Kushitsuru restaurant in a mall across from Hotel Kabuki grabbing some california rolls with teriyaki chicken and rice - a very good meal for lunch especially on this busy con day!

Hitagi Senjougahara (Bakemonogatari) cosplayer at AOD

At 3:00pm, I went to Osaka Way (the middle of Japantown) to take part of a video. Do you know the Harlem Shake? Yeah......we did it there. And it was pretty fun. FYI I did not know about the Harlem Shake till the day before AOD Saturday, and it was pretty easy to do. All you have to do is act cray cray for only 15 seconds. As silly as it sounds, it is all around the internet and I am glad to be a part of it.

The Harlem Shake at AOD!!! (Video credit to Rave2theJPhotography)

I next followed a group of friends to this one place in Japantown called Pika Pika, a store which holds many of those picture machines that you see in amusement parks. Only these machines let you decorate your pictures and make them look fancy. We tried to get all 6 of us cosplayers into a photo booth which was manageable, only to find out our machine was broken. We then tried to get another photo booth, but there were so many people getting photos that we decided to just forget about it. It was disappointing to not get a photo, but there was still a whole lot of con that must have been seen on that day. 

The only photo we can only get of us cosplayers together. Our picture booth broke down :(

So then I was with a Rise cosplayer who wanted me in her photoshoot which I gladly agreed to be in. While we were waiting for the photographer, I decided to check out artist alley and dealer’s hall. The Dealer’s hall was pretty small, meaning that there weren’t as many dealers as expected. So that was sort of disappointing. Even still, I bought a little thing there, literally. I can only manage to grab a Akiho Senomiya charm (from Robotics;Notes) for my 3DS. As for artist’s alley, it wasn’t in a room. The con lobby downstairs was artist alley completely covered with artists who showcased their artwork to the many attendees at AOD. Artist Alley looked really good actually. I was greatly impressed at everyone’s artwork. One artist actually gave me a Chie valentine card. (Oh yeah I forgot I was cosplaying Yosuke Hanamura from Persona 4...and the artist was cosplaying Chie so I would understand that free card XD)

Me and a Chie cosplayer. Persona 4 FTW! XD

Myself and the Rise cosplayer went to our photoshoot outside where the pagoda was located and took some shots. Too bad she couldn’t stay longer as she left after the photoshoot. My other friend and I then went to a crepes store in the mall and dug down on a sweet crepe.
The time was 8pm and AOD at-night events were happening at that time. I went to the Swap Meet which was located at Hotel Tomo. When I entered the hotel, I was amongst other people trying to enter the Swap Meet room. Apparently, we have to wait in line for an elevator going up to the room since it cannot hold a mass amount of people at the Swap Meet. We got into the elevator after 30 minutes of waiting in line where we reached the 3rd floor and guess what? We have to fall in line again! Well, at least this line is shorter and it took us about like 15 minutes to get into the Swap Meet. Still, it was disappointing on my end. But when I entered into the Swap Meet, I was impressed at the selection of stuff the sellers had. Each seller had at least one thing that would attract my eye. Sadly, I didn’t have much cash with me so I only managed to get a Morgiana (Magi) writing helper pad at a pretty reasonable price. 

Parasoul cosplayer at AOD

I was on my way to my final panel of the day, “Skullgirls: The Making of a Competitive Fighting Game.” But apparently, I was interrupted with a chat among good friends. I missed the panel, but my friend told what was happening at the panel. Apparently, Christina and Christine were there and they were discussing on how they worked on the game from the voice acting to the game details. There were also a few people who helped in making the game and they explained how they made Skullgirls into the fighting game we are currently playing today. I watched one more thing before I ended the day: AOD Celebrity Jeopardy. This game featured Ken Pontiac, Neil Kaplan, Ian McConville, and Christina Vee playing in a game of Jeopardy and since it is at night, anything can happen. So when the game was playing, the contestants were having fun making us laugh as a result of it. It was really entertaining seeing the celebrities answer the question in ways that would make us laugh. In this game, Neil Kaplan would win. Apparently I didn’t know that the movie that broke movie selling records last year was The Avengers and so were the guests. Either way, I loved watching this. Ain’t nothing better to end your con experience at AOD with a great funny, happy ending.

AOD guests of honor (from left to right) Ian McConville, Ken Pontiac, Neil Kaplan, and Christina Vee
 playing in AOD celebrity jeopardy

Now I know Robbie and Ray will let you know more about the incident that happened at AOD concerning the blog. Apparently, AOD denied press badges for our blog due to someone breaking dress code last year. It was a surprise to me because I know these guys for quite some time and I know they won’t do such a thing. I have to say that it is complete malarkey for AOD to do this and we were really upset with it. To say the least, it dampered our con experience quite a bit.

Being a first time attendee at AOD, I really had a fun time. This was mainly because most of my buddies were also attending the con and it was all pretty much catching up with them, chatting with them, etc. If it wasn’t for the many people I know at the con, I may not have a great experience at AOD. The con looked pretty good as my first time attending. All the panels I attended were very entertaining, artists alley was great, and that there is a lot of entertaining things to do around Japantown than just being on the con grounds. The guest star lineup was a good one as I was very happy to see all of them. The only concerns that I have is with Dealer’s Hall and Swap Meet. I would have to say Swap Meet would have to relocate to a bigger location because the line idea at Hotel Tomo was ridiculous. Dealer’s Hall wasn’t that impressive to me since it didn’t really have a lot of dealers. But seeing that it is the biggest room at the con, you can’t do anything about it. And even if the con is pretty small, there wasn’t much complaints of overcrowding or shoving amongst the guests unlike Sacanime at the Woodlake Hotel. And this pleases me. If everyone can get along like this at a small con, I believe AOD looks to be staying here for quite some time. Besides the whole rejection of badges, I have to say the staff of AOD did a great job running the con this year. It was a great con to attend to and I will be checking into AOD again next year, that’s for sure :)

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