Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sac Anime Winter 2015: Robbie's Report

As always, the new year and new con season kicked off with Sac Anime, and you can believe I was there to enjoy it. Those who’ve been following the blog know the drill by now, so let’s take a look and see how it went!

While some attendees had arrived on the evening of January 1st for day zero badges, I arrived in the morning of the 2nd, and quickly picked up my badge. As the day was just starting, the dealer’s hall wasn’t open yet, but attendees were already lining up for it (which I never quite understood, considering the line would vanish not five minutes after the hall opened, but to each their own).

I wanted to take it easy cosplay-wise, so I was cosplaying as Harima Kenji from School Rumble, a personal favorite, but one only a few people recognized. But there was the usual crowd of Sac Anime attendees there, including a lot of people cosplaying from Homestuck, Hetalia, and Attack on Titan. However, there was also a refreshing amount of Futurama cosplayers, thanks to John DiMaggio being there as a guest.

I signed up to participate in Cosplay Chess, something I tend to enjoy at other cons. Sign-ups filled up pretty quickly, but I managed to claim a spot as a knight, give or take a little confusion with missing or misplaced players. It started off well enough, but as the game progressed, the room grew increasingly louder, so the players couldn’t hear the moves. Then the people moving the pieces started getting ahead of the players on the board, causing confusion as several pieces were moved and unceremoniously removed at once. I decided to leave after I was sacrificed, so I have no idea how the game ended, but I do hope they managed to get things sorted out for later games. It’s important that the people participating can hear their moves and know where to go if it’s to be any fun.

During lunch, I went to get lunch with friends at Osaka Sushi, a nearby Japanese restaurant that’s pretty affordable. I was surprised to find that a bunch of the convention’s guests of honor were eating there at the same time, though I didn’t want to be a pest, so I didn’t bother them.

Following that, I met some friends in the autograph line, although there weren’t too many guests I was interested in seeing at that session. What I really wanted was to do interviews with some of the guests, though I’d have to wait for their press sessions if I was to get a chance at all. As always, the lines stretched around the outside of the building, but they moved relatively quickly once the autograph sessions started, depending on the line you were in.

Day 1’s remainder was mostly spent checking in to the hotel and chilling around the con. I walked through the dealer’s hall and purchased a few small prints from Artist Alley, as well as an awesome Groot mask. At night, I went to get pizza with friends, although we were definitely not the only ones with that idea. There was a very long line, and due to high demand, they could only serve individual slices at a “first come, first served” basis; of course, that was totally fine, given the amount of us there.

However, I had one more thing to go to before the night was through: the swap meet. As always, the room got very crowded very quickly, and it was a struggle to get through sometimes. But there was a lot to find at very good prices - I managed to find a volume of the Ranma 1/2 manga I needed, as well as some D&D books (one of us I ended up selling to someone else at a profit). Once I made a trip through, though, I’d had enough of the crowd and left.
Mario and Peach, ninja-style!
The Colossal Titan

Day 2 I cosplayed as Yokai from Big Hero 6, which turned out to be a good idea in the cold winter weather. Between the all-black and the long flowing coat, I was wrapped up nice and toasty, which I’d come to miss while wearing the shorts and t-shirt of the next day’s cosplay. There was a fair amount of Big Hero 6 cosplayers around, and they were all very friendly - plenty of fistbumps for everyone, which of course we followed up with “Ba-la-la-la-la.”

Of course, I was there to meet friends for a BH6 group of our own, so we gathered for a photoshoot. Good times were had by all, but Nate and I had to leave a little early to get to a special press session.

And that brings us to the highlight of the convention: our interview with Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime. We got there early to get seats close up, and managed to land the first breakout interview with him. He was an incredibly nice guy, with decades of voice acting experience to share, and he gave in-depth answers to every question (so much so that we may have gone a little over our time limit). The convention also treated him quite well, so we hope he’ll be returning again - the man is truly a legend, particularly for Transformers fans.
Peter Cullen

(Interview uploading, check back later!)

I planned to end the day the same as I always end day 2 at Sac Anime: with karaoke! However, the karaoke room moved to a smaller room, with a row of chairs instead of the many tables that made the previous karaoke rooms enjoyable to relax in. I still signed up for a song, of course, although I was slightly delayed and just barely missed my timing, though they let me jump in again. There was some technical difficulties for a few other people, but I managed to hook up my iPod to sing Jonathan Coulton’s “The Future Soon” without difficulty.

Then it was time for game night, where I met with friends in my room to play Red Dragon Inn and generally have a good time. One of the best parts of conventions is spending time with dear friends who I don’t see nearly enough, so it was a great end to the night.
Avengers vs X-Men

Big Hero 6

Day 3 was a Digimon day for me. I debuted a cosplay of Hirokazu from Digimon Tamers (season 3), and met with friends who were also cosplaying from Digimon, though they were all season 1. Admittedly, we spent more of the day outside of the convention center for a photoshoot.

Before that, however, I stopped by John DiMaggio’s Q&A panel. He was very funny, and answered all the questions with a level of humorous snark, but also sincerity. At one point, a crowd of attendees outside were singing “Firework” at such a loud volume that he had to shout at them to shut up, which may have helped for just a bit; seriously, attendees, there’s a time and a place for everything.
John DiMaggio at his Q&A panel

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get an interview with him. He couldn’t make it to his press session earlier, and there was no time between the panel and his autograph session, so I didn’t even get the chance to meet the man. But I look forward to the next time he’s at a convention I go to, because I really admire his work.

Back to cosplay: remember how I was nice and warm the previous day? Sunday was the opposite, since I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt; we were a rather chilly group of Digidestined that day. In spite of the cold, the shoot went well, and we got food together at Bento Box afterwards.

Lunch ended just in time to get back to the con before the dealer’s hall closed, so I had time to wander a bit more and say goodbye to everyone. I got a nice warm Attack on Titan hoodie from the dealer’s hall for $40 - about $20-50 less than most places at Japan Town tend to charge, so I was satisfied.

Then began the long drive home. I was satisfied - it wasn’t the best Sac Anime ever, although there wasn’t anything particularly bad about it. There were a few disappointments here and there, but for the most part I still had a good time.

Ouran High School Host Club

Darth Cobra
The attendees could still range a bit on the immature side, which was sometimes a pain. But as long as they didn’t pester me, I let them be, so it was fine. The loud crowd outside of DiMaggio’s panel was a nuisance, though.

Also, the staff was on high alert, even stopping people from going up the convention center stairs if they didn’t have a wristband. I know the purpose was to stop people from ghosting, but they still had staff members checking for wristbands at every door upstairs anyways, so it seemed like a bit of a waste.

At one point I was standing on the escalator right after showing the staff member there my badge, when another staff member turned around, looked at my wrist, and asked to see my wristband. I had to show him my badge and explain that press members didn’t get wristbands. Mind you, this was literally seconds after explaining the same to the staff member guarding the escalator.

The crowd was made a little worse by one of the halls being blocked off. There was some sort of home decor show going on at the convention center, so one of the hallways was guarded to prevent Sac Anime attendees from going through it. Though attendees were allowed entry to the show with their Sac Anime badge, it doesn’t exactly have the same appeal that the summer’s Greek Food Festival does.

However, Sac Anime is known for bringing in incredible guests, and this time was no exception. Peter Cullen and John DiMaggio were the highlights, but it also hosted Matthew Mercer, Kyle Hebert, and many other excellent voice actors. Also, Yaya Han was there, but to the relief of attendees, she didn’t bring any Heroes of Cosplay crew with her; some of you may remember my view on cosplay “celebrities” as guests - as long as they contribute to the convention and the cosplay community in some way, I’m okay with it, although I’m not sure if Yaya really did more aside from pose for pictures with fans and sell a few things.

On a similar note, my good friend 10nant Cosplay was placed right beside her with an incredible TARDIS (with himself as the 10th Doctor), greeting Doctor Who fans and posing with them while giving out information about the construction of the TARDIS. He wasn’t a guest, just another attendee, but he brought a lot to the congoers.

In summary, Sac Anime Winter was okay. There have been some incredible cons there in the past, but this one only had so much to impress. What it did have, though, was quite excellent - Peter Cullen was an amazing guest, and as always, I had a lot of fun with friends. There was a little they could do to make the general atmosphere a little friendlier - the staff wandering the halls were not the kindest this time around, although I can understand why - but every con is a learning experience, so I always look forward to seeing how it changes year to year.

League of Legends

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