Sunday, January 17, 2016

Matt's Perspective: Taiyou Con 2015, One Year Later

When I go back and read the part that asks "could this relatively small convention that caught lightning in a bottle sustain their momentum and become an established convention within the Southwest portion of the US" and then look at what Taiyou Con is doing this year, my answer leading up to this weekend would be "yes." Lotus Juice is back (as well as an appearance at AOD a month later in Santa Clara) but no Shihoko Hirata or Yumi Kawamura; but they were able to obtain Kappei Yamaguchi who has an extensive background including voices from Persona 4, One Piece, and Inuyasha; and Yuu Asakawa, who is very known for voicing Luka. Yes, the Vocaloid Luka. Not that bad for a year after what I considered the "best anime convention ever in my life."

Every time someone asks me "what was the best anime convention that you attended ever," I would of pointed to Anime Expo 2013 or FanimeCon 2014. But then came this last-second planned trip with Ryan and myself to this convention in a suburb in Phoenix, Arizona that we never heard of except for that one viral commercial because they decided to drop Lotus Juice, Hirata-san, and Kawamura-san. Now I tell everyone that Taiyou Con 2015 was the best convention I ever attended.

What really made Taiyou Con special was that it felt like just the right size for the engagement that the convention was setting up. It felt like maybe all together there was about two thousand attending, and out of those two thousand four hundred were attending the concert, and out of those four hundred fifty were attending under VIPs. The debut of the trio in the United States would of been a different story if instead of four hundred it was three thousand over at the City National Civic or at the Los Angeles Convention Center; the narrative going into the convention and afterwards would of varied drastically. With the four hundred that Taiyou Con had anticipated, it felt like a gathering of the most die-hard and loyal Persona/Shin Megami Tensei fans into an experience that could only be lived once.

And for the both of us, we almost didn't get that full experience like we reported it. By the time we actually had planned on attending, all the VIP tickets were sold out and at that moment we were going to settle on the normal tickets which didn't include priority entry into both the Saturday main event concert and Lotus Juice's Sunday solo concert & entry into the VIP autograph session. But then we struck gold; Ryan found someone from Nebraska who was selling two VIP tickets because this person could no longer attend. After dabbling back and forth about spending the extra money because we already had tickets, we decided to get the VIP tickets and hope that someone would want the normal tickets at the convention. I did find someone who did want the tickets and made a clean exchange. However, we found out later that in during the increase of demand of VIP tickets after they sold out, sellers sold more than one copy of said ticket and whoever got to the barcode scanner first would get in while the other person with the same exact barcode would be denied because the ticket was already redeemed. We had somewhat thought about this the morning of the concert and factored it into the decision to show up early (the other [and main reason] was to get good seats to record) and incured no problems but caught the duplicates being put into action with the staffers taking appropiate action. We were hoping that this issue would of been fixed going into the 2016 edition but since we are not at this convention we await to hear word from the attendees.

Taiyou Con 2015 was a first for a lot of accomplishments: attending a convention in Arizona for the first time ever and attending Taiyou Con for the first time ever are the first two that come to mind. We also used Taiyou Con for filming off of cellphones; I never thought the day that an iPhone would be able to shoot clear, 1080p video and we decided to give my iPhone 6 and Ryan's Droid Turbo a shot in recording convention footage over the trusty JVC camcorder that I've used for many years. Ryan could of shot portions of the concert in 4K (which then I could do a year later with the iPhone 6s+) but decided to keep it at 1080p to ensure that the full concert was recorded. We didn't have any issues recording both concerts beyond switching phones due to battery percentages; most of the issues came during encoding and editing to publish to our YouTube channel. My iPhone and his Droid shot at different frame rates which was desyncing the audio and video when it was being encoded and converted. We did find a solution to the problem and were able to successfully upload all the concert footage. Since then, I've ditched the previous video editor in favor of Adobe Premeire Pro and iMovie which has been used to encode and edit some of the SacAnime Winter 2016 videos and other "test videos" (like the Central Valley Cosplay Gathering and Capitol Fight District) that have gone up.

There's a different charm of attending an anime convention that I've never been to before in a city that I've never been too before. Fanime and AX are excellent conventions but if I had to trade one of those conventions for a convention in Phoenix, Seattle, or Portland, I would do so in a heartbeat. In fact, it's what I'm already planning: this year, those two conventions aren't on my "to attend" list due to life commitments, and even when I'm ready to attend conventions outside of Sacramento again I want to attend something new, something I haven't done. Otakon is on my bucket list especially with their move to Washington D.C. in 2017 looming, but SakuraCon. Kumoricon, Saboten Con, PMX, and even something like AOD would be on my radar just so that I could attend them and say "I went there."

In all, that Taiyou Con was a fresh experience not only from a convention angle, but also from a pseudo-spiritual angle. A lot happened that weekend that changed and left us with a lot memories - and motivation - going into the future. It felt like we came out as improved people through this magical journey to enjoy and find ourselves. I just hope that one day I could re-experience in full what I saw during those five days.

Keepsakes of that convention, still the same after a year

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sac Anime Winter 2016: Robbie's Report

Oh Sac Anime… here we go again.

It’s 2016, and no sooner did the new year begin than a new Sac Anime did as well. While I had a few disappointments last time around, I trusted the staff to take attendee feedback into account and attempt to improve things. In many accounts, they did. On others, I still had some problems.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Matthew's SacAnime Winter 2016 Report - Part 3 + Closing Thoughts

Fallout 4 cosplay, complete with Pip-Boy
I never liked it when a convention ends, especially these three-day conventions. You're having such a blast, seeing friends and total strangers when all of the sudden it's now Sunday and you have to go home. Time to pack it up, time to check out, and go back to our ordinary lives.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Matthew's SacAnime Winter 2016 Report - Part 2

Matthew's SacAnime Winter 2016 Report - Part 1

Like most of my reports that I have written in the past, most of my convention reports don't start at the convention but usually somwhere else.

And this convention is no exception.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Matthew's SacAnime Winter 2016 Report - Prologue

After SacAnime Summer 2015 had the highest attendance in SacAnime history, you might ask yourself "what could this convention do next?"

If you answered "start the next edition of SacAnime on New Years Day," you would be like "what?"

A photo of the lobby of the Hyatt Regancy Sacramento on New Years Eve, the day before SacAnime Winter 2016 started