Monday, May 1, 2017

Matthew's Sakura-Con 2017 Report: Part 2 - Day One

The morning of the convention started around 8am. Coffee from the hotel room and pastries were in order as I mixed up G FUEL, an alternative to energy drinks and sponsored everywhere in the realm of esports, into a water bottle for later on.

Extra towels because the hotel knows who is here, thanks Renaissance!
As we walked out in our cosplay and badges and made the walk between our hotel and the convention center, there was a sense that the convention center & their staff, our hotel & their staff, and even the entire city knew that we were here for Sakura-Con and welcomed us with open, friendly arms - something that seems rare between a relationship between the convention & its attendees, the businesses, and the overall community/city. I remember the day before hearing about the bellhop that was transporting our luggage to the room - I was parking the car in the parking garage - "geeking out like the rest of us," discussing anime and other subjects.

6th and Madison on Friday morning
We made a cut through Freeway Park, which if you were not at the convention center you were either hanging out here especially since some of the cosplay gatherings occurred here or taking a shortcut between a couple of hotels and the convention center.

The esclators at the convention starting to become crowded
Today was a Persona day since there was a 20th Anniversary panel as well as the gathering in the evening. We did have other cosplay plans but due to interviews and other logistic timings like walking time to and from the hotel we kept it at just one outfit. I had to go back to the custom-made Junpei hat since the real hat was signed by Vic Mignogna and sitting in a plastic case, making it feel that it was FanimeCon 2010 all over again.

Since the majority of the room had a date with the Good Smile Company booth at the Exhibit Hall, we waited for the hall to open up. And unlike AX, we didn't get trampled and there wasn't that much of a mad rush...unless you were going to the GSC booth.

Ram (left) and Rem (right) from Re:Zero

The line for GSC goods got long pretty quick
Crunchyroll merchandise
Crunchyroll, Funimation (after they had their full setup on Saturday), GSC, Yen Press and Aniplex were the big names at the Exhibit Hall in addition to dealers selling anime, otaku, and geek merchandise as well as booths promoting Japanese culture, like the JET Program.

Rashid from Street Fighter V
With some time between shopping and our first interview at noon, we walked around the convention center to get our bearings. I did make a quick stop to the three gaming rooms and was instantly impressed; I also got some photos and footage of what would be the hot spots at the convention center.

Ground floor of the convention center

Futaba (left) and Makoto (right) from Persona 5, the first of many over the weekend
Noon rolled around for what would start a packed schedule before dinner. First up: an interview with Johnny Yong Bosch.

This was our first ever interview that we live-streamed that weekend as we opened up the data plans and external battery packs to record and stream almost everything related to Sakura-Con.

Our next interview was with Vic Mignogna at 1:30pm but since we had some time between the end of the Bosch interview and the Vic interview yet not enough time to run back to the hotel room, eat, and go back in time, Nate and I went over to the Juicy Cafe for some "pick-me-up smoothies" prior to at least eating again back in the room or dinner while Ryan went to check on his submission for the Gundam Model Contest.

A sign for the Juicy Cafe

We had six interviews set for the weekend but only two on that day, but that was only one half of the "packed schedule." But like the Bosch interview, it went quicker than expected so with that additional time, we went back to the room for a ramen lunch and got a chance to rest up for a bit before heading over for the Funimation panel.

The registration line snaking around the Conference Center

Asuna (left) and Sinon (right) from Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale
I soaked in what Funimation had announced and what we were looking forward to in the near future. I was hoping for some Code Geass: Akito the Exiled footage but only got the announcement that it would release on June 27th. I was also glad to hear that Outlaw Star and Record of Lodoss War were getting Blu-Ray releases and that the company is pushing for more movie releases; they showed trailers for Your Name, which has been crushing Japanese box office records and nearly was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and Black Butler: Book of the Altantic.

Yusuke (left) and Haru (right) from Persona 5
We went from one panel to another, more specifically the Persona 20th Anniversary Celebration panel.

This would be a prelude to the night gathering as told by the calling card that the crew and I had received, but if they were wanting to steal our hearts they would have to wait for us because we had a date with food near the waterfront.

Ivar's Fish Bar on the Seattle Waterfront

We had heard about Ivar's for the longest time since we started to plan out Sakura-Con, and despite the somewhat high prices and that we're back in "sales tax land" (especially in a city center like Seattle where the taxes are 10%+) it was worth it for the best fish and chips that I ever had. Everything was made in-house and to order, from the seafood to their sauces. The chowder was good, but we haven't seen the best Seattle could offer, which would come tomorrow.

A view of the Seattle Great Wheel and the Crab Pot
This would be the only time that we would walk from our hotel to Pike's then back as we all decided that we would drive down there for the morning tomorrow.

The famous "gum wall"
The Washington State Convention Center at night
It was a long walk but we made it just in time with minutes to spare before the gathering started.

Persona 5 group shot
Junpeis and Akihikos group shot
The beginning of the gathering went well but fell apart quickly. Part of us wanted to take over the gathering to restore order but didn't want to disrespect the gathering organizer, but at some point we starting calling out groups and various shots that made sense that we haven't done yet. And it wasn't just to us, it was other people especially photographers who were sensing that this gathering was falling apart. In all, it was a good gathering but it could of been great from beginning to end.

Justine > Akira
Blue hair & hat squad group shot
The Phantom Thieves got caught?
We had this great idea to head over to the Skybridge as it was lit up in this "Tatarus Green" and did a couple of shots between the three of us in cosplay.

Ryan as Minato
Nate as Ken
Matthew as Junpei
Brandon was waiting for us back the hotel room as he wanted to come with us to enjoy the first true night of Sakura-Con. We changed out into casual clothes, popped the champagne we were saving up for, and had a couple of drinks before heading down and enjoying probably the greatest part about the convention - FREE ARCADE.

*insert Deja Vu here*
I heard about Tokyo Attack through conventions like MAGFest and ACEN and I was hoping to go to a convention where this group was showcasing the newest in Japanese arcade games - from the newest Dance Dance Revolution and Pump It Up to franchises that I haven't seen in years - Silent Scope Bone Eater - to brand-brand-brand new games like Dance Evolution, Konami's take on Just Dance with anime and J-Pop songs. They also had a full arcade setup for Street Fighter V (Season 2 I might add with all the DLC characters, stages, and costumes) and Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax. If anything, it felt like I was at a Round 1...if Round 1 was totally free.

There also a huge Rock Band setup (as seen earlier with our Rick Roll video) that our group was to perform on. We got lucky and got two songs out of our set since someone went up solo and we had enough to fill out the rest of the spots, then stayed on for our selection.

This would round out the majority of our night, but remembering what we had on deck tomorrow, we headed back to the hotel room to get some rest. Although, I don't remember when we got back.

Panorama of the arcade
-Day One End-

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