Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Virtual Crunchyroll Expo 2020 - Q&A with Mario Bueno


The following is an email Q&A between Crunchyroll Cosplay Cup judge Mario Bueno and Matthew of the California Conventions Blog.


 You have been attending conventions on both sides of the United States. Have you noticed anything significantly different between going to a West Coast convention versus a East Coast one?

Oh man...this is an interesting one that’s morphed a LOT over the nearly 20 years I’ve been attending conventions (and the last 12 working them, hahah), especially since I’ve been able to experience con culture not just on the coasts, but all over the USA (both through anime and “comic-con” style shows).

I think the simplest way I can boil it down to is “the vibe” of the region and what that means for where the focus is. A few things are always constant, such as people cosplaying and wanting to compete in/exhibit cosplay, but as a very small example, some areas still value AMVs pretty well over others, or have more of a social/“party” atmosphere over others. These are VERY small examples, but I hope they shine a light on what I’m trying to convey!

You participated in Kaiju Big Battel from 2017 to 2018. What exactly did you do and do you have any fond memories of those experiences?

Happy to clarify! Not counting some backstage responsibilities I’d take on for my stint there, my primary role was as the Lead Announcer which was a combination of being a proper caster/color commentator, ring announcer (think a nerdy Michael Buffer, hahah), and essentially a narrator for the show since most of the characters didn’t talk or deliver speeches (in wrestling parlance, “cut promos”) except for Dr. Cube and American Beetle who had VO provided for them.

As I’ve shared elsewhere, Kaiju Big Battel was just a blast in general because I became a fan of it around the same time as anime (when I was already a dyed-in-the-wool wrestling fan for years by then)! I could probably list every show I worked during that period since they were all unique in very meaningful ways (like the “Bash at the Bell ‘96” which was basically “the Kaiju Big Battel 2018 beach episode,” hahah), but the three highlights for me were the Twitchcon show we did in 2017 (which was just a good, goofy fun show from start to finish featuring many fan-favorite characters), our 2018 “Live and Let Die” show at WWN Live’s More Than Mania weekend (which I got to call alongside longtime friend Trevin Adams, who brought me into the fold for KBB initially and whom I met doing anime conventions at the literal start of the “professional” phase of my journey in 2007) and both our 2017 and 2018 Pittsburgh shows because they were held in professional theaters and featured narratives which bookended each side of the experience wonderfully. (Even resulting in an amazing still that’s become my business card image, hahah!)

...Oh, I also got to wear Kung-Fu Chicken Noodle for a pair of random appearances (which was next-level exciting because I LOVE that character), AND got the opportunity to chat with NJPW star Kota Ibushi en route to baggage claim after being on the same plane going to NOLA for More than Mania Weekend 2018...which I only felt confident enough to do in the first place because of his past outing with KBB at More Than Mania in 2016 (and the fact that he would’ve done more had it not been for his burgeoning NJPW work), hahah.

While I’m still connected with many members of the troupe via social media (especially those who I bonded with during our working/traveling together), I wanna give big ups to Ian Vaflor and Steve Huey, two members of the troupe who are heavily involved with the nerd community as a whole and exemplified some of my best moments with the troupe; Steve, in particular, has been a big help outside the ring with anime/anime game promotions I either directly worked on myself or had gotten him connected for, so I wanted to spotlight him for how he’s enthusiastically given time/support to the anime community by helping to promote stuff for it. Ian also has web video production roots, is involved in the game industry from the indie side, AND was one of the first “nerdy” members of the troupe I befriended and had a blast hanging with in general. Overall, some of my favorite road trip memories revolved around just dorking out with both these guys and workshopping stuff that would’ve been fun to put into practice before I had to leave abruptly to focus full-time on fixing a near-terminal flareup of financial issues that were started by the ongoing fallout from the big 2016 failure I’ve both mentioned across numerous interviews and will be referring to during the DEE Kai (会) panel at VCRX. I legit miss “the boys” (and girls!) of KBB, and send them my public appreciation in this response, hahah!

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