< Piro >
Wednesday - June 4, 2003
Hard to believe Anime Central was almost three weeks ago. I feel like I just got home. Conventions always seem to feel like four or five days of activity crammed into two days, and this year's Anime Central was no exception.
One of the hardest things to believe is that this was only my third Anime Central since Megatokyo started. Oh, and Dom was right - it has been only two years. MT had just started to build a readership around the time of our first con. Our first Acen experience I described in a recent rant. The next Acen, last year's con, was a lot of fun and it was an honor to have lunch with Akamatsu Ken of Love Hina fame. Nothing like making a total fool out of yourself in front of someone you admire and respect ^^;; (thankfully my lameness was buffered by the rather excellent translation skills of the infallible Asmodeus ("uh, are you sure you wanna say that?" ^^;;)). The most astonishing thing about last year's Acen was the sheer number of MT fans who stood in line to get into that tiny little room... the Con folks noticed, and that's why this year we managed to get a room big enough for everyone. It was a true 'told you so' moment :)
Of course, the fact that so many people are so bored at these cons that they see fit to waste time coming to the MT panel puts a little burden on us to try to be somewhat entertaining. By some quirk of nature, we manage to do so at most conventions, but I feel that fans deserve something special at some of these cons if we can manage it. That's how the Naze Nani Megatokyo's were born.
Anime Central is kind of my 'home base' con - in fact, i remember going to the very first Anime Central years ago. Hard to believe that here I am, years later, talking about how I was able to make a total fool out of myself in front of 1800 people wearing a cat similar to one worn by one of my favorite female anime characters. Life sure is kinda weird sometimes.
Seraphim and I arrived Thursday night and were put to work even before we had a chance to unpack the car. All the guests had a meet and greet session with all the con staff before the rest of the con got underway. Later that evening, the con treated us and the rest of the guests to a trip to see the Matrix Reloaded. Of course, by the time we got back to the hotel it was almost 3am. I won't comment on the film - enough people have done a better job at critiquing it than I could. I'll leave it at that.
On Friday, Seraphim and I didn't have any scheduled events, but we planned to sit at our table and sign and draw stuff for people for as long as we could that day. There were a lot of complaints from people in the Artist Alley from previous years that the line of people waiting for MT autographs was impinging on other activities in the Artist Alley area, so I decided that moving over to the Exhibitors Hall was ok - All I wanted to do was sit and take care of people without bothering anyone.
The biggest problem this year with the Exhibitor Hall at Acen was that it was in the Convention Center next door, not in the hotel - a veritable 2 mile walk via the 'skywalk'. Now, this 'skywalk' is probably a real blessing in bad weather, but it was so circuitous that it was a lot quicker to walk outside. Aside from the distance, it was pretty nice. Dealer Rooms usually tend to be pretty cramped, so the extra space was nice. When we arrived to set up, we discovered that someone had taken the table and chairs the con had provided for us, and that they would have to wait for the convention people to bring out more but and they were on lunch. Once we were set up, things went fine. We were set up right across the way from the Nekobox folks, who didn't have chairs (they were like $35 a chair x_X)
If you were there, you may have noticed these really nice banners on stands that were behind us at the table. Seraphim and I purchased a pair of 7 foot x 3 foot banner things to bring to cons to, like, spruce up things. ^^;; One has Piro and Kimiko on it, the other has Eimi from Warmth. They came out really nice, and I'm giving it about three cons before someone rips them off :( I think that we were able to take care of everyone who stood in line on Friday - thank you for your patience if you were in line. :)
Friday night Dom, Asmodeus, Ukyo, Cortana, Natsuki, Seraphim and I were supposed to get together to go over the plan for Saturday's panel. Only one problem - Dom was still stuck in Los Angeles. ^^;; It seems that his plane kept breaking. He finally got in around 2am central time... which left a rather comatose looking Dom to explain things to over breakfast the next morning. He nodded a lot and rambled on about things that had nothing to do with the panel, I felt we were good.
The Naze Nani panel went... really well. Surprisingly well. If anyone remembers the disaster that was the first Naze Nani Megatokyo panel at Otakon last year... this was a lot better. Tons better. I guess there is something to be said for (gasp) planning. I learned a few things from that disaster , and tried to apply what I learned to this years Naze Nani... things.
First problem with the Otakon show was that I tried to put together a single, 10 minute presentation that offered little in the way of audience participation, and then expected everyone else to, well, just sort of ad lib things and we'd go from there. Ya. that worked well -_- This year, I put together a much more organized framework but left leeway for Dom, Asmo, Seraphim to improvise. A series of Top Ten lists worked surprisingly well. We filled up any time left near the end of the show with our usual Question and Answer stuff. Dom gave away a vibrating ducky. We finished on time. In short, it went off without a hitch, and i think everyone enjoyed it. For once the room was big enough - it held about 2000 people, and about 1800 showed up. :) There were a number of Megatokyo cosplayers at Acen - I'll post some pics in my next write-up.
On Sunday we had our Web Comic panel, hosted by the irascible Hot Soup / Pogo of Fate Drifters fame. What made the panel so much fun was how many webcomic people were there - Dub This, /me glomps j00, Fate Drifters, Nekobox folks, Ghost Girl Kimiko, and a few others. There were a lot of really good questions asked, and everyone on the panel had quite a bit to say. So far, i'd say it's the most informative webcomic panel i've seen, and hopefully future ones go this well at other cons.
The final activity for me at Acen was the dreaded 'Iron Guest' competition. As you might imagine, it's a spoof of the whole Iron Chef thing... and last year i lost. ^^;; This year i went up against Bruce Lewis of CheapDisposable Entertainment - an excellent artist in the more traditional manga/anime genre. I was pretty exhausted by sunday afternoon, and i have to say... if 'kawaii' (cute) wasn't the subject matter, i would have probably lost :P Pulling from my sleepy brain, i did a 'happy cute' and a 'depressed cute' character, and added a little Boo with a jet pack in a IAC shirt (ok, that was laying it on thick) and managed to pull ahead and win.) Here's a picture of the drawing. It was a fun competition - but i only won by a few points - Bruce did a great job with his (I have a picture of it somewhere, but I can't find it), but i think my little Boo with IAC shirt won the day for me :P.
I originally considered sending dom up to be a stand in for me, but it would have been unfair to Bruce. Dom was able to produce a comparable 'cute' piece in 8.65 seconds - imagine if he had had the whole 20 minutes. :)
After that, we were pretty much done. I don't know why, i but this con wore me out. Anime Central is always a great con, and i would like to thank all of the Acen staff, in particular Eileen, Issac, Fraggy, Pocky, Willie, the sound guys at the panel, the guys who lugged the lounge chairs onto the stage, Crowie, The staff of the green room, the guy who we woke up and helped me and john update the website saturday morning via his cell phone data connection... the list goes on. ^_^ Thanks guys, great con.
As always, a big thanks to the MT crew people. Hope you liked the pizza. I don't think I even got a piece ^^;;
You'll note that i'm trying to increase the rantage a little. My goal is to get it back up to three times per week again. I'm not gonna promise it (because we all know what happens when i do that) - but i figure i'll just quietly try to do it. Doing it is, after all, what counts.
Oh, and just a quick note - I've been spending some time working on new merchandise for the MT store. The latest piece is a new version of the old 'ph34r the cute ones' design, in an attempt to provide something cuter, a little more deadly, and a little less Ruri. :P It came out really well, actually. Look for shirts in about a month. Other stuff in the works as well, more info on that later. (whispers 'blankets' and 'darkly cute' into the air)...