First off, unlike thenarus andyuritdo who felt like something was missing for them because they were merely attendees and not working at the con, I feel like I actually got more out of this one than at ACen earlier this year. A lot of that was simply that I had a better idea of what to expect and that I actually participated in some of the events and sessions going on there. Overall I had a very enjoyable time and look forward to future events. Who knows...I might actually become an anime fan. :P
I'll try to be relatively brief, but this will likely be a long entry nonetheless. But I have pictures to post! :)
As mentioned before, our departure on Thrusday was extremely delayed. We had resigned ourselves to driving through the night and arriving at the hotel early in the morning on Friday. I hadn't slept too well the night before (which is typical for me before a big trip or event). I had woken up at around 5:30 am. By the time we arrived at our hotel at around 6:30 (Atlanta time--one hour ahead) the next day, I had already been up 24 hours. Of course we decided we'd unpack the car and beat the registration rush by just staying up and getting in line. That turned out to be a good decision since the lines got very long at more "normal" hours. We waited around for the lines to open for an hour or so, but it wasn't so bad because we weren't in a hurry and nothing else was going on. Plus we could sit or wander a little and it didn't matter. Once the lines opened, we had our badges in a matter of 10 minutes or so. That was an improvement over my ACen experience already!
Here's Allen and Jon at the top of our hotel's parking garage. The convention center and con hotel are in the background. We were headed to the walkway from our hotel over to the convention center. You can see how wiped we looked from our long trip. I think I'm almost glad I was taking the picture. I must've looked even more frazzled since I drove the entire 10 hour trip.
The con hotel was fairly nice. My only real complaint is that there wasn't much walk space to get to the rooms that were on the perimeter of the area pictured, so with the con crowds it was often slow going to wade through all the people.
After we got our badges, we headed back to our room to try and get some much needed sleep. Jon went straight to bed, but Allen and I were too overcome by hunger to sleep, so we took advantage of the complimentary breakfast buffet our hotel had. We gorged ourselves on typical breakfast buffet stuffs. I commented that it was the best breakfast ever...mostly accounting for how hungry and tired I was. Salted cardboard probably would've garnered the same response from me. :P Although the food actually was pretty decent.
While I was getting a second (or third) helping from the buffet I was chatting with another con-goer about our trip there and the fact that I had been up for about 28 straight hours at that point. She commented, "but you're young..." She seemed surprised when I revealed my true age. I guess I still have that going for me if people think I look young even when I was as tired and disheveled as I was. (more on the age thing later)
Allen and I got back to the room at about 11 where Jon was already asleep. I set an alarm on my phone (vibrate alarm) to wake me up for the opening ceremonies at noon. It did wake me up, but I decided to just skip it. I ended up sleeping until about 1pm after that and decided to just get up and do something. I tried to fight with my laptop to get it to connect to the internet through my phone. I was never able to get that to work reliably on the trip and I kinda wish I hadn't spent so much time trying. Oh well. As a result, I ended up just composing LJ entries there and posted them when I returned. Allen and Jon got up about an hour later and we all got ready to go over to the con hotel to check things out.
Allen waking up. This picture illustrates our collective sleep deprivation quite well.
Our first big stop at the con was the game room.
I had decided to reprise my Mr.B.Bone cosplay. The fact that they actually had Guitar Freaks in the arcade made it all the sweeter.
Several Bemani and other games were brought in by Dance Beat Arcade. Jon and I spent many hours and quarters there over the course of the con. There were also three other rooms with various console games setup. Highlights for me were DanceManiax (since I enjoy it and don't get to play it that much, GF7/DM6 in session mode (I played both, but never actually played a session...darn), ...
... pop'n music (which is still fun even though I have it), ...
... and PIU (another game I enjoy and don't get to play much).
Later that night, I went to the one event at the con that I absolutely didn't want to miss: the Mari Iijima concert. Mari was the voice of Lynn Minmay in the original Macross television series (which later came to America as the first of the three part Robotech saga). It's the only anime I'm really familiar with, so I was excited to get to see someone connected to it. She was the main reason I was interested in attending this con.
The concert turned out to be a much smaller deal than I had anticipated, but it wasn't disappointing. It was just her and a keyboard and a few songs she had some prerecorded backing tracks. She took a lot of time to talk to the audience and tell stories. That's what made it good. She only sang one song from Macross (the movie) and the rest were songs from her recent independently-produced albums.
After the show, I was able to get her to sign one of the inserts of my Macross DVD collection and had a picture taken with her. (here's that age thing...) She did Macross way back in 1982...at age 19. That puts her at 41 today...and she makes me look old in that picture. Wow...just wow. I hope maybe I got some of those Asian longevity genes.
I had never heard any of her non-Macross stuff before. I ended up buying one of her albums and have listened to it several times. It's not the type of thing I'd probably normally listen to. It's poppy, but softer than my standard fare. It's definitely growing on me. I think part of that is that I've actually met her now, so I'm bound to feel some sort of a connection that might make me like just a little more--especially since she seemed very nice and I liked her personality. And that's a good thing...I'm glad to have something to get me to broaden my horizons a little and experience some new music.
Anyway, Friday night for me was rounded out with Anime Hell. All that silliness was pretty entertaining. From there, I did a little wandering and just headed back to the room where I fought with my laptop a little more until around 3, but I ended up being in bed asleep before my roomates each night of the con.
Saturday I thought about going to the voice acting panel that Mari was going to be on. I woke up about 10 minutes before it was going to start at 10, but I decided that I didn't feel like just rolling out of bed and booking over there without a shower and decided to sleep a little more. That turned out to be the only thing I missed that I regret a little. From reports I've read, she told some more stories that I think I might have enjoyed.
I woke up later and fought with the laptop some more (see what I mean?). Eventually I got my shower and made it out to the Bemani panel. It started late and was about a dull as I expected it to be. At least they actually brought games with them to show unlike the panel at ACen. The panel wasn't bad, but wasn't of much interest to me.
After that panel I decided to don the Yatta leaf for another ACen encore. It was fun once again. Lots of pictures, lots of comments, a few hugs. Yay for being an attention whore.
Later on in the gameroom I finally got a chance to meet cutriss from the DDR Freak forums. He's someone I've communicated and collaborated with on a lot of DDR projects, so it was good to get to actually meet him.
As evening hit, I sat in on the Anime Music Production panel to get another chance to be a Mari fanboy. Vic from ADV ended up talking on the panel a lot more than Mari, but I got a chance to ask some questions and buy one of Mari's CDs.
The line for the cosplay contest was huge, so Jon and I decided we'd go get some dinner and just sneak in later after it was already in progress. We ended up going out for a drive. We went by a CompUSA where I stopped and bought a video card that was out of stock in Indy. It was kinda funny that it worked out that way. We finally had dinner at Wendy's and made our way back to the con. By then the cosplay contest was almost over. We peeked in for a bit, but didn't catch much.
click for video clip
From there we went back to the game room where they had replaced pop'n with Taiko no Tatsujin, the traditional Japanese drumming game. It was fun. I don't know that I'm going to run out and buy it, but I'm glad I got a chance to see it. Appropriately, the version they had running was the one dedicated to anime music. :P
Afterward I actually went to watch a showing of the new(est) Macross series, Macross Zero. I was disappointed that they decided to show episodes 3 and 4, so I wasn't really sure what the storyline was. It was ok...perhaps I'll watch it at some point.
Later, I stopped in at the little rave thingy and the AMV dance for a bit and then headed back to the room to fight with the laptop (again). I was asleep around 3 again.
Sunday I woke up and took advantage of the breakfast buffet again while my roommates (who apparently didn't get in until hours after I was already asleep) slept. It was at that point that I discovered we needed to check out by noon, only an hour away. So I got them up and going and went down to the desk and asked for an extension. We had until 1.
We got all our stuff packed up and to the car and then went back over to the con. Jon and Allen said goodbye to some people in the dealer's room and I bought a t-shirt. Then we pretty much just called it and decided to get some food (KFC buffet!) and start the long trip home.
On the way home, I was understandably tired. At one point I decided to exit the highway with the intent of having Jon take over driving. Just by pure accident, the next exit was Goodlettsville, TN. That name sounded familiar to me and I realized it was where Dance Beat Arcade was. We stopped in at a Jack in the Box for some food and then found DBA. Unfortunately (and fortunately at the same time), it was closed because they were running the games at AWA. :P
I ended up driving until Louisville where I had Jon take over. I stayed up for a bit and then took a nap until we were almost to Indy. I'm glad to have had Jon drive though. I had done way too much driving as it was already at that point. My hip and knee were both kinda funky for a couple days after the trip.
So, that's pretty much the trip. I'm glad I went and managed to survive--without playing any DDR or eating any pocky! ;)