Animazement 2012: Wrap

As usual, skim the bold-face headers if you want to just go through it.

Details

Attendence: about  7600 – never change, Animazement. Best con this weekend.

Website: Animazement.org

Location and date: Raleigh, NC. 5/24 to 5/28, 2012. It’s technically a 4-day con since programming starts Thursday night, but it really is just a weekend con, where there is about twice as many people coming on Saturday than Friday.

Hotel

Hoo-boy. Normally I would break it down into more posts just to make the wrap easier, but the hotel I stayed at has no in-room wifi and the ethernet port was broken. Not much I can do. I suppose I could’ve spent a couple hours in the lobby and used that internet to write, but instead I used to catch up on anime, since I am committed to way too many series this season. The other half the time I tried to use it to upload coplay pics. The hotel was cheap, I guess.

By the way, we got a scam call in our room. Don’t give out your credit card info over the phone at a hotel room, folks!

Camera crap

Speaking of which, I test-drove that 30mm 2.8f E-mount from Sigma, and I like it a lot (got it from B&H btw). It’s great for hall cosplay and it’s nice and sharp. Good enough for group pics too. The only downside is that sometimes you need that zoom for panel shots and what not, but I was traveling and conning with a couple bros with full frame DSLRs and bigass lenses, so hopefully I can grab some pics from them later. My style of con photography probably could have also used a wider pancake lens, so I guess the more I photograph this stuff I’ll figure out what kind of lenses I need to pack and buy. LOL I so be noob. Like, I need to tweak that “A” dial a lot more in my shots. Patience!

Cosplay

You can see some here already. More to be added later. Fairly normal fare I guess. Lots of Panties (as brotou-san predicted, its ease makes it popular, maybe). More cute girls than possibly previous Animazements? I don’t know.

The way down

I did the usual thing this time but I pooled with the very cool and quiet Paranda. Victim of iM@S music deluge #1 I guess. Then we hopped into AlexD’s car for the 2nd leg of the trip, which can be summed up by the term:

I95SUX

Which is a genuine VA license plate that we saw. Anyway.

The Eats

Thursday night we just checked out at a sports pub. They served English brews and foods, which was sufficient and relatively inexpensive (you’d think it’s cheaper in Raleigh, which it was, but not by that much). Didn’t like my bangers at all, but everyone else’s food came out okay.

Friday night we went to that Korean place we tried to go two years ago. It’s kind of amusing how we keep on tracing the steps we took from Animazement 2010. Anyway, that place was great. It’s a proper Korean place, appealing to family-style up-scaledness. I enjoyed the food and the one server felt like a friend’s mom or something. Nice Korean lady. We decided to go for family style BBQ but others got food on the side too, and I think in general it was pretty much tops. It’s probably the first time I actually liked the mandoo from a restaurant; I’m pretty spoilt in terms of that stuff. The beef had nice marbling; the brisket was meaty and short rib was very much what you’d expect prime beef would be in this context. The dish that pushed it over was the kimchi jae yook bokum. Served on a sizzling hot plate, it had a heap of kimchi, rice cake, pork, and jalapeno on top doused in the right amount of that usual sauce. I think theirs was just spicy enough to be good and without being offensive, although if you can’t take spicy this is probably a little too much. The tofu came out just right with half of it seared by the hot plate, and it was just very good overall. As they say, it’s “quality you can taste” (so says its banner outside).

Saturday night was, well, Poole’s. The mac & cheese delivered yet again. I hyped this place a lot for all the new-comers but I think the food delivered. Less so was the service, as we waited a long time for our food. In the meanwhile I had some of their strange beers, like this Danish “breakfast” brew that was both oatmeal and coffee, that I somewhat liked. I went for the seafood for entree this time and it was really, really good, but also a very small serving. The texture felt like it wasn’t anything special but the flavors are all there.

For dessert we had between this coffee-flavored flan+brulee banana on hummingbird bread thing, and this dark chocolate pudding thing that has sea salt on it. You know when I give them their own paragraphs, it’s that good. The pudding was kind of a party-in-your-mouth experience, like having some really good toffee, and the crust of the thing gives it texture and a light-sweet crust taste that contrasts well with the heavy dark choco flavor. In the middle of that was this sharp salty/sweet contrast from the sea salt. Yeah, it was a lot of sensations all at once. The flan was notably less exciting but just as (if not more) delicious. The bread and brulee banana combo was an interesting invention, transforming slowly that sharp sweet pierce of the banana exterior into a less configured but familiar and comforting bite. The nuts in the bread gave the banana aftertaste a nice balance and kept the molars in the game. A bite of the flan resets the experience and reminds you that you’re actually eating something and not in heaven (yet). Perhaps what is most remarkable is how both of these desserts complemented each other, without playing into the overpowering-sweetness game. Or maybe the hint of coffee could’ve been the magic ingredient?

Which is not to say any of this put the day-3 Waffle House dinner to shame at all. I enjoyed my overcooked ribeye dinner as much as its relatively low cost. Both this and Poole’s are American cuisines at their finest.

KOTOKO Concert 

The meat of the matter, of course. I think it’s never an exaggeration to say I enjoy the hell out of her lives, at least the ones I’ve been. Having her play at Animazement seals the deal for the con for not just me but a bunch of others; in fact other than the locals everyone else I went with had her in their sights as #1. That said, I wasn’t sure if that was the case for me.

It wasn’t much of a question; after her concert Saturday afternoon (3:30pm EDT) it was pretty much settled that was the case. I went all out, to say the least. Luck would have it that I had a front rail spot and hung all out cheering. The problem was that there was this dance floor thing and my footing was at the edge of it, which was sloping down to the carpet, where the rail was. It made jumping pretty difficult, especially because I was sandwiched between two guys taller than I am. One happens to be JAMBO MOMOTATO (sorry for bumping/running into you so many times). Anyway, I had a lot of fun.

I spun it into its own post here.

Some added notes, I guess. After the concert I was pretty much a wreck. As people lined up for autographs and merch some of us ran (ie., drove) back to the hotel in which I was able to shower and put on a shirt, grab things to get autographed, and drive back to the con before things wrapped up. We delivered the bonus stuff that people wanted to get signed, and just hung out near the table.

KOTOKO Panel, Others

It’s great. But half the time we were watching stuff on the screen, projecting slides of marketing material and her Asia tour pics. LOAE was talking half the time, and the other half of time KOTOKO took questions. Nothing really special but the eroge question did come up, just this time as a genuine question, as one girl to another. I guess it was the typical answer but it was kind of amusing to see KOTOKO react to it.

I’ll go over the audio record of the panel in time to see if there’s anything interesting to say, and add to it here if that’s the case.

As mentioned elsewhere, KOTOKO didn’t get her donations down to the con until Saturday after the concert, which was after the charity auction was over. There was no Kotoko goods at the auction (but that didn’t stop me from buying something). But being at the charity auction did help me put two and two together when we noticed Itano’s sketch will get auctioned off at the art auction on Sunday (probably because he didn’t finish it at the time).

Ichiro Itano

Itano is a great dude in the sense that when you see and talk to him, you know he’s like, bro. I can see why people like to write about him (there’s a fair amount documented in English). The image he gave me during his panel was one of someone who wasn’t really trying to do a lot but was in the right place and right time, and had the right opportunity given to him by special folks like Ishiguro. In fact he had this stand-up photo of Ishiguro around.

Wish there weren’t so many conflicts; I’d love to attend his Ishiguro memorial event as well as Maruyama’s panel. These old guys have a lot of great things to say and I’d like to listen!

I also recorded this, so hopefully I can write it up for Jtor. He said a few interesting things about Tsuritama and Urobuchi (especially since the other thing he was propping was Blassreiter). Overall this dude is probably as cool as everyone says he is, and has accomplished as much if not more.

Oh, hey, I also tagged his 3DS. Pretty neat huh?

Fumiko Orikasa

Orikasa is less of a laid-back showa-era idol type as I imagined. Rather, she’s like, I don’t know, a better Yui Horie? It’s hard to put a finger on it but she came across pretty much as what you’d expect, but more prim and proper. I think she’s also much more together than she lets in on. I hope she’s had a good time here.

I didn’t get to see a lot of Orikasa programming despite that she has 3 panels. The main panel I went to was pretty good, people asked good questions. I asked her about Koikaze OP which she gave the “it’s a secret” answer but I failed to ask her to “pass the complements” afterwards.

There’s a lot she said about all kinds of characters. I guess I’ll refresh my memory later and write down anything else interesting. Because there was, and I’m just too washed up after the concert to retain any of it, as her panel took place early Saturday. Saturday was a long day, did ya know?

But it was really a pity that I couldn’t hit all these people’s panel and had to pick and choose. The scheduling turned out that everyone had their stuff happen pretty much at the same darn time, so you had to pick one out of three or four panel to attend at any given time. It feels like as much as she plays so many roles I like from so many shows I enjoyed, I didn’t really spend much time working her programming.

Toshio Furukawa

He is the same cool veteran voice acting dude as the one I met at AX. Very excited about his work and I think his panel was the same deal as the one he gave at AX, complete with his figure collection and his wife in the back row taking photos.

What was interesting was seeing Nagahama sitting in his panel on Sunday morning. It’s like the crew took turns to look in on the various guests, and we did manage to get to almost all of them, and I got that autograph from Furukawa that I never was able to get at AX last year (even if I did get to talk to him for 5 minutes). His panel was basically the full-blown spiel of what he has to say.

Hiroshi Nagahama

If every director guest has to have a quiet Sunday panel where people sit around the dude and the dude shares some cool stories, then Nagahama’s Sunday panel was it. I guess he is a con veteran of sorts by now, having visited a bunch of other cons. Is Animazement his first east coast con? Maybe. But he told stories; I had to creep up to the front row slowly because I got to the Sunday panel late. It became almost necessary because the interpreter sounded pretty tired and he was kind of quiet. The hall noise made it hard to hear from the back.

It’s quite interesting, that panel. So I’ll do my best to write that up along with Itano’s. Later.

Loot and Charity Auction

(The picture doesn’t include the Kotoko tour shirts)

I got loot, but mostly in terms of a sketch from Nagahama. I never got him to sign me anything but whatever! I also picked up that figure of Koromo from way back. Yeah, I know it was on sale years ago, but I never got around to it. Saki Achiga-hen is to blame if I had to, I suppose.

Kotoko should’ve brought more variety of loot. But I guess I am secretly grateful.

The Charity Auction was a weird thing in that there was a proper Charity Auction on Saturday afternoon in which lots of random stuff was sold. I’d say a third were from this one UPS envelope that had all these Funimation voice actor autographs on random things. I think the coolest bit was this Rebuild of Eva #2 postcard with Junichi Sato’s scribbling on it, along with some VAs.

Nagahama donated a DMC t-shirt and 2 sketched shikishi boards. I bought one of the boards, featuring DMC (Krauser, Jagi, Camus) and with some coloring. The other board was this nice profile Ginko shot (also with some color). The t-shirt was yellow, had the red DMC half-mask thing in front, and Nagahama drew a huge Krauser face on the back.

Fumiko Orikasa donated a set of stickers from her 3/11 charity stuff that she autographed. She also donated the hat she wore coming to the US. LOL. This is kind of like when Maaya Sakamoto sold her apparels at AX that one year. When it comes to women’s hats, I think the only one I’ll buy are from Yoko Kanno. Orikasa’s hat went for $42.

Itano donated a lot of random stuff. Like this old poster-book thing with design and prints from Macross. That sold pretty well. There was also a bunch of Blassreiter posters he signed that didn’t go for very much, like $30 or less if I remember correctly.

I said this was a weird thing, because they held up one of Itano’s sketch (a VF-1 shooting some missiles) to sunday’s Art Auction, which is typically reserved for Artist Alley crap that gets silently bid. As I mentioned in the KOTOKO concert write-up, she also vended some stuff there. There was a tour shirt with autographs from the whole band and KOTOKO, a couple posters with KOTOKO scribs (Unfinished), and her encore t-shirt. It just so happened that the dudes I was hanging with bought all of them. The band t-shirt sold for only $40, which is not just a steal but a STEAL. The encore t-shirt was about 10x more.

Actually, this is by far the cheapest charity auction I’ve seen. Some stuff still fetch a good price but there’s just way less competition.

Random bits

I missed Taka’s land-of-devastation panel, but I’ve seen other versions of such from other people.

I missed Maruyama’s stuff entirely. I really wanted to ask him about MAPPA and what not.

Hopefully I can figure out a better way to gear up with an interchangeable lens setup.  The 30mm was great most of the time but sometimes the zoom lens is just what you need, and I’d rather not haul another lens unless I can strap it to my torso or something.

I think my Streetlight MultiX broke. I haven’t fully diagnosed it but maybe it’s time for a new one anyway. That is how hard I rocked out at KOTOKO’s show.

I saw that one t-shirt vendor, whose name and URL I can’t find at the moment, at the con. They make some pretty striking anime-style t-shirts and iPhone4 cases. Original artwork. I really like them but at $25 a pop their style just doesn’t quite justify the cost as a gamble. If you like full size print on your clothes maybe it’s worth checking out. Except I can’t even pimp them. They are located at the near end of the Animazement artist alley, and have an end table.

Lastly, a billion shoutouts to the kids at the playground. You know who you are. Some I’m going to see again, very soon, aren’t I? I also dig Misuzu’s new look, even more than LOAE’s.


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