Anime North this year is punctuated by Kawaii Kon, where a few of us were gathered again for Shimoda’s visit to … USA I guess. During the opening ceremony the news about Hasegawa Akiko came out, and some folks were having a meltdown. That kind of set the tone for this year’s con.
Day 0 and earlier
Before the con, I went to an Aoi Eir one-man live in Manhattan. It was fun and she’s gotten much better since I’ve last seen her. The Crunchyroll-sponsored event features a Q&A panel and some random swag for VIP ticket holders (like $130), plus a post-live 2-shot. If anything, it was too short, and ended too late. I got home at about 1:30am and still had to finish packing for an early start.
Driving up with me would be team Ossan, and we sure ate our way up because of last-minute Niagara Falls plans. Duff’s in Buffalo is great, but too bad it was a beer and wings kind of joint and I can’t really drink (too tired/had to drive). We also stopped by our usual spot in Binghamton to have some spiedies for lunch.
Dinner ended up at the Falls; we were the “advance party” I guess and took a reservation at the tourist-trappy restaurant overlooking the falls on the Canadian side. The rest of the crew joined us not a whole lot later, but we were really close to closing for the restaurant. It’s the first time I’ve seen the Falls at night.
We made it to our hotel at around 11:30pm. Considering I woke up at around 7:30 it’s not too bad, but certainly not a trip schedule I’d repeat willingly.
From the moment during Hawaii Kon’s opening ceremony, I basically got the ball rolling with the offkai. It was already mid-April, after my ML3rd trip, that I started phoning and getting quotes from hotels. I’m glad we found a place, albeit a little bit on the high side, but availability was thin out there.
Offkai planning followed the same model as last year but we probably added a lot of activities and stuff that wasn’t really necessary. Like a wireless mic. A lot of little things can be done better but we didn’t really get to hash it out before hand. It’s gotten too complex to wing, I guess, in some ways. Having last year’s model to follow was good, since it made planning a lot easier to do, but maybe as a result we didn’t communicate as much and that came back to bite us a bit.
I personally feel overall the offkai went well. It wasn’t perfect and some things could have been done better, but it is all within expectation/reason. The only thing that probably wasn’t was the spend. I think we would have had more of a surplus but as of this writing I’m in a pretty sizable hole in terms of what I’m footing for the offkai, but it’s not one that is critical. I think that is also within expectations, actually, but I guess I now know better how to manage costs next time we do something in the Marriott.
I was able to do something like soak in the atmosphere and trade badges with Vota. I wish I went around and talked to everybody, like some Ps that came from the west coast and the Japanese guys.
I’m running a feedback, so if you attended the Offkai please fill it out.
Akky and Asapon
Akky is very interesting. From what I can tell she’s pretty much the most transparent yet the most strange seiyuu in the IM@S cast. She’s got a lot of Miki-like qualities and overall talented at entertaining people. It was easier to talk to her than it was to talk to Asapon, although I think Asapon is definitely the more conversant. She is also really adorable.
At Anime North this time I got to appreciate Asapon even more, as someone who is quick-witted and playful, always dancing the line between what’s OK and what’s not. There are other seiyuu that are likewise talkative and entertaining that have visited North American cons but Asapon might be in a league of her own, at least among female ones. Guys tend to have a different standard when it comes to what’s OK or not. When you get put on a spot asking a question sometimes she will turn it on you. I’m going to not go too deep into what she’s said in the panel, but Asapon alone was worth the price of admission.
Asapon got her usual bit of shimoneta this time, but it was less than I expected. It’s probably because the people who would ask it did not really get to ask it, or if they did, it was done in a bad way. On the panel, Akky just didn’t talk as much, even if she did give us a new Onigiri Rap.
At the con
Anime North implemented a ticket system. You can read about how I felt the reaction was here. In reality this meant camping in the shade/sun outside the con doors from about 7am to 5pm on Friday, and mad early till 10am on Sat and Sun. We skipped opening ceremony. Then it was panel, then photos, and then autographs for Asapon and Akky. I went Akky on day one. I also stayed for Luna and Nogami’s autograph session, and then drove to Zets. Thank you Zets for opening late.
I talked to Akky about Million Live and how I kakkin’d for Miki. And…yeah, stuff I say to seiyuu. Would never brag about this to anyone else.
Also was finally connect Prnd with Brian at Zets. Yay large portion of comfort protein and carbs coupled with eventer talk. We did end up nijikai back at the hotel to hammer out the last bits of coordination for the offkai. And we were drained.
Camping out all day takes a lot out of you, and this year’s Anime North was unseasonably warm. I even changed clothes because of this. At some point in the morning I had to run some errands for the offkai, so in the process I brought to the line a couple pizzas and some waters. I think that was pretty important, in the “let’s not get heat stroke” sense. Also about 40 ice pops, because I love a party? Does this count?
A bunch of people called it quits on camping on Saturday, even if the door opens at 10am, effectively shortening the camp by 7 hours. I got there at around 7 again and just smuggled my way up the line, although this time I didn’t get an Akky ticket nor a photo ticket, and just an Asapon ticket. This is fine because I wanted to see her too. Photo line turns out to be kind of a joke anyway, since the photo shots were super fast and the standby line were fully taken cared of all three days.
I talked to Asapon about something, which I believe was her pointing out I was a Makoto P, and telling me about Hirata Hiromi’s new child. I said something like I know and am happy about it?
Saturday also includes some slack space so we went to harass a Sekai Project guy who is in our producer group. I also attended Anzai Chika’s panel and one of the autograph sessions. Chaika with Chaika achievement unlocked. Her panel is fairly straightforward so I was a little bit snoozy during it. I don’t really know her body of work besides the popular stuff like Chaika and Euphonium, so there’s not a whole lot I can add. She’s pretty interesting otherwise, from an idol point of view I guess?
Later on Saturday we had the Asapon/Akky events, which rolls into the Offkai for most. Our intrepid Guest Interpreter lead had an idol concert to perform so a bunch of us went to cheer for her there. Part of the result of this was some chaos on the setup team not there in time to setup for the offkai, but oh well. Akky and Asapon also attended the live and did calls to Re@dy in the back? LOL.
And then there’s the offkai. We were in suits all day so it was nice to kick back and relax a bit. Except LOL there’s no relaxing for me until towards the end. It is rough entertaining 96 attendees at the offkai!
The Offkai hotel staff gave me a box of fruit at the end of it because they know I didn’t eat anything LOL. It served as breakfast 7am in the morning as I camp for tickets on day 3… Joined by a bunch of people who slept much less than I did. I was able to talk to some folks in the line that I didn’t talk to at the offkai, so it worked out kind of well.
Sunday was pretty easy, with the autograph session in the front, then panel, and then the photo session. We had some scary calls at the ticket pickup because people seemed to stop giving a damn and the rush was really bad. In the end I think everything still worked out but it made for some frazzled nerves.
At any rate, it went pretty much as expected. This time I talked to Akki a bit more but failed kinda. Told her SSA was my first live (got that signed by her) and will go see her again? Chaika speak only goes so far, but I think she understood.
The first-thing-in-the-morning distribution method of autograph tickets has a big downside, which is the toll it takes on your physical well-being. I certainly don’t function well with 3 hours of sleep every day, and it doesn’t make for a fun con experience unless you can negate that by, say, a case of Red Bull, which I bought at Costco there. I drank a lot of coffee that weekend too. I also gave out a few Red Bulls just because, and Tsukigami Luna is a noted fan of the thing.
Odds and the end
On the third day there was the usual charity auction. Pon and Akki each contributed one thing, and they went to 500 and 400 CAD respectively. I stuck around for Luna who came up a bit after those two and won his sketch which can be seen here. Roommate picked up the other Sekai Project art piece based on Fault for 210 CAD. This is way too easy.
Asapon’s bag is yellow, what a coincidence.
Signing wise, I got my Chaika R1 volume 1 BD signed. I got an Asapon shikishi. I got SSA BD Box signed by both Akky and Asapon. On top I also got Akky to sign a penlight and Animas volume 1. For Tsukigami Luna, I got his Deremas compilation book signed, and got a sketch on a shikishi. Last but not least I got Witches of the Sphnix 1 signed by Dan and Nogami-sensei. I always wanted to meet these guys but it never worked out until now.
I had a nice Sunday breakfast and that helped a lot wiping away the feeling of wariness. We ended the night at Lone Star again. It was a lot of fun hanging out but this year was very tiring compared to last year. I guess that is a major area of improvement we could work on next year.
The hotel we stayed at was the Residence Inn. It wasn’t cheap but it was very roomy and stocked with all the important things needed for our offkai weirdness. I liked it but wish we could have had one more in the room to reduce the overall out-of-pocket price. It’s also not too far from the con, definitely walkable if undesirable.
On paper Anime North 2016 was great fun, but it doesn’t quite feel that way for various reasons. I think that’s okay, the issues we encountered are all fairly mundane, but I guess it is what it is. I suppose this is mature con-going for you.
PS. Food-wise we did one different thing this year, which is the Chops stuff. Instead we went and got touristy trap food at Niagara. Other than that, the highlights were Beavertails and poutine there (gravy instead of poutine sauce, but at least there was cheese curds). Eating my way up NY State was fun too. Wish I can Buffalo again sometime.