Anime Central 2018: Wrap

Whoop I went to Chi-town and had some deep-dish pizza. There was also some fhana live I went to. Kevin also played a DJ set at the Saturday Night rave. In attendance of the con in general include other guests like Inoue Kikuko, Iso Mitsuo, Sonoda Kenichi, and other top kek animators and illustrators. It’s too good to not go.

Also, I wanted to check out probably the best con rave in America. Unfortunately CBP/immigration got a couple of the DJs flying in so no Kors K and Ryu. Instead we just went to go see Kevin throw down some anisong remixes.

Hanging out at the con was the “usual” crew. I somehow got to harass Sujay a lot this con, including trying to figure out what the hell happened to fhana’s panel on Saturday (their SNS put out the room change only 40 mins before the panel). There were other weirdness, but this might be the first time where I encountered conflicting information in Guidebook, and it was Guidebook that was actually wrong.

Anyways, the main attraction at the con was fhana for me. The Regency Ballroom was not terrible acoustics wise, but it felt like they didn’t really do a good job with the sound and some things probably didn’t work? I can’t say because there were definitely some hiccups during the show but I was too busy to note them down.

The set can be seen here. They allowed non-flash photography so some fun was had. I enjoyed the set and am looking forward to next week in Sapporo. Other fhana tidbits:

That kusorip is great.

They were pretty chill for the most part as how Acen rolls. Got to go shopping more this time than last. Kevin picked up these kicks and they do well on a bright stage. I thought they were glowing.

The panel was pretty boring, not that well attended. I got to ask a question but screwed up the delivery because it was too deep I think. Best moment was when someone asked who were their favorite Dragon Maid characters and Yuuki was like “Ka….waii” to dodge. The other moment was when Sato explained in brief about their superband origins one of the staff (cool Fake Star person I talked to a bit) made a comment about breaking up bands. Kevin and Yuuki was laughing but not so much Towana and Sato.

We did a backstage interview video because Sujay picked us (all 8? of us) out during the signkai after the live. I don’t think it turned out well.

The Saturday autograph session was not that well-attended, so I looped. Got What a Wonderful World Line signed as well as LTA02 signed. Got World Atlas signed on Friday.

Kevin’s set Saturday night was good. We have a set list somewhere–

  1. Connect (Madoka)
  2. Sparkling Daydream (Chuunikoi)
  3. Step (Nisekoi OP2)
  4. Irony (Oreimo)
  5. Hana wa Odoreya Irohaniho (Hanayamata OP)
  6. Ugoku, Ugoku (Girls’ Last Tour OP)
  7. Eufonia (Aria OP1)
  8. Daydream café (Gochiusa OP1)
  9. One More Night (Girls’ Last Tour ED)
  10. Tiny Lamp (Uchoten ED1)
  11. Aozora no Rhapsody (Maid Dragon OP)

And there’s also the part of the dance from Dragon Maid:

The set was half remixy and half anikura-y. The Claris stuff especially is solid remixy stuff. I think he had two sets and switched over for HNYMT, and he made a mistake then that stopped the music LOL. We bailed right after the switchover to the next DJ, which I believe is DJ Kagamine. There was this lion king thing to transit from one to the next…

Sunday was the usual “buy $20/raffle tix” day but they moved the time and gave out more autographs at the booth (!) so we stuck around and said hi to the band one last time. Got my amp signed because I didn’t have anything else left on me, plus I already bought or own the things they were selling…

The other stuff:

I got to see Kikko-san although I did not get an autograph at all. Got a 2-shot. Went to both of her panels, and she is as good as she always is. If not for her aura you’d mistaken her just like another middle-aged Japanese tourist, at least that was when it felt when I was crowd-watching at the hotel on Sunday night.

I sat in on two live drawing panels, one for Sonoda/Hamakawa Shujiru, the other is Yokota and Yoshimatsu. Supposedly Yokota eats a lot… LOL.

I actually was in the Project BB panel when Sonoda hit the “start kickstarter” button. But not much else. I went back later to see their live drawing panel on Saturday, and won a sketch. I also bought one of his fundraising poster with the Project BB logo, since it’s autographed and the movie poster feel is good for this. Hamakawa Shujiru is with Sonoda and this all-around sakuga dude sure can draw, and fast.

I did miss out on Iso completely. Too bad. I guess his pitch is the new FLCL but he’s done a ton of stuff… I guess I saw him walk around a bit at the con?

Lastly in terms of art guests, I did see Vofan a couple times. Said thanks. Got a board and my Monogatari scroll signed, also bought $80 worth of his books at their booth. Weird thing is, the Vertical booth is technically a Vofan exhibit, and you can get stuff there by buying it at Kinokuniya’s booth? It was weird.

The dealer room was alright, not too small but not very big–a little small for a con this size I guess, but still huge compared to Otakon in terms of vendor counts. Only notable vendor I saw was Cospa dude selling shirts. Oddly enough he also was into fhana and we got a space in row 2 at the show for him (kinda).

This year at Acen there was a ticketing policy for autographs. Ticket holders get to line up first and go first up to 30 minutes past the autograph time. After that, standby line joins. Most if not all the JP guests got through the ticketed line. The weird thing about Acen’s system was distribution, which happens twice a day, 11:00 for guests after 2pm, and 18:00 the day before, for guests before 2pm. So you had to line up Saturday night for an early Sunday autograph. That is weird. I guess you could line up Thursday night for an early Friday autograph, too… Kikko-san was pretty champ, going over time to wrap up all her lines, but I think this was more a problem from the management’s point of view. She’s also deliberate and slow to give a good interaction, but such is how it goes.

On Saturday, the morning ticket line was kind of a CF because they cleared out the line just to make us line up again at 30 minutes before the ticket time. It was dumb, not only because they didn’t on Friday, but they should have left the line alone to prevent crowding and save their staff the effort. It wasn’t too bad, but having to squeeze a few hundred people who wanted to go first through that gate was not fun.

Wrap:

Acen is chill, I had a good time. I should say, for a big con it’s quite chill, although it had a lot of guests if you wanted to run the autograph and panel gauntlet. The music guest this year is a big hit for me although it was more for the extra credit stuff that made it worthwhile. My 4th Acen? Hm, time flies, I still remember talking to Fred and Okamoto Maya at my first.

It’s a great con to hang out too this time, so props to all the buds that I ran into there, and new folks I talked to. Plus all the hard working staff that made it happen. Special shoutout to MTF old timers Becky and Cat and their art endeavors!

PS: Food-wise…

Gibson’s was worth it. I got their special Chicago cut and you can taste the difference. Worth trying at least once, but their execution is simple, and does not stray from that classic American steak experience. Their sales pitch is pretty good too, complete with the sample raw meat plate. It also felt like a place run by mobsters, but I think that’s how all the old timers steakhouses in NYC are too… Word of caution, their desserts are huge. We went 5-way on 1 order of the chocolate mousse pie and had leftovers. I guess it was an early dinner on Sunday.

I did the “hey let’s eat at where fhana ate” thing and had the buffet dinner in the Hyatt. It was actually quite good for the price, so we would totally go again if that becomes an option. We ended up watching a good chunk of Saturday’s Boston/Cleveland game while at dinner. It just lacked a beef option, but the real strength is the desserts. Chun ate with us and got the steak there, and it looked pretty good too.

Lastly (working backwards?) we had Giordano’s on Friday after the show. We went pretty hungry and waited the ~60 minutes or whatever for the pizza to cook. Stuffed, at midnight. It was a bit rough. The bratwurst pie was pretty unique and I liked it, but the other choices are maybe more typical of that deep dish experience. The appetizers were solid, I had a bunch of fried cheese curds. It is the biggest chain place in Chicago for this stuff, so it’s only appropriate that I finally got some in Chicago 4 Acens later? I prefer trying the sandwiches to be honest.

The most surprising eat I had the weekend was at this con ice cream stand. $2.50 for a cone is terrific for convention pricing, where I spent $14 on just a box of takeout fried rice and a bottle of Pepsi.


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