Anime Central 2022: Wrap

I went to Anime Central 2022. Given the state of the pandemic, I was somewhat surprised to see any Japan-based guests at all. Well, beyond high levels of hope (as they say, hopium), it’s easy to expect something good, but frankly that’s quite unrealistic.

It’s unrealistic, as the logic goes, because given the strict limit on re-entering the country of Japan for much of 2021 and early 2022, including the ever-changing travel restrictions that could upend travelers on short notice upon new development during the pandemic, it’s hard to promise a con and start the visa process so much in advance. It could take at least 6 months, usually up to a year, to get that P1B or whatever visa. All the while you need to ensure that a guest could make the trip and return to their regular work-life in Japan without interrupting their schedule in case they catch COVID. Given that Omicron is very contagious, it’s hard to predict in a social work visit like traveling to play at a show at a con, how that could expose the talent to COVID. Some bands and musicians can probably pull it off, if they have slack in the schedule in case a positive test is recorded. This can explains the likes of ASCA and Nano, maybe.

So, yes, other cons this 2022 Spring season do have marquee JP guests–namely ASCA at Boston and Hawaii and maybe Nano in Hawaii. Not-BACK-ON Blank Paper is going to be at Otakuthon (could be a safe bet this year). Diana Garnet also made the oversea trip last minute, but she doesn’t have visa issues. Other cons turn to less straight-JP type guests with DemonDice, or DJs like TeddyLoid and Moe Shop. That’s Acen’s JP guest roster. There are also two very popular VTuber guests at Acen, but what do they even count as?

DemonDice is best described as an indie hip-hop artist in Japan, but is really an American woman who is trying to make it there. It can also be said that she is the persona behind Hololive EN’s gen-1 hip-hop vTuber Mori. DemonDice typically does her set at cons via Fake Star and Teddyloid plays along with her set as well. I rather like Mori’s hits but DemonDice is unfamiliar to me. She’s the kind of artist that performs in small hole-in-walls but at the con she does her thing in front of thousands.

Acen continues to be that rowdy rave con of that I remember, so Saturday night’s rave featured top acts that really hit the spot. Moe Shop dropped Hyper Bass and Good Night Baby, so that’s good. Teddy dropped his Nijigasaki song, which was a surprise. There were also a few anisong that he remixed the past couple years that were released separately. It helped that I just saw Bandai Namco Festival the week earlier and it tuned me into Denonbu.

Witnessing the long lines for DemonDice and HoloEN reminded me that those subscriber counts underneath Gawr Gura’s name on her channel page translate to real human beings. Maybe not 1-for-1, but close. I went to the HoloEN panel with said Shark and Bae, and it was rather enjoyable. They had remotely-controlled cameras to shoot the crowd. Instead of a chat people just used props and signs to chat back. I think the format worked, so props to team Mike and Sujay and others. From what I hear it was much better than ANYC’s panel for HoloEN.

Besides these usual nonsense, Acen was more an excuse for me to get out of the house and meet up with friends I’ve not seen in some time. It’s also a great excuse to ditch the lackluster guest lineup and visit Chicago proper for once, given that I’ve been there a number of times but never downtown. I went to a Cubs game and hung out, it was a lot of fun. I ate all the hotdogs that I wanted.

Which is just to say, this is all made reasonable with not catching COVID at the end of it all. Mid-May 2022 in the midwest, infections were trending up, and I took some reasonable precautions like wearing a N95 mask as much as I reasonably could. The rave and big con chokepoints definitely were dense enough that it felt necessary, even with tall halls of the con center and hotel ballrooms.

Acen softened its COVID policy the week of the con and kind of left some people in the lurch. It went from vax and mask required to just mask required in some areas. I think it’s unfortunate and they didn’t handle the change in COVID policy well, but in the end it probably didn’t matter that much given the nature of community spread and most people still wore masks at the show.

Just to conclude, I think Acen had to happen, the crowd was for it, but it dropped a few things such as the COVID policy and what not. Still the outcome didn’t matter too much. I will write more about COVID and my thought about cons in this moment in a separate post. Otherwise, without so much at stake personally, these cons are laid back and fun if you mix in some RJ stuff. And especially surprise guests like 4 of Happiness and 1 from iScream show up to rock JP-idol style!

PS. Eats and loot:

strawberry short cake next to mocho on a phone screen

We did dinner at Gibson’s, and caught Mocho’s stream at the end. In hindsight this was the most dangerous activity I did that weekend, COVID-wise, but my party seemed to be ok ultimately.

Finally went to Pequod’s for dinner Friday, and the pizza is as good as they say. I like it a lot. Not to ruffle any feathers, but if you like a good crust paired with toppings to match, Pequod’s pan pizza is basically peak performance.

Byron’s is an institute. The food is solid, but inflated I guess. Hotdogs are not really photogenic, especially Chicago style? Of the other notable dogs and brats I had on this trip, I also ate at the bleacher-only Hot Doug’s since friends were able to smuggle that out to me at the other side of the park. That one is pretty exquisite.

Photo of a portrait of Bryon's owners and Sen. Obana

I’ve seen that guy at a few restaurants! He gets around.

Shoutouts to drawers of horse girls that I bought from: @kawaiipony2 and @meidolethplush.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.