Anime Weekend Atlanta 2022: Wrap

It’s been about 5 years since my last AWA. Some things didn’t change, others did. For starters I started to just call it “awacon” in chats this year because it’s a bit less ambiguous and it’s what the website and twitter handles read like. Second, the cell connection was terrible at the con. I’m not sure why, but it’s really bad, and worst than I’ve ever had it at any other con, including AWA 2017. I have had better luck at AX and Anime NYC than at AWA, and those cons have maybe 10k more people or more on site on any given day and moment. I also run a full-blown TMO (via Fi) connection as well as a work Verizon LTE sim. Between the two (and downshifting to 4G for the TMO one) sometimes I can get connection. On Saturday this was basically not really possible even.

If I was doing a gripe panel with AWA this has to be my first complaint. Full stop.

Without internet there are a bunch of things I would like to do but didn’t. One is to see who I know is at the con. Another is to look up and research people at their panels so I can be better at asking questions, if any were to be asked. I was able to go to one and a half panels. I spent about half an hour at the Renaissance lobby on the “boarding pass” PC talking to United rep to change my flight. There’s also the issue with my Passkey hotel reservation. Long story short there were a lot of internet/tech issues at this con that may or may not be a big deal that affected me.

So, what did I have to do–call Hyatt because somehow when the reservation went from Passkey (the con block hotel management side) to the individual hotels, my dates were off by 1. After calling reservation for Hyatt, they confirmed that the dates were off by one, and they cannot change it without additional cost. I did end up calling the hotel who told me my dates were actually correctly transferred. Then I changed my hotel reservation anyways–because originally I was only going from Thursday night to Saturday night, and then I changed my mind to stay for Friday to Sunday.

I also had to do the aforementioned United thing. Same-day changing my flight from Thursday night to Friday was easy and free, but it was impossible to not pay to switch from Saturday to Sunday for some reason, via the app and web. I decided to just do it and not worry–maybe leave a terrible review or something.

Because I have no internet, I didn’t really ask much during the BPM15Q panel. I also wasn’t connecting with some local Ps until late Saturday when I was just chilling at the Maggiano’s across the highway. No, I don’t really want to trek back to the gazebo area from there, sorry. Not to mention I didn’t notice the tweet until hours later. This does mean I missed out on some uma cosplayers, sigh.

Anyways, back to AWA this year. I was only interested to see the Japanese guests, and the con did not had a lot of other special content this year. Still I was able to check out Diana Garnet again, and this Voia guy. Seems legit. Both of them served as opening acts for other JP acts like ASCA and BPM15Q. Burnout Syndromes was put up after PIXY.

So yeah, this is kind of a stacked lineup, if you know what these acts are. ASCA was a big reason what anisong kids wanted from AWA. I didn’t particularly leaned either way about ASCA honestly, but I wanted to see her again and hear those best hits. I wanted to see live HOWLING. It does feel she got more into it at AWA versus Boston during the concert, even if the vibe isn’t as chill and cool compared to the ASCA artist image. Which is fine because, well, what she really is in some ways.

Burnout Syndromes to me, before AWA, was a forgettable anisong band with tie-ins for shows I didn’t really care about. The one song that I kind of did, Good Morning World, is a Jump title and I generally have little affinity for acts following Jump anime even when they all bring their A game to big anime nowadays. That said I didn’t have a bad opinion of them or anything, their music had something to offer as far as typical big-label bands go. Thanks to certain someone’s pushing I went to see them and got to learn a lot more about this band, and it really made things interesting to me.

For one, Burnout Syndromes is pretty diverse musically. It’s hard to suss this out partly because their sounds do change a bit between different anisong tie-ins so I don’t always connect them. They’ve been around for a while as well, so it’s hard to get a good sample of what they really sound like “today.” Being diverse musically also didn’t help with communicating their vibe.

What did communicate Burnout’s vibe was seeing them play and speak in person. That vibe is a, uh, dorky group headed by one music mastermind, the frontman, composer, and leader Kazuumi Kumagai. Apparently the 3 current members of the group started in middle school and are still together after all these years. It’s both very simple and yet very artistically clear what and who is doing all the figurative talking. Their music makes sense once you get to see the people behind it. Well obviously it’s the guy who is doing the singing too, but musically there’s this “literary” slant however super-flattened it could be in some ways. Like the hat he wears half of the time. The one rap song he did was a good example. Do people rap with that kind of head gear typically? It’s safe to say this group, even if it’s not up my alley, at least has something worthwhile to see. It’s like a humanities-nerd kind of a vibe.

At the end of the show they were repping their stream that’s later this year that will also have a foreigner-friendly option for watching. I’m not sure if it’s a bridge too far for me, but if you dig Haikyuu songs maybe it’s worth it.

I’m not going to go too deep into ASCA, because I sorta already did, other than to say she’s cool and check her out. Then again ASCA has the kind of anime tie-ins that I watch and it’s always a treat to see her do Hibari in person. And this is someone who didn’t watch too many of the alt Fate stuff. I missed her panel on Friday because I got in late, but she was collaborating with some local streamer type person. She also popped out at the end of ASCA’s show on Saturday? Anyways, I don’t know what is going on with Sacra Music marketing, as usual.

If we go back to two weeks before the con when AWA announced BPM15Q was attending and performing their first US show, I was largely met with surprise and indifference. I vaguely know about CY8ER but I didn’t know much about the Ichigo Rinahamu personality, and all the music and projects Rinahamu started and is still a part of, and this seems like something actually worth flying to alone if everything about BPM15Q is as they say. Turns out, it is as they say. This is the core or basis in which one of the most interesting idol groups in the last 10 years.

Thinking back, this whole idol circus stuff is something now I am somewhat familiar with. You do the photo sessions, you do the watashikai and signkai, you talk to them, to do the wota moves and calls, and you enjoy yourself. As with typical East Coast cons, the number of people who indulges and knows the ropes are probably in the handfuls, at any given event. Having probably the worst slot at the con (last show on Sunday afternoon), BPM15Q still made the con for me. Imagine people finding out about them at the show–the reception of BPM15Q at the con would have been a lot better.

I can see why Rinahamu is who they say she is, because she’s definitely left a mark in my mind. In another way, nicamoq also left her mark, but she’s playing it more straight and my comm skills are probably not strong enough to really enjoy this…funny/charming idol. I don’t know what to say, just that Rinahamu slayed it at the concert, and it was what one could call an “unforgettable experience.” I’m not so sure it’s actually unforgettable, but it’s like being branded by cattle iron sort of thing. It left a very deep impression. It’s something about Rinahamu’s face, her expressions, the way she pumps up the crowd, the way she ad-libbed the stage positions and dances, and it’s really a full package deal.

The show itself is basically just the two of the members dancing to Teddyloid’s backing. It’s basically nearly non-stop dance mixes. There was a cover portion where we got Go, Butterfly, 君の知らない物語, and Renai Circulation. Musically this is the kind of denpa-inspired idol music, but updated for the 2020s. I had a nice place by the railing on the Hamu side of the catwalk, and I went as ham as I could at times. I had a blast.

Fake Star brought all these talents to AWA, including BPM15Q (but except ASCA), who is direct from Sony/Sacra). There were VIPs for PIXY and Burnout. There were photo sessions for BPM15Q all 3 days and sign sessions all 3 days. People went to Burnout’s sessions after their Friday night show, but most didn’t know about BPM15Q and their show was at the end of the con. This means literally a dozen or two people were at all their sessions. It’s too bad, but at least I didn’t have to compete for anything.

It’s not with much expectations I went with AWA, but I left with some deep memories that I hope doesn’t blossom or fester into something else lol. The lack of cell signal does sting because I couldn’t hang out with anyone easily other than the folks I already made plans with before the con.

I wish I can see BPM15Q’s show again, that is the foremost thing this con left me with. I got to shoot the chitchat with some folks. I had fun escaping reality into fuwa-fuwa denpa dream idol land. I enjoyed some music culture. I said hi and seen some faces that I have not for ages. It’s all good.

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