Arriving on the first day, I found myself parking in the hotel parking lot proper when the dirt parking lot I had parked in last year wasn't open. Usually when you do this at every other convention I've been to, this means you show your badge when you want out, and you pay a greatly discounted rate. Not so, as I found out right before I left. You'd needed a green parking pass that you were supposed to pick up from registration which had no signs stating this, and none of the people there asking the obvious, "Do you need parking validated?" People won't even know there's a question to ask about this, except the most paranoid (which makes me wonder why I didn't think to do this, but no matter), so such things need to be noted in several places in several ways. Or you wind up hanging with the Panel Management Staff while one of them tracks down a guy from Con Ops to get said green ticket for you.
I'd like to stop here and again thank all those at Panel Ops for all their help and for putting up with me during the convention. Without them, I'd have been in some trouble several times. Thank you, all of you.
It was also about this time when I realized that though I was provided a complimentary pass, it was a convention attendee pass. There was no formal press this year. Ironically, there WAS a press room, but it was closed nearly the entire convention. Hell, it's not like I was the only member of the press there, either...we tend to stick out, after all. Tripods and camera gear all over us tend to give us away, even if we're cosplaying. I'm not entirely sure what to think about this one. On one hand, aside from the aforementioned overbearing floor manager, I wasn't really hassled about anything I did. On the other, it kinda fit in with the 'lessening' I felt from this convention.
Still, there were no shortage of good cosplays, which you can find here on TFA Cosplay. Also, for those who wish to watch, I did manage to record all the entries for the Improv Masquerade, if not all the goofing off afterwards.
I even included the part where I got kicked out, for those interested. It happens about a minute before the end, and you may have to crank your volume. Yes, I did actually ask to be relocated three times before I realized what I was dealing with, packed my gear up, and went to file a complaint at con ops.
The first big event I went to was the AMV's, and I have to admit, like previous years...they were quite good.
ACTIONKireblue - Apollo 11
BecauseImBored1 - THROWBACK
Ileia - Whoarriors
Unlucky Artist - ManiacaL (Best of Category)
KagatoAMV - Control the Redline
"LC"_Lapen - With a Capital T
DRAMARyuu-Dono - Unbound
Neko KitKat - Safe and Sound (Best of Category - AMV Profile Link Only)
[key]Scarlet - This White Night Fantasy
Hamstar138 - Convey
PieandBeer - Levity
Maboroshi Studios - The Will to Win
FUNCamichan19 - Your Favorite Swimming Show
Drabaz - The Dragon Ball Life (Coordinator's Choice)
VivifxAMV - Maybe
BasharOfTheAges - All That Matters
GuntherAMVs - The Confession (Best of Category)
PieandBeer - Lucky Seven
UPBEATDvl-Jigen - The Show
SasukeChanx - A Trillion Somethings Right
BecauseImBored1 - Fierce
MycathatesyouAMV - Crunktastic Cranksauce
Andrewbee - Coup de Grace (Best of Category)
Celia Phantomhive - Swim Team Rivalry
SENTIMENTALPieandBeer - Rhythm&Melody
LullabyLockdown - Lift your Spirits
Sprinkle Sprankles - Story of Our Lives
Sephirothskr - What Makes Us Human
Drabaz - Pain into Power (Best of Category)
Neko KitKat - Call to Arms (AMV.org profile link only)
COMEDYMoonieAMV - Just Have Fun With It
MycathatesyouAMV - Chi & The Not So Company
Maboroshi Studios - Attack on Badassdom
Tarage - Cosplay Bargain Bin (Best of Category)
Ileia - Reiterate Things (Judge's Choice)
Neko KitKat - Iwatobi Weather Service (Audience's Choice)
XhibitionFinale by Chiikaboom (The Legend of Korra)
Notfrozen by Macchinainterna (Frozen)
Kerubim Swing by "LC"_Lapen (Dofus: Aux Tresors de Kerubim)
I Have Extraballs Stashed All Over Ponyville by BasharOfTheAges (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)
The Warriors of Berk by Rider4Z (How to Train Your Dragon 1&2)
If We Only Live Once by Tigrin (Big Hero 6)
On the other hand, the comedy section was quite weak comparatively. Then again, that category is usually hit or miss; which is why it's so popular. Because when it hits, you have to drag yourself out of the room as you have literally laughed yourself into a stupor. When it misses though...eh, you get years like this. I'd call them more amusing than anything else. I did notice the return of Maboroshi Studios, which I don't recall having seen in quite some time. They did quite a number of AMV's back a decade or so ago, and it was wonderful to see them back and in top form. I will say anime like 'Wolf Children' and 'Tokyo Category 8.0' should not be allowed in Drama, however...it's way too easy to fuck with people over those. The Xhibition category, the one that used animation from non anime sources, was well received, and hopefully we'll see more of that. My personal favorite of the show was GuntherAMVs' 'The Confession', a most humorous use of a song from Disney's Hercules and Katanagatari.
I did try to get to the karaoke thing hosted by several guests of honor to record it, but I arrived too late to do more than take a few pictures. Still, it was quite fun watching various individuals and GoH's sing badly but in a very fun way at this thing. The highlight was the performance by Chii Sakurabi of a song from Anno Hanna as I recall. She may have done more, but about this time I was very much needing to call it a night, and bailed out. It was at this point I found out about the green tickets from the hotel staff, which led to me heading back to the only open convention office, Panel Ops, where those wonderful people helped me out there.
The next day I'd found out that Kyle Hebert had been murdered (apparently the fool bleeds pink) and that Monokuma from Dangan Ronpa fame was going to kill us all if we didn't figure out who done it (or guessed wrong when we tried). A bit of a scavenger hunt for the convention attendees, it was a fun distraction for those who participated, however, from the reports I received after the trial were a bit...sketchy. I wasn't able to attend myself, but apparently the thing was handled not with audience participation as promised but more like a radio drama with the trappings of audience participation, that being they were ignored when they went off script...the audience went off script a lot. In theory this was a good idea, but in practice, the audience puts in way too many variables that cannot be used in this sort of event. The most you could do is shoot everyone with confetti or something when they inevitably picked the wrong person. So basically...this one kinda backfired on the convention.
After I had been kicked out of the Masquerade, I had planned on just packing up and bailing on the convention. Originally I had planned on recording the FAKKU panels, but with the convention, or at least one of their staff, gone full hostile against what I was doing, I regretfully informed the founder and owner of FAKKU, Jacob, of what had occurred and that I was about to bail. The man then told me to come anyway, he'd make sure I'd be able to record his panels. So he did, and so I did. The thing about the FAKKU panels is that nothing at all is sacred. NOTHING. That being said, no one under 18 should be watching the movies I'm about to post here.
Now, this wasn't the only panel he did that night. The next one was Hentai Worth Watching. A few titles mentioned I'd seen before, but quite a number I hadn't which gives me quite a bit to check out at my leisure.
A fun time for all of us over 18, and Jacob is a class act all around. I look forward to his further endeavors and thank him for his help during the convention.
The Dealer's Hall reminds me of Sac Anime's dealer's hall a few years ago along with their Artist's Alley. It's getting bigger and bigger as the years go by, and I can only call that a good thing. I wound up grabbing a copy of Ben-to and Unbreakable Machine Doll from the Funimation/F.Y.E booth, and a rather elaborate figurine of Kuro Yuki-hime from Accel World at another booth. Honestly, that's more money than I'd planned on spending, but damn is Kuro Yuki-hime pretty.
I did not hit up the Nerf Arena outside of taking a few pics, but from the reports I gathered later, they had a very busy time of it this convention. And why wouldn't they? Shooting the shit out of everyone with Nerf darts sounds like a blast.
I think, though, that my problem was that it felt more like I was hanging out rather than at a convention. I mean, yeah, sure I did what I usually do, but it felt strangely laid back. Usually laid back is a good thing, but it felt at times a little too laid back, a bit too little structure. Or maybe it's just me getting older, I don't know. It was very chill for the most part, even with that eviction I got at the Masquerade. Hell, normally I'd be screaming bloody murder about something like that, but to be honest, I couldn't bring myself to get excited about it at all. Again, I'm wondering if that's just me getting older. In any event, the only other critiques that this convention gets is that it REALLY needs to find a better location...you know, with food around the area? There's nothing in that place outside of a hotel restaurant, which is dreadfully expensive. I wound up getting some subway and tossing it into my lunch box with a gel ice pack. Definitely needs to work on communications and training, both with each other and the attendees, but that's a common one from every con I've been to. And maybe pick a day that doesn't take place in conjunction with Wondercon. Other than that, it was a fine diversion, especially for those of us not up to hitting up Wondercon for whatever reason. I'll likely be hitting it next year unless I'm in Afghanistan, because even if I were so inclined to hit Wondercon, they just moved the LA Convention Center, and I only have patience enough for that venue once a year at AX.