Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

ACen 2011 Aftershocks: Extended Edition

LOL, late with this as always. So here it goes! After about a month of commuting about 100 miles roundtrip everyday for work, I was really looking forward to this year’s installment of Anime Central. And, to make things sweeter, my AMV, Shinji Listen!!, was in the Drama Category finals for the AMV contest!


Since my commute requires that I leave by 6 am anyway, I decided it would be a good idea to leave as usual on Friday morning in order to beat the traffic. Luckily, I’d finished my work on my daughter’s Hitsugaya cosplay and wouldn’t have to stay up late working on that. I really enjoyed making that for her because I knew that it was going to bring her a lot of joy to wear it at the con. My youngest daughter is a super high pressure over-achiever, just like mom. She needs to have as much fun as possible to blow off steam. It felt really good to be able to help her have a good time away from the pressures of school.

Leaving early paid off and I was able to get a good space in the Hyatt parking lot. And check-in was no problem. The super small room though, presented the first  challenge. But the hotel quickly sent up a roll-away bed at my request. It would be a tight fit for 6 people, but we would only be sleeping there on Saturday night. Friday night it was just me, so not really a problem.

I had plenty of time ahead of me, so I unpacked and set about ironing my costumes. Friday was to be split between my Mahoro and Tohya cosplays. Saturday would be all Stocking all day. I had decided to skip the opening ceremonies because the AMV contest was scheduled to begin at the same time in the Hilton. After rushing over there, not easy in a maid costume, I discovered that in true ACen fashion, the contest had been moved to another hotel and the early showing canceled. It looked like there was some kind of professional conference going on in the Hilton that day. The place was filled with middle-aged white guys in suits who were probably wondering what the hell this maid was wandering around for.

Anime Central has never been the best organized of the cons I attend and this year things seemed a bit more disorganized than most. Apparently a good number of panel scheduling did not meet the program printing deadline. So it was pretty dicey being sure that anything was happening where or when you thought it would. And given that the con was spread across 4 hotels and the convention center, it was quite a hike getting from one event to another.


With the AMV contest a no go, I headed to opening ceremonies. After that I headed over to the Dealers Room and Artist Alley in the convention center to take pictures, my first pass shopping, and to say hi to some friends working there. For me the main Friday events were to be the FLOW concert, Karaoke Madness, and the Hardcore Synergy dance.

Before the concert I changed into my Miho Tohya costume. Nothing like motorcycle boots and a short leather skirt for a concert ya know! FLOW did not disappoint, they were awesome! They played all of their best anime themes and some other kick-ass songs I didn’t know. This was easily the best concert at ACen since the Pillows played a few years back. Ooh I wish I could get some of their music for Rock Band!

Next up, Karaoke Madness. As expected, there were a ton of people there. But for the most part things went smoothly. Unlike many anime cons, you can sing whatever you want at Karaoke Madness rather than just anime or Japanese video game music. I have mixed feelings about this. I think it’s great that it opens it up to a lot more people. But I really missed the chance to hear people sing some of my favorite themes while waiting for my turn to sing. And through an oversight, my turn to sing was skipped over. But it was okay, I got my chance to sing and I guess maybe I added a little bit more emotion to my rendition of Lion, from Macross Frontier, than I might have otherwise. I wish I hadn’t missed the Saturday night session as I heard they had more people singing anime songs that night. In any case, I still had fun and cannot wait to do it again next year!

After singing, I rushed off to shake it at Hardcore Synergy. I must say though I was kinda disappointed. I just couldn’t get into the beats they were pumping out. I got there during the last couple of DJs and just found the music undanceable. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but modulated noise just was not working for me at all. Other people were enjoying it, so it’s just my taste I guess… Next year I going to devote all of Friday late night to karaoke.

So my first day ended. I could hardly wait for the next day to begin. Saturday the rest of my family would join me, which is always fraught with challenge. One of my goals this year was to find some way for my wife to enjoy the con. Sadly, I would mostly fail in that challenge.

Anime, Manga, Etc

ACen Aftershocks Video Attack!

I’ll get around to writing a full report on last weekend’s Anime Central soon. With over 23000 attendees, it definitely felt more crowded than last year! But first I’d like to post my AMV entry to this year’s ACen AMV Contest. This one made the finals in the Drama category. Ultimately, it did not win, but I’m still thrilled to have finally made the finals. I put off doing my taxes to the last minute just to finish this video in time! LOL

And for good measure, here is my entry from last year. It’s a parody of the K-On! opening done Princess Princess style!

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Anime Central 2011 Crunch Time!

ACen is just around the corner now! I’m really excited for this one for a couple of reasons. First, my job commute has been grinding me into dust, so I really need a break from that! And second, my anime music video entry made it into the ACen AMV Contest finals this year!

I was so excited when I learned that my video had made it into the main competition! I put a lot of crazy insane work into that one, even putting off filing my taxes to that last minute. Yeah, I actually had to drive down to the main post office in Chicago to get them in on time! But it was worth it! I started making AMVs 4 years ago and this is the first one to make the ACen finals. It’s also, I think, the best one I’ve made. So I’m very happy.

On the cosplay front, my costumes are more or less ready. But I’m helping my daughter with her Hitsugaya Toushiro cosplay, so it is now officially ACen Crunch Time! She’s styling the wig and working on props while I sew together the rest. It’s actually a pretty simple costume, so we should get good results. A few weeks ago, I made the tunic for her Latin Olympics Artemis costume, so I guess the pump is primed.

Hitsugaya Toushiro

This year, it looks like the older kids have some friends at ACen too. So my Friday night might be a little more complicated than I had originally planned. But that’s okay. I want them to take hold of their own lives. One of the great things about ACen, is there’s something there for pretty much everyone. This will be our 8th Anime Central, so they already know their way around quite well.

Well, I’d better get crackin, lots to do today!

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay Media and Entertainment

C2E2 And The Con Dreams Begin!

The second Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) begins on Friday! I’m looking forward to an even bigger con than the inaugural event last year. This year I got  a 3 day pass and am really looking forward to seeing the second of the Evangelion reboot movies, 1.11 and 2.22.

I don’t cosplay for C2E2 because I don’t really have anything that would fit the event. Super Heroes aren’t really my thing, though Star Wars and Star Trek costumes are pretty common at comic cons too. Maybe I’ll through on my Next Generation uniform just for lulz. McCormic Place Convention Center is pretty close to where I live, so no hotel costs to pay makes C2E2 pretty cheap for me. Still, I think it triggered a pre-convention dream last night. In this dream I’m at a con sharing a room with some friends, but somewhere along the way I’ve lost all of my luggage. I have absolutely no memory of how it could have happened.

I was pretty distressed about the situation in the dream. Not so much about the lost stuff as much about having no memory of it. Once I woke up and realized it was only a dream, I felt much better. It was only when I started to think about blogging about C2E2 that I realized that the dream was probably related to it. Since I don’t need a hotel for C2E2, that explains the lack of luggage and not having a memory of it. I love staying at con hotels, so breaking that pattern probably triggered the dream on some level.

As always, I’ll take as many pictures as I can of cosplayers! Last year I got a pic of some cute kids cosplaying from Avatar: The Last Airbender (the awesome Nicktoons original, not the horrid movie) and Time Out Chicago Kids used it in last month’s magazine! My first printed media photo credit! I’m sure that this year will bring out even more awesome cosplay!

Avatar Kids Take Two!

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Ohayocon 2011 Aftershocks

Another Ohayocon is in the rearview mirror as I reflect on what happened and what it all means. The drive to Columbus was uneventful. I covered the 350 miles in about 5.5 hours and had no trouble finding the hotel. The Hyatt Regency had overbooked due to construction and moved a number of us to the Hyatt on Capitol Square with Saturday night for free. The free night helped my budget, but being remote would prove to be a real pain and a dampener on my fun.

Checkin was fast and after getting to my room, I did a quick turn-around to get to the convention center and pick up my registration badge. I had to ask around about where to catch the shuttle to the center. Feeling that this was going to be trouble for some, I went to the front desk to suggest that they put up signs. I had a pleasant talk with the manager, but in the end, no signs were placed at all. I guess it just wasn’t worth their effort. Lack of adequate signage would also be a problem at the convention center for many of the panel rooms.


On the plus side, the hotel upgraded the shuttle service to 24 hours and I think the drivers did a really good job moving tons of people back and forth. Still, I like being in the middle of the action, so having to figure shuttle time into everything was a headache. At least picking up my badge in the short pre-reg line was fast as usual and I got my first cosplay pic of a Garterbelt cosplayer!

After picking up my badge I headed back to the hotel, picked up a couple of Subway sandwiches and then began the arduous task of ironing my very wrinkled Mahoro costume. I really hate hotel irons! They just never seem to be up to the job. I really need to start packing my own irons!

The first cosplay usually takes me at least 2 extra hours to get ready. This is something else I need to work on. To top it all off, I was still very tired from the drive and in a bit of a fog. But I was determined to make it to the Chris Sabat Roast, the AMV Contest, karaoke, and the Friday dance. I’d already missed opening ceremonies which is why I was wishing for a  couple of extra hours.

I finally got Mahoro to the AMV Contest a little late and dropped off my first set of flyers promoting Anime Aftershocks. Ohayocon wasn’t spread out across the convention center this year, which was great for getting to things, but left a lot fewer places to dump flyers. I love AMVs, but I gotta say that I was a bit disappointed with the contest entries this year. A number of entries had pretty bad visual quality using footage that was clearly either recorded from TV or came from fansubs. Most AMV contests generally reject videos like this, but I guess they were short on entries. The best video in my opinion was Me, Myself, and Me by HalOfBorg. I laughed my ass off! And it reminded me of why I need to get it in gear and make some new AMVs myself!

The Chris Sabat Roast was the number one must see event for Friday. So I lined up early and was able to get a good seat. If you go to Ohayocon, you’ve got to see the guests. They have always been the best part of my Ohayocon experience. Part of it is the sheer talent they have, and the rest is how much fun they have with each other. The roast did not disappoint as not only was the target, err, guest of honor, mercilessly destroyed, but each and every other guest as well! These weapons of mass destruction included anecdotes, video, and an original song which included the term “crotch yogurt”!

I ended Friday hunting around for cosplayers to photograph and some fun hours doing karaoke. If I’d been in the Hyatt Regency, I probably would have gone to the dance, but taking the bus all the way back to Capitol Square to drop off my bags was just too much for me. So I decided to save some energy for Saturday and call it a night.

I’ll finish this up in the next posting.

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Start Your Engines!

January is a month of beginnings. I’ve been poking around on the RuPaul’s Drag Race Facebook page checking out various clips of the soon to begin season 3. I’ve become a big fan of the show, along with Drag U in part because RuPaul has cast her show with real people. The drag queens and moms are not perfect people with perfect bodies. There are some plus sized queens out there, and ya know what? They’re fabulous! So kudos RuPaul!

The new season starts on Monday, January 24 and just a few days later on the 28th my anime con season kicks off with Ohayocon. And that for me means a new season of crossplay, yay! I’ve 3 cosplays I’m planning to bring, Mahoro Andou, Miho Tohya, and Stocking. Stocking from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, is my newest cosplay. I’m just a little worried about cosplaying Stocking because I expect there to be a lot of them. I’m just not used to cosplaying anything that’s trendy, but I love the character so I’ll do it!

In addition to cosplay and karaoke, I’ll be doing some flyering to promote my eBook, Anime Aftershocks. As an empiricist, I’m looking forward to seeing if I can bump up sales this way. My dad has read it, and so far I haven’t been disowned, so it must be pretty good, LOL!  Well with 3 weeks to go, I’d better get cracking!

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay Tech

Youmacon 2009 Cosplay Slideshow Is Up!

Actually, I finally got around to putting together my traditional post convention slideshow last week, but I want to give the WordPress 2.9 improved video embedding a little test. The slideshow is the first video I’ve made on my Mac using iMovie. iMovie is okay, if you haven’t used other, more conventional, video editors. But I found it a bit confusing at first and later too limiting. Still, for a simple slideshow, iMovie is fine. But I’ll be sticking to Sony Vegas 8 for my bigger projects. Yeah, it means booting Windows, but I’m not in the mood to spend a lot of money moving to a native Mac solution and having to learn a new tool. I still hope there will be a Mac OS X version of Sony Vegas some day.

Anyhow, here’s the slideshow!

Hmm, in the end I still had to put in the object code by hand to embed the video. Just putting in the link only gives a link… Well I’ll look into it some more later… Maybe it doesn’t like Chrome.

Anime, Manga, Etc Media and Entertainment

Gundam 00 and the Triumph of the Small Screen

After some initial reservations due to the awefulness of the English dub, I’m giving Gundam 00 another try from the beginning. I just watched Gundam 00 Episode 1 in Japanese on YouTube, legally!

With the explosion of anime and other programming moving to the web on sites like YouTube, Hulu, Joost, and CrunchyRoll, the triumph of the small screen over the big one in the living room seems well on its way. I still prefer to watch the living room TV, but I have more time away from that one, than with it. And if my household is typical, I have a lot more small screen around than big ones.

This freedom does come at a cost though, but not the obvious visual one. Instead, the cost is becoming your own programming director. On demand, ubiquitous entertainment means freedom from someone else’s scheduling decisions, but responsibility for doing it yourself. I think the current generation is up to the task, just we older ones have to catch on. I wonder if there is a market for tools to make this task easier?

The show, btw, was pretty good and sounds much better in the original Japanese. I like English dubs too, but what I saw for this particular show kinda put me off.  So hurray for subtitles! Just remember, on YouTube you have to click the caption icon to get the subtitles.

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Anime Central 2006 Sayonara!

It’s been a week since ACEN 2006 started and now I bid it a fond farewell. One thing I’ve noticed this year is that it seems that there is a lot more after-con interaction going on. The ACEN forums are still fairly active and there seems to be a thriving year round community there. As for me, my fun meter is still pretty full, and after going to 3 cons last year, I’ve decided to throttle back a bit this year and skip Otakon. Next year’s Anime Central will be the 10th, so I want to do something special. I’ve enjoyed taking pictures of cosplayers so much, that I think it’s time to join them! So as a parting bow, here’s a shot of one of my favorite cosplayers at ACEN 2006!

My Favorite Card Captor Sakura!
Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Another Anime Central In The Books

I’ll probably write more later, but another Anime Central is in the books. This was my third ACEN, and overall, I would say its the best one yet. The ACEN staff did a great job, and the Hyatt Regency staff were just fantastic. The only real bumps were mostly of my own making, but still it was a great con and my family had a good time. My oldest daughter even won 3rd place in the Children’s Art Contest! And the band Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re picked up a new fan (sore ga ai deshou…). They really rocked! Here’s a picture of me and the band.

Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re and a New Fan

Click here for my ACEN 2006 Cosplay pictures.