Where else can you see a ninja fighting a fat American while blue meth cooks hock their wares in the back?
|New York Comic Con kind of snuck up on me this year. I had gone 2 years ago back when it was still split into the Comic Con and Anime Fest, just to watch The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, but I didn’t have much interest in this convention since the anime portion got eaten up by the comic portion. At least, until I learned that Yuu Asakawa would be coming. At that point, it was too late to get anything more than a Friday pass, but at least I had friends who I knew were already going, which meant that I had a hotel room to sleep in.|
I took a 4 hour bus from Boston to New York just past midnight on Friday with a pass only for that day. I had just one goal: to collect Yuu Asakawa’s autograph. At 7 o’clock that morning, I was told that the autograph ticket line was full and closed; I had failed. Not having slept at all on the bus, I didn’t have the energy to stick around for 3 hours until the con actually opened. I walked the mile from the Javits Center back to my hotel, downtrodden and planning to take a bus back home the next morning, without what I had sacrificed a night’s sleep for.
By the end of the day, my Wowaka album had been signed, and I had a pass for the entire weekend.
I guess we all have days when things just seem to go right, some more often than others. Though I, like most people, consider myself among the “others” in that previous sentence. On my way out of the con, I ran into Omonomono, a Twitter/convention friend of mine, who had a way to get me one of those precious autograph tickets. But even before that, another Twitter friend and sometimes-blogger Bitmap had straight up offered me his ticket, as he had managed to get into the line, but there was no way I could be comfortable with taking that ticket away from him. So Omonomono ended up being a savior. That afternoon, I would meet up with other Twitter friends, including C2switch, someone who curiously had an exhibitor badge despite the fact that she had tweeted that she didn’t even have a badge. I learned that she had acquired it from Akira – an actual exhibitor working for Hendane – but she absolutely have to go back to get to work on Saturday. I had a Friday pass but wanted to stick around all weekend, while she had a weekend pass but could only stay for Friday. Hmm… Following a nominal transfer of funds, the exhibitor badge was mine.
I unfortunately don’t have a whole lot to report about the con itself. Again, I had gone expecting only to stay on Friday, so I didn’t have my dSLR on me, which meant fewer and worse quality cosplay photos. The panels didn’t particularly interest me either; I went to only 4 all weekend, though each one ended up being a pleasant surprise. Best thing about the convention itself was probably getting Asakawa’s autograph. I was also introduced in the Artists’ Alley to RyuMoto, an artist from Japan who is personal friends with Akira, and I had him draw my namesake Minko Tsurugi from Hanasaka Iroha.
Click for full size.
I went to 1 panel each on Friday and Saturday and 2 on Sunday. Friday afternoon’s was Yuu Asakawa’s, a general introduction to her and Q&A. She didn’t have anything specific to promote, but, as expected, Megurine Luka was the heavy focus. I didn’t gain any great insights – unfortunately I wasn’t called on during Q&A – but a couple very cool things happened. First, I got to hear Asakawa sing, as she sang along to Luka “performing” Just Be Friends in a clip from a concert. Second, during Q&A, a girl stated that it was her birthday and, before she could go on to her question, Asakawa insisted that everyone sing happy birthday to her. So we did. I can only imagine what a wonderful birthday it must have been for her.
On Saturday, I went to the Firefly 10 Year Anniversary panel on a whim. It featured Jewel Staite (Kaylee) and Sean Maher (Simon) with Nathan Fillion (Malcolm) joining in with a “surprise” appearance in the middle. Like most nerds, I’m a big Firefly fan, so seeing these guys in person was a pleasure. Sean and Jewel couldn’t keep their hands off each other, much to fans’ delight, while Nathan was just as witty and funny as his character in Firefly. Somewhat reminiscent of the Asakawa panel, easily the best part was during Q&A when a girl, probably 10 or 11 years old, came to the mic, cosplaying as Kaylee. On Nathan’s request, she was pulled up on stage before she could ask a question, for photos and hugs with the actors.
The panels on Sunday were a little less dramatic. The 1st was one on the upcoming game DmC by Capcom, where they made a few announcements including the fact that Mundus would be returning as the villain. I’m a hardcore Devil May Cry fan who has dropped literally over 1,000 hours into DMC, DMC3, and DMC4, and I’ve been highly skeptical of this game, mainly due to Ninja Theory’s involvement in it. The only game by them I’ve played was Heavenly Sword, a game I quit less than 30 minutes in due to how bad the combat system was. However, the gameplay they showed at the panel did feel a lot like the old Devil May Cry I knew and loved, so I came out feeling more positive about the game.
The other Sunday panel was an all-purpose Hatsune Miku panel run by a representative from Crypton Future Media and professor Tara Knight of UC San Diego. I went in not knowing that professor Knight would be there; earlier this year, I had met her in Boston to be interviewed for her Mikumentary, a series of short documentaries she is making on Hatsune Miku. She showed a teaser trailer in which my voice apparently appeared, though to be honest I can’t make out which line it was. I’m quite fascinated by the business and community implications of the Vocaloid phenomenon, and I’m looking forward to seeing her completed works.
This was a pretty sparse con for cosplay photos for me, but here are some that I liked. Click any to see the full photo. Even the full photos have been scaled down a bit, so please ask if you’d like the original for any of them.
My friend receiving a hug from Pedobear. You can’t see that she’s trying to cop a feel.
Different people go to nerd conventions for different reasons, but I think one reason that’s common to everyone is to meet and hang around other like-minded people. That’s not always easy to do that in our everyday lives. Thanks to online social networks, it’s certainly become much easier, but there is a clear difference between interacting with someone online – even through voice/video chat – and meeting someone in real life. My goal might have been to collect Asakawa’s autograph, but really, New York Comic Con was just an excuse to meet up with a bunch of people I knew online. My memories of the con will be of friends whose faces I almost never see. Singing along to Bitmap doing his best Omokage Lucky Hole impression with the Natsu no Arashi opening. Watching the small C2switch shout out the manly opening to the manly Fist of the North Star, a show I still haven’t watched. Passionately beliting out Supercell’s Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari, Sayonara Memories, and Everlasting Guilty Crown with everyone. Telling nothing but lies with FC and Walfas while being interviewed by a podcaster about our favorite anime. Struggling to force my way through the dealer’s hall with Zzgzzpop just to get to Hendane’s booth to meet up with Akira one last time. Seeing the shock in Shin_superdry‘s face upon discovering that the man who had been in front of him for the past 5 minutes had actually been Bitmap the entire time. Walking 3 blocks to a Starbucks to see Walfas and FC for 10 minutes before I had to catch my bus home, and receiving an unexpected but very welcome hug from the latter.
A few weeks ago, on Joe‘s Anime Talk, I said there was something “magical” about the experience of meeting people at cons, putting faces to names, interacting with the flesh and blood behind the words. At that time, I wasn’t sure that I was using the right word. I am now.
Also, I think I saw only one My Little Pony cosplayer all weekend. That’s pretty fucking magical.
Bitmap had the most awesome anime shirt ever. I would never wear it, but I love it.