The Eva Monkey wrote:
I can't even remember if we did a group pic. I have video of the panel, but it will be shared privately.
No pics that I know of. Drew and I cleared out while you were talking to some folks, and I don't think any of us had hooked up with Freaky by that point.
My only pic at the con involved Asuka and a plague doctor. They made for a strange, yet striking couple.
I will be doing a report of my experience when it is finished tomorrow. Suffice it to say that the panels were, for the most part, surprisingly good, and that I have learned I must never, ever go to Akihibara (lest I acquire the debt load of a small nation).
Edit: Day One
And now for the after-con report! Grab a seat and get comfy, kids; this is gonna take a while. I visited 15 panels, the maid cafe, and an anime screening, and I got . . . a lot of stuff. I mean, an awful
lot of stuff. See above re: Akihabara. That said, let's get started (click through the pics to get them in their proper orientation; edits on Imgur don't seem to carry through to linked images for some reason):Thursday
The convention didn't technically start until Friday, but there's a free addition to the con that runs on Thursday called Matsuri. I have only ever attended once, and was thoroughly unimpressed (a sudden rainstorm that day didn't help). This year the weather was clear, but I still gave it a pass. In retrospect I kinda regret that; the yukata contest might have been fun to see, and Kieran Strange
was apparently performing there, which would have been a treat. But ah well; win some, lose some.Friday
Okay, day one! First thing I had to do was find transportation, since I was staying at the BWI Airport Hilton hotel. Fortunately, this was fairly trivial; the hotel has shuttle service to a light rail stop, and from there it was an easy ride to the convention center. And what did I start with? Panels, of course. In order:Awesome Animation Not From Japan:
Just caught the tail end of this, as it wasn't originally on my list of stuff to see. It was pretty good, though; I saw an Argentine CG clip featuring some funny interaction between barbarian tribes in a fantasy setting, and an absolutely insane clip from a South Korean show about a city powered by human waste. Really bizarre stuff.Beyond Miyazaki: The Directors of Studio Ghibli:
This panel was all about the directors of Studio Ghibli who are not Miyazaki. This was a great panel, as it reminded me of a lot of Ghibli works I really want to see. Namely, I've got Whisper of the Heart
, The Tale of Princess Kaguya
, and Ocean Waves
on my list of things to see.2015: The Year of Evangelion:
Another solid panel, mostly due to the presence of Carl Horn. This guy's been in Eva since before it even existed, following its development with the Japanese press as Gainax brought it together. Guy has some fantastic insights into the history of this show, and made an awesome contribution to the panel. Kudos to Aaron for bringing him in and making him feel at home.
At this point I headed to the dealer's room, since my next panel wasn't until 7 pm. I was surprised and delighted to find that there was both more variety and a greater volume of Eva merchandise than in previous years. Initial hits to the wallet were as follows:
The Asuka one is new, AFAICT. I knew, both from the picture and the material, that it was probably a woman's shirt, but hey, Asuka. I can't say no. I grabbed a 2x, but when I tried it on at the hotel discovered that, yep, woman's shirt. I was surprised, actually; seems women's sizes run around two sizes smaller than men's. I did not realize there was that big a disparity between the sexes.
Other swag first time through:
The cap was around last year, but I figured "fuck it, why not?" I'll never wear it, but it's nice to have. The wallet is kind of neat; leather, and perfectly functional. I probably won't use it much since I can't put my badge and creds in it (need a specialty wallet for that), but there are times when I don't want to advertise being a cop, so this might come in handy. I'm going on a trip to Russia next week, for example, so I might bust it out there. AFAICT the keychain is a new addition; I don't remember seeing it last year. It's just the neo-Nerv logo, but it's kind of classy. No way it's gonna replace my Unit 02 keychain, though. This leads me to wonder why I got it, given that I haven't bothered with the Unit 01, Unit 00, or classic Nerv keychains, but what can I say? It was an impulsive weekend.
After my first round through the dealer's room I swung by the Maid Cafe, just to see if it might be less crowded than last year. Noooooope. Crazy lines, insane waits. Fuck that. I sat down in an area with seats in the vicinity, contemplating my plan for the afternoon, when someone came up to me (well, not me specifically, just my general area) and said "anyone want Maid Cafe tickets?" She had two of them, and evidently didn't care to wait any longer. Can't say I blame her. I and another girl happily relieved her of her tickets and got in line, and ten minutes later we were in.
Gotta say, wasn't really impressed. Given the insane wait times I figured it would be an actual maid cafe -- you know, where you get seated and served like a normal restaurant, with a pretty girl in a maid outfit as your waitress. But instead I got a bunch of less-than-appealing men and women in maid and valet outfits doing a prerehearsed routine, with only a cup of tea included with the price of admission (got a brownie later, for a "donation" of $5. It wasn't very good; should have gone for the blondie instead). It was shaping up to be disappointing, particularly since the server heading for my table was a gay black dude (his role, not him personally; don't know anything about him personally). But, what's this? My table got two servers, and the second was an insanely cute girl named Kyo! I am not exaggerating when I say this girl reminded me of Aya Hirano, and she was easily the best part of the Maid Cafe. She had an adorable nyan-nyan routine, and to top it off she wore a padlock necklace.
Cute Japanese girl . . .
Nyan-nyan routine . . .
Padlock necklace . . . Performing in a maid cafe
. . .
It was all I could do not to drool. I mean, sorry, I'm as progressive as they come, but damn
, man. And the best part of it? When I asked her what the padlock meant she came clean and said it wasn't part of the act, it was just her personal thing. I say again, damn.
I don't know who this woman is seeing in her personal life, but whoever he or she is they're a very lucky person.
Anyway, after some lame activities we got a picture signed by everyone in the cafe that day:
Funny story: the guy playing Bezel, a supposed demon stuck in the human world, was kinda lame. He signed everyone's picture with a different phrase, and mine was "All hail Bezel!" When he finished I said, "It's good to have dreams!" and he scowled at me. I don't know if that was IC or because he was called out on his lameness, but it was funny either way.
So yeah, after that I grabbed some convention chow (pulled pork sandwich IIRC) and killed some time until my next panel. Said panel was:The 3/11 Earthquake and Manga:
I have mixed feelings about this panel. On the one hand the presenter, one Yukari Fujimoto, was a featured guest of the con and obviously knew her stuff. On the other, her command of English was . . . not great. I get that you have to speak the language to gain practice with and mastery of it, but doing that during a panel at a con is not a hot idea IMO. The fact she had an aide who was clearly fluent in both Japanese and English didn't help. So, instead of an informative panel consisting of a scholar and her translator we got a tiresome panel consisting of a scholar trying to muddle her way through in a language in which she was clearly not entirely fluent. An accent is one thing, but when you're tripping up words and stuttering every other sentence that's a sign you need more practice.
Mind you, the content was good -- she was clearly knowledgeable, and the sources she brought to the table were solid. But the presentation left a hell of a lot to be desired. I hope she's mindful of this fact, and continues to practice in her day to day life (at the University of New York, IIRC) so that her panels continue to improve and eventually do her worthy ideas justice.Feminism and Lesbian Representation in Yurikuma Arashi:
Holy fuck, was this a good panel! Not for the content per se, which I'd already hit on thanks to a few handy internet links (thanks, C.A.P.!), but rather because the presenters knew their shit and knew how to host a fucking panel. They put forth a good explanation of class S relationships in Japan and what they mean and how they're relevant to Yuri anime in general and Ikuhara's work in particular, and laid out the nitty gritty of what Yuri Kuma Arashi
is and why it's significant in Japan
. I really liked the fact that they talked about same sex relationships in the context of Japan vs. the U.S.; that was enormously helpful in providing some context to Ikuhara's most recent work that would be lost when viewing it through a Western lens. Afterwards I asked one of the presenters what she thought about the whole "eating humans" thing, since it was something that confused me. I mean, yeah, in the Severance Court scenes it's obviously talking about embracing sexuality and whatnot, but OTOH we have several scenes in the top half of the show that involve bears killing and eating humans.
We agreed that the idea was a metaphor, except when it isn't. When it's in the Court of Severance it's about embracing sexuality; when it's about eating excluded people it's about that and eating people; when it's about eating non-excluded people it's just about eating people. So, eating people is eating people, unless it's dining at the Y, in which case it's a metaphor.
Yeah, I like this series a lot, but that eating people metaphor needs work.Macross: The Walking Shadow:
This is another panel that was good, but not great. The presenter focused mainly on the role of music in the Macross franchise, and made a good case for why it wasn't as insane as it seems to be at first glance. She also got me to consider a Macross 7 OVA, wherein the cast of Frontier marathons Macross 7 videos over the course of a weekend. I'm not sold on her notion that Macross is the best anime ever (Eva naturally came to mind there), but she made a good point re: the fact that the original series bothered with a 9 episode addendum to the usual end-of-civilization climax we see in lots of different shows. The fact that the show went with that addendum is both novel and noteworthy, and has yet to be equaled, but I don't think it elevates the show as much as she imagines. But even so it's a solid point, and it's as good a reason as any for Macross' well-deserved legacy of greatness.
After that, longass trip home.
Next Edit: Day two!Saturday
Day two! This is the day of panels, and meetups, and insane dealer's room swag, so pay attention!
To begin with, getting to the con was much easier this day. The hotel shuttle took me to the light rail transit point before hitting the airport, which was nice. As such I arrived at the convention with plenty of time to spare, and went to my first panel:From Magical Girl to Mother Dragon: Women in Anime
: Honestly, this wasn't a great panel. It focused on female stereotypes in anime and offered absolutly nothing new to speak of; it was, in other words, a waste of time.Awesome Women in Anime:
Holy shit, was this ever disappointing. I mean, the guy started out with Asuka's fight in EoE, so how could he go wrong? But he did, big time. In a word, he was boring
. With every video clip he would tell us a particular female was awesome, but there was no analysis as to why
. It was just "I think this character is cool, because reasons!" That's not good enough, man. If you're gonna waste my time with a panel at least give me a reason for showing up. Said reason was not present.
I knew I'd be meeting up with Freaky at 2 pm, but after this panel i had some time to kill. So it was time for another march through the dealer's room! This one hit my wallet hard:
Okay, this was admittedly pretty excessive. I don't even like Rei all that much, and yet . . . yeah. Impulse weekend, like I said. But it didn't end there:
Remember what I said about Akihabara? Yeah. This was all from one vender (actually, the hoodie and Rei scroll were from different vendors). If I actually visited the place I'd be doomed.
In my defense, the hoodie served a practical purpose, as many of the panel rooms were fucking cold! I actually wore it a couple of times, as I was too cold for comfort otherwise.
Anyway, after this I met up with Freaky for lunch at Chipotle. The line was long, but not too bad; it was only double the length of the usual Chipotle line, and thus quite manageable. We managed to find seats and talked about anime and movies and all sorts of shit; most enjoyable. Freaky's a pretty chill dude.
Afterwards we hit the dealer's room, and my wallet took another hit:
What am I gonna do with blankets? I have no idea. These are the only purchases I regret, really, since I can't even begin to justify them. I mean, at least the clearfiles are decorative, but these? There's nothing there, really. Total and complete waste of space. But that wasn't enough, oh no! Freaky dragged me to Kinokuniya, and it was all over from there. He grabbed the Groundwork books for Q, and I grabbed Kaworu 2015
. Why? Because I'm a completist. I don't even like Kaworu, but it's a new Eva book so I have to buy it. Freaky laughed his ass off, and I can't blame him.
But that wasn't enough, of course. Freaky learned I hadn't seen Nadia just yet, and resolved to address this deficiency. Through Blu-Ray, of course:
Freaky and I split up after this, as I had a panel to attend and he had other things to do. What panel, you ask? Well, this one!Gender and Manga Representations of Sexuality: Focusing on Female Readers in Japan:
I was a bit skeptical of this panel, since the presenter was the same woman who had issues in the panel the day before. But to my surprise this one was much better; she relied heavily on her translator for Q & A, and the panel itself was pretty solid. I got more out of this than I expected, and that was most welcome.Thy Name is Woman: Exploring the Horrors of Female Ghosts in Japan:
This panel had a simple premise: exploring the question of why the fuck
ghosts always seem to be female in Japanese stories. And, to my everlasting satisfaction, it explained this in detail. Given the particulars of Japanese society it's pretty obvious in retrospect, and I'm glad this panel highlighted that fact. The presenter, one Jennifer Yoo, really knew her stuff, and she put on a great panel despite the fact that people around me were being disruptive as shit. Kudos to her for sticking to her program and educating in the face of really annoying disruptions. Yokai Girls Gone Wild:
This was the first of my panels presented by Charles Dunbar, and as expected it was most rewarding. It was anything and everything you would ever want to know about female demons in Japanese mythology, and a fair bit of commentary on what they say about Japanese views of femininity and female life. Solid and engaging panel, as expected.Kill la Kill and Feminism:
Despite my SJW leanings I found this panel to be somewhat subpar. Yeah, it covered the problematic aspects of KLK as well as its obviously feminist leanings, but it didn't really bring anything interesting to the table. Additionally, the presenters were a bit heavy handed with their presentation. The dykes who talked about Yurikuma Arashi
the previous night were a lot more on point, more subtle, and more competent overall, and they made this pair of ladies look like rank amateurs by comparison. I mean, nothing of what was presented was wrong
, per se, it was just . . . gah. It's the difference between a blunt instrument and a finely honed scalpel. The girls from the previous night cut to the quick and did so in an engaging and compelling way, while these ladies just beat us over the head with a sledgehammer. I was not overly impressed, despite the fact that I agreed with their basic premises.
Well, except one -- they were convinced that Ryuko/Mako was a thing, which I found absolutely insane. They seemed to have missed all of the Mako/Gamagori shipping both in the show and by the cast and crew, and seemed to be totally ignorant of how class S relationships work in Japan (they also seemed to miss the fact that both Satsuki and the Elite Four accompanied Ryuko and Mako on their "date"). This was kind of irksome, and told me they were seeing what they wanted to see rather than what was actually presented in the show.
So ended Saturday. After that it was a long ride back to the hotel, and a night of little sleep.Sunday
Sundays are usually dead ends for me at conventions, but this time it was pretty good. We start with panels!The Ikuhara Trio: Analyzing Themes in Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum, and Yurikuma Arashi:
I had high hopes for this one, but sadly they weren't realized. What we got wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, either. It was just run of the mill. Mind you, it was competently presented, but I hoped for more analysis
vs. just pointing out the obvious. Yes, they noted that some themes were found in multiple shows, but so what? Tell me what that means in the context of Japan, or anime, or something
. Just noting that it's there doesn't tell me anything, because I already knew that.
Tried to hit the dealer's room after this one, but no dice: huge-ass line, told to go away and come back later. Whatevs, I wandered around for a bit and then made my way to the next panel:Kamikakushi: Taken by the Gods:
Another one by Charles Dunbar, and excellent as expected. Lots of good examples of people being "spirited away", as it were. There was just one thing that irked me: he used RahXephon as an example, and said "This is what Evangelion should have been."
My eyebrow twitched at that point. I have defended Rah here on multiple occasions, and I will continue to do so until the day I die. But what Eva should
have been? Bullshit, man. Knowing that Charles had done a Kill la Kill panel the previous night my immediate reaction was "Eva is Eva! Rah is Rah! Let Eva keep being Eva!" Bit of a paraphrase there, but hopefully the point comes across -- Eva and Rah are trying to do very different things, and while comparing the two can be useful claiming one is superior to the other utterly misses the point of the exercise (and I know damn well that both Anno and Izubuchi would agree). Izubuchi was never trying to one-up Eva; rather, he was using Eva as a platform to tell his own, unique story, one cribbed largely from Brave Raideen. I don't like it when Rah is panned for being a cheap Eva clone, but I don't like it when it's held up as "what Eva should have been", either. Eva is Eva. Rah is Rah. Deal with it and move on.
Finally got to the dealer's room after this and . . . shit. I had money in my wallet, and there was that damn Akihabara stall. Five minutes later and I wound up with this:
In my defense this is a rather small pillowcase, suitable for decorative throw pillows and not much more. Also, it's a good image of Rei. The vender tried to sell me fitted sheets of both girls, but I wouldn't hear of it; that's too goddamn creepy for me. So I bailed, and grabbed lunch: this amounted to a tasty hot dog wrapped in a surprisingly soft bakery roll. That was a pleasant surprise, even if it did come with the convention center's stock shitty homemade chips. Ate happily, watched cosplayers, and damned if I couldn't resist going back. There was this Asuka fig, see. She was non-sexualized, and utterly adorable. Oh, and did I mention she was a music box? No? Well, she was:
Anyway, next panel:Godzilla!!!Monster Mania in Japan:
This was surprisingly good. I didn't know what to expect here, but what I got was a solid history of Kaiju movies coupled with their interaction with American studios, which was quite educational. The presenters did a good job: I mean, they admitted to being drunken amateurs, but they still put forth some pro-quality presentation work. I was impressed.
After this I had nothing to do with my afternoon, so on a lark I decided to watch the first four episodes of Michiko and Hatchin
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
You can find my review here
. Truly an amazing show, everyone should watch it.
Thus endeth my after-con report. It was one of my better cons; lots of great purchases, and some fantastic panels. I don't feel like any of it was a great waste of time, which is a rarity for me. Even the mediocre stuff was good enough to be worth my time, so I'm grateful to everyone involved. Fantastic con, would attend again!