Anime Central 2006

Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Nobody understands my little corner of the internet. Between our reality ports, the AGW (which may or may not still be alive), and our stubborn insistence that Digimon is teh sex, I get more than a few strange looks when I tell people about my fanfic and my fanfic circle. For this reason, I typically don't tell them about my fanfic and my fanfic circle.

To hell with them. We're having an ACen meetup.

Perhaps we had slightly more grandiose plans. Perhaps all of us could get together- Star, Zach, John, the Joe that I met at Otakon, the other Joe, Pete, the Jon that I was supposed to meet at Otakon, the other Jon we haven't heard from in years, that guy from Finland that none of us know that well, and of course Chromus from Britain. Now I've already met the first Joe and do recall meeting Pete (even if Pete doesn't recall meeting me). But to add a few more to the "I know someone from the internet!" list would be sweet.

Star was in. John's always in, Zach joined in eventually. That's four people- that's awesome! Unfortunately, Joe didn't have money, other Joe didn't have transportation, Pete didn't want to brave a trip to Chicago from so far away (Milwaukee), the two Jons weren't in the loop until it was too late, the guy from Finland was in Finland, and Chromus couldn't string the trip together and had to back out.

All but four people in my fanfic circle suck. Double that for Chromus- I once threw tons of money towards a single weekend in Britain, so I have no sympathy.

Fortunately, a meet-up of four people is still awesome.

Anime Central: The Side Stories
When My Circles of Friends Go Venn Diagram on Me

This year, since I was in the area and had no Green Bay group to mooch off of (they abstained from ACen due to Finals and an extended No Brand Hangover), it was back to the Whitewater group. Nick and Scott you remember. Heather I mentioned/photographed in passing (and will do the same again). There were three new additions- Slim (the muscle), Janey (the new girl), and Nick #2 (the creepy guy).

About to enter LineCon '06
Scott (and Mr. Sparkle making a repeat performance) introduce us to Heather and Slim. Slim is doing his Nick #2 impersonation by making Heather uncomfortable.

No fancy hairdo, but we'll work on that.

Yep, that's a squirrel in her hand and yep, Janey's cosplaying as Mama-san from Kodocha. That alone makes her Rookie of the Year.

Remember Nick and Scott? Remember how planning was noticeably lacking in Otakon '04? This year they didn't book a hotel room.

The good news was that GundamCowboy from No Brand was in desperate need of roommates and I quickly united the two. The bad news was that his name was also Nick, and there was no way we were having three Nicks in the group. So we told Scott to take Nick #2 out to a far enclave at the hotel and put him down once we arrived. Scott, being the nice guy that he is, instead found another room where he and Nick #2 could crash. That worked just as well.

I swept into Whitewater a few weeks earlier with a plan, and thanks to my new car Aurus, I could handle the driving myself. So Thursday night Scott and I arranged to get everybody together bright and early at 6:00 and take off.

After converting to Whitewater Standard Time, we left promptly at 7:00. To be fair, this wasn't completely Nick's fault- at about midnight Thursday his fansub panel cohort sprung him with the news of a computer crash destroying all examples for the panel, leaving Nick to scramble to transfer stuff onto his laptop Friday morning.

Eh, I'll blame him anyway. It's more consistent.

Anyway, after Nick got a bunch of old .hack//sign, Naruto, and Chobits fansubs on his computer, we were off. As usual, we dodged the tollway by taking highway 12 straight down (and I mean straight down; the directions are thus: take 12 east from Whitewater to Chicago, turn right on River Road, stop when you see ACen). Not as usual, we actually parked at the hotel lot. I know it's tradition to use the CTA lot, but enough research convinced me that a ten-spot would keep Aurus safe for the weekend as long as I didn't move the damn thing.

First objective was to survive Line Con. Thankfully, everybody but Janey pre-registered, and I felt no moral obligation to wait for her. I had to find Star!

It's Star! (applause)

We weren't even in line yet and there she was in the hallway with Stewie. We only had a vague idea what the other looked liked and we recognized each other immediately.

As with any previous convention where my real world peeps and my wired world peeps mingled, I cringed and hoped the two wouldn't scare each other too much.

They did (Nick later referred to her as my "crazy Canada friend"). But it was all in good fun. Especially since Star knew Nick and Scott from the recaps. Considering how I'm staking my entire reputation at the UW-Whitewater anime club on the fact that Nick knows nothing about my fanfic or these recaps, it was kind of scary. Thankfully there was no pithy comment on Star's part about either my fanfic or Nick's time management skills, so I survived.

Got Soap? Get Mr. Sparkle

There, we're all friends now. Can we go?

Wait... is that Artful? Yes it is and yes they are cosplaying as Peter and Lois Griffin.

The Family That Cosplays Together...
Here's a shot without the Brave Corporate Logo beaming cleanliness to distract us.

Okay, that's three people! First event- Anime Music Video contest.

But first... as is always appropriate whenever a bunch of rejects take over a hotel: a Side Story.

Once upon a time I was lurking on the ACen forums and heard news of an EarthBound meet-up. According to the organizer, three of the four main characters were accounted for, and certainly somebody was badass enough to play foreign samurai Poo. Point is, it was 12:00 and I wasn't about to miss it.

Say Fuzzy Pickles!

Unfortunately, it seems that only Ness and Paula showed up. This left me in a conundrum. Why?

Jeff shoots... Wow! 400 damage to the Coil Snake

That's why. My resemblance to EarthBound character Jeff Andonuts is uncanny and kind of scary. A blazer, bow tie, and some sort of weapon would do the trick.

I know I've said I don't cosplay, but next year it may be my civic duty if Ness and Paula need someone on their team.

Before embarking into unfamiliar territory, let's do the AMV contest. We've been there before.

There was a line to get in, but this was okay for two reasons. One was that my quest to avoid lines completely is over and I can enjoy all the lines I want to this year. Two is that five minutes into the line, Lynn (Whitewater club member and con assistant extraordinaire- she's like Maki from Comic Party) summoned all the editors into the room early. Yay! Preferred seating for those of us actually in the contest! This was really exciting for me, since this was the first time I got the preferred editors seating... and actually deserved it (somehow Nick snuck us into the choice seats during Otakon '03). It also meant I got to chat with some fellow editors, including one guy who went absolutely catatonic when his video was entry numero uno.

The bad news was that I had to leave my posse behind, but they still cheered unnecessarily loudly when "Forget Tomorrow" played at #18 or so. Thanks, guys.

My personal faves were a Kaleido Star video to the 2nd ending to FMA (despite the full knowledge that Chromus would never let me live it down if I lost to a Kaleido Star video), a mock opening of X using the opening to Angelic Layer (complete with unnecessary fansub tags by "WTFansubs"), a wonderfully sweet upbeat video featuring Kiki's Delivery Service to the Carpenters' "Top of the World," a whole mess of fanservice to the theme to the dating sim Princess Bride, performed by KOTOKO (no, I haven't played it; I saw a flash movie using it and the song got stuck in my head), and an action vid animating the Berserk manga that you have to see to believe. Finally, there was "Wedding Rings," Suberunker's semi-sequel to "The Wizard of Ozaka." Let's just say it was smoother, funnier, and made old-school gamers like me feel right at home with the WoW crowd. There was also a disturbingly wonderful piece called "Loli-Pop" with a 4chan intro and a bunch of anime characters ogling Stephanie from Lazy Town. Considering how many of my friends like Lazy Town, this video explained a lot.

During the AMV Contest, I got a call from Zach Kaiser. Member number four was here and immediately after the AMV contest we met and the four of us were off to the dealer's room. Not to spend money, you see. We had three missions- one was to find the Digimon fanatic from the Eagle Anime booth and fulfill my promise of introducing her to Star. Two was trading a burned copy of my DDRMAX soundtrack to one of the vendors for Pocky. The third was finding Gundam and checking into a hotel room before my Whitewater friends lynched me.

One was easy enough, and we got through it without any yaoi AMVs this time. Two was easy as well, and although vendors aren't allowed to sell food because of convention center rules, apparently bartering for it is perfectly fine (although we both treated it like a drug deal). So I stuffed my contraband Pocky into my bag and asked the anonymous vendor where Nick was.

"Hey John, isn't Nick helping you out today?" I asked.
"No, he said he was too busy," said the anonymous vendor.

This was a problem, since I was counting on Nick being trapped at the booth and easily accessible. This was not the case. With Whitewater Nick getting the rope ready, I gave No Brand Nick a call, signed off on my online buddies, and started my quest for the hotel room.

I went all the way back to the Hyatt when I got a call from Nick. He was in the Dealer's Room. So I went all the way back to the convention center.

For those of you who forgot how ACen is laid out, let me remind you of this diagram back from '03-

This was taken from about the eighth floor, and doesn't point out that the walkway over the street is actually far to the left of the picture.

It's a bit of a jog, especially with smelly confolk making the journey with you.

So I make the trip *twice* and find Nick hanging with Roku and Drazz from Otaku no Yen.

Hi Roku and Drazz from Otaku no Yen. I'll get back to you two tomorrow. Right now- the room!

Nick got a very good deal on it after he said it would only be him and myself in there.

Between him, my group, and three other girls that Nick invited to crash Friday, we maxed out at nine.

See Tony, that's how you save money on lodging at anime conventions.

After inspecting the room to my satisfaction, I found Whitewater Nick (why do all of my friends have to be named either Nick, John, or Joe?) and we lugged our stuff from Aurus to the room. The three other girls were there too, and 2 guys plus 3 girls equals a party.

...and I've just been informed that that statement can be taken out of context. What I meant to say was that after an hour of talking, I realized that these three girls were fellow No Branders and members of Drazz's Fangirl Army!

Fighting censorship of yaoi manga since 2005!

I felt a bit embarrassed that I didn't recognize Ashes, Doll and Dark, especially since we made a last-second effort to try to meet up on the boards (which I was certain would fail). Next time, why can't they wear badges or something so I know who they are?!

Anyway, they took off and Nick started talking. This process takes about an hour, and I don't remember exactly what he talked about. I do remember that he showed an Ai Yori Aoshi fansub from his computer at some point, so I'd rather not remember. This killed time until Nick's fansub panel, and I kindly pointed to my watch and said it was time to go.

And so we headed to the fansub panel. On the way, we passed a line.

My oh my, aren't they having fun? According to my schedule, they were in line for "Concert." This struck me as odd, considering there weren't any musical acts booked, or at least none worth giving a damn about. Whoever was booked, Nick said he had heard some of their music and suddenly was unhappy his fansub panel was right next door. He'd have to listen to them warming up and sound-checking, and that was apparently unpleasant.

I didn't care, because I didn't stay. Somehow, Scott, Janey and Slim all wandered into the panel, followed by Heather a few minutes later. She had just successfully hosted a panel on Japanese food.

That's probably more impressive than anything I did all weekend, but she's not writing this, is she?

(A word about Heather and why I keep ignoring her- it's not that I don't like her. I like her very much and consider her a good friend. But she's organized and well-adjusted and therefore has no place in these recaps.)

Point is, now these guys wanted to get into the hotel. Seems the only drawback to telling the hotel that there's only two people staying is that you only get two keycards. Me being the Keymaster that I was (there is no Adam only Zool!), I was basically obligated to return to the hotel room *again* for these guys.

I wouldn't have minded so much if it weren't for the fact that to get to our hotel, you take the skywalk and go past the Dealer's Room for another half-mile or so. The only positive is that there were fewer smelly confolk on the second leg.

By now, it was time for Anime Hell. Frankly it couldn't have come sooner.

So we get in line...

and wait...

and wait...

And finally we get in!

...and the picture I took inside didn't turn out.

Probably for the best if you know anything about Anime Hell.

Zach joined my group at some point and we all went through hell together. This was actually my first time going through Hell in its entirety and I wasn't disappointed. It was certainly hellish. They played the German Forklift Video again (capitalized out of respect), live action Gundam, Dr. Tran, Rejected (both at regular speed and at 20x- my anus is bleeding very, very rapidly!), and Heino. I keep forgetting about Heino. If you don't know anything about Heino then you are truly blessed and I won't taint your soul.

Ahem... anyway it was time for Midnight Madness, the annual fan-parody screening. A repeat performance of Fisting of the North Star scared away everybody in my group except Zach. Zach and I, however, stuck it out and were rewarded with Steam: The Movie! Finally completed and living up to its older brother This is Otakudom. It had Team W.A.T.E.R., Team H.E.A.T., Team E.V.I.L., and a character whose lines were totally provided by the DDR Announcer.

Yeah, it was that awesome.

It was also a marked change of pace from Fisting in that the crowd actually had to listen to it, and it took them awhile to adjust. Once they did, they were in for quite a show.

It was also an hour and a half long. It may have been Marty Cinemacher's crowning achievement, but that's damn long for a fan parody.

I must have it anyway.

By this point, it was 2:00 AM, so if you're expecting more, you'll have to go to Saturday!