Friday (One) | Friday (Two) | Saturday | Cosplay | The Rest

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My typical approach to anime conventions is as follows: seek out, target and identify fun... then pursue and engage. It's a very novel approach, and tends to cover all the bases like friends, events, room parties, etc. I'm not dropping this approach cold turkey. That would involve sitting in one place (quite possibly a locked hotel room) and doing next to nothing all weekend. That would suck.

But this year for No Brand Con, we're gonna try something a little different. Rather than constantly moving around to intercept fun (thankfully not an elusive creature at No Brand, but fast enough to wear out your legs after a couple days), I decided to attempt to generate some myself.

Friends? Let's get as many here as possible, including... dare I say it... some of the Whitewater buddies as described in my ACen and Otakon recaps?

Events? Let's put something in the program book that other congoers will circle when they peruse the schedule Friday afternoon.

Room Parties? Let's not only hold one, but let's add our unique flavor to it.

In other words... let's put some effort into this people!

Friday- Part One
The Room Party: A Wisconsin Tradition

I'm not sure where the No Brand Devil Bats came from. Although I had spreading the gospel of Eyeshield 21 for more than a year, with a good deal of success, when one of the converts, Richard, began collecting forum members for a mock football team called the No Brand Devil Bats, I wasn't sure what to make of it. Despite not knowing exactly what the purpose was or what exactly we'd be doing, I was appointed captain and quarterback... putting control of the "team" in my hands. I still didn't know what to make of it, but I laughed evilly anyway. Ke ke ke ke ke ke...

Anyway, a room party was the obvious choice, and gradually we added a few little Eyeshield-themed activities. A pick-up football game during the convention, an Eyeshield screening, the chance to play with some of the Eyeshield 21 teams I had created on Madden. Fun and all, but it didn't really appeal to anybody who wasn't interested in football... which would be about 90% of the attendees. If we were going to do a room party, we needed something that everybody could get into. That means two things that everybody can enjoy:

Anime Music Videos and Free Food.

We'll get to the AMVs in a moment (okay... page three), but the Free Food was my moment of Hiruma-esque brilliance. For you see, while many larger conventions get started fairly early in the afternoon, No Brand is very family-friendly and had next to nothing scheduled until 5:00 Friday. Great for everybody coming in after school, but people do show up between noon and five and have little to do besides get first dibs on the Vendor Room, get some gaming in before it gets really packed or check out hot series like School Rumble and Death Note in the anime rooms...

Okay, so it's not that bad. But it's still a mere appetizer to all the Funn residing within. So, what is a football-themed room to do when looking for a football-themed activity that appeals to more than just football-themed fans and delivers on one of the two key room party draws?

Welcome to Wisconsin, where tailgate parties even precede our anime conventions.

So, armed with a 12:00 check-in with a microwave and fridge, the No Brand Devil Bats decided to hold its centerpiece room party on Friday afternoon.

With that, my adventure began, the bat flying proudly in the window on the way over. The way of the Devil Bat is sacrificing rear-view visibility in the name of team pride. It's also about making a last-second Walmart run to pick up some microwaveable brats (Johnsonville, of course). Richard provided the chips and soda.

We checked in with our food and decorations at about noon, taped the towel to the wall, put some posters up and declared the room party officially open.

Our first visitors, very interested in free food but not at all interested in Eyeshield 21. In fact, our taste in anime was so diversely different that what I liked, they hated and vice versa. Then someone mentioned Cowboy Bebop and peace was restored throughout the galaxy. Either way- the plan was working.

Speaking of Bebop, one of our visitors showed some wonderful artwork done by a friend of his. The plan was working incredibly well.

At some point, Richard and I remembered that we also had to haul in our clothes and convention survival kits, and if we had time actually register at the convention itself. A mere formality. We just take shifts, do a quick round from the car to the registration desk to the...

No! No! NO! Is that...

Just kidding, this was taken at noon when the desk first opened. I got in right away.

People came, people ate actual food, people had a good time. So far, so good. Good enough to mention Name That Anime Opening, which will get more time a little bit later (okay... the very end). Tyler and Val and I did get our game show out of Room 202 (which was important, since Room 202 had quietly imploded with its inhabitants relocating and the mystique of the name itself being resigned to myth and lore... seriously, I'm using it in MST) and into the main room. To really show some pizzazz I had acquired a flip scoreboard to track points. As Anime Trivia was also back this year, I offered its organizer use of the scoreboard... in exchange for a couple points when I actually played it Saturday.

Sean liked what he saw as he did some easy math. I'd tell you what he was counting, but that's between me and everybody at the Pizza Hut Sunday afternoon. I'll get into that... actually, no, I am not getting into that.

How 'bout some random pictures of friends, forum members and anyone else that got in the way of the camera?

The... wait, sorry... Teh Energizer Kitten, stopping by the Devil Bat Clubhouse to... well, no, I don't think she ate anything. Moving on...

Vinnk signing Af Mas's No Brand Note (and making a stupid pose). Signing it guarantees good luck and fun throughout the convention, and could grant wishes and hugs when signed right. Don't worry, there were plenty of Death Note cosplayers around to spread the killing and misery.


  Jasmine as alcoholic Fai. No joke necessary.

Resident Digimon fanatic Amanda keeping me honest. She arranged another get-together/picture Sunday afternoon.

As the Tailgate Party wound down, Richard and I plugged in the Madden to reenact the classic rivalry from Eyeshield 21- the Devil Bats vs. the White Knights. It began as a simple exhibition, showing off the created characters and uniforms and stuff. Sena made the initial first impression with a couple touchdowns, Shin spear-tackled Sena to force a fumble, Takami's Everest Passes to Sakuraba comprised the bulk of Ojo's offense, while Hiruma made some fancy passes to Taki, Yukimitsu and even Satake. The damn monkey was covered too well and Otawara kept flushing Hiruma out of the pocket. However, it quickly de-generated into an honest slugfest, as Musashi kicked a 49-yard field goal as time expired to win it for the Devil Bats 45-42.

Now you don't have to read the manga.

Two more Devil Bats, Chris and Paul, were staying with us and a couple days before the con they had asked if one of their friends, an exchange student from Poland, could stay with us. Since it split the room cost from 1/4 to 1/5, we said sure...

...and what better way to welcome Krzysztof to our country than with some Dance Dance Revolution?

By this time, we had effectively taken up the afternoon. Now it was time to get some stuff in the Vendor's Room and get good seats for Opening Ceremonies.

Besides a J-Rock sampler from Vinnk, I didn't buy anything for me on Friday. I was able to secure some prizes for Name That Anime Opening- gift certificates from the Fast Food Anime booth. Great for me... not great for story purposes.

So we set off to find a storyline, and just as with every year a storyline is to be found at the Opening Ceremonies.

We sat down in the second row as musical guest Lisa Furukawa taught Japanese through children's songs.

In the front row, singing along and doing the cat ear choreography, is you-know-who.

I didn't even try dancing around Tiffany Grant Run-In #6, partially because I knew the effort would be futile and partially because we're getting a pretty good streak going here and it would be a shame to defy nature and break it up. Anyway, between shows I was making some stupid comment about the lavish use of toilet paper to designate reserved seating for guests. She turned around to respond, did a double take and said "Jeez, I turn around and there's all sorts of familiar faces. How's it going?"

To quote our foes on the south side of Chicago- you can put it on the board.

So we have our room party hijinks and our Tiffany Grant run-in out of the way, and we're not even at Opening Ceremonies. Let's Go!