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

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Opening Ceremonies: It's that big. And apparently Tiffany's program is popular. That or she's signing someone else's without permission.1

Friday- Part Two
Decisions and Derisions

This year's theme was a matsuri festival, complete with a torii gate, decorations galore, and even that silly game where you try (and fail) to scoop up the fish with that paper net. There was also a plotline. According to No Brand lore (or at least the videos the staffers put on YouTube), as Duct Tape Boy was out of town fighting Egyptian Space Mummies in Peru, fellow No Brand Hero Greenboy autonomously decided upon this year's theme, much to the dismay of the Gardening Ninja and Cardboard Commando. It wasn't so much that they disapproved of the idea (as science proved that matsuri was fun) as much as they didn't have a say in it.

So they crashed the party.

Thankfully, Duct Tape Boy (with a little souvenir from Peru) intervened and cooler heads prevailed. Greenboy and the Gardening Ninja would settle their differences in traditional Matsuri fashion- a dance off during the cosplay's intermission. "That's dead time anyway," they said.

The rest of Opening Ceremonies was doing the actual relevant introductory stuff. Besides the aforementioned Lisa Furukawa, Tiffany Grant and Joe Grisaffi (okay, mentioned last year, but still technically aforementioned), they also had Kyle Hebert back for a second year. He voices Kiba in Naruto and is probably best known for being the "Last time on Dragonball Z..." guy. He introduced the trio of plotline videos with a rousing cry of... "Last time on Dragonball Z..."

The fifth and final guest was Spike Spencer, voice of Akito, Shinji, and... uh... I'm sure he does a few others.

As I didn't know if I'd have as many chances to chat with the Third Child as I have had with the Second, I played the grateful fanboy and thanked him for his role on Nadesico, still the greatest series ever without debate. I probably looked like an idiot otaku there... strange, because I honestly can't remember if I have ever watched Nadesico dubbed.

Naturally, after that rousing first impression, I'd end up chatting with him several times throughout the weekend.

The first instance came less than an hour later. After a brief stop at the hotel room I was heading to the Man Auction and ended up alongside him as he headed to his panel. Spike had plugged his panel, "What Happens at the Con...," at Opening Ceremonies. I asked him for more details and he explained that he'd be reading excerpts from his new audiobook of the same name, detailing convention stories and experiences from fellow guests, voice actors and random congoers. Naturally, the audience was encouraged to share some tales.

Certainly sounds like fun... but it was right up against the Man Auction.

I joined Heather and Theresa for this year's bidding. Although Heather had landed several Mans last year, her campaign this year was hampered by a lack of funds and a new policy discouraging one person from buying her own male harem. Worth noting that Neil was not on the block this year, so the auction saw a diminished use of the "More Than Neil" chant that got a bit carried away last year...

Okay- no it didn't. They still found ways to work it in there.

Hi, Neil. Have fun in therapy.

A little bit of the way in, I decided that since I had no intention of bidding on anybody and decided to check out Spike's panel. Sure enough, he had stories from in the voice actor booth and at various conventions. And sure enough, they were hilarious. But the real joy of it was hearing them come out of Spike's mouth. Although neither Akito nor Shinji don't drift too far from his real voice, he is certainly capable of mixing it up. His vivid presentation of the stories carried the show, and is the reason his book will be sold only on tape (or CD or MP3 or whatever). I highly encourage you to check it out when it becomes available.

As promised, he did open the floor to other convention stories. Still being in a No Brand frame of mind, I couldn't conjure up any of my old tales. Obviously he was going for stuff that would really get a reaction out of people, and most of my stories just aren't that awe-inspiring. Perhaps if I could have considered my entire convention oeuvre instead of just No Brand... perhaps remembering back to my trips to ACen or Otakon... if only there was someone to jog my memory.

Whazzah? Is that... Scott?? From all my classic ACen and Otakon recaps that nobody from the No Brand boards have read?!

...and is he cosplaying as Arthur Dent? Sweet!

Apparently his Mooninite cosplay was considered a security risk, so he grabbed a robe, a towel and a copy of the latest Hitchhiker's Guide and had another of his infamously easy awesome cosplays. Nicely done.

What was more impressive, of course, was that I had finally managed to lure one of my Whitewater peeps at No Brand Con. Nick was seriously tempted, but forgot when No Brand Con was actually occurring. Everyone who's read the ACen and Otakon recaps won't be surprised by that.

Back at the Devil Bat clubhouse, I explained how great Spike's panel was. Scott immediately asked if I had told him the sex offender story.

I didn't quite slap my forehead, but probably should have: our sex offender operation was one of our shining moments and probably the highlight of Otakon '04. I pulled up the corresponding recap and read the story to Richard, Chris, Paul and Krzysztof. All agreed that Spike would have approved.

Next up on the schedule was the Devil Bat-sponsored football game. As touch football games do not crop up too often at conventions, scheduling became a huge hassle, especially brushing up against Vinnk's Hot Tub Club, Jasmine's piņata party and the annual screening of Hanzo the Razor. Eventually we found a time and place- 10:00 on the roof of the parking garage. Clerks, anyone?

We did generate some interest at the Tailgate Party, although we had said 11:00 at the bottom of the parking garage. Thankfully, Drazz from Otaku No Yen was game (and had even packed a Bears shirt) and right on time. Eventually, a few more willing participants (and representatives of Drazz's Fangirl Army to cheer us on) arrived and we got a nice six-on-six going.

I'm in the Devil Bat colors in the right picture, wearing a custom-embroidered Devil Bats cap. More on that later (I'm just full of teasers today!).

Only once did we throw the ball over the fence and down to the street six stories below.

Despite a very low-scoring game, it was a lot of fun. My team held a 7-0 lead going into the final quarter when Drazz pulled a trick play, the sudden cries of laughter from the Piņata Party below, and used the ensuing distraction to run a QB sneak and tie the game at the last second.

Jasmine's piņata pretty much ended the game as we all headed down a level to check it out.

This year, the rules were a little different. Instead of relying on Jasmine's arsenal it was BYOW: Bring Your Own Weapon. Prizes were awarded for the most effective, least effective, most clever, etc. Anyone who wanted a shot could take a whack at the suspended Domo-kun.

Not that Domo-kun stayed hanging for long. He was in whatever position was easiest to get an attack off. The "weapons" ranged from actual (cosplay) swords and sticks to kicks and punches to the truly bizarre. Pictured is a dice attack... and apparently a crit-fail as it did no damage. Even Scott joined in attacking with his trusty towel and, apparently thinking Domo-kun was a Gremlin, a camera flash.

Eventually, we kicked, punched and stabbed Domo-kun until his treasures spilled out.

At least there were no Pixie Stix this year.

After the rooftop activities, I headed back to Jasmine's non-202 hotel room... mostly because it had one of the only two hot tubs at the hotel (and after playing football for an hour, a hot tub was pretty damn tempting).

Tony was inside, finally letting me work the Green Bay group into the story. Here he is caressing a rusty spoon with his salad fingers.

Unfortunately, the hot tub had been converted into a rather large laundry hamper, so I was out of luck. I had more luck up at Vinnk's room. Although the official Hot Tub Club party had died down, the room was still open and they were just replacing the water in the tub (a GOOD thing). I soaked in it long enough for my legs to achieve super recovery and earned a root beer float for my efforts.

With Tony already introduced, let's check up on the rest of the Green Bay team.

Led by Bryce, Mike and several of the Green Bay troops, the Random Battles became the smash-hit Omake Activity at this year's convention.

Basically, two teams would grab weapons and simulate a random battle from Final Fantasy- idiosyncrasies and bizarre attacks and all. With its prime location right outside the front door and its open-invitation policy, the crowd rivaled some of the main events like the Man Auction.

Summons were particularly popular, particularly the mob of ever-present fangirls or the Tonberry, played by last year's Kino cosplayer, Cassie.

Except for that, however, Friday died down rather quickly. While Richard remained to prowl the convention grounds, the rest of the Devil Bats turned in at the downright prudish time of 1:30. Early, yes, but we had two more days to go and everybody always tries to get a proper amount of sleep at anime cons, right?2 So let's keep dreaming and head to Saturday!

Footnotes

  1. Tiffany Grant Run-In #1, and the one that set the tone for it all, was her yanking my program book out of my hands and signing it at ACen '02. I had no idea who she was at the time.

  2. At ACen '02, I stayed up all night, from 1:00 to 6:30, watching all 13 episodes of Serial Experiments Lain subtitled. Scott coined the phrase "Can't Sleep, Lain Will Eat Me" in tribute.