Friday (One) | Friday (Two) | Saturday | Cosplay | The Rest
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By some miracle, I managed to get seven hours of sleep Friday night. That's more than I get on a normal weeknight. Waking up fresh at 9:00, I was determined not to let this rare moment of energy go to waste. It's Saturday, the meat of the convention... and with one major exception a chance to go out and grab some fun the old fashion way.
With Scott representing Whitewater, I now had about eight different groups to hang out with. Green Bay got first dibs on me as Cassie, an actual morning person, was downstairs waiting for the Vendor's Room to open up. When it did, we spent a good half hour slowly wandering the booths, trying to find a wall scroll, poster or plushie of a series that wasn't either on Cartoon Network or named Fruits Basket. I'm not usually a wall scroll/poster/plushie person, but the ceiling in my new apartment is insanely high and my sparse collection of posters and lone Lain wall scroll failed to diminish the white space. Forum member KORfan was nice enough to send me a few unused posters, but they only went so far. I was particularly interested in getting a wall scroll after my mom confused my Lain scroll for a legitimate furnishing (her exact words being "I don't know what it is, but it looks good."). Keep in mind that my sister's an interior design grad.
While Cassie had little luck finding any good Last Exile gear, I found what I was looking for- wall scrolls for a pair of Top 20 series that I haven't bought merchandise for yet- Haibane Renmei and Haruhi Suzumiya. So I had a decision to make. On one hand, we have Haibane Renmei, a perfect companion alongside the Lain scroll already up. A warmly-colored angular shot of Rakka, Kuu and Hikari in their simple pre-angsty life in Glie. In the other hand was Haruhi, who just kicks ass and ranks eight spots higher on my Top 20 list (#8 vs. HaiRen's #16). One scroll would do the trick for that particular wall, so I don't need...
...ah, the hell with it. I got both, and I'll soon have Rakka and Haruhi hanging on my walls next to Lain. It'll be the most existential apartment in Beaver Dam.
Through the rest of the weekend I also added a Babbit plushie (likely replacing the Cabbit in my backseat, as Kodocha beats Tenchi by a mile) and one of my targeted anime purchases- the Scrapped Princess box set. Despite having seen it once, that's going straight on my "stuff to watch" list as I somehow didn't give it a fair shake at the Top 20 last around.
Cassie had to leave to become the Tonberry again...
Made of actual burlap, it was one of the many impressive cosplay outfits of the weekend.
With her gone, I was rejoined by Richard. He was cosplaying too.
Sakaki-san... er... Cassie-san! Come back!
Us, Tyler, and somebody else whom I can't remember, went to the Lisa Furukawa concert. A Japanese-American singer that sings anime songs and original stuff in English and Japanese, she wowed all of us with a pair of songs at Opening Ceremonies, including a rendition of the first Naruto ending that almost made the lyrics sound coherent. That's talent!
She mixed it up very well, even switching to Russian to perform the GITS: SAC opening. Tyler and I were especially glad that all three of the anime openings performed (that one, Furuba and Escaflowne) were on the playlist for Name That Anime Opening. In fact, for the Escaflowne theme I pulled out my EALA binder (which I always carry in case of emergency) and Tyler and I followed along with my lyrics. I was tempted to show them to her, and had the opportunity Sunday morning between NTAO and her second concert, but we were both quite busy and it just wasn't an appropriate time.
Instead it was back to the hotel room for a shower, a bratwurst luncheon, and a moment to relax and take in the fact that I actually had a hotel room to shower in and honest food to eat. Previous No Brands had been spent crashing with friends and, as a direct result of this whole Devil Bat thing, this was the first year I was paying for lodging. It's a big moment, as it signaled that No Brand had evolved from my low-budget con to something that is worth just as much money as ACen. Considering that I didn't even think about chipping in for a room in '05 and '06, it's pretty telling that I was so willing to throw money into it this year.1
You may note one glaring omission from this year's recap- the DDR tournament. While I had participated (to varied success) in the '03, '05, and '06 tournaments at No Brand (and no other convention), I decided to skip it this year. The DDR tournament was at noon and, knowing how unlikely it was to stay on schedule, I didn't want to miss Anime Trivia at 3:00. I'd just assume forego an event where elimination by round two was inevitable in favor of something I might actually win.
Unfortunately, Sean forgot to bring the scoreboard so I didn't get spotted those couple points. I was going to have to win this honestly.
The good news was that it was a team event, with Scott, Chris and I forming "Team Nergal." The better news was that KORfan was nowhere to be seen. We swept through the first round easily enough, powered by my knowledge of animal mascots (connecting Chu Chu to Utena and Pero Pero to Kare Kano) and either rugby-powered blind luck or Konaka-powered divine will (we somehow correctly guessed that a shoujo phrase was from Princess Tutu, despite none of us having seen the series). The second round became more difficult as it relied on knowledge of Japanese directors, manga-ka, studios and English voice actors. After jumping to an early lead, our opponent tied the score and we entered into a dearth of bad guesses, clueless stares, and incorrectly recalling Nabeshin's full name. Even the voice acting category was unkind to me with questions about Dragonball and Super Milk-chan.
Eventually, it was still tied as it came down to the last (and most difficult) voice actor question. At this point, I could only assume that the answer would be one of three things:
1) The voice actor to a moderately obscure character from a
series everyone has seen except me.
2) A ridiculously hard-to-identify VA that I'd know solely from one of Chromus's silly voice actor jokes.
3) Tiffany Grant.
The question was "Who voices Madame President in GoldenBoy?"
When you've done this for as long as I have, you begin to predict your own ironic plot twists.
For winning, we got a choice of vintage No Brand t-shirts (I chose the 2003 model, as it was a year I had attended, but didn't get a shirt) and 10 No Brand Bucks, which will go towards next year's registration. To the victors go the spoils.
With that out of the way, I snuck in one more game of Eyeshield Madden with Richard. The Shuttle Pass was too much for the Wild Gunmen and Panther ran in a last second touchdown as his Aliens snuck out a 38-35 win.
We wrapped up just in time to get my computer downstairs for the AMV contest. Since Connection and MST and all the prep for the room party kept me too occupied to do an AMV this season (although I'm not ruling one out for Iowa), I offered up my computer (which I had literally chosen because it was AMV-friendly) to play the entries and prevent the playback issues that had irritated previous years. When word got out that I wasn't entering, the contest received a record number of submissions.
No, these weren't all of them.
Although the playback issues weren't completely resolved since I had never tested my copy of VLC Player with Movie Maker videos (note to all AMV creators: STOP USING WINDOWS MOVIE MAKER!!), it ran much more smoothly than previous years. Plus I now have them all (along with several exhibition videos) on my computer- mwa ha ha. As it turned out, Final Fantasy was the source of choice for the upper echelon of this year's group. A very moving FFX video won the day; it and a fun Advent Children video with all sorts of visual goodies were among my favorites. Yes, I feel like I'm conceding something TC admitting that I liked an Advent Children video, but it didn't have enough brooding in it for me to get annoyed.
Oh, yeah, and there's that torii gate I had mentioned before.
With that out of the way, we all cleared out for the main event: the cosplay contest. I had just enough time to run the computer back upstairs before getting down and claiming a good seat. This year's field was very impressive, as was the fact that the convention needed to open up a wall and use the room next door as overflow space.
Even better- the convention's tech wizards relayed video on the big screen for everybody sitting in back. Yes, I realize that all the bigger conventions do this, but the fact that it was enough of an issue for No Brand to accommodate this says a lot about how much this sucker has grown (remember- it was so small I didn't even take pictures in '03).
As Duct Tape Boy and Gardening Ninja stare at themselves in awe, let's head to the Cosplay section!
Although I did spend No Brand '06 crashing with Tony and the Green Bay group, had I failed in my mission to talk them into free crash space, I still had Matt's place (where I stayed in '03 and '05) as a backup plan. In fact, his roommates, Reanna and Af Mas, both asked if I was planning on staying with them this year.