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Ever since I started really getting into the groove of con-going four years ago, No Brand has been the official start of the season. It's a fitting leadoff hitter: small enough to get eased into the convention routine (yes, that's an oxymoron; stay with me here) and so jam-packed with awesome that it sets a good standard for cons like ACen and such to try to match. This year, of course, No Brand is actually convention number three in a busy year that could see as many as seven events. It would be easy enough to call Ohayocon the finale for last year, but then what does that make Anime Milwaukee? Practice?
I think it's safe to say that this year, No Brand Con isn't the appetizer, but rather the beginning of the main course. Just don't apply that dinner analogy to the rest of the year... Ohayo would be the equivalent of getting full on bread.
Many times, getting sleep on Thursday night is so important, yet so elusive. All the pre-con preparations and excitement can ruin the one last night of peace before the weekend of insanity. Now me being the pro at this, and already in midseason form thanks to Ohayo (where I logged just an hour of sleep Thursday night) and Milwaukee (where I didn't go on Friday), I was all packed and ready to go by my normal bedtime. This was perfect because my itinerary called for waking up when I usually would for work. So no problem, right?
It wouldn't have been if I hadn't stayed up another hour writing MST. Oops.
Anyway, that's an hour of sleep that will bite me in the butt later on. I woke up relatively on time anyway, threw the bags in the car and headed off. Besides needing an impromptu detour for some spring road construction in Portage, the trip was uneventful. Lunch at Black River Falls, Google Maps still timed it perfectly... you know the drill. I pull into town, remember to park on the level Jasmine says our room is on and I enter the Ramada for my fifth No Brand Con.
I bump into the gang immediately upon entry- Theresa, Jasmine, Tiff and Tyler. Tyler's been bugging me about only getting the back of his head into the recaps of Iowa and Geek.kon last year, so I make it up to him with a picture where he's blurry and wearing a hat.
Registration line! And this year, it actually got pretty long Saturday afternoon. Is that Cassie?
Okay... totally wrong place to zoom in on. Not that my novel is so great that I'd put promo books on the registration desk or anything.
But yes, that was Cassie. She'll be back.
And here's Miles, the official No Brand Brit, fellow panelist on my writing panel Sunday and my other main British friend. If he and Chromus were ever at the same convention in the States, it's entirely possible the universe would implode.
While Theresa got the lodgings squared away, I checked out the Vendor's Room. John had a nice buyback deal that allowed trade-ins for store credit. Since I had an extra copy of Lain volume 1, I used that to get five dollars towards a few School Rumble DVDs. I'm tempted to bring my Ai Yori Aoshi to ACen.
With 202 transcending into stuff of lore, we got an even sillier numeral: 711. And this is as clean as it's going to be.
Jasmine gives us a sneak preview of the piņata- a Haro from Gundam.
...and Tif and Tyler give us a sneak preview of its imminent destruction. For some reason we had a lot of faux weaponry in our room. Two pistols, a shotgun... and then Slim from Whitewater came up Saturday night as the marine from Doom and had more pistols, another shotgun and the classic chainsaw.
First major event was a forum meetup that turned out to be a bit sparse. There were three scheduled, but they turned out to be either before people showed up, while people were setting up programming, or while people were asleep. Seems like half the con is on the forum, but the turnout was lacking here... especially after a big group decided to go out for food.
So with that not being the big lovefest I thought it would be, I head back to the Vendor's Room. The main highlight there was getting a report of someone who chose to vicariously experience Anime Iowa through my recaps rather than actually attend it. I guess that's a good thing.
This led us to Opening Ceremonies, and the annual attempt at resolving the storyline presented by various YouTube videos in prior weeks. This year, being convention number seven (or 007 as it were), Executron hatched an elaborate evil plan involving the theft of ice cream and the kidnapping of Greenboy (in that order). Henchmen Insatiable Hunger (third from left) and Unquenchable Thirst (far right, holding said ice cream) complicated things further, leaving things up to our favorite number one agent... well, our favorite first agent that isn't writing this recap at least...
Duct Tape Boy, who infiltrated Executron's headquarters, only to discover that Greenboy and Hunger actually got along great and were just hanging out.
Incidentally, I mentioned in the Geek.kon recap that I may have volunteered a great 007 pun to the No Brand staffers over lunch. Sure enough- Dr. No Brand was printed on every single flipping badge. Dr. No-credit-whatsover more like it...
Since most of the guests had flight delays and weren't in yet, that was about all for Opening Ceremonies. But we'll get into them later.
The major absence this year was Vinnk, one of the cornerstones of the convention. He was off in Japan getting married and teaching children English. This left a huge gaping hole in the heart of the convention that could only be remedied with one thing:
You guessed it- an inflatable doll with Vinnk's face taped to it. We had all sorts of fun with Vinnk all weekend. Much of it I can even write about!
With the early pleasantries out of the way, it was back up to the room to gear up for the AMV contest! Why we needed to gear up for the AMV contest I'm not sure, since I had my AMV in a month ago... but gear up we did!
Onward to Friday night!