Anime Milwaukee 2009

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This is going to be a very interesting year for conventions. While it won't top the sheer quantity of 2008, by now each convention has carved its own little niche that sways how I attack the con and what I do there. No Brand and Daisho remain the "party all weekend and do my best to keep everyone entertained!" cons. Anime Iowa is more geared towards hanging out with Tyler and Jasmine and company. I'm actually joined staff for Geek.kon, so that'll be a whole 'nother experience come October. The new convention on the docket is Anime Detour, which serves the purpose of allowing me to form my own opinion of Anime Detour (rather than going off everyone else's testimony... some of which is even positive!). It also gives me an excuse to not go to Anime Central- another plus!

So where does that leave Anime Milwaukee? I didn't even take pictures last year.

Well, consider this a tune-up for me. A nice chance to go through the motions, meet up with some people that I haven't seen in a while, check out the cute cosplayers and make sure my camera works. The latter two could even involve actual picture-taking. Crazy thought.

It's not that I'm writing this con off, especially now that they discovered the miracle of advertising and pulled a respectable crowd. Even if Anime Milwaukee gets resigned to chibi-recap status again this year, it was still great to catch up with friends and settle back into a convention atmosphere with little obligation on my part. Definitely preferable to start with this one rather than barrel headfirst into an unknown territory like Detour.

Anime Milwaukee Recap 1.5
If They Can Do It, So Can I!

The official number for the convention is 2.5, as they allegedly held the con in 2007 but forgot to tell anyone. They got better at this as attendance estimates were double that of last year. Which would be great if I remember how many they drew last year.

The first immediate jolt was that the convention moved from its spot in the UW-Milwaukee student union. Where the con stood last year now held only several viewing rooms and two large, mostly-empty programming areas. Not quite dirt and tumbleweeds, but it took awhile to find registration (and Momo, and Joe... who still owes me lunch). Even after I had the convention map, it still took a rousing game of "follow that cosplayer" to find the little alcove of the union where the bulk of the con had relocated.

This alcove was very nice as the major rooms were in one spot, we didn't have to deal with any wandering mundanes, and staff only needed to guard one or two specific choke points to make sure everybody was a paid attendee.

Well, as it turned out, that didn't work so well either. They only guarded the most obvious entrance to conventionland... and not very well. This was discovered and reported by No Brand Con director and fellow recapper Trae, who documented this in his video report. He took me along for his expedition, so please head to his site and watch the video. I'll wait.

In the meantime, here's Reanna and Ben to fulfill our "catching up with friends" documentation. It's been a whole two weeks since I've seen them!

Anyway, welcome back. I liked the part where John was hiding from the camera. And while the secret bathroom entrance was the best, Trae uncovered a total of four secret passages. Great for an evil mastermind's fortress, not so great for con security. Rest assured, discovering these holes were solely for the con staff's benefit and not exploited in any way. Although had I returned on Sunday...

Hi Scott! What's that you say? More stories/pictures and less nitpicking/leeching off Trae's discoveries? Okay!

Among the folks I haven't seen in a bit included not just Scott, but also Mike #1, last featured prominently in... well, I don't know if he's ever been featured prominently in a recap, but he was the DDR fanatic mentioned a couple times in that capacity at ACen '03 and '06. We burned almost an hour catching up on each other's life. Old college buddies, you know. I use the term Mike #1 not just because that was his moniker in our anime club, as opposed to Mike #2 who I don't talk about much (let's put it this way- he's the inspiration behind Donovan). It's also because the guy now known simply as Mike in these recaps was also patrolling the grounds. I see him every week at Geek.kon meetings so it's not that big a reunion.

This is me rewarding creative cosplay in my recaps. Even when it's Yu-gi-oh, awesome is awesome.

Other highlights included finally stepping up to sing on Rock Band. 98% on Float On. I'll take it. Spent a little time with guest-related stuff, admiring a fan's gift for Todd Haberkorn and actually asking a voice actor-related question at a voice actor panel to voice actor Wendy Powell. Can't remember the last time I've done that. Also bought a little Nergal pin in the dealer's room. That'll li'l piece of Nadesico love will be on my convention bag real soon. Speaking of my convention bag, you'll notice that it wasn't with me in that video. As I didn't have much for emergency supplies and I didn't buy much, I went unladen for most of the afternoon, only picking it up again for a quick snack and a read before the cosplay contest.

No caption for this picture, but it's a good segue into the cosplay contest.

Now, my disdain for lines is well-documented, but if it's an hour before the masquerade and I'm going to sit down with a snack and a manga, I might as well do it near the masquerade venue. So Scott and I found a chair upstairs. Curiously, it was actually obstructing the door to main programming. Oh well, it works. Granted, there was no consistent policy for handling the masses (both participating and viewing the masquerade). After fifteen minutes of confusion and a hastily-assembled line (after a few dozen were already seated inside), we were allowed in. Scott and I nabbed the front row. I took some pictures of the ridiculously-ginormous stage.

Although the catwalk's a nice touch, it's more than anybody would ever need. This became very clear when there wasn't anywhere near enough seating capacity and the cosplayers were forced to stand the whole time. But I'm nitpicking again.

Soon came the procession of cosplayers, giving us all a better glimpse of all the participants than most of us would get with them on stage. Can you say spoiler?

At first it felt like this was going to go on forever. Perhaps it was the endless parade that led things off. Or the sloppy mish-mash of gags and memes that comprised the first skit. Or the shudder-inducing L cosplayer guy in blue jeans doing Caramelldansen. I buried my head and refused to look at him. Scott swore that if anybody played Caramelldansen again, he would get up and walk out of the room.

He followed through with his threat. What the hell: thanks to the parade, he'd already seen all the costumes. When the third Caramelldansen was rendered silent due to some merciful technical difficulties, I considered joining him.

Thankfully, the tired memes were in the minority (sadly, it was also the second time this week I'd been RickRolled, but that's what I get for going to a Jonathan Coulton concert- and even he acknowledges that it's passť). Most of the entries were more than credible. Let's show a couple!

Sadly, I was at a weird angle and depending on how they posed and used the catwalk, some of the other pictures didn't turn out so well. Oh well, like you use this page as a resource for cosplay pics.

Anyway, lots of good cosplayers, both presented here and not. Let's give them a hand!

I do not remember exactly which act spurned this particular hand waving, only that it was not one of the Caramelldansen acts. Very possibly one of the reprises from some excellent variety show acts at Daisho. There were a couple singing Vocaloids.

Since Scott was gone and never to be heard from again (I wonder if Swedish dance pop works on wasps too?), I found Mike (the Geek.kon one) and we ran some convention analytics while the lengthy intermission happened. This took the form of a cosplay auction, where young women and men auction their "characters" off for charity. They raised about $600, but the thought of guys spending money on a young girl in a short school uniform is kinda creepy.

Next event was even more anticipated- dinner downstairs. I stuck with Mike and his crew for this one. They were giving the dance a miss, and I was planning on doing the same. However, they were planning on checking out the Anime Milwaukee Singles event at 10. It was listed as 18+, so we figured it was bound to be good.

The catch is that I'm no longer single. "Fine!" they said. "You can be our wingman!"

Worse yet, Nick K. happened to pull up a chair and mentioned that he had surreptitiously acted as my wingman at Daisho, whatever that means. Either way, it meant I was somehow karmicly compelled to return the favor. Not that it mattered as I wanted to attend solely out of morbid curiosity.

Thankfully, it wasn't speed dating. I knew immediately that it wasn't because there were ladies present. Instead, it was meant to be a frank discussion where the two sexes could talk things over, figure out the rough spots of geek dating and help the more helpless in the group.

Here are two pictures illustrating what actually went down:

The moderators knew it would a little goofy, yes, but when the panel is often interrupted to chase the guy wearing the monkey tail or put up comic photoshops of the main panelist, you get the impression that little will get accomplished. Every so often, someone would say something insightful and I can't say I didn't enjoy myself, but it was hard to take seriously. Seemed like a good group of guys though, especially afterwards when they saw me in the parking lot and asked for my honest opinion of the panel (appreciating my criticisms as well). All in all, a nice, light way to end a nice, light convention.

Wait, I take it back:

This is a nice way to end the convention!

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