Anime Iowa 2010

Friday | Fri/Sat | Hetalia | Saturday

For everybody who did not click on the Hetalia page, this is the only picture I took between 1:00 and 3:00 pm on Saturday.

Everybody who did click on it is probably speculating on what Kintaro is finding so educational.

Awesome For Me, Fail For You

This was the first picture taken outside that window. GoldenBoy, Kodocha... we're on a roll here!

We ended up back in the dealer's room, where John mentioned that I had left Estonia's belt in his booth last night. Since some of you didn't read the Hetalia page, there's sort of a Schrodinger's Cat situation of whether or not the belt was still there when I came by.

Most of the time was spent chilling around the Day Glow and No Brander booths and hanging with them and the gang. Sarah took off early to change back into Chihiro for the masquerade.

I stay and finally get a pick of the Mew that's been floating around the con.

Realizing that we probably needed to eat something today, Evan and I chilled near the concession table, with Mike joining us soon thereafter. Evan had been chatting with other cons, admiring the program books Naka Kon and QC-Animezing put on display while finally getting some dirt on Anime Milwaukee's plans for 2011, a con that had been eerily quiet since... well, since the week after Anime Milwaukee 2010.

Evan too had to leave for the masquerade, freeing Mike and I to see why Chief had been urgently texting Mike on and on again during the chat.

Oh, that's why.

So there's this program called Mugen that allows someone to program any characters, settings and moves into a 2D fighting game.

ANY characters. When I walked in, Samurai Jack was playing.

Somebody at the con had managed to get hundreds of characters into the game- fighting games, other video games, anime, American cartoons, comic books. Peter Griffen and Haruhi Suzumiya were both demonstrated, and I think I saw Marvin the Martian and Skeletor on the character select screen.

Admit it- you've always wanted to know who'd win between Homer Simpson and B. Orchid.

It was the smash hit of the video game room, which by Saturday was more active and energetic than I'd ever seen it at Anime Iowa.

(Chief declared Geek.Kon sponsors of the video game room and put propaganda everywhere. Evan approved.)

After the long, painful, Lada Gaga-infused monster that was the ACen masquerade, and recalling the wrongful imprisonment of last year at Iowa, I'm thoroughly masqueraded out. Even though Sarah and Evan were in the thing, I put my foot down and decided not to attend. The only reason I would go would be to see those two and observe how the MC carries himself. Neither were compelling enough to keep me seated for God knows how many hours, especially if I wouldn't be able to leave again.

I ended up chilling for a bit outside with Chris Ayres, talking about random stuff, namely lotsa Nerima Daikon Brothers love. He's excited for Geek.Kon. So am I.

Even though I wasn't going to the masquerade, here's the obligatory picture of pretty balloons. They get prettier every year.

It was a bit strange though, because several people in my circle came under the impression that Iowa was doing something different this year regarding the whole "cosplay boarding pass" and believed that getting a seat for the masquerade was going to be harder. Not sure if this was a strange interpretation on the posted rules or what, because it was the same excellent system they've had for the last couple years.

Apparently, they weren't the only ones confused, because while I was walking around, several people asked about which line to get into (there was also a line for everybody without a number that still wanted to go to the masquerade). I had to direct traffic on more than one occasion.

I ended up standing in line anyway to hang out with various folks, like some of the Hetalia peoples. One's interested in doing an actual World Conference at ACen, with cosplayers with both excellent costumes and good knowledge of the character. I might try out for that one, if only because Estonia can spend the entire meeting on his laptop and it would work.

It led to a discussion on the state of affairs with Hetalia cosplay, namely lamenting how many of the cosplayers are only there because it's popular and don't understand their character all that well. A common problem in cosplay, perhaps, but the fact that we're dealing with representations of real nations makes some of us very uneasy. Cosplay works best when you have a working knowledge of your character, and if that means you need to bone up on European history, please do.

We also talked about flag etiquette- namely reminding people that it isn't on hold just because it's a photoshoot. National flags still should be treated as national flags.

Also ran into Zack from Daisho. Haven't seen him in a bit, so it was good to catch up. He's excited for Geek.Kon, I'm excited for Daisho. It's a happy circle.

Okay, it's official, this has been the year for Chrono Trigger cosplay!

In one of the stranger setups out there, the divider between the masquerade green room and the art auction display was left open. The rooms didn't really go into each other's space and good masquerades tend to keep their entries hidden until the show starts, so the fact that you could get a glimpse of the things from a place like the art auction (or, in my case, the hallway outside the art auction), makes no sense.

Ah, Utena, a show where this is not only completely in character, but a totally professional cosplay photo.

Since I wasn't going to the masquerade, the main alternate programming was Great Debate, which I hadn't been to in a couple years. I wasn't doing anything else and the room party was mostly set up already, so I dropped in.

As usual, it was entertaining as all hell. The concept was that eight people would debate the anime topics du jour under strange rules implemented by the hosts- whether they had to do it in song, through artwork, or with certain words banned from conversation (like "clones, "orange" and "believe" in a Naruto discussion).

To make things even better, Tyler and all his Danish spirit, got up there. This is the part where he had to make a concise argument while holding his tongue.

And this one, where an "annoying guy" would talk over him with insulting comments like why he's wearing such a silly hat.

Tyler impressed the audience sufficiently, landing in the top five of final voting. The winner was a Rainbow Brite cosplayer who turned a debate on used panty vending machines into a Billy Mays pitch.

I took the long way back to the room, stopping by the patio to chat some more with folk, including a discussion on Werewolf. The big Werewolf enthusiast had no idea Death Note Mafia happened and was distraught. I said it was at Geek.Kon, but she lives in Indianapolis. I made it a point to plug it on the Geek.Kon forums after that.

Along the way back, I also ran into Chief, looking downright enlightened after an epic Mugen match between Brolly and Sonic the Hedgehog. He figured out a way to plug Geek.Kon that Evan hadn't thought of: holding up the Vulcan sign, saying "live long and prosper" and pitch it to anyone who responds positively.

After straightening the room and hiding the air mattress Chief was using, I killed time by peeking at some of the board games Mike had brought with in hopes of having something to play other than Apples to Apples. Guillotine intrigued me the most (it looked simple and involved beheading uptight French nobles), but I still wandered out once in awhile to keep an eye on the con scene, namely if the masquerade was ever going to end.

Because this guy would be the winner hands down.

And Domo-kun's getting all the action.

Erin came back first, but she was doing enjoyable things in the viewing rooms and panels. She had quite a fun time doing actual convention stuff. I should probably go back to doing that one of these days.

Evan and Sarah, on the other hand, limped in around at 10:45 with some stories...

First off, they didn't do pre-judging until after everybody reported to the green room. When they did, they didn't have the submitted reference pics on hand, unless the entrant disobeyed the rules and forgot to turn them in ahead of time. The actual contest went just fine, but once again the organizers foolishly decided that an hour of AMVs was necessary for intermission entertainment. In truth, intermissions longer than a half-hour are an instant FAIL. To make matters worse, after announcing some of the awards, they went back to more AMVs. Most of the entrants bolted, regardless of whether or not they had a shot at a prize. All the while, the masquerade ninjas were constantly and loudly shushing anyone that dared complained or spoke to a friend. At least they permitted the mass exodus when it became clear that the convention had no intention to award prizes in the immediate future.

Congratulations Anime Iowa! You're the first convention to have both its Masquerade and AMV Contest on the Blacklist, whereupon I will never attend, never participate and never acknowledge until clear evidence of repairs are made. Problematic as Anime Milwaukee's was, at least you could leave the Character Auction and come back later.

I'm going to miss those pretty balloons.

The room party was fun. The Great Debate organizer (and Annoying Guy), Ninja Christ and a host of other random folks stopped by. We pulled up the first draft of the Geek.Kon program book so people could examine the programming. Some girls were friends with John Kovalic and saw the artwork he did for our cover. They gushed at it, then promptly texted him asking that he get someone professional to draw it next time.

One guy waited until the room was cleared out, held up Iowa's book, then cried out, "Anyone else think this is the worst program book they've ever seen?"

I wanted to agree with him so much, but the Ohayocon '08 book was far worse (even after they finished it Friday night). Geek.Kon.08 and some of the books from No Brand's formative years weren't so hot either. But we had a good long chat about all its flaws. I felt better getting that out.

Despite Mike's alternatives, popular demand craved Apples to Apples again. At one point Mike entered, saw the set-up, then silently went to bed with a forlorn look on his face. Well... it wasn't so silent after about a half-hour, but that's a different story.

Once again, Touchy-Feely outdid itself, with Batman, My Neighborhood and the JFK Assassination all getting good groans until Pedobear won out over all. The true winner, though, was on Evan's green card Dead. Knowing Evan would appreciate dark humor, I played "My Family." But the first card turned up was Baby Showers, and Dead Baby Showers just has that ring to it. Someone said it would be their new band name.

Chief was here too, automatically making the party a success.

This page is long enough, but Sunday was very light. We packed, we hung out in the dealer's room, and we filled out surveys.

We spent a long time filling out surveys.

Let's not mince words- this was a down year for Anime Iowa. It was still delightful, but we all knew they were capable of better. It featured questionable registration decisions, a disastrous program book, a reduced crop of vendors and a masquerade show that made that leap from occasionally frustrating to godawful. It was disappointing and we're hoping they can rebound next year.

Vocaloids make it better though.

The drive home wasn't bad, since we had plenty to chat about. In tribute to Natalie, we stopped at the same Dairy Queen in Dubuque, just to worship at the alter of the "Jazz Hands" Slippery When Wet sign.

And then drove straight to the Geek.Kon staff meeting to report our findings and try to make sure we don't make the same mistakes.

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