Anime Central 2011

Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Photoshoots

While all of us overslept, moving out was pretty efficient. First Evan packed up his things and went to set up the table while Brian, Sarah and I took care of the checkout process- easy at this hotel. Our bags seemed heavier now and I was sore as all get-up, but we managed to get everything packed up with a half-hour to spare.

Awesome! Now let's camp at the table and head home.

Charley Horse

Yeah, there wasn't a lot going on Sunday. We sat around the table, snatched up some late pre-registrations and got cosplay photos.

Hey, Lillymon! Makes up for the lack of a Digimon photoshoot Friday. Our Mimi from No Brand had a table here too, so I made to pick up a tag this time, complete with Crest of Knowledge.

Sometimes all you need is the right body type for an excellent cosplay.

It's been a while since we've had a good Fusion cosplay, so here's a cross between Yoko and Sniper.

Initially, I was worried about having Name That Anime Opening on Sunday. We were able to get it moved from the morning to the afternoon due to our table obligations, but there's still a bit of uncertainty, especially with our panel in the Doubletree- far, far off the main drag.

Friday afternoon I noticed something written on the Info Services message board that said panels in the Doubletree had been moved into the Hilton due to their policy of double-booking rooms in the Doubletree. Seriously, the program book even lists multiple events happening simultaneously in the same room. The bad news was that our panel attendance now relied on people reading the signs. The good news is we were in a much closer hotel.

This year's duct tape is swirly.

Initially, I was concerned that the room was only half-filled. To make sure we'd have enough contestants to fill two hours, we decided to go 3v3 instead of our usual four-on-four game. It helped relieve our constrained stage as well. We rearranged the furniture extensively just to get anything workable... which was just fine as it was the last panel of the day.

As soon as we started playing with the revised teams, the room filled up completely.

It ended up being a great session, with the players and audience really getting into it, jumping up and down to get their hands up and generally acting like the crowd from Price is Right happy to come on down and play.

Team School Girl Assassins From Southern Europe were a big part of the atmosphere, and was one of a number of fantastic team names including Team Aim For The Bushes, Team The Log and Team Coelacanth.

Led by Nikolai, Team Anti-Gravity were out for revenge after finishing last year as runners-up. They dominated the competition so hard they were ultimately retired as five-time champions after beating Team At Least We Tried (who earned huge cheers for beating Anti-Gravity to the punch on the Higurashi opening).

Armed with a member with a pretty thorough knowledge of shounen-ai titles (guess which one), Team Band of the Hawk impresses the crowd with a dominant performance in the second hour.

But Anti-Gravity comes up once more to put them in their place and clinch the tape! Despite Hawk's shounen-ai specialty, the clinching song was Saiyuki.

It was a pretty good show all around. People appreciated the old stuff and the new (especially when one followed the other, like getting Irresponsible Captain Tylor then Nichijou). The only title that stumped everybody in the room? Battle Athletes. I was rewarded for adding in Panty & Stocking when someone answered it before it became immediately obvious.

With the scoreboard, con bag and laptop in the car, we waited out the remaining hours in the exhibit hall until the Ominous Voice declared ACen closed. Kinda cool to hear the applause from that.

For everyone who's had to wait in line at Anime Central, here's what registration looks like completely deserted.

It's a weird sight if you've never been behind the curtain.

We packed up the table, which seemed to take forever, especially with all the shelving that had to go somewhere. A hotel engagement later forced the VG room to pack up early, so they were gone already, leaving us with four shelving units and limited car space.

Given how we were all tired, sore and probably injured, the hike back to the car was nasty as I had to carry far more than I probably should have given my foot. Sure didn't help things, especially since the elevators were either full or inoperable. We finally got out of there, and went to Denny's to get something resembling food in our stomachs after a grueling convention.

The food tasted great, but was tough going down the gullet with my throat in such rough shape. It took a lot of water to get through the meal, but at least I felt refreshed enough to drive home.

Or not! There was one more thing we wanted to do...

Somewhere in Schaumburg... Sunday, 6:00 pm.

For some unknown reason that seemed to have no connection to Anime Central, a nearby AT&T store was working with Funimation to promote once of its cable services, and to get people in, Funi brought our old buddy Eric Vale. Sarah and I wanted to swing by as Eric will be returning to Geek.Kon this year and we wanted to say hello. We had our share of adventures last year... which also involved packing too many people into a small car.

They certainly got people in. There was a healthy line outside. Thankfully, Natsucon had the same idea as us and were there as well, giving us a great chance to talk shop and spread the word. It all added up to a pretty big O on Eric's face when we all walked in together.

Natsucon's moment with Eric involved a bit of planking.

We settled for the more traditional photo.

Our penance for sticking around too long was an inability to get back onto the highway as all the ramps led into Chicago. We found a random sign for West I-90 and followed it along several miles of frontage roads, somehow randomly ending back on Higgins Road before we could get on. Then the downpour started.

So in short, ACen kicked my ass this year. It's my eighth time going and somehow didn't have enough food, drink or cash despite preparing the way I always do. I closed it out with a sore throat, sore foot and a sore temper towards Chicago's highway system. At the same time, it was a very rewarding convention, with a record number of at-con pre-registrations for Geek.Kon, new connections with several other conventions that we're normally unable to visit and the satisfaction of helping ACen finally get the video game room they need. They were quite grateful for it, and it feels good that ACen knows of us, talks of us, and more or less owes us one.

Bit of housekeeping: I'm going to be attending QC-Animezing in Davenport for Saturday and Sunday, but mostly for table duty. Unless we've got some ridiculous stories, there won't be a recap. If I get any good pictures, I'll post them to Facebook.

Don't forget to check out the Photoshoots page for all your Hetalia and Persona needs!

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