Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Given our bad luck with checking out on time, we decided to get started an hour early- to account for our tendency to sleep in, to avoid the checkout line in the lobby, and to meet up with Star and Artful at 11:00 for one last romp in the Dealer's Room.

Naturally, we achieved none of those. We were a half hour late waking up, the checkout line was decidedly ACen appropriate, and by 11:00 we weren't even halfway to the car. Good to know that some things never change.

One More Day
In America

We were only about twenty minutes late to the Dealer's Room, so it was a moral victory for us. The purpose of the get-together was to stop by the Artist Alley and commission another sketch for us. We found somebody and started the process, but in the meantime I found someone equally important.

That's right, it's Shin- Bruce Lee look-alike, enemy of technology, ace linebacker of the Ojo White Knights... and apparently a cute girl.

We had heard whispers about an Eyeshield 21 cosplay meeting on Sunday, but finally got confirmation- 3:00 in the lobby. Never mind that Chromus's flight left at 5:30 and he needed to be at the airport two hours early- were were going.

But not before checking out the dealer's room once more. Since Nick contributed more towards the hotel than I had expected him to, I had some spare money and quickly blew it on a few manga purchases. Then it occurred to me that I hadn't once looked for one of the series I had been meaning to check out- Stellvia. While I usually flag anything on both Nick and Chris's recommendations list (well- except Lucky Star), this one had slipped my mind. Alas, we found it, and it was prohibitively expensive. Unfortunately, the booth took credit cards, so I am now the proud owner of the Stellvia box set and well over-budget.

On our way back to the hotel to catch the AMV award winners, I called Nick and informed him of the 3:00 meet-up. After hanging up, I sighed and turned to Chromus, "Well, you making your flight now depends on Nick being at the meeting place on time."

"I'm not going to make this flight, am I?" he replied. I sadly shook my head.

The attendance was surprisingly sparse for the AMV awards, but at least the winners were good. Skittles took Best in Show, but also worth noting was the Best Staff video- a random jumble of a video set to the random jumble of a Lemon Demon song called "Word Disassociation." And at long last, a trace of a pulse from the Comedy division as Hideki from Chobits wails the internet classic "Everyone Has Had More Sex Than Me." Anyone who knows my opinion of Hideki  understands that I'm more sympathetic to the bunny in the flash video, but the important thing is that it's more than three minutes long and it's funny, especially towards the end when guys like Sasuke, Ash Ketchum and Kon back up Hideki. Not to mention the denouement with Hideki standing alone in the rain, prompting someone from the audience to yell "This is a Drama!"

Once the winners were announced, the screening reverted back to the half-hour of the AMV contest they didn't schedule time for during the main screening Friday (great planning there, guys). We stuck around for a few, but left before too long. Fortunately, the big Eyeshield group was already in the lobby posing for pictures. Turns out that this wasn't just any Eyeshield cosplay group...

...this was 150% Great Eyeshield Cosplay! A-ha-ha!

 The idea was to apparently do cosplay in the style of tight end (and complete idiot) Natsuhiko Taki: maximum confidence and minimum competence! So we had numbers painted on t-shirts, a bike helmet with a paper visor for a helmet, mannequin dolls filling in for Juumonji and Togano ("they're technically all the same character anyway" explained Kuroki), and six playing characters of the opposite gender (thankfully Suzuna doesn't wear a skirt and doesn't require chest padding). Ironically the most accurate cosplay of the bunch was Taki himself, who whipped out autographed pictures in a second.

Taking a page from the sub-subculture of Ghetto Cosplay, I dubbed this "Short Bus Cosplay." They all seemed to agree. At least the ones who weren't busy setting up all sorts of scenes with their favorite yaoi/yuri pairings. There was only so much yaoi they could do without Sakuraba, but I never realized the Kid/Tetsuma pairing was so popular...

Cerburus chases after Sena. It looks just like a panel from the manga.

While waiting for Nick, Star, and Artful, I ducked away into a corner of the lobby and watched the Cubs game. This is one thing ACen does have over No Brand- if the Cubs are on, watching it on the convention grounds will not be a problem. To make up for the above cosplay abomination, here's some good (or at least entertaining) cosplay.

While I'm sure I've seen Boogiepop cosplayers before, I hadn't seen any since actually watching the series two years ago. So this one's fresh for me.

When there's a seven-foot green dinosaur wearing red boots, it's amazing how I absolutely don't need a caption for this picture.

A cosplay that borders on the Scott-esque, but who can resist America's number one commodity? I hear he's a real doctor.

There were about three or four Dokuro-chan cosplayers here, so it does somewhat violate my originality rules. In fact, I'm not even sure if I got the best one. But you take a picture anyway. Because she's cute, and because she's holding a spiked club.

Last year we saw a Guido from Samurai Pizza Cats, but this year we not only get a cosplay from the classic series, but an obscure character from it at that. He had to remind me that he was, of course, the Supreme Catatonic. Because even the Samurai Pizza Cats need their own mecha. I'm hoping for Guru Lou next year.

And if you want obscure cosplay from goofy treasures of the nineties, check out this gem:

That's right, it's a Happy Happy cultist from EarthBound! Ensuring the happiness of the world by painting everything (including the local cow) blue, these guys make just as much sense as the next organized religion. Sorry Mike, but screw the No Brand Cult- I'm switching to Happy Happy-ism.

Back to our story, Nick miraculously showed up on time, as did Star and Artful. Star did one last video recap of the four of us (although I interrupted the middle of it as the Cubs got the last out to clinch a 4-1 win over Philadelphia) and showed us the picture.

I can't help but notice that Art and I look surprisingly bish in this picture, while Chromus ended up with a weird oyaji look.

We couldn't stay long, since we didn't want to jinx Nick's burst of timeliness. We said our goodbyes and Nick, Chris and I headed to the car to give Chromus a ride to the airport. Naturally, I made Chris sit in the front passenger side so he could enjoy the wonderful sensation of driving on the opposite side of the road... on the Chicago interstate. Not only that, but this weekend was the first time I had ever driven on the interstate in Chicago.

No incident to report there. The airport is conveniently close to the hotel and we found the drop-off point soon enough. Although instead of actually using it, we just parked in the middle of the road and kicked him out. Nobody seemed to care.

From there, it was back to Mitsuwa as Nick was determined to get some melon-pan and, hell, everyone goes to Mitsuwa after ACen.

See what I mean? This parking lot was empty Friday morning.

Wading through the throngs of sleep-deprived otaku (and the occasional honest Asian-American doing their normal weekly grocery shopping), Nick got his melon-pan and I gave in to the temptation of buying the Eyeshield art book I had seen in the Dealer's Room- it was five dollars cheaper here (after converting from yen, that is). With both of us refreshed and both of us broke, we headed home to... Waukesha?

That's right, we had to make a detour through Waukesha because Nick locked his keys in his car Friday morning. He's just a walking sitcom, isn't he? Anyway, he picked up his spare set at his parents' house (not entirely inappropriate since it was Mother's Day), and we headed back to Whitewater. Thankfully, he compensated me for the gas spent on the extra trip, which allowed me to get some dinner on the way home.

In all, the trip was fun. How could it not be with everybody invading America from overseas and a chance to catch up with all my old Whitewater friends. Still, the chaos continued, whispers of a staff mutiny were heard all weekend (and beyond), and Nick's biggest regret was that he couldn't stay for the post-con gripe session (listed on the schedule as Closing Ceremonies). Unless my online friends somehow manage to make the trip again, I'm really not sure if I'm going back next year.

So until you see me in next year's exorbitantly long pre-reg line, see ya!

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