Ah, anime conventions. Despite my interest in anime taking off nearly 15 years ago I don’t have much experience with conventions. Last weekend was the first real, multi-day anime con I’ve been to. Thankfully I’ve read enough about these things to know what I was getting in to. The attendees certainly rose to the challenge in terms of cosplaying; there were some genuinely good costumes to be seen. I wish I had recognized more of them. One person I hung out with was dressed as Madame Red from Black Butler, which meant I had to frequently step aside while people took her picture. While the costumes met my expectations I thankfully didn’t catch a wiff of someone’s nasty BO. That was one anime con stereotype I’m glad I didn’t encounter.
Animaritime is a smaller convention but they had a variety of panels and events to entertain people. Everything from information on manga licensing from Vertical’s Ed Chavez, classic anime discussions, gaming, and even an unexpected discussion on sexuality and gay rights (where I got to learn what the term “sounding” means. If you’re curious, try Urban Dictionary. Let’s just say it doesn’t sound like it would send me personally to the moon.) There was also a Masquerade Show where people got up on stage to show off their costumes, which was fine, but even I felt a little embarrassed when people yelled out their character’s catchphrase or performed confusing skits. I guess there are some levels of nerdom that even I won’t touch.
In addition to Chavez there was another notable guest at the con: Spike Spencer, the frickin’ genius voice actor himself (Shinji in the English version of Evangelion among other roles). He hosted three panels: “What happens at the con stays at the con…?”, “How to Not Kill Your Date and Other Useful Cooking Tips” and “How to be A Frickin’ Genius Voice Actor”. The first panel was a discussion of the crazy nonsense Spencer has seen or heard about happening at conventions. For example, one story involved the meaning of one scantily clad girl’s “Hentai for $5” sign and another story detailed the medical emergency that resulted when an anime convention and a Baptist convention took place in the same hotel. The second panel involved romantic cooking advice and generally blue conversation. I didn’t get to attend the third panel, which is unfortunate, but then again the days when I fantasized about providing voiceovers for anime are waaaaay behind me.
Spike is a helluva public speaker. His commentary is not for the kiddies or faint of heart, but he can be savagely funny. He seems to genuinely enjoy interacting with fans and was surprisingly patient with a few select participants. I didn’t come away with stories that were any where near as good as his. The best I can do is mention one annoying fellow who wanted desperately to try his Joker voice out on Spike. He claimed it was a cross between Mark Hamil and Heath Ledger’s interpretations but sounded more appropriate for a cheesy movie from the 40’s when he gave my ears a sample.
Anime conventions are certainly a unique experience. Watching the bonds people have over their mutual interest in the anime artform is pretty cool. Even I made a small name for myself with a group of Soul Eater cosplayers by kicking a bit of ass at the Anime Jeopardy panel. While the median age of the attendees at Animaritime was a little on the young side, that didn’t stop me from seeing a 50-something woman sporting an “I Heart Yaoi” t-shirt. Too bad I didn’t bring a camera. Maybe next year.