Saturday’s festivities came to a hectic start for me; I was late for John Swasey’s Q&A because the back lot of the hotel is half filled with storage, so that’s fun, trying to find parking. But I only missed a couple minutes. As an actor with a long career—twenty years in anime alone—he’s got a lot of knowledge about how the industry has changed over the years. He spent some time talking about the different US studios. He started at ADV in the day, when if the studio wanted a “good” series, the Japanese studio it came from also made them take more “shitty” (his word) series as part of the deal. So for years ADV was just churning out as much anime as they could because they had the licenses. Funimation wasn’t even around at the time, and it has since eclipsed ADV (now Sentai). I wonder if it’s due to forward-thinking practices like streaming services and simuldubbing. But still the Texas studios dominate the US/English-language business. He has also directed some excellent dubs—Welcome to the NHK is his doing, for example—and the transition from voice actor to ADR director is apparently as simple as asking. He approached his higher-ups in supplication, saying he thought he might be a decent hand at directing, and their response: “Great. When can you start?” “What?” “Yeah, man, I could’ve used you yesterday.”
By the time I got around to it Friday the dealer’s booths were about to close, so I spent a lot more time browsing on Saturday. There were pretty much no CDs to be found, but I picked up and put down approximately a million Gintama blind boxes. (Grrrr, what if it’s Kamui?!) In the corner was a little niche where a pair of sisters were selling vintage kimono, so I spent some time letting them doll me up. Wearing an obi feels really nice for some reason. There were lots of cute things at the artists’ booths too, in a dim room which was maybe not the greatest environment since most of them were quietly/adorably drawing commissions or just doodling.
There were far more people in attendance on Saturday, and far more of them were dressed up, perhaps thanks to the “Cosplay Masquerade” scheduled for the afternoon. I sat in for the beginning where everybody paraded across the stage, but then people starting singing long songs from shows I hadn’t seen so I excused myself. But because of this event, people watching was way better on Saturday. Most cosplayers are totally happy to stand for photos if you ask, and some seem surprised you even care, notably Germany and Okarin. I had a short chat with a very cute Gin-san who complimented my Gin-style wooden sword. (I didn’t dress up, I just sort of had it. Why not.) Every time I saw him again it made me way too happy, like he was a celebrity only to me. Lame. I was the lame one that day.
My early evening was filled by “Tokusatsu 101”, wherein I didn’t learn anything about the genre except that sentai is way more delightfully stupid than I ever imagined, and Kamen Rider is totally a thing I NEED to watch now. Guys transforming into crazy designs based on cars, I get. But fruit? FRUIT. Fruit-based transformations. The. End. And “Wig Styling with Mogchelle” was surprisingly informative. I had no idea that nice wigs were A) heat resistant so you can use regular hairstyling tools on them, and B) have “memory” so curls and waves retain their shape, and if you straighten a curly wig, just get it wet and it dries curly again. Mind blown.
Finally there was another 18+ panel, Swasey-led “Convention Horror Stories” with audience participation. They were less like horror stories than goofy shit that happened, most actual horrors were hotel-related and not strictly convention-related, and half Swasey’s stories were the same as from his panel that morning. Not a waste of my evening though. It was the fullest panel I’d been to that day, which automatically made it more exciting because the whole room was engaged and excited to be there.
I’d say today was much more enjoyable for me, and now I’m of the opinion that I’d definitely come back to an anime convention, even small ones like this, as long as I get to bring some damn friends along. There are long stretches of nada otherwise. I did leave to fetch food at one point, and the southwest of Indy (the hotel area near the airport) is a nightmare to navigate in the dark. So that was eventful.
(It wasn’t Kamui, by the way. It was Hijikata. ::win::)