Already touched on the ride there and back, so let's pick up at the actual convention. Pulled into the Waverly parking garage just after high noon. Stretched out a little, cause the drive almost non-stop from Mobile to Atlanta did have my back a little stiff. I grabbed my bags, and began the long walk from the garage to the elevators up to our room (which just so happened to be on opposite sides of the building. Go fig.) In hindsight I shoulda thought better than to make that hike in my Tasuki boots, but "smart guy" me thought that it'd be easier to pack my tennis shoes in my bags than it would those boots. And I rode barefoot for the most part, so it was only an inconvenience that short time. Meh.
For those of you lucky enough not to have chronic back problems? Boots send a shock up your spine every time the hard, unpadded heel thumps on the pavement. But I digress.
Anyways, I make my way to the elevators, and turn on my phone to call Tiff and see which room was ours. See, once again being "smart", I saved battery power by leaving it powered-down for the trip up, cause I wasn't gonna try to answer it or talk to anyone while weaving in and out of three lanes of traffic at 85-90 mph. So, I call. She answers. Room 1125. I groan slightly, already thinking about how
It was around then that the voice mail notification sounded on my phone. Apparently while I was still on the road, everyone was franticalyl calling me to let me know about "the situation." Seems that despite Tiff reserving our room SIX MONTHS IN ADVANCE, we didn't have a room. Didn't affect me much, cause she took care of business long before I showed up, and managed to put up enough of a fight till they made room for us across the street. Which kicked ass...saved everyone from having to walk halfway across town from some completely unknown location. Still hate that they all had to put up with all that, though.
So, I was waiting on the elevator, and a bellhop saw me and all my bags waiting to ride down from the 11th floor. "Hey man, so, you checking out?" Innocent enough question. "Naw, trying to check IN." He looked rather surprised, and asked me what was up, and I told him. Oh BOY, did I tell him. And he had to ride down eleven stories alone with me, with no way out of the conversation till we hit the ground floor. *smirks* Again, didn't matter much...business was already taken care of. But it made me feel a little better, and the more times the hotel staff has to put up with us, maybe it'd be that much better of a chance that they won't screw us again next year.
Anyways, I got an escort across the street to our new room, grabbed a keycard, and changed into my lame-ass Kyo outfit. Perfect outfit, 'cept that it's short-sleeved, but out of laziness I just wore one of Chibi's cat-hats instead of dealing with another goofy orange wig. *shrugs* I...really don't remember what all I did for the first part of the con. After the hour and a half wait to get my badge, that is. Swung by Spork's table and Chibi's table to say "hi" and hang out for a few minutes. Hit the Dealer's Room once, just doing a flyby to see what was on sale. Watched a few random shows, but that was about it. Nothing all that major for day one.
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie looked cute, but kind of odd. Basic story is this sexy Anime dream-babe shares her soul with a guy that was sick or dying or something. As a side effect, she goes from bein' 20-ish to 10-ish. No problem, cause she's pretty adorable as a young'un, but it's a little wierd how they continue to play up the love interest between her and the male lead. She does transform back to her adult self from time to time, for all the serious scenes, so it's not quite pedo-tastic...but still just a little unsettling. But with that being said, the tone was very light-hearted and it was very funny at times. That one minor squick aside, it wasn't really all that bad. Still dunno if I'll bother with the rest of that series, though...definitely a watch and not a buy at best.
This Ugly Yet Beautiful World was another that caught my interest. It seemed stereotypical at first, then turned into something kind of original, though it's best described in terms of other series. There's this loser guy that can't get a date, despite the fact that he's oblivious of his cousin/childhood friend that's head-over-heels in love with him. He's minding his own business when the absolute perfect girl of his dreams drops out of the sky in front of him. He gives her a name, and she can't say much more than that till she starts learning more about people. Yeah, by this point I was having Tenchi Muyo/Ah! Megami-sama!/Chobits/etc flashbacks as well. But then the first episode ends with a slight twist...the cute, sweet girl has some kinda evil dark side like Nyu/Lucy did in Elfen Lied. And the guy suddenly morphed into this Devilman-looking creature to protect her. All in all, it kind of hooked me, though it'd take a few more episodes before I decided if it was a clever and original series or a random amalgamation of several popular series shoved into a blender. =P
There was another show, called...Pumi Pomi DASH or something, I forget exactly which...but it looked pretty good, too. Same basic premise as Negima, except with a girl teaching the class. So it'll prolly end up being more comedic and less of a harem title. I hope. ^_^;;
After that, the real fun began. Aside from the AMV and Cosplay main events scheduled for Saturday, the coolest part of the con had to be Friday's late-night roster. "Totally Lame Anime" was moved into the Grand Ballroom for the first time ever. Which was cool, as that's always a riot and a half. Got cut kinda short, though, cause the preceeding event ran over. Ah well...I'd seen most of that in years past. "Anime HELL" was scheduled at the same time as the AMV Dance Party. I stuck around for the former, half since I was tired and half because I didn't want to relive the drunken Kyo-dance from last year (although I still say that was pretty cool, since I had three of the cutest gals there doin' it with me). Then it was "Midnight Madness", where they showed one crazy parody after another. Nescaflowne. Fanboy Bebop. Fisting the North Star. Evangelion: Re-Death. It was awesome.
After that, things got a bit hazy. The official convention events were over with by then, but I wandered around on my own for a while, just having fun and goofing off. I eventually wandered back across to our own hotel room just as the last person was killing the lights to go to bed. I found some space half under a table and half under a foldout bed to try and go to sleep. Not comfortably, of course, but once everyone stopped snoring I eventually drifted off to sleep. Till Alan came staggering in, which was truly a riot to watch. I'm honestly surprised he maintained his vertical base and didn't faceplant somewhere in the middle of the living room floor. Dunno if he didn't see any space on the floor or just didn't care, but he crawled into bed with whoever else was already there. XD
Woke up early Saturday, after a few hours of sleep, and then headed out for Waffle House. Can't pass up a hot meal for a decent price - beats the hell out of pocketed granola bars or severely overpriced food at the convention itself. Talked Matt into coming along with me, which was cool. Even cooler since we beat the early morning rush by about five minutes. Called up RJ, hesitating at first because it was kinda early, but deciding to go ahead anyway cause (excluding all-night benders) he's the sort to wake up early and get shit done. Of course, since he happened to be in SEATTLE on a business trip my early-morning call happened at around 4:30am his time. *chuckles* Sucked that we couldn't meet up in Atlanta, since we seldom get to see one another, but it's good to hear that he's doing well.
Anyways, we headed back over to the con after breakfast. They had the registration lines circling Artist's Alley, looping around the room at least twice, so it really made it difficult to get around. Most of my time was spent hanging out with various folks, watching AMV's, checking out cosplayers and posing for pics my own self. Didn't bother with a camera, though...maybe I should have, but it was kinda nice being able to walk around without lugging bags full of stuff. Lots of kick-ass costumes this year, though there was sadly very few Sailor Senshi cosplayers. Overdone, yes, but I can overlook things like that when the outfits are sexy, short, and tight. *grins* And although I missed ogling any Hino Rei's, there were more than enough Kagome to keep my eyes busy. *double-grin* Yeah, I'm a perv, but you can't help but notice that every single costume was either tight, short, low-cut, transparent, or non-existant. Yeah baby, YEAH! Though the guys' had some cool costumes as well, though for different reasons entirely. Saw two Hotohori, which was cool - let's hear it for the Suzaku Seishi! Never got to say "yo" to the Seishi Hotohori, but I ended up hanging around with Emperor Hotohori for a while...he was pretty cool, and seemed pleased to see a Tasuki.
Speaking of which, up until this year I had never seen another Tasuki cosplayer. At least not in person, and photos of other online Tasuki are pretty rare, too. It was pretty much "my thing". This year? Saw two others, along with myself. Both female, which was kind of wierd. Saw the first on day one, while I was still Kyo-ing, but she had a nice jacket. Saturday I ran into the other femme!Tasuki, and we hung out for a pretty good while. Though it kept bothering her when folks would see me, and start begging for pictures. "Hey, Tasuki!!! That's so awesome! Please, please let me get a pic?" Not that I minded, but the other Tasuki kept trying to step into the picture, since the fan was calling out the character's name and not my own. But they always gave her funny looks, till she explained that she was supposed to be a Tasuki as well, and then either we'd both pose or they'd insist on snapping a pic of just me. (I felt kind of bad for her, but even *I* didn't realize she was a Tasuki at first, till she told me and I started looking for similarities...)
Aside from them, there was a Suzaku and Seiryuu no Miko, both kinda cute, but I didn't get a chance to pose with either. I met the Yui cosplayer afterwards once she changed into her next outfit, and she was awesome, but we'll prolly try to meet up for pics next year instead. That's the coolest thing, I think...several folks remember me vividly from last year, and a couple told me that they were hoping they'd run into me so they could get pics with the Tasuki from last year. (And my cosplay really isn't all that great...maybe I'll blow a few hundred bucks on commissioning a new outfit, wig and all, so I'll really look impressive for AWA13.)
The one downside to cosplaying as such a well-loved bishie? The glomps from rabid fangirls. Of course, that's the upside as well, but I won't go into detail there...just look at some of these cosplay pics online, and use your imagination. Needless to say, normally I don't mind one damn bit, but sneak attack glomps from behind are NOT appreciated. Complete strangers have NO RIGHT to get a running start and LEAP onto someone's shoulders unexpectedly. Now, I realize that they have no way of knowing that my back is crippled. But still, suddenly having 125-175 lbs dropped onto one's spine isn't good for anybody. If the shock hadn't hurt so much, I'd have turned around and punched whoever it was square in the face before I could stop myself. Hell, under normal circumstances I'd have taken out someone running at me from behind before they could even reach me, but my senses were dulled slightly from so much movement around me on all sides. Yeah, there were two or three dozen people behind me, so my guard was down slightly.
Got to meet ekishou and one of her friends, though. And at that time, I had an Excel and a Strawberry Shortcake in tow. Not that I really minded having female stalkers, but it was amusing nonetheless. Especially when folks were asking me what "my friends" names were, and I had to tell them that I quite literally had never seen them before a day in my life. I honestly had no clue what their names were, or anything about them. ^_^;;
After the +6D6 Sneak Attack Glomp, I was about ready to sit down for a spell. And I did. Headed over to a panel called "Manga-style Writing". The blurb in the booklet made it sound like it was more a writing workshop, and could help with fanfiction and such...truth be told, my main reason for going was the hopes that it'd help me out with the various RP characters I man, the majority of which come from Anime or Manga. In reality, that was the one lame point of the convention, cause it was almost exclusively how to write/publish a manga. Things like framing, size of text bubbles, and other such nonsense that is completely useless except for people trying to publish their own comics. Meh. The silver lining is that Roy Mustang's voice actor was holding a Q&A session next door, and that was quite amusing to eavesdrop on. Especially when he'd start answering questions in character. Or in someone else's character...one girl begged him to do Ed's voice, despite him not being Ed's voice actor. The crowd begged him for a while, and he eventually cried out "Brother!" in a pretty good imitation. They cheered, though complained that he had to do more than that. So he started going on and on, in Ed's voice, about how hot and dreamy that Roy Mustang is. I'm no yaoi fan, but even I had to chuckle at that. XD
Missed the "Anime in Academia" panel, which I kind of wanted to go attend. That sort of thing interests me, especially after one of my anthropology profs wanted to to publish some of my thoughts on the matter...which I really should have done, though at the time I was complaining to myself about yet another paper I would have to write. *shrugs*
The cosplay contest was next, though, and it was quite awesome this year. I've
Guess that wasn't all that "short" after all, huh? Oh well. Let's just say that the whole thing was awkward because of many, many technical difficulties. And the fact that it took ten minutes for folks at the back of the auditorium to fight their way to the front to claim their prizes. Between that, and the panels starting late, and cramming registration in the center of both main rooms AND Artist's Alley? Hopefully they'll fix some of those problems before next year...logistics was a nightmare.
Skipped the Bebop longue, instead heading over to a panel so late getting started I didn't get to see any of it before it was time for the concert. Opening act was Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re. They're supposed to be the biggest up-and-coming band in Japan right now, but I really wasn't impressed. But the main event was Peelander-Z immediately afterwards, and the kicked SO much ass. As always. I was in so much pain by this point that I just sat down and watched the show from the second row, instead of joining in with the moshing and the dancing. Still loved the hell out of it, though!
Chilled with a few more people from the late-nite crowd afterwards, but not for too long. I headed back to the room, where surprisingly most everyone was still up. Kind of surprising, but awesome since I hadn't gotten a chance to hang out with any of my Super Happy Fun Room pals up until then. Same thing the next morning...Sunday's events were kind of tame, so we all lounged around and goofed off instead of rushing back across the street.
I did catch the Evangelion discussion, though, which was pretty good (though bordered on turning into a Gainax promo once or twice). Said by to Cheebs and Spork, and one or two more folks that I coincidentally ran into while I made my final lap of the Dealer's Room. I had been proud not to blow any money up until then, but I saw a Blue Sun shirt for sale and couldn't resist buying it. Didn't have anything to do with Anime...prolly someone's Dragon*Con leftovers...but ironically it seemed to fit in with all the other random shirts with kanji/hanzi on them. I also got to meet the band from the night before. It was kind of slow at that time, so I hung out with the three Peelander guys for a few minutes, chatting with them and eventually walking away with an autographed CD. Which totally rocked. That had me grinning halfway back to Tuscaloosa.
But that is a story for another day.
Extremely, excruciatingly long story short? I had a helluva time. Last year, I didn't go to any panels till me and James hit a swordfighting one right before we pulled out Sunday afternoon. We just drank and cut up and danced and partied all weekend long. This year, I didn't exactly have that many friends to hang with. (Excluding the Super Happy Fun Room, of course, plus a few others like Cam and the Crawleys). So instead of it being a laid-back party atmosphere, I spent most of my time attending panels, admiring female cosplayers, being glomped by female cosplayers, and - gasp! - actually watching Anime. Still got to stut around like I owned the place, and still had a great time, though it was a completely different experience than previously. It sucks that a lot of the other folks didn't have all that great of a weekend, but there's always next year. It's eleven months away, and I'm already looking forward to it!