This past weekend saw the second year of Kami-con at the University of Alabama. I didn’t attend last year because I don’t think I knew about it until after the fact. This year, however, I attended because I knew plenty of people going/working the event plus my taiko drum group was set to perform the second day of the convention.
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I got to the Ferguson Center around 10:30 am on Saturday and was astounded at the attendance. I figured attendance would be a bit high as it was a big announcement that Vic Mignona, best known for providing the English voice of Edward Elric from Full Metal Alchemist, would be there. I can’t say I care for the show at all, and if I did watch it, it wouldn’t be in English. Yes, I’m an elitist when it comes to watching foreign-language film/TV. But what I can say is that Vic is one sexy man. Seriously, I’d do him.
From what I understand, there were 1000+ pre-registers for the con, not including walk-ins. Which is pretty big for a second year convention in a shitty college town. But let’s be honest, they were there for one reason (Vic).
I spent most of the day walking around with my friend and co-drummer David. I didn’t attend any of the panels, because, really, they were a bit BSy. Seemed like a lot of filler. Prop making 101? No thanks.
Also present this year was a youtuber by the name of Little Kuriboh, famous for his abridged parodies of the Yu-gi-oh! series. There were a lot of fanboys present for him as well, constantly yelling something about motorcycles and other silly shit that just got annoying to the rest of us.
Ok, so I’ve been to anime conventions before, namely Otakon ‘03 and ‘04. I know the caliber of people who attend these things and though this wasn’t nearly as severe, there were some delusional people in attendance. Great for people watching. But really? You’re 20 lbs overweight and you’re going to wear the sports bra and short-shorts as your cosplay? Let’s please try and be realistic.
Now, there were some really good cosplayers there…but not many. Very few I deemed worthy to take photos of. And, holy god, how many FMA and Death Note characters do I have to see? “OMG, like, Vic Mignona is going to be there? I’m so going to impress him by dressing as his character!” Oh. Holy. Jesus.
And to the creepy skinny kid dressed as L from Death Note: Yeah, we get it. You don’t have to walk around with your head hung low while you shove a Hershey’s in your mouth. Though he was the better of all the copies I saw.
So the one thing I really did the entire day was really nerdy, but there were quite a few people there with Pokewalkers. So much so, that many of the artists made signs advertising their desire to connect with your Pokemon. It was actually really funny to just walk around and be confronted with people pointing their Poke-gotchies at you. Got a shite-ton of items though.
The dealer’s room, though only containing about 8 vendors, was pleasing. They had a good cross-section in terms of wares. There was the guy with tons of figures and Gunpla, the women with plushies and fan-art prints (they were quite good and all of sexy boys), the guy with tons of $5 manga and $10 DVDs, and Japanese clothing. I was overjoyed to find a single copy of CLAMP’S Man of Many Faces manga, which I have been searching for for over 2 years. It went out of prints some years back and all I could ever find was vol 2. Now I have the complete set.
I’m amazed that I spent as much time as I did at the convention…doing a lot of nothing. The only things I really attended was the opening ceremonies and the cosplay contest. There were several good ones there, but I didn’t get the chance to take pictures. Though David did and I think I can just steal his.
There was also a maid cafe set up across from the dining area which served, of course, pocky and ramune. But they also had a little raffle for which I bought a single ticket. The funny thing was they sold a lot of tickets, but almost no one showed up for the actual drawing and you had to be present to win. So, David and I both ended up winning a prize. He got a Nightmare Before Christmas mini-figure of Dr. Finklestein and I got…a Naruto tin coin bank. Fuck. Fortunately, David traded with me.
Robert Axelrod spoke around 7 after the cosplay contest, which is what I was really wanting to see. But unfortunately I was starving and all the dining in the Ferguson Center had closed. We had no choice but to leave. I hated to go, especially since he had such a tiny turnout for his panel. It pissed me off that al these kids attending couldn’t appreciate this guy and make the effort to hear him speak. Having to leave for dinner also prevent us from seeing the musical guest, Lisa Furukawa. I was told she was quite good too.
After the dinner run, we came back just to check out the mini-rave they were going to hold in the ballroom. They took forever opening the doors and most of the otaku in line were already stinking up the joint. No, seriously, they smelled. But finally we got in to see one of the most hilarious sights in the world: about 100 anime nerds attempting to dance to bad techno remixes of anime theme songs. Yeah, it was pretty awful. It only took a few minutes before the smell of sweaty fat rolls permeated the entire room, causing me to vacate.
It was there that we called it a day and went home.
This was the day my drum group, Nozomi Daiko, was set to perform the opening of the Kami-con Matsuri; a mini-festival held in the ballroom where you could buy food and play games. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to start actually setting up the room until an hour and a half before they were to open. This forced the event to get pushed back an entire hour and even when the doors opened at 1pm, they were still trying to decorate and the food wasn’t even prepared. Not only that, but half of what they were to serve ended up getting thrown out for one reason or another.
However, as chaotic as it was (tensions were very high, and I don’t blame anyone), we were able to play our shortened musical set and it went surprisingly well. We had someone in the audience record us, and hopefully I’ll be able to get a copy of the file or at least a youtube link.
I didn’t hang around much on Sunday because there really wasn’t anything of interest to do and I didn’t have money to spend in the dealer’s room, nor was I interesting in buying more raffle tickets because I just didn’t want to hang out until 5pm. I somewhat regret this, as David stuck around and won another prize. Seems my odds would have been favorable.
All-in-all, the convention went fairly well. Considering this was only their second year, I have to commend them. Though there was obviously poor planning in terms of what was offered and how things were scheduled.
Some other thoughts: lose the goddamn Haruhi Suzumiya theme. The show is already slipping into irrelevancy and naming an organization plus the convention it puts on isn’t the smartest idea. Find something with more permanence and do it soon before this becomes a real yearly thing. So, I leave you with a short video of a cosplay group’s dance to the theme of Lucky Star.