For the past 3 days I’ve been missing in action on the internets due to Nekocon 12. After getting tired of not ever going to conventions with my friends I decided this year that I would finally go to one. Though my wallet is aching in the end it was definitely worth the price and time I paid. Get ready for a ridiculously long write up of my Nekocon adventure.
On the Road
About a dozen of us from our University’s anime club CAINE decided to go to the con together so we met up Friday afternoon at my place. The con-goers were divided up into three different cars of which two left at 5:00 while the car I rode in departed a half-hour later.
It’s a relatively long drive to Nekocon from UVA so we spent the ride talking about various things. At the beginning of the trip three of us talked about our National Novel Writing Month projects. During most of the drive we also listened to anime music from Aorii’s iPod and every time the song changed I would try to guess the series it came from. I got about 60-70% of them right which was a fun way to kill time. Inevitably our conversation would change as the background music shifted. The actual drive wasn’t too bad but our GPS gave us strange directions at times such as telling us to go in three different directions at once. I later joked that we had to split our car and reform Aquarion later on.
Meeting up and Watching Top wo Nerae!
After about two-and-a-half hours on the road we finally made it to our destination and met back up with the others at our hotel lobby. After deciding sleeping arrangements card keys were distributed and we dropped off our stuff in our rooms. Me, Citrus and our friend Peaches headed over to the convention center ahead of everybody else and we picked up our con badges. Since I didn’t preregister I paid $50 to get my three-day pass. We waited for everyone else to make their way to the con and after everyone got their badges we spent some time loitering around in front of the registration desk. During this time my friend Lan-Anh’s little sister came by and I was surprised to find out that she was an iDOLM@STER fan as well plus an all around cool person. I was especially excited to find out she was planning to cosplay as Chihaya on Saturday. After some more idle conversation amongst everyone we split off into smaller groups.
Citrus has been trying to convince me and Aorii to watch Gunbuster for the longest time so we took the chance to watch the movie version of it and its sequel Gunbuster VS Diebuster. Without going into much detail as that would require a review by itself plus the possibility of spoilers I’ll just say that the “CliffNotes version” of Gunbuster was quite good while Diebuster started off weirdly but ended awesomely. I’ll positively have to watch the original OVA versions sometime to see the stories in their entirety.
After we finished our mecha double feature we retired to our rooms but we ended up chatting for a bit before finally going to sleep for an early start Saturday.
Me and Citrus woke up around 8:30 in the morning so we could have time to prepare for the busiest and most exciting day of the con. We had a hearty complimentary breakfast in the hotel lobby before getting ready for some cosplay knowing we had a long day ahead of us. As some may have guessed from the title of my post I dressed up as Ushiromiya Battler from Umineko no Naku Koro ni so getting ready for me wasn’t too difficult though I did forget to pack my shoes so I had to walk around in sneakers. Citrus on the other hand had the harrowing task of getting in his Sesshomaru costume so he had to enlist the aid of myself and someone else. After a strange detour in search of needed help we headed back to the convention center to do a little shopping.
Browsing the Dealer’s Room
We first headed over to the Dealer’s Room to search for swag as we had planned the day before. As me and Citrus strolled in to my right I spot two Evangelion dakimakura covers to which I immediately alert Citrus saying “It’s Jackson!” He gives me a strange look like I’ve gone crazy but then realizes that I’m referring to a story he found on 4chan and told me. To make things short the tale in question features an over-the-top rich bro-like character named Jackson doing absurd antics such as offering the main character a Rei or Asuka sleeping bag after doing something horrific. Anyway we can’t help but laugh hysterically realizing what we found.
I had a very limited budget so I used this adventure to scout out items that I may have wanted to buy so that I could prioritize them before I made any careless purchases. Some of the things I thought of acquiring on site were a Nagato Yuki figure, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva, iDOLM@STER Perfect Sun, a Megami magazine with Railgun poster, ARIA artbooks, Higurashi artbooks, Toradora and K-ON cushion covers, a Toradora calender and various other things that I’m probably forgetting. Just typing this out reminds me that apparently I wanted more things than I truly realized.
While browsing Citrus would often get stopped by fangirls for photos. Meanwhile I was busy running into the others as they trickled into the Dealer’s Room. I was surprised to also find a couple of other club members who did not leave the University with the rest of the group. In particular I was amazed by the fantastic Ouran cosplay that one new member did. After navigating the sea of merchandise and bumping into friends some of us headed over to the Artist Alley.
Elegance in the Artist Alley
The Artist Alley was much less packed than the Dealer’s Room so I got to take a better look at stuff I wanted to buy. At first I didn’t find anything in particular that drew my interest right away but then I stumbled upon Laurie Marcotte of Dreams From Life Studios. As I turned a corner my super fandom radar activated and instantly I caught sight of a drawing of Touko from Maria-sama ga Miteru and exclaimed in excitement “Is that Mari-mite!?” She heard what I yelled out and as I gravitated to the booth in question she confirmed my suspicion. We went into ultra fan mode talking about having watched all 4 seasons and hoping for more since the novels have enough material for 1-2 additional seasons easy. After talking to her I knew I had to to buy her work so I got a Touko and Shimako print immediately which also happened to be the last copies. After finishing my tour of the Artist Alley we went outside and regrouped.
A Short Intermission
We decided to go take a quick lunch break since there was nothing in particular that we wanted to do at the time. After heading back to the hotel to put some of our stuff away we walked to the nearby McDonald’s and had a short meal. Afterward we went back to the convention. I found out later that everyone else I knew also went to eat there but at different times so in a sense we took different lunch shifts.
After returning we went upstairs to go watch the AMV contest. There were quite a few good videos but I ended up voting for “Number One” which featured Zero no Tsukaima. I also liked No Regrets (CLANNAD) and Death Note Rhapsody to name a few. As we walked out and went downstairs after it ended we ran into the rest of the club waiting in line for the Phoenix Wright mock trial. I didn’t really have much interest in going to see this panel but we hung around to do some chatting before parting ways again. While there though I got to take a picture of the Chihaya cosplay I was promised.
Citrus remembered that there was a booth that we missed the first time we went to the Dealer’s Room so we headed back to look. It was relatively large so it’s a wonder that we managed to skip it. There were some things that sparked our interest but we managed to keep our cool until Citrus found a particular figure. Beneath two other boxes rested a Shirai Kuroko and being the Railgun fans we are we become excited. I tried to extend my arm to get it but Citrus knocked it out of the way saying he found it first. He tried to pull the box out for a closer examination but the other figures got in the way. I took the other two off of Kuroko though I cringe for having to hold an Asa figure from Shuffle since I still hold a grudge against her. After examining it closely all of the interested parties decided to hold off and wait for new figures of her that are bound for release.
Not much happened afterward and we mostly loitered around taking the occasional photo or two. We also went back to the hotel to rest up a bit and we ended up making plans for dinner with the others as they came back to rest as well. Then we wasted even more time looking for photo opportunities. All the photos are distributed throughout the post in somewhat arbitrary manner to break up the wall of text.
The Nonexistent Chinese Restaurant
Like we all agreed we met up at the Embassy Lobby at 7 to discuss dinner plans. I think all us Asians in the group had our minds set on Chinese so we wrangled everyone into going to a place called China Garden. We confirmed it’s location and in three separate vehicles we headed for it or so we thought. According to both the GPS and the con’s guidebook it should have been located on Cunningham Drive but when we got there we only found a Taco Bell. Having no clue what was going on or where it was everyone called each other while driving around looking for it. Not making any progress at all we decided to meet up at the nearby Denny’s and ultimately we ate there instead. We later joked that either the Chinese restaurant mastered Buddhism and was able to turn invisible or that the restaurant was so poor that it had to rent out a corner in the Taco Bell.
Name That Tune
During a lively conversation I hear about the Name That Tune competition which was not on the official schedule so some of us decide to go try our luck after dinner. We drove back, dropped up some stuff and went to the convention center. I had to do some things so I was a little late and missed most of the qualifying round. I made it in time to do the last song which was Angelic Layer’s OP which I thought nobody else excluding me would know but was wrong and someone raised their hand faster than mine and got the last spot. I’m not normally very competitive but as much as I love otaku music I got serious and yelled like a maniac. From then on it was a running gag that Lan-Anh was in danger from multiple sides as me and her sister were totally absorbed into the game. I made sure to stay on the top of things since at the very least I could win the best in the audience prize for answering the most correctly after the real contestants mess up.
Luckily one of my friend’s from CAINE got a spot in the actual competition so the seven or so of us in the group formed our own rowdy cheer squad. Unfortunately he was eliminated due to bad timing as a bunch of songs he knew were played in the rounds following his. However that didn’t dampen our spirits much and we continued to make a big ruckus in the audience. I ended up answering a good number of songs sometimes being the only one to raise their hand. Usually I would also sing along while I waited for the contestants to hopefully screw up so I could score. Some of the songs I answered that neither the contestants nor the rest of the audience knew included:
- Galaxy Angel
- Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
- Valkyria Chronicles
- Suzumiya Haruhi-chan no Yuuutsu
- CLANNAD After Story
- Hayate no Gotoku Second Season
The best part is that I worked on the lyrics for at least three of the ones I answered which my friend Alex could only say sarcastically “Did you translate all the songs?”
There were also a bunch of other hilarious moments as well. At one point Kuroshitsuji’s first ending started playing and I raised my hand while Alex kept desperately telling me to put it down and to not admit to watching it but all I did was laugh and keep it up. Too bad I wasn’t quick enough on the draw to answer it myself. Another one was when Sengoku Basara’s opening started playing. Aorii and Alex starting going berserk in a maelstrom of fan fury while everyone sat puzzled wondering what song was playing. At the end when absolutely no one else could guess the two of them chimed in simultaneously with the answer. It would have been more awesome if Aorii was still in Sengoku Basara cosplay but most of us changed out of our costumes. At one point there was a song that no one at all knew. The best I could guess was that it must come from some shounen series but I really don’t watch those so I couldn’t pin a name down. After time was over the guy in charge proclaimed with joy “At a moment like this it makes me proud to say that no one knew the opening to Naruto” to which everyone reveled in laughter.
I don’t remember who won or what the prize was but as people started to file out the host was reminded that he forgot to announce the audience winner. There was some other person who could have possibly been in the running but the winner was obvious as my friends knew pointing in my direction. After he announced I was the winner I went up to get my prize–live action Chinese-produced Dragon Ball (not Evolution mind you). I could only laugh and collected my prize happily and spent the next few minutes joking with everyone about how awesomely bad the movie will be when we eventually watch it. So basically this was the biggest highlight of my con trip especially since I won.
End of the Day
Not much happened afterward. We checked out the video game room but I didn’t feel like playing though Alex kept tempting me to play some Para Para. After some general lazing about we went back to the hotel. Through some crazy chance I ended up sleeping in a different room with four other people so I camped on the floor.
The Final Play
Since Sunday was the tail-end of the con the theme of the day was to hit up the Dealer’s Room and Artist Alley for last minute purchases. Apparently everyone woke up at the same time and headed down for breakfast where we met up and exchanged some tales of con goings. After discussing the game plan we went back to our rooms and packed our stuff so that we would be ready for sign out. After leaving my stuff in Aorii’s car a group of us headed to the con one last time for a shopping blitz.
Supporting Fellow Artists
We arrived a little early only to discover a line for the Dealer’s Room so we decided to go to the Artist Alley first. The day before Citrus showed me an Old Snake badge by Zelas that I wanted but held off on. I went to the booth and after browsing more of the stuff decided on getting it plus a Midna Cell phone decoration since I love Metal Gear and Twilight Princess.
Taking my time to search for gems that I missed I found another magnificent artist. I was mesmerized by her rendition of the Vocaloids Ren and Kaito striking guitar poses so I had to buy it. I got two pieces of candy and one of her mini prints for free with the purchase but unfortunately I forgot to get one of her business cards so I feel real bad that I can’t advertise for her. Please tell me if you know who she is.
Return to the Dealer’s Room
Satisfied with supporting my fellow artists we went back to the now open Dealer’s Room. Still a little unsure of what to buy I examined the booths more carefully this time. I stumbled upon the FUNimation booth (I believe) and was excited when I found some Negima merchandise. I searched around and found a cute Nodoka key chain that I had to buy. When I went up to pay the worker told me about a Nodoka plushie they also had so I asked her to let me have a look. Since Nodoka is my number one favorite character from anything and the person I am named after I gave in easily and bought the both of them without a second thought.
Right next door was the video game booth filled with plenty of imports. I was thinking of picking up either Perfect Sun or Project Diva so I checked my wallet only to find out I only had enough money to get one game or figure or something else. I remembered that there were some artbooks I could get at Sasuga so I headed over for a second look. I was debating which ones I wanted but I spied on the shelf the word Higurashi written in hiragana on the spines of several books and right above them I found the Umineko manga. I felt obligated as a translator of the manga to buy legit copies so I got the four volumes I didn’t own.
Thinking that was the end of my purchases me and Aorii headed towards the front entrance but Aorii stopped for a bit to look at a plushie. Aorii asked if that was a Rin and a little puzzled I looked trying to find Tousaka Rin from Fate/stay Night. I then realized Aorii was referring to Rin from Little Busters and then I spotted her. Right next to her I saw some other plushies and asked “is that Misuzu?” After discussion with the owner we found out that it was a set of 5 plushies (Ayu, Misuzu, Nagisa, Rin and Komari) for Key’s 10th Anniversay. Aorii really wanted to get the whole set but was kind enough to part with one and let me have the Misuzu knowing that she’s also one of my top favorite characters ever.
We did a little wandering around but most everyone was done at this point so we decided to quit early. We went to back to the hotel and regrouped and left one car at a time. The ride back was pretty much mostly me keeping Aorii from dozing off while driving by guessing songs on his playlist which I do as habit. Our car was not hungry so we didn’t get a real lunch instead only stopping once for gas and some snacks.We made it back safely although worn out.
Artist Alley Total – $40
Dreams From Life Studios – Laurie Marcotte
- Toudou Shimako Print – $7
- Matsudaira Touko Print $7
- Midna Celtak – $4
- Old Snake Mini-Button – $2
Sorry I don’t have your name; I forgot to get your card
- Ren and Kaito Print with Free Mini-Print – $20
Dealer’s Room Total – $79
FUNimation Booth – $19
- Nodoka Plushie
- Nodoka Keychain
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni Episode 1 Manga Volume 2 & 3
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni Episode 2 Manga Volume 1
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni Episode Collection
I don’t remember
- Misuzu Plushie $15
- Dragon Ball Chinese Live Action Movie- Free ($15 value)
Although I can’t compare Nekocon to any other convention I’m quite happy to experience my first con adventure. Obviously the variety and size of events can’t compare to much larger events such as Otakon but there was enough to get me excited about coming back again next year and checking out other ones. I’m planning on going to Otakon and hopefully I’ll run into other Umineko cosplayers especially a Beatrice. Maybe I’ll also try a Kaito so I can hang out with some Vocaloids as well. After talking to some artists and getting inspired I also want to get a booth at the Artist Alley with some friends next time. I think between me and my friends we’ll be able to make a decent showing and get our names and work out there. Overall it was a fun excursion and I can’t wait until next time.