Anime Conji 2011 (Saturday Coverage)

Either the quality of Naruto cosplay has risen ever so slightly each year since its convention debut back in 2005 (or at least as far as I remember first seeing them), or I’m just getting used to seeing fans sporting the classic orange jumpsuit/hair combination. Still, it was great to be among the sea of fellow anime/manga lovers again.

Apart from a curiously long wait in line for on-site registration and practically getting lost in the jungle of a hotel/resort, there were a handful of interesting things to check out, good items to pick up, and people to meet. I had the good graces of meeting two photographers that certainly had a bit more gear than me, as well as some experience to boot. Would I go again? Probably. At least I know what the layout of the place is now so as to not get utterly lost next time.

Sasuke had ears and was emo at one point? What sort of fillers have I been missing?

Boo-faced M. Bison

I waited nearly a half an hour for on-site registration, which by comparison to Anime LA just two months prior took me roughly five to ten minutes. In terms of convention size and scope, I found Conji’s wait time to be a little disappointing. What made up for the wait time were two nameless entertainers who went around and talked to the folks in the line. One of them approached me and asked what my favorite series is, to which I swiftly replied “well, I think it’s better to narrow down the question to a particular season, and then ask me what my favorite show was.” According to that person, it immediately earned myself an ‘anime elitist’ badge, only without the badge. I honestly wanted to say Honey & Clover, but I couldn’t think of it at the time because I was thinking too much about which Winter 2011 show I liked the most. Seriously, I watch so many shows that it’s hard to even recall what I watched for the Fall 2010 season without looking back at some notes or an archive.

For the record, it’s a close tie between Fractale and Kimi ni Todoke 2nd season. Yeah, I know they’re two of the more subtle shows this season, but the other shows have just been hit and miss the past few weeks. Dragon Crisis, for instance, took me three or four weeks to gather up enough interest to begin watching it, and now I’m completely caught up and loving the show.

Hurray for Black Rock Shooter! I seriously can’t get enough of the characters for this show. So well designed that I’m still thinking of picking up the GSC 1/8 scale versions of BRS and Dead Master. Still too high in price at this point, though.

He’s back!! I still can’t believe how many anime songs he knows how to play. On the fly. With style. Amp? Yeah, at his waistline. Kind of wished he brought a guitar, though.

This family was super awesome. How often do you see an entire family dress up for one of these conventions? They make me want to pick up Gurren Lagann again because I still haven’t finished it yet.

Rockin' the Hef robe

Secret Samurai was first performer of the day. By the time their set finished, I had a very strong urge to go pick up a surf board and catch some waves just a few miles south. Their blend of SoCal surf rock was really good and almost hypnotic to listen to.

 

You can tell this production is going to be good based on that camera angle in the back.

I seriously do wonder what show they’ll be on.

Either I should be disappointed that this is one of the very few Bleach cosplayers I saw, or I had my eyes closed for too much of the day. I thought the black cloth was well done (and yes, I know it’s a rather simple design, but still).

This gentleman had every bit as sarcasm as Vash would have in real life. Loved it! I also like how his first instinct when I directed him towards the chairs before taking the photo was to sit down. It’s a good thing he didn’t stay seated because the ash tray would have made the shot look awkard.

Eruka from Soul Eater arrived! Yeah, no other cosplayers from that series that I noticed. By the way, for anyone who’s seen it, I still get a kick out of how freaked out Eruka got after Asura makes his debut. Terrifyingly entertaining.

Dark storm trooper on guard duty by the pool. His/her entourage was pretty cool as well. Good thing it’s not summer yet because that outfit would probably be super hot come June.

Whether it was by sheer coincidence or not, I still thought it was fantastic timing that Traci Hines decided to whip out a cover of “Wish” by Olivia inspi. Reira from the NANA series soundtrack. She even had a hybrid of Japanese and English words mixed into the lyrics. I give her lots of kudos and credit for doing so, but I wonder if she knew about the already-existing English version that was recorded for Reira’s EP.

I don’t usually save the best for last since I try to be fair with all of my photos…but I think this is the best photo I took that day. A bit washed out and bright, but the light shining just right at the tip of her blade made it such a great photo to me.

Panels/Other Notables

  • Photo Session – I had a nice chat with Mike Rollerson here about lots of photography and convention topics. It’s too bad the expansive room was highly underutilized because it had lots of nice chairs, couches, and tables to use as backgrounds for cosplay photos. It’s in this room that I also met Sebastian Jespersen, another notable photographer whom I eventually had a few more conversations with even outside of the room later in the day. I really admire these two and their sense of knowledge in all things photography, and their admiration for the anime/manga subculture. While I definitely appreciate the level I’m at right now, I now have more examples to look up to in order to refine my own style and improve.
  • Cosplay gathering: Vocaloid – Para para galore, so I wasn’t surprised. Lots of colorful cosplay outfits. Pretty soon, I’m going to find myself anonymously at a Vocaloid concert in Japan and wonder how I even got into it in the first place. The technology has come a long way in my opinion, especially with Miku Append that came out a few years ago. Looking forward to Vocaloid 3 for its supposedly impressive realism.
  • Panel: Everything Shojo – Either it started off slow, or I was just tired from lack of sleep and wandering the convention the first half of the day. Lots of interesting info about what defines the Shojo category. Some series that were discussed and caught my attention were Pretear, Captive Hearts, Kimi ni Todoke being considered ‘wallflower’ shojo (I’d have never known), Rose of Versailles, Dramacon, Shugo Chara, and yes…Sailor Moon.
  • Articulated Figures – the kind folks at Plastic Joint talked about the different types and categories of figures, mainly those involving points of articulation like figma and robot damashii. I was convinced that this panel was to be about all kinds of figures and was hoping they’d talk a little about nendoroids and 1/8-scale figures like the ones I’ve been getting into lately, but little was mentioned.
  • Dealer’s Hall – compact, but still had some decent booths to check out. I bought merchandise from Yes Animation and Hyperbooster’s Studio, but photos of the goods are pending for another post.

I missed out on the Masquerade and Dragonball Evolution Roast mainly because family was in town and I wanted to have dinner with them before they left. For what I was able to attend and experience, Saturday’s Anime Conji made for a relatively positive convention adventure. Drawbacks in funky map layouts, long registration times, and sketchy panel content were some of the biggest drawbacks for Conji, but the overall content of the convention and the people I got to meet made for a satisfying trip. I would consider going for only one day again next year if the opportunity arises before determining if an entire weekend is worth the mileage and time to get there.

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