The NekoCon Diaries (Part 1): Introduction and Panel Discussion

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So last weekend (11/6-11/9), I was at NekoCon 18 in Hampton Virginia and it was the first big(ish) con I had ever been to.  I went there with occasional site collaborator Matthew Wimer (Doctor Scientist) who had been there about two years ago.   I was very nervous overall and, as I usually do, ended up not talking to very many people and just wandered around in my down time.  I didn’t get a lot of pictures which I feel kind of silly about in hindsight, but those are the breaks.  Maybe next year I’ll do better and be a bit more active overall.  Still, I can use this space to talk about my experiences and the panels/events that we took part of throughout the weekend!  Let’s get started!!

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Lovely Heart Maid Café

So for some reason, Doctor Scientist was pretty insistent that we get to this place at some point, but I wasn’t all that into the idea.  Sure enough, when we did get there it was a pretty awkward experience.  I can understand the appeal of Kawaii stuff in anime and whatnot, but it wasn’t all that comfortable for someone to be hanging around the table making cute faces and acting like a seven year old while in a maid outfit.  Now it seems that all the girls who were working there were REALLY into the roles and were enjoying themselves for the most part (they were technically working as waitresses, so only a certain level of fun can realistically be achieved) and the maid who was working at our table eventually convinced me to pay a dollar to have a picture taken with them.  I had Doctor Scientist take it and of course he screwed it up, but I didn’t feel the need to either insist that the maid take another picture or pay her for another one.

Seriously dude.  Have you EVER used a camera phone before!?  And yes, I’m dressed as Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes.
Seriously dude.  Have you EVER used a camera phone before!?  And yes, I’m dressed as Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes.

The best part of the whole experience was that we ended up sharing a table with two other people that came to the café alone Marcus and Lara) and had a great time talking to them!  We even tried to do a group photo, but they wouldn’t let us, as it was against the rules of the café.  I’m guessing the rule is in place to make sure that people don’t take photos of the maids without their consent (and paying for it first), but it was a bit disheartening that the four of us couldn’t get one together.  I was able to get this one of Doctor Scientist (as the Matt Smith doctor) and Laura before we were caught trying to take a group photo.

SERIOUSLY!!  Not only can’t he take a picture, but he can’t even look at the camera when he’s in one!!
SERIOUSLY!!  Not only can’t he take a picture, but he can’t even look at the camera when he’s in one!!

All the money they collected from the café (presumably after paying the hotel for the space and for cooking the food) went directly to the Be the Match organization (https://bethematch.org/) and everyone else there seemed to be having a good time.  Maybe I was just a sourpuss that day and couldn’t really get into the aesthetic and vibe of the place, but there’s no doubt that they worked hard to put this together and that they were doing it for a good cause!  If you’d like to find out more about the Lovely Heart Maid Café, you can check out their Facebook page!

https://www.facebook.com/lovelyheartmaidcafe/

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RinRin Doll Q&A

One of the guests of the convention was an international Lolita model known as RinRin Doll and her big event was a tea party on Sunday, but she had a Q&A on Friday before that.  It started out with a sizzle reel of some of the events she worked which led to her talking about how she became a model and some of the current projects she was working on and then she opened the floor to questions.  None of the questions were all that interesting, some of them being “what brand of makeup do you wear”, “what anime do you like”, and “do you listen to music”.  RinRin herself though was always professional and on point which was interesting to watch because she was clearly jetlagged from her flight over here yet was still as polite and sharp as can be expected.  I ended up asking her what she thought was the leading factor that contributed to her success in the industry.  While she does put in the hours and works very hard within her field, she believes that being bilingual (English and Japanese with some Chinese) made it easier for her to get work in various locations without the need of hiring a translator.  While I thought the demo reel at the beginning was a pretty underwhelming, the panel definitely picked up when she started to address the audience directly and it’s clear that she’s very smart and business savvy individual.  If you want to find out more about RinRin Doll, you can check out here website!!

http://rinrindoll.com/

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Space Opera: The Other Side of the Space Western

Full disclosure here!  I’m friends with he guy who ran this panel (Adam Seats) so use that k owl edge for what it’s worth.  Basically, the guy condensed a hundred years of Science Fiction knowledge into an hour long presentation with a heavy focus on sci-fi anime in the seventies towards the end.  Adam was very energetic, could easily be heard (which somehow is harder than you’d think at these panels), and made the presentation entertaining to an extent.  My problem though is that the information felt dry and the PowerPoint he was working from was bland.  He legitimately dropped some knowledge and used his charisma to make it an enjoyable sit, but I never got into it all that much and frankly didn’t get much of a solid (or interesting) distinction between space opera and any other type of space fiction.  This presentation might work better with a more focused topic instead of trying to cram a hundred years of literature into such a short amount of time, but at least Adam kept it entertaining.

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The American History Behind Assassin’s Creed 3

This actually kind of had the opposite problem that the Space Opera panel had, in that it had a very narrow focus that was interesting (comparing Assassin’s Creed 3 to actual historical events) but the presentation itself was lackluster. The presenter incorporated video clips from the game itself, but they were overlong, they were too quiet, and the presenter didn’t dim the house lights which made the clips hard to see.  Also, the presenter’s expertise seemed to mostly swing in the way of American history as opposed to the Assassin’s Creed franchise which isn’t a BAD thing, unless the game is half your presentation.  I’m sure all the information they conveyed her could easily be looked up on Wikipedia or seen in a couple of YouTube videos, but it was an enjoyable enough panel overall.  Oh wait, it did teach me one thing!  THERE’S A RAP MUSICAL ABOUT ALEXANDER HAMILTON!!!!   WHO THE HELL THOUGHT OF THAT AND WHY AREN’T THEY BILLIONAIRES!?  HELL, WHY ISN’T THERE A MOVIE YET!?

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How the US Navy Brought You Anime

If the Space Opera pane; was well done but unfocused and the Assassin’s Creed panel was informative but underwhelming, this one finds the perfect balance between the two.  The presentation feels completely professional in that they convey A LOT of information in the mere hour they have to present it, yet it never feels overwhelming or clipped for time.  The name is a SLIGHT misnomer as most of it is about Japan’s foreign relation policy throughout the last couple hundred years and only towards the end gets into the cultural exchange between the US and Japan after World War 2.  Everything said though was fascinating and it even taught me some stuff I didn’t know before, like how Japanese game developers would take games to US military bases to play them and see if they would appeal to a western audience!  That’s really cool!!  The only thing I didn’t like, and it’s by no means the presenters fault, is that when it got turned over to questions pretty much everyone who got called on was just there to grandstand.  One person started talking about the recent vote to allow military actions overseas, another was promoting some sort of book, and someone else wanted to make sure that we knew Japan was getting US comic books in the 1950s.  I mean I GUESS these are all things worth talking about, but why would you be a dick and hijack someone else’s presentation to do it?  Other than that though, it was a stellar panel and probably the best one of the entire convention!

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Friday Night Fanfiction Presents: Terribly Terrible Erotic Fanfiction (and you!)

Before I rip into this one, I did catch the panel beforehand which was the FUNimation Peep Show.  It was the very end and they were playing a game called “Guess Dem Titties” where they show close up shots of bewbs in FUNimation licensed anime and, sure enough, the audience had to guess which show Dem TITTIES came from.  For fuck’s sake…

ANYWAY!!  I did not last long in the Fanfiction panel because I found it boring and obnoxious.  I’ve never listened to the Friday Night Fanfiction podcast (which apparently has no connection to the long dead Topless Robot written series Fan Fiction Friday by Rob Bricken), so maybe it’s a bit smarter or on point when it’s just the “professional” readers ripping the stories apart, but in this cluster fuck of hooting fans and audience participation, it just became a chore to sit through.  There’s an art to reading terrible fanfiction, and the first hurdle you have to get past is to know that a story isn’t funny BY ITSELF.  The mere existence of shocking content isn’t enough for me to enjoy it and the reader has to be an equal participant in the absurdity.  This is what Fan Fiction Friday did right for the most part.  I’m not about to say that everything Rob Bricken wrote was great or that he always chose the right stories, but he had a way of writing those that made them quite enjoyable (I recommend The King’s Garfield as probably his best one).  This was nothing but shock value and it was also undercut because the stories chosen (or at least the ones I bothered to stay for) seemed written to shock instead of with any sincerity.  Hell, if they were going to make a joke, they could have at least injected wit into them and written them with an ounce of skill other than using a dart board of proper nouns and gross sexual positions.  Watch, I’ll show you how easy this is.

Edward Cullen and Bayonetta were burping into each other’s butts.  Then Kane and Lynch walked over and shot them both in the heads before making out with each other.  That’s when Clark Gable came into the scene, gave them both hand jobs and then blew their brains out with a shotgun before blowing his own head off.  The end.

There ya go!  I bet if I kept going with that, that everyone in the auditorium would have lost their minds for it even though I just did that off the top of my head with no real effort.  I left after two stories of that nonsense and was happy to be out of there, especially considering how late the damn thing was.  Once again, I may have just been a sour puss considering that EVERYONE ELSE AROUND ME seemed to be enjoying it, and I don’t object to the idea in theory. In fact, I wanted to do a podcast similar to that just a few years ago but never got it off the ground.  You can check out their website and the podcast by clicking on the link!!

http://nerdyshow.com/fridaynightfanfiction/

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And just a couple more things to wrap this up!!

HOLY CRAP THAT’S a cool figurine!!  $100!?!?!?  HELL NO!!!!

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I met someone at the manga table dressed as Phantom Thief Kid, and we actually got to discussing Detective Conan which is one of my favorite anime of all time with one of the best dubs out there!  She runs a Detective Conan recap Tumblr so you should go check it out!!

I did manage to get a COUPLE of pictures of people in really cool cosplays!

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So I’m never actually gonna find one of these things in the US, am I?  No home release for AMERICA?  Ugh…  I WANN PLAY THIS SO BAD RIGHT NOW!!!  This is Para Para Dancing and if you look at the center area, there are eight light panels that you can wave your hands over and they work similarly to a DDR machine where you have to match the on screen prompts.  I think I got pretty good at it, but what are the chances I’ll run into one these machines again!?  THEY WERE ONLY MADE FOR JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA!!!!

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Well that should be enough for now!  You can continue to the next part which is an in-depth look at the FUNimation and Aniplex industry panels they had at the convention!  That, or you can skip right ahead to Swag Review and Grab Bag Unboxing to check out all the loot.

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