We here at Anime Maru don’t get out of the house very often — how else would we bring you the finest in anime news every single day? — we’re also always up for a good old-fashioned anime convention. Where we, the unwashed masses of the anime fandom meet, mingle, and arguing relentlessly about who is best girl. For our first outing to the world beyond our front doors, Anime Maru hit up Anime Central, one of the biggest and longest running conventions in the United States. Here we bravely wore our complimentary press badges and stepped forward into the great unknown in search of all that the world of anime had to offer!
I arrived at the convention Friday morning and quickly picked up my badge from a booth far away from where the commoners who had to wait in line. I was given the usual swag: a cumbersome map that really doesn’t show you where anything is, a guidebook full of fan panels you won’t go to, and the directive to attend press interviews later in the weekend.
While fan panels are one of the few places that anime nerds can spew about their favorite topic to a captive audience for over an hour, this year’s crop of panel’s wasn’t so bad, save for the fact that no less then seven Evangelion panels were strewn across the schedule. One wonders how much was left to mine from the 1995 classic that hasn’t been discussed to death over a decade ago. Perhaps a fresh analysis of 4:22 – 12:05 of episode 4 from a new perspective? But as the saying goes “Eva will outlast us all” and will likely still have panels on the topic a century from now.
I explored the convention grounds dressed as a Touhou character. Between the costume’s floor length dress, tabard, fluffy hat, and more ribbons then any human being could possibly need to wear, I was less “exploring” and more “stumbling around the con like a drunken ape” but it was still fun taking pictures of cosplayers, and having my picture taken in turn as I waited until three in the afternoon when the Touhou photo shoot was to take place.
For those not in the know, Touhou is a series of vertical shooting games known for its cast of cute girls who tend to be cosplayed by men. This made for an interesting experience at the photo shoot, where I found myself surrounded by many many guys in dresses and make-up, conjuring up the less pleasant memories of my childhood. At one point my hat fell off — meaning I had lost all of my Touhou-related powers, which consist mostly of remembering which behatted girl is which, and wasting time playing punishingly difficult shooting games for hours on end.
I then attended a panel devoted to one of the con’s guests of honor: the staff from Key Visual Arts, a visual novel development company best known for works like Clannad, Kanon, and making their readers cry for hours on end as doe-eyed anime girls have horrible things happen to them for no good reason. The panel consisted mostly of Key’s CEO, composer, and artist talking about their craft and introducing the various works that they had produced over the years. Of course, after a montage of various games and anime they had created I started to cry, as the mere spirit of Key’s game’s is enough to bring even a grown woman to tears.
After the retrospective, fans lined up by the dozen to to ask questions which ranged from serious (“Why do you seek to make your fans sad with each of your games?”) to silly (“Who is your favorite girl you’ve created?”) This went on for good fifteen minutes before the panel was closed and I could finally free myself from the torrent of sadness that it had produced in my heart.
I cheered myself up afterward at an 80’s anime panel, where I got into a heated conversation with a panelist over using Robotech instead of Macross in his presentation. But that was it for the day, as I spent most of it in search of food and a place to sit down after walking for six hours on an empty stomach.
Join us next time for coverage of day 2 of my journey into the heart of madness!