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Con Report: Alcon 2014 – Duck Season


A fixture on the abridgers’ calendar in terms of conventions – Alcon has been a regular haunt for the British contingent of the fan parody community. I myself have been going as a guest since 2010 with LittleKuriboh first representing the community in 2009. In 2014, Alcon returns for its eighth outing with over one thousand four hundred attendees descending on the city of Leicester for a four-day anime bonanza…and lots of drinking.

alcon_1Alcon is the premier event of the UK anime group Animeleague which has been run since 2007 at Leicester’s De Montfort University. It provides over one hundred events over four days in two of the campus’s buildings with the bulk of them being held in the lecture hall known as the Queen’s Building [unfortunately Her Majesty was not present for the weekend!]. You might be wondering why there’s a rubber duck with the mascots. That started in 2013 with the trend of rubber ducks appearing throughout the event culminating with the rise of a giant duck known as King Duck. From there, it has become a staple in the Animeleague world and you will find numerous gatherings of these ducks squeaking incessantly. Weird, but intrinsic of a strong community! One thing to make clear is that Alcon is a sixteen-plus convention as it mostly takes place in the student bar of the Student Union building. Drinking and partying is a core part of the Alcon experience so if you’re averse to that, stick to the Queen’s Building for most of the time as you can find vendors, cosplay and gaming there.

alcon_6When it comes to the abridgers, we had a strong showing this year [although not quite as many as last year]. This year we had LittleKuriboh, xthedarkone, Faulerro, PurpleeyesWTF, EileMonty, Lady Nanaki and myself. Along us was the famous voice actor Trina Nishamura fresh off the back of the English Attack on Titan dub as well as the internet musical star Brentalfloss. Alcon is able to get a good guest roster and packs out a lot of live acts to work with the anime and cosplay guests which work well to cater for a wide audience and keep the young audience pumped out throughout the weekend; it’s pretty tiring come Sunday! Each of us had our own Q&A panel except for myself [I wasn’t quick enough to get one in but I DID have a panel which I shall explain about later] in a different place to where we had been placed up to now. This year, we had our panels in the Main Talks section opposite the main stage as opposed to the main lecture room in the Queen’s Building. We were a little perplexed at this choice because the room was very long and people at one end of the room might not be able to see the people on the very small stage; it’s hard to get eight people on a stage which is eight feet by five feet! We also had issues with acoustics from the main stage with music or other panels’ audio spilling into our room and making it a little hard to hear the people on stage. On some days it wasn’t so bad, but on the Thursday and Friday it was pretty disruptive. Perhaps something to consider in the future; either better microphone speakers or more effective scheduling so one panel doesn’t overpower the other aurally.

alcon_3The vendor’s area was this time split into two sections of the lower floor of the Queen’s Building. First off there was the dealer’s room which had historically been very cramped and prone to traffic jams; not good for those who are claustrophobic. However this year was different; more of the vendors had been moved into the main foyer freeing up space in the dealer’s room for more of the larger shops and outlets to sell stuff leaving the foyer for more home-made and artistic vendors. It was a much better setup and made more use of the space on offer. Next door was the cosplay cafe which has always been good in my eyes, but I didn’t get to go in there during the weekend as scheduling conspired against me. All in all, the Queen’s Building was much better organised this time around – keep it up!

alcon_4Come Saturday and one of the examples of how Alcon has stumbled when it comes to organisation. The convention has historically had problems with scheduling with panels running late especially on the main stage. This year had been better in that regard but it still came back to haunt us when EileMonty’s Blind Reading panel was pushed back after the previous panel overran. Then it was merged into my Bad Fanfiction panel which I didn’t mind doing to help out the schedule but was still a little haphazard. Then shortly before the panel was meant to start, EileMonty’s set was moved to the start of the Charity Auction and mine was restored to its original slot. I was glad my friend was able to keep her reading kind of but the fact it was disrupted that much was a little irritating; in the end though, it still got to be run so you can’t complain too much I guess. Speaking of my fanfiction panel, it went spectacularly. I had one hour in the original lecture hall we used to be in all the time which was ideal for its raised seating and good acoustics; in fact it was even better as the audio/visual equipment had been upgraded in the year between cons. I also had the luxury of having plenty of material in reserve. I had fourteen fanfictions for the panel and only needed to get through seven of them with the help of PurpleEyesWTF and Laura Dale [respected gaming journalist]. The audience were laughing their heads with me as each story was read out and I enjoyed myself immensely. It was probably one of the best panels I’ve ever done and I hope to develop the format some more when I go to J-Con in two weeks.

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In the end, Alcon was a decent experience with a few hiccups along the way in terms of logistics. I will always go to this event mainly because it’s the best place to meet up with my friends and that’s evident that that is part of why most attendees go; it’s a great place to hang out with friends, meet some of my British fanbase and have a laugh in the relaxed student atmosphere. I still feel that Alcon is a little conservative when it comes to growth with only two hundred extra tickets available this year over last year. It has enough of a presence on the UK anime scene to warrant over two to three thousand attendees after this long on the convention circuit. In any case, it’s a pretty good party con and a special place because of the people that go to it. Everyone is happy to see each other and there’s plenty going on so you won’t be bored!

For more information, go to www.alcon.org.uk

Additional: Check out this cool Kid Gohan cosplay! :)

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Con Report: San Japanderful Times in Texas


After only day back from Finland, it was time to head out again. This time, my girlfriend and I were off across the Atlantic to sunny Texas. VERY sunny Texas. This hasn’t been my first time in Texas this year, but it was my first time exploring a different region of the state – San Antonio. A place where it’s hotter and the culture is distinctly more in keeping with its Mexican connection. The convention: San Japan. One of the conventions which many of my acquaintances had recommended over the last few months when I got a request from the con chair to join LittleKuriboh and the rest of the TeamFourStar posse. How could I say no? I had heard good stuff about this event and that stuff was pretty accurate!

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San Japan has been around in some shape or form since 2005 with its first event two years later. Since then, it has steadily grown in size peaking at over fourteen thousand attendees this year. When I arrived on the Wednesday night prior to the event I was greeted by the head of guest relations, Ken, who drove us from the airport to the Grand Hyatt in downtown San Antonio. We were both tired but we were happy to see him and chat a little before being even happier with the sight of a bed. The Thursday was spent to some light sightseeing of the famous Riverwalk which is located right by the hotel where the convention is situated as well as greeting the rest of the TeamFourStar gang as they trickled in later that day. I also got to properly meet Uncle Yo after briefly seeing him at Otakon the year before and he was a cool bloke; really got on with him as we hung out in the green room and walked past one another during the weekend. One of the highlights was a boat ride on the Riverwalk laid on for the guests at night – it’s a very beautiful and calming experience. If you are going to do the boat ride while you’re in the city, do it at night. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Suffice to say, the choices of things to do around the convention site are long and numerous – you will not be bored!

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As for the con itself, I was worked pretty hard! I was planning to stay a few days after the con and in return I agreed to do some more panels and help judge the AMV contest on the Saturday which did mean missing a TeamFourStar autograph session but it couldn’t be helped! I always give autographs if people ask for them. My duties included laying on a voice acting panel, joining LittleKuriboh on his panel to add a distinct British flavour to the Texan menu, judging the AMV contest as well as the autograph signings, main panels and VIP sessions which the rest of the TeamFourStar crew were doing. It meant that I wasn’t bored in the slightest but I was pretty tired – a good kind of tired though. The type of tired which comes when you know you’ve done a good job. Most of these panels went by very well and I was happy to be with my friends on these panels well-received by thousands of congoers. The voice acting panel in particular was neat. I had honestly forgotten about agreeing to do it and I quickly had to think about stuff to talk about but thankfully I had a receptive audience who had plenty of questions to ask regarding the medium. It was great to see such an enthusiastic bunch wanting to get into the field. One girl in particular was taking notes with a fervoured expression and came up to me afterwards asking for clarification like her life depended on it! Several people came up to me afterwards actually – it was nice to have a gang of people asking for more. I definitely have to thank Dave [the con chair of San Japan] for getting me back into doing AVA [amateur voice acting] panels!

You know how I said that most of the panels went by OK? Well..the AMV contest – oh dear. For an event that was meant to be three hours, simply show AMVs and judge the best, it was a logistical mess. The group that had been asked to conduct it on behalf of San Japan were friendly when things weren’t so frantic, but when the problems with playback of the videos and the wiring of the computers kept haunting the group things started to get very tense and tempers frayed; it left me feeling me a little awkward as the crowd filtered out. A solution to the problem? Just plug a laptop in and make a playlist, let it run and judge them as they play. Simple! Why all the faff of carrying a heavy PC onto the stage as well as a printer and two monitors? Oh well! Lessons learned for next year. One thing to point out that the convention itself did the best they could with assisting the outside group in terms of getting wires and holding dodgy cables in place for up to twenty minutes at a time. Other than that blemish, the con staff and panels went by swimmingly.

sanjapan_2When it comes to an anime convention, there has to be an artist alley and dealer’s hall. San Japan had that and they were HUGE. Not only huge, but also diverse. All sorts of things to see, admire, buy, dream of buying and talk about with friends. I was able to find some cool stuff as well as some rare stuff like a copy of Dragonball Z: Sagas for the Gamecube [quite possibly one of the worst DBZ games ever] and a couple of hard to find Nadesico prints and cutouts from magazines which were vintage 1997. I was happy! The artist alley too was impressive with loads of talented people showing their works including one booth which sold a wonderful Toothless pendant I got for my girlfriend. So cute! Next to the artist alley was a special area for LARPing [live-action role playing] and foam samurai battles which looked like fun but I didn’t pluck up the courage to try it myself. All these activities came together to make a brilliant whole where you can easily spend a couple of hours trawling for some unusual wares and things to do. The gaming area next door too was plentiful with offerings including numerous Smash Brothers booths, DDR machines as well as a Para Para machine which is one of my favourites [the one where you move your hands in rhythm], such fun. There was even a Virtual ON machine! Happy days! The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Centre, which hosted San Japan, was a vast venue with large rooms and airy social spaces but it was a little confusing to get used to initially; I did end up getting lost for the first day or two! However, you quickly acclimatise to the building and you start not running into empty halls. It was also able to host multiple events such as sports coach conferences as well as a teacher conference; how these people managed to cope with us awesome anime folk!

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In terms of guest duties’, I experienced my first VIP brunch with some attendees who had bought gold passes for San Japan. They joined the guests in a delicious brunch laid on by the Hyatt. I was placed on my own table as were the rest of the TeamFourStar gang and managed to fill half the table with some fans who wanted to eat and chat with me; I got some really cool people and it filled the two hour session nicely; I’d do it again! A surprise appearance was the music star TheLivingTombstone. He arrived on the Sunday morning and my girlfriend and I walked him around the con and helped him secure a decent meal and room for the night. He also got to meet some shocked fans of his who didn’t expect him to be there. I had known Tombstone for a while online but this surprise meeting was a welcome one.

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Was San Japan able to live up to the hype that preceded it? You bet! It was a blast! The Texas heat didn’t stop me from enjoying this charming convention and friendly staff who were always around to help make sure I got to my events on time and safely. Not only that, but I got to say hello to some of my voice acting heroes such as Lisa Ortiz and Chris Ayers; awesome! My big and warm thanks to Dave, Darcy, Molly and the countless tech staff who helped out on our panels – you guys made this convention special and I can thoroughly recommend this convention to anyone interested in anime. It has a lot of heart, a ferocious drive [it has plans for its development going through to 2018!!] and a focused staff. Big up to all the green shirts!

For more information about the convention, go to San Japan’s website or follow them on Twitter!

ADDITIONAL: Check out the size of the convention badges given to guests and staff – they were enormous! I included a pound coin for reference.

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ADDITIONAL ADDITIONAL: Thank you so much to the fans who made these awesome gifts for me and the rest of the TeamFourStar bros. Team COAS-TAR!

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Con Report: Anime near the Arctic


When I first went to this convention, I was curious to see how anime was received in a European country. Anime in Europe has a longer history than in the UK or the USA and as such it has a far more engrained integration with people. This was self evident and I was blown away with the refinement of the Finnish convention, Animecon…despite being unable to understand most of its offerings!

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Refined – that’s one word that I’d describe Animecon of being. It’s a refined experience and surprisingly big! Bigger than conventions in my home country and it has ten times the general population than Finland! Clearly, anime is big in the Fennoscandia region. This year marked my second outing and this time I was on my own. The previous time [in 2012] saw me joined by fellow TeamFourStar members KaiserNeko and LittleKuriboh; now I was flying solo as the sole representative and had a packed schedule. Three panels with my name on them – I’ll get to those later. The main thing I want to get across is that this con is amazing and so friendly.

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Over three thousand people descended on the town of Kuopio, over two hundred miles northeast of Helsinki. That’s a big number to fit in the town’s music school; but they did just that! The school is just a few minutes walk from the town’s main square where there is a packed market and a rich selection of restaurants and shops to kill time between panels and events. For those seeking a little more nature, the lake surrounding the town is visible from the venue and you can easily get a nice walk in with plenty of chances for pictures if you want to get a good backdrop for your cosplay portfolio. Speaking of cosplay, the Finns take it very seriously and yet there’s no drama. People cosplay for fun and not for success; they just like to put time and effort into their attire and enjoy themselves. I loved that simplicity and good nature. The entire convention emanated good nature and fun; even ‘The Yaoi Guy’ was on top form! The dealer’s hall was spread over two areas; the main part in the central area of the school and the other part on the first floor landing. It contained the usual anime convention mix of manga, anime, plushies, badges and merch but it also had Viking-based steampunk wares which I was really tempted in getting but my wallet had other ideas. That’s one thing I was saddened by – the price of stuff in the dealer’s market. I know it’s not the con’s fault; it’s more of an intrinsic problem in Finland. Things are more expensive there and from an outsider’s perspective it’s off-putting but it’s how things are in the country and thusly you can’t do much about it other than overthrowing the government…something tells me a group of cosplayers aren’t going to march on Helsinki anytime soon though!

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During the weekend, I had my trusty handler Teme providing an ad-hoc commentary on certain events such as the opening ceremony and certain panels which were naturally conducted in Finnish. He was a brilliant handler and now a good friend. My thanks go to him for making mine and my girlfriend’s time in Kuopio a hassle-free experience. Fortunately, the education system in Finland meant that everybody I came into contact with understood and spoke English so it meant little chance of things getting lost in translation. My three panels were the only panels in English so they stood out quite a bit! I also got to meet up with some of my friends from my last visit; Pasi, Rosa, Violetta and the con chair Lassi were happy to see me and I was happy to see them. They made my stay the first time so much fun and did the same again this year! I felt very well catered for. The other guest on the bill was the famous manga artist Kaoru Mori. I got to meet her and her entourage during the weekend and found them to be very friendly and keen to talk to myself and my girlfriend at evening meals. Of course they got more attention than I did but I had no problem with that since they needed it as this was their first time in the country and I was more versed with Kuopio’s layout and could look after myself if need be; I felt good with proceedings!

animecon_5On to my panels. I had three – an Anifile-themed panel, a fanfiction reading session and a playthrough of a dating sim…of the feathered kind. Naturally that last one filled the room and over two hundred people laughed at my antics playing the game ‘Hatoful Boyfriend’ with my character titled ‘Awesome Kuopio’. Sadly the game crashed on me after an hour but I was about to run out of time anyway so it wasn’t a disaster; people had fun all the same. The Anifile panel played host to a first screening of my review of School Days as well as showings of some of my recently produced episodes which went down quite well and led to some enquiries about the website. Finally, was the fanfiction panel which was fantastic! Probably one of the best I’ve ever done. It consisted of me reading bad fanfiction for an hour with laughs aplenty from both myself and the audience. All the audience members were polite and enthusiastic but a little shy as is the Finnish way. I was so nervous about how my panels would be received but I needn’t have worried; they were all successes. Yay!

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Finally, there was the convention’s star attraction – the Saturday night concert. The town’s orchestra as well as a famous Finnish opera singer came together and performed a selection of anime tunes to the delight of the crowd. I consider this as the con’s party piece and what makes it special. Hearing a forty-plus orchestra serenade its way through a rendition of My Neighbour Totoro’s soundtrack was a joyous occasion. There’s something inspirational about hearing music live. It sent shivers up my spine! A truly wonderful experience.

animecon_2Animecon is a Finnish convention mainly for Finnish anime fans but despite this language barrier, I didn’t feel lost or isolated at all. People I met and conversed with were hospitable and keen to chat. I had a lot of fun and would not say no about returning next year! The convention gives off a smart and sophisticated air and makes it stand out with its selection of guests and events. I would recommend this as a convention which is well-run, loveable and brilliant. Of course if you don’t speak Finnish you won’t get the maximum from it but you can still have fun and scout out some rare finds in the dealer’s den as most of the content are English imports!

Big thanks and love to Lassi, Teme, Pasi, Rosa, Violetta and Juhani!

For more information, click here for a link to the con’s website.

Con Report: HAMCon 2014


In the north of England lies the small town of Halifax. In this industrial township is the old cotton mill at Dean Clough which hosts the inaugural event for the Halifax Anime and Manga Society – HAMCon. It is here where I continue my summer convention tour after gracing Sunnycon in Sunderland two weeks ago. Despite the relatively short break between both events, I was keen to see a new event sprout up in the United Kingdom.

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I elected to drive to HAMCon and after a four hour drive from my home I was greeted by an impressive industrial complex which used to be a powerhouse in the Victorian era and now home to boutique shops, restaurants and an art gallery filled with local treasures, plus a hotel right on site! The convention itself was one of the final events to commemorate the Halifax Festival of Culture and what a way to end it by embracing the world of Japanese Animation in the form of a con! The premises is broken up into seven different ‘Mills’ and the events going on took place in two of them – D Mill and E Mill. D Mill hosted the events inside some of the conference rooms, main art gallery and the downstairs cafe.

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E Mill hosted the dealer’s room which had a small yet varied selection of artists, merchandise reps and snacks available to patrons. It ticked the boxes for what you would expect at an anime convention despite it being a little quiet. That being said, the building itself was nice and spacious as well as letting in lots of natural light and maintaining a good amount of ventilation to prevent conditions becoming a little stuffy. It certainly had the makings of a bigger and better space next year. The vendors were enthusiastic and chatty with one another and had a lot of fun despite periods of calm when other panels were going on. It was nice to witness the camaraderie in action. D Mill also hosted the main events. To get to it, you need to go down either a spiral staircase from the upper level or through the lower ground entrance and pass through Victorian archways and cobblestoned pathways. It felt so mysterious and atmospheric, I was loving every step; it had that rustic and industrial aura about it – tons of character. When you turn the corner, you witness two stands of seats facing a central plinth. I thought it was brilliant. The audience can see no matter which side they were on and it felt rather intimate and cosy. In all, a great spot to host events.

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As I was one of the main guests, I’d be hosting my panel there on the Sunday; but on the Saturday, the main event was the performance by the Maids of England. Three representatives of the troupe performed to the crowd who enjoyed their varied set of dance numbers, song numbers and combinations of the two. As I didn’t have much to do on that day, I was able to get a good look at the gaming area which took up the main hall of the art gallery and made use of the space to have a good selection of consoles from Playstation 3s to Super Nintendoes. These were all donated by staff members and you got that feeling that the team worked together to make sure the event had something to do despite the smaller size. It also didn’t help that the Tour de France was going on around the town on both days, thus restricting access for any would-be attendees. Despite this, about one hundred and fifty arrived for the two-day event. Not bad!

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I was looked after by the con chair Hailey and the art director of the gallery hosting the event, Vic. Together they made sure my brief stay [I had to dash after my panel as I had to prepare for my next convention the following week!] was comfortable, sociable and that I wasn’t lonely or bored. There were some logistical issues at first with certain parts of the gallery being locked when they shouldn’t have been but these were quickly addressed with little complaint or fuss and things soon cleared up and regained composure. When it came to Sunday and my panel, I had a small gathering of people which was nice to have as it meant the panel became a nice, cosy chat which was fine by me! There I was able to answer questions and showcase something from TeamFourStar which would be released at the end of July to an eager audience. HAMCon goers got to be the first people in the UK to see what we had in the works.

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So HAMCon – a little convention in a small northern town but packed with big character and charm. The Dean Clough Mills are an excellent venue in which to grow and develop; especially for cosplayers with all the Victorian architecture and small corners where you could recreate some dramatic photoshoots. Not only was it a good space, it was a wide space where people can walk around and not feel claustrophobic. That is a crucial plus at a con; you need space to breathe! If the con can use these strengths and expand their reach within the mills, it could turn into a vibrant convention in years to come. I have confidence in the organisers to make something happening in Halifax.

If you want more information about HAMCon and next year’s event, check out their Facebook page and website!

Con Report: A-Kon To Remember


Now that June has arrived, the summer convention season is upon us. My first stop was in Dallas, Texas for one of the oldest anime conventions outside of Japan and one of the most respected in the United States – A-Kon. Going since 1989, the convention has seen anime grow up from a very small niche to a global marketing juggernaut which is constantly evolving and branching out into all forms of media. I’ve known about A-Kon ever since I really got into anime in the early 2000s. Even then it was a big convention and when presented with the chance to represent TeamFourStar for their third time at the con alongside KaiserNeko, LittleKuriboh and GeneralIvan was an immense honour. I had been looking forward to this convention for ages.

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After a nine hour flight from Heathrow, I landed in Dallas and met up with my driver Mark who was also picking up the famous anime author Helen McCarthy [who was on the same flight as me] and we all set off for the con. In that twenty minute car journey, I was introduced to one of the western world’s most highly regarded factual authors on the subject we all know and love and was able to geek out about anime both modern and classic. It was a brilliant precursor to the weekend at large. In fact, it summed up my feelings on the con staff; friendly, supportive and like-minded individuals in that they were doing what they loved and what they had been doing for years. A truly caring family atmosphere; it was wonderful to witness. Our guest relations contacts Laura, Yolanda and Cindy were troopers throughout the convention and made sure we were looked after and that we had everything under control. They did a bang-up job!

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The con took place in the Hilton Anatole on the outskirts of Dallas. A large space perfect for the scope and magnitude that is A-Kon. It’s somewhat confusing when you first walk through the immensely large and stunning atrium towards the Tower complex and the very Asian-inspired architecture but after a few trips up and down the halls you get used to the general configuration. The maps dotted about the space as well as the maps provided in the con books and schedule made things clear. The space itself was used to its full potential and all the rooms were made available to the con meaning that loads of content was going on at any one time. Granted it leads to a conflict in regards to picking which panels to attend, but it’s certainly a lot better than there being next to nothing going on! The one disadvantage of being a guest is that we’re constantly walking around and doing stuff with the fans or going to our own panels, so it means we sadly miss out on the creative workshops and discussions going on throughout the weekend. The selection on offer was impressive and original and I’ve been to tons of these things; that’s saying something!

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TeamFourStar had two panels this year: an adult panel on the Friday night and a standard panel the following afternoon. For both panels, we showed the latest Dragonball Z Abridged movie [Cooler 2: The Return of Cooler’s Revenge – The Reckoning] which went down spectacularly on both occasions. KaiserNeko, GeneralIvan, LittleKuriboh and myself were at both panels and fielded many questions from the fans who were eager to have fun and ask some really interesting questions. They were also really engaging as an audience, responding well to our answers and paying attention with no negative feelings. It seemed that everyone had a great time! At the main panel on the Saturday, a fan gave us an awesome drawing she had done during the panel proclaiming MUFFIN POWER [see below] which was glorious. I especially loved it since it had muffins in it [could you tell?]. Now that I recall, we actually went over for both sessions by about ten minutes without realising since we were having so much fun. The audience was great and the panels went by swimmingly. I was a little nervous since Lanipator and Takahata101 [who are the big personalities of the group] were off with hbi2k at Phoenix Comic Con the same weekend and their absence would be felt; but the fans were just as pleased to be there which was so cool. I felt really comfortable; thanks everyone!

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While we weren’t doing panels, we spent [spent being the operative word] time in the artist’s alley and dealer’s room. It was probably one of the best dealer’s rooms I had ever seen with so much great stuff to be had and such a wealth of things to choose from. From figures to props to collectibles, you name it! I guarantee that you would not leave empty-handed! I myself left with a cool Goku figure and a REALLY RARE Ruri Hoshino wallscroll that I had never seen before [with authentic 90s Japanese dust!] which was a must for my collection of Nadesico material. I had also found some gifts for my girlfriend too, so a massive success on that front. The layout itself was fairly standard with the use of rows and ‘streets’ to help add some points of reference as well as a direct entrance to the dealer’s room from the artist’s alley, so patrons could go back and forth as they please. I also managed to find some of my internet pals knocking around such as Psy, Gabby, Trunks and Ayu. I rarely get to see these chaps and so it’s always great to catch up for a little bit; but I also know that they’re trying to sell stuff so I don’t wish to take time away from selling merch! Along the way I also got to meet some member of the improve group Take One Productions as well as a couple of peeps from Atlantic Press which was really neat; breakfast burritos in the Green Room bring people together!

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After the panels as well as an autograph session on Saturday, our schedule was much quieter. All that was left was a cocktail party for the guests that evening where I got to catch up with Caitlin Glass as well as meet the famous illustrator Steve Bennett plus Kristen McGuire. I’m not much of a social butterfly but it was a lovely evening all the same…that and saying hi to Kyle Hebert again is always cool. We then had a bunch of interviews with some anime publications and websites on the Sunday afternoon. Those interviews went on for about two hours and were really weird as it was the first time I had experienced journalists coming to US to chat to us instead of us going to them. It was unusual but totally awesome; I felt so in demand! After that brief flutter of press interest, we went back to chatting with the fans which was equally as satisfying. I once again felt so happy to be able to have a proper talk with these people who had come to see us. Such a brilliant experience which I will never forget. I can’t think of anything that went wrong during the weekend. Granted we had some technical gremlins during the main panels, but that was dealt with by the skilled hands of Monty from A/V Tech who quickly dealt with the problem. Thanks, dude!

akon_6On the Monday morning, Helen and Mark invited me to join them in a quick shopping tour of Dallas where I got to do some last minute gift shopping and experiencing the Grapevine Mills Mall near Fort Worth Airport which is AMAZING. Its interior is so nineties and kitsch; it overloaded my nostalgia senses. Not to mention it was such a touching gesture! It was a fantastic end to a fantastic weekend. It may have been socially exhausting but it was definitely something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It felt so friendly and I have so many people to thank that I have already mentioned. Thanks also go to our buddies Ally, Stephen, Austin and Patrick and Gan for hanging out with us for the weekend when we were just chilling out. It meant that there was never a dull moment. To me, A-Kon was the con that made me feel the most professional [which is nice from time to time] as well as one of the more friendly cons I have been to. I really hope I get to come back next year with the rest of the TeamFourStar gang. If you can make it to Dallas next year, then try and make it here! You won’t be disappointed.

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P.S: 100th POST! :D