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22 May 2016 @ 03:31 pm
ACEN 2016  
This is the 11th year since I started going to ACEN and the 10th year since I started going with softlykarou. She couldn't make the first year because of a small convention she was running at Knox College, but she came the year after and every year we've gone since, which is all of them except 2009-2011 (when we were in Japan) and 2013 (when we had no money). A couple years ago I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep going but thought it was nice to see friends, and last year I had a great time. This year was somewhere in between, but weighted more toward a great time than toward not bothering.

A full accounting follows.


Friday
I couldn't check in until 3, and softlykarou wouldn't be done with work until at least five, so I didn't head out to the con until around 2:45. Unlike the last few times, I took a Lyft, because with recent events, why not?

Checking in was slightly mre complicated than I expected, because it turned out that while the hotel had written down that there was going to be another person, they didn't write down who that person was going to be, so softlykarou had to call them again before they'd let me in. But they did, and I got up to the room, where I learned that Hilton hotels don't have free wifi because we're living in the Stone Age. I'm surprised I didn't get jumped by velociraptors when I entered the room or have to bang two rocks together in order to heat water for tea.

After a brief rest in the room, I headed out to the dealer's room because I figured softlykarou would be by in not too long. As has become my tradition, I stopped by redpikachu's booth in the dealer's room to pick out a present. While the bakunyuu (爆乳, "gigantic boobs") necklaces weren't ready, I did pick out a Princess Celestia necklace, stashed it in my bag, and wandered around to kill time, looking at all the booths that had plushie cats going (≧▽≦). softlykarou texted me to let me know that she was going to be later than we thought, so I left to go a panel, though not before snapping this picture of someone on a journey:


Had to this picture after the show we went to.

The panel was called "Wako: the Dread Pirates of Japan." I knew about the wako (Chinese 倭寇) from the Samurai Archives podcast repeatedly mentioning them and I was curious what new information I'd hear here. The answer is not a ton, because the first part of the panel was an overview of piracy in general. There was a interesting note in that, at least in East Asia, food tended to be a stringer motivation for piracy than riches, because of frequent famines. There were also quotes provided from the Mongols in 1266 that Japan was a "country of thugs" and from the Chinese painter Zheng Sixiao that "their swords were extremely sharp," thus proving that katana fetishism is not solely a modern phenomenon.

There was also a consistent theme of people being hired to stop the wako and then, for one reason or another, siding with them instead and forging the wako into a giant army as some kind of pirate king, like Fujiwara Sumitomo. There was also a single confrontation between English sailors and wako. The Tiger under Sir Edward Michelborne ran into a group of them who had been raiding as far as Borneo and they got into a fight. You can read more on that here, and you can read more on them overall at the Samurai Archives page on them here.

As I was leaving, I passed a group of high schoolers on their way to prom and overheard:
Hey guys, I know what we should have as our afterparty theme. Anime.
Then I went into the room and met softlykarou, who had finally managed to finish work and her last 7th Sea session with the games club and made it to the con. We ate dinner and chatted for a bit and then headed out to go check out the video games room, but on the way we ran into smtemp and one of her friends:


The source of almost all my ringtones.

After chatting a bit, they went off to take more pictures and we headed down to the video gaming, where we found that 1) there didn't seem to be any danmaku games or a way to get any quarters--though come to think of it, we didn't have any cash anyway--and after wandering around for a bit, we left and went to video programming to see if there were any AMVs playing. That turned out to be a great idea since instead of doing a half-hearted AMV contest, they were doing a kind of AMV classics run. We walked in when the classic Excel Saga - You Give Love a Bad Name video was playing and they followed that up with The Chibi Things That Kill, both of which I have on my hard drive right now in my AMVs folder (the Excel Saga video has a "Last Modified" date of ‎Friday, ‎March ‎19, ‎2004  photo emot-sweatdrop.gif). Those are the main two we recognized, and we stayed until they ran out of the comedy section and then chased everyone out to air out the room.

After that, we went back to the room and waited a bit before we got a reply to a text letting us know that a friend was going down to Anime Hell, which we had missed last year due to extremely long lines and which softlykarou and I had never been to, so we left immediately and went down to get a seat. There was some confusion in the line due to how long it was, but they got that sorted out by snaking it around. Unfortunately, that put us behind a bunch of people, so when I saw the proprieter of Out of Context D&D in the Tingle cosplay that he said he would be wearing, I couldn't go up to him and give him the pass phrase from two years ago ("Dagoth Ur welcomes you, Nerevar, my old friend. But to this place where destiny is made. Why have you come unprepared?") and submit a paper version of one of our WFRP quotes about baby-eating elves  photo emot-crying.gif. Perhaps another year!

I've never been to Anime Hell before anywhere it's been, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Our friend mentioned that it's like a YouTube Party except well-curated (queue appropriate XKCD), and that's pretty much what it was. I can see how it would have been even more amazing in the days before YouTube, but there were still plenty of clips that I never would have even known to look for on my own that I loved, like the シンゴジラ trailer or the Simpsons couch scene called La-Z Rider. There was good selection of Japanese commercials too, including this magical girl cup noodle commercial that was getting air play while we were living in Japan. We stayed for a couple hours, and then we said our quick goodbyes and left to get something to eat and rest before the next panel we were going to.

On the way to get a parfait, we saw someone as Clannad's dango daikazoku!


This was softlykarou's favorite part of that show.

redpikachu was at the rave and smtemp returned our text literally thirty seconds after we threw in the towel and went back to the room to catch a quick nap, so we didn't see it until right before we went to the panel , so I typed some of this up while softlykarou slept and then we went to "TBC Presents: Let's Talk RPGs of the Ages!"

As someone who was primarily a PC gamer from about 1993 onward, most of my knowledge of RPGs later than the NES comes from either uriany or sephimb showing them to me, so when I heard that they weren't going to devote that much time to Final Fantasy I was pretty happy. Unfortunately for me, I was just too sleepy to pay all that much attention during the show, and I couldn't tell you now anything that they talked about. Around two thirds of the way through, we left, went back to our room, and went to sleep.

Saturday
We slept in kind of late and didn't get up and moving until around 11:30. Before then we ate breakfast and got dressed in our cosplays and then headed out to the dealer's room.


This is from later in the day taken by a friend.

We first went to the convention center hallway to meet with one of softlykarou's co-workers who leads some of the students to ACEN every year, walking by someone who commented to me
You put a sand block inside my house. It was rude!
After chatting with the co-worker, we went to visit redpikachu at her booth and arrange dinner in the Hyatt buffet and then did a walk-through of the dealer's room, where we got a few buttons, a chain-chomp crop top for softlykarou, and two dango daikazoku plushies--an angry one for me and a happy blushing one for softlykarou.

After passing by probably the most sensible Pyramid Head cosplayer I've ever seen--he had put in mesh panels in the head so he didn't constantly have to take it off to see where he was going--softlykarou got a Sailor Moon bustle and a few buttons to give to friends, then we did a circuit of the rest of the room and then left to go get lunch. On the way out, we ran into Shovel Knight, happily reunited with Shield Knight, and he proceeded to strike the earth!:


Not visible here was the iPod or something in his armor playing the Plains of Passage theme.

After a brief stop in the room to rest, drop off our purchases, and eat lunch, we headed back out to the Hyatt to meet a friend who wasn't a usual ACEN attendee but knew several of the people who had run it over the years and came this year in order to give a furry panel, which the program tells me was called "Performance and Costuming in Furry Fandom." He and softlykarou chatted about psychology while he scanned the upper floors for his friend who had "just left" to head downstairs twenty minutes ago. Then, across the way, we saw this fantastic costume:


Hmmmmmmm-mmmmm...

We also saw smtemp and her husband heading up to their room, so after a bit longer chatting with our friend, and after his friend finally arrived, we excused ourselves and made our way upstairs to smtemp's room, where everyone was pretty sedate. Apparently they had gone in pretty hard the night before and most people either had a hangover or were near to one and were napping it off (at 4 p.m.), so things were quiet. smtemp's husband offered us pizza from the gigantic pizzas they had ordered, but since we were going to go to the buffet--and since the two kinds of pizza I saw were sausage and pepperoni--we declined. We hung out for a bit, did one shot with smtemp, and then had to leave so that softlykarou could change into her Black Widow costume and make it to the Marvel photo shoot on time.

Last year she had been late to the shoot and arrived after most of the people had already gone and the posing was all done, but this year she got there right on time. I stayed to take a few pictures and then headed off to the Hyatt restaurant, since redpikachu had warned me that her hotel roommates mentioned that there was a pretty long line there.


Photo credit to irish22177 on Instagram.

When I got there, though, there was no line at all, so I waited about half an hour and checked Twitter while softlykarou finished up her photo shoot and redpikachu cleaned up her booth, then they both met me at the front and we got a seat right away. redpikachu was on a tight schedule so she didn't get any food, but softlykarou and I ate something that wasn't nuts, beef jerky, cheese, chocolate, and dried fruit--our usual con diet-- and while we were a bit disappointed at the dessert selection, which didn't include any cheesecake or tiramisu this year the way that it did last year, overall it was good. I was sad that we were eating and I couldn't run out and get a picture of the Spy vs. Spy cosplay I saw walking by, though.

I did manage to get an SCP Foundation operative hanging out with an Umbrella Corporation scientist, though.


I'm sure this will end well.

After dinner, we headed back to the room and softlykarou changed out of her Black Widow costume and into lounging clothes. I had already "changed out of" my Enderman cosplay, by which I mean I had taken off the mask and infinity scarf and kept the rest of my clothes. I dawned on me at that point that I was walking around ACEN in designer clothing, albeit designer clothing that fits in well among cosplayers.

We had been invited by klenkers to come up to his room, both because he was having a party and because he had some tea he wanted to give us that we had sampled last year, and so that's where we went next. Due to a variety of circumstances, from the Hyatt overbooking rooms to klenkers's long status as a guest, the three rooms that he originally booked had been collapsed into the Presidential Suite, which definitely lived up to the name. A bar in the kitchen, an office area, a master bedroom with hot tub and three-shower-head shower, a balcony behind a one-way mirror, a giant TV and sound system so that they didn't actually need the bluetooth speakers they had brought...it was exactly the kind of scenario younger me was hoping would happen in room parties when I went to cons.

And that's where we spent the rest of the night, chatting with people--ashiri_chan's husband and a couple more friends showed up at one point--trying out some of the drinks that the bartenders were mixing, and relaxing. Just before midnight we headed off back to our room and went to bed, since we had a bunch of stuff to do the next day and didn't want to stay up too late.

Sunday
We woke up, packed, and went home. Simple.


I was surprised how much I liked cosplaying. I haven't done it since before we moved to Japan--I haven't even worn a Hallowe'en costume for years--but I was looking forward to it this year and it was a lot of fun, especially doing a joint one with softlykarou. We've already started planning for next year, when we're going to do another non-anime cosplay with me as Mairon and her as Melkor. Often it's couples with a man playing Melkor and a woman playing Mairon, but softlykarou wanted to switch things around, and also if you do a google image search for Mairon, you'll understand why that's my role--examples here, here, or here. That'll probably take a while, so we're planning it early.

We didn't do as much participating in the actual convention this time, so I can see why some of our friends don't bother buying badges and just show up to meet with other friends. But buying earlier means badges aren't that expensive, and while the massive explosion of the internet and the way that nerds have taken over popular culture means that the dealer's room is no longer the only place to find a lot of the things we want, it's still worthwhile for telling us that those things exist, as well as letting us try on any clothing before we buy it, though there's more shops catering to softlykarou's taste in clothing than to mine. And I did go to a couple panels, and had a couple more on the schedule that I didn't make it to.

Looking forward to next year!
 
 
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