October 31, 2009
Well, this will be my first post covering a anime convention for my blog, I try to make a point out of attending at least one anime convention per year, but I’ve never covered one for my blog. Generally when I attend a anime convention it’s out of state, and I go there to drink and party with friends, no work. I had not originally intended to attend this local convention because I was scheduled to work on Saturday, but I ended up with the day off, so at the last minute I made a quick trip and was not disappointed.
Youmacon is held at the Dearborn, Michigan Hyatt hotel (next year it will be held at the Detroit Renaissance Center) a very nice and clean facility with plenty of free parking surrounding the location. Even though I arrived at the convention fairly late (1PM), my walk from the parking lot to the hotel entrance was less than 5 minutes.
Once inside the hotel, I hit up the registration line, which moved very quickly taking me less than 10 minutes to fill-out my registration card and pay my $25 dollars admission fee. Once I got my bearings straight I headed off to the artist alley to take a look around at the offerings. While I did see a lot of interesting original artwork, one thing that really struck me was the shear number of vendors selling cat ear hats, but the funniest things I saw was a vendor selling a “how to glomp” t-shirt right next to a “no glomping allowed” t-shirt.
a shot of the artist room
After finishing up with the artist room my next stop was the dealer/vendor room which featured a decent variety of anime DVDs, manga, J-pop music CDs, cosplay items, anime & manga models, anime & manga t-shirts, and Japanese food & snacks. One thing that I’ve noticed over years is the rise in the spending power of the female anime and manga fans; I’ve never seen such a high percentage of female cosplay items and yaoi stuff for sale. I’m really glad that Youmacon is moving to a larger facility next year because the dealer room was more crowded and cramped than many conventions I’ve attended that boast 2-3x the amount of attendees.
a shot of the dealer/vendor room
After finishing up in the vendors’ room, I stopped by the AMV room to watch a few videos and found the room packed with fans giving the room a very lively feel to it. Then I decided to head towards the cosplay and gaming area but first stopping to listen to a little live music at a lounge area.
a shot of the lounge area
After a short break, I made my way to the gaming and cosplay area, but I didn’t manage to get any pics of the gaming area because they had a no packages allowed rule, and I wasn’t leaving my purchases outside the door. The cosplay photo-shoot area was well stocked with a wide variety of characters from Final Fantasy, Trigun, Sailor Moon, FMA, Inu Yasha, Lucky Star, K-On!, Naruto, Bleach, Death Note, Haruchi, plus many many others. By far the most popular cosplay outfits for girls seemed to be some version of Haruhi, followed closely by Sailor Moon, and then some form of a custom Japanese schoolgirl outfit or custom Lolita outfit. For the guys it seemed like the most popular outfit was of the Naruto variety followed closely by an assortment of Bleach outfits. Since I got to the cosplay area late the best spots for pictures were already taken and I wasn’t going to smash my way through a bunch of kids to get the pics, but I think I’ll return on Sunday with the intention of getting some good cosplay pics.
a couple of shots of some interesting cosplay outfits
Once I decided it was time to head home, a custom Naruto motorcycle display near the main entrance caught my eye, and I just had to stop and gawk.
After admiring this fine demonstration of love for a anime series I chatted with Rob Pasque, the bike’s owner. Rob told me that his custom Honda VTX-1800 Naruto bike features custom paint, wheels, seats, pipes, and many other custom features, and his bike took two years to build from conception to completion with a cost of around $65,000 USD. I think I’ll stop back on Sunday to get a few more pics of the bike, and Rob has promised to send me some additional pics of his bike.
a few additional pics of the bike
Once I got back home it was time for me to check out the spoils acquired at the convention, and in the spirit of Remembering Love I traded in my old VHS fansubs of the original Macross series for a set of Macross DVDs. So, next week I’ll begin my journey through the entire Macross universe, and I hopefully finish before the end of the year.
Well, I plan on returning to Youmacon 2009 on Sunday to get some better cosplay pics and do a little more looking around. Then I’ll give some final thoughts on the convention, and share some insights on how I think modern fandom has mostly changed for the better. If anyone has any specific requests for cosplay pics please leave a comment tonight, and I’ll see what I can do.
October 31, 2009
This episode begins with Ichigo and the three princes paying a visit to the school cafe which is run by the high school students. After Ichigo pigs out on sweets she tells the princes that she wants to work at the cafe but they tell her it’s impossible for middle school students like themselves to work there. When Ichigo expresses her disappointment, Hanabusa tells Ichigo that she can come with them to Andou’s parents’ Japanese sweet shop this weekend.
Well, Ichigo works as a shop assistant (waitress) where she finds out that Andou has a huge family (4 other brothers and sisters), and that he and Kashino are childhood friends. Later, Ichigo meets one of Andou’s brothers (Ichita, 1st grade student) who calls her the cake-pig, and she finds out that Kashino’s the one who named her that. Ichita expresses to Ichigo that even though Andou is going to school to become a patissiere he hates cake. Later, Andou tells them that he and Ichita used to be so close, but now Ichita barely speaks to him.
When Ichigo expresses her love for the shop’s red rice bean cake Andou takes her back to meet his grandfather who make those cakes. Ichigo asks Andou why does he wants to be a patissiere if his family owns a traditional Japanese confectionery shop? He tells her about his first experience eating cake (guys always love cake after their first taste) at a birthday party for Kashino, it was magical, and since that day he’s wanted to make Japanese and Western sweets using Yumetsuki’s (the name of the shop) traditions.
Later, as Ichigo is washing dishes, Ichita attack her again saying the cake-pig and all cake-makers should go home. As Ichigo is turning to face Ichita, Kashino bops him upside the head, Ichita says cake-makers should go home and Kashino asks if he’ll tell his brother that? Ichita says he hates cakes, and tosses a insult to them as he runs off. Kashino gets angry and is about to go after him when Ichigo stops him saying she’ll talk with him instead.
When Ichigo finds Ichita, she sees that he’s busy practicing making the red bean paste, when Ichigo talks with him she can tell that he loves his family business and loves his brother. Ichigo comes up with the idea that if she can connect Ichita with cakes she can reconnect him with his brother, but this doesn’t good very well. Ichita tosses a cake against the wall and Andou slaps him for being a brat, Ichita yells that he hates cakes and his brother, as he runs off.
Well, Ichigo finds Ichita hiding in a corner crying, she tells him she’s sorry for forcing the cakes on him , but she asks him does he really hate cake that much, and he really doesn’t hate his brother does he? Ichita asks Ichigo why did his brother teach him to make the red bean paste then go off to a cake making school? He tells Ichigo that it was his dream to work with his brother in the family shop, but he left them to go to a cake-making school, he loves cake more than me. Ichigo realizes that Ichita is like her before she had dream, watching her mother spend all her time with her sister making her lonely and sad. She tells Ichita to cheer up because he is just like her and she lets him know about his brothers dream of setting up a shop next to the family shop.
When Ichigo tells the others about how Ichita feels, Andou agrees that his brother must have felt lonely with him off at school, and his parents spending all their time at the shop or with the younger siblings. Ichigo tells them that they should make a cake for Ichita, Andou thinks it might be a bad idea but Ichigo says if it’s a cake he wants to make for Ichita he’ll he it. Well, they all help Andou make the cake, and Ichigo grabs Ichita and brings him downstairs where he finds his whole family waiting for him. Ichigo tells Ichita that this cake represents his brothers true feelings, and after some hesitation he agrees to try the cake.
When Ichita bites into the cake he thinks it’s great, and the rest of the family agrees. Then Ichigo tells Ichita that the bean paste used in the cake was the paste he was working on, and she calls the cake the “brotherly green tea cake roll”, Andou and Ichita then have a tearful brotherly reconciliation. As the kids are heading back to school, Ichita tells the cake-pig that his dream is now to take over the family shop since his brother’s shop will be nearby. Ichita goes on to tell Ichigo that she’s now his rival but she really doesn’t an elementary school student for a rival. Well, that’s all for this episode.
Well, this episode served to bond Ichigo more closely with the three princes as she begins to spend time outside of class with them, and this episode also showed us Andou’s dream. When Ichigo saw Ichita she saw much of herself in him, he was lonely while watching someone close to him go for their dream while feeling a little left out, this was the same feeling Ichigo got when watching her parents spending all their time with her sister. Ichigo felt lonely/lost until she discovered her own dream of the future, and she did her part by showing Ichita that he needed to find his own dream that didn’t require his brother to be a part of, you have to grab the future for yourself. Overall, this was a pretty cute and low key episode, and Ichigo looked really cute in her uniform.
October 29, 2009
Well, this episode begins at Sawako’s house with her parents noticing the change in her, and when her mother suggests she might be in love it draws quite a reaction from her father. As Sawako’s taking her bath she wonders if she using up her supply of happiness, but she agrees to enjoy it anyways.
Back at school, Yoshida and Yano continue to deal with the rumors of their previous indiscretions. In the last episode when Yoshida and Yano confronted the girls they were told that Sadako was just using Kazehaya, Yoshida, and Yano to improve her reputation, so they decide to just ask her about this. When Yoshida and Yano talk with Sadako about their past it’s clear to them that she couldn’t have possibly started the rumors. When Sadako offers Yoshida her notes for the mid-term exam other students soon want to also use them, Yano and Yoshida declare Sadako to be pure and white.
In the teachers’ office, we see Pin talking with Kazehaya, at first Pin just makes small talk about his drinking, but he comes right out and asks Kazehaya if he’s going out with Sawako, no real answer only stumbling from Kazehaya. While Sawako is outside eating lunch she thinks about how happy she is, and that before these experiences she thought that she was always meant to be alone.
Later, Hirano and Endo come up to tell Yoshida and Yano that the rumors are getting worse, Yoshida now hits her grandfather, Yano is now prostituting herself, and Sadako is the source of those rumors. Also, Shino (Sawako’s friend from middle school) comes up to her and tells her that someone is spreading rumors about her, Shino refuses to believe that Sadako is slandering her friends. Shino tells Sadako that it’s good that she’s made friends like Yano and Yoshida. Sawako tells Shino that they’re not friends because that would imply that her relationship is on the same level of Yano and Yoshida’s relationship with each other. Just as Sadako was telling Shino that she’s not Yano and Yoshida’s friend they were listening to them talk but they get dragged away by Pin. Sawako tells Shino that she really likes Yano and Yoshida, and would really like to be their friend, but it would be assuming too much to on her part to call them that.
Back in class, Yoshida is pissed because they got pulled away by Pin, Yano tells her that they didn’t get to hear what she really meant and that their answer would be complicated if they were asked if Sadako was their friend. When Sawako enters the class she can tell that something is wrong because Yano and Yoshida aren’t their cheerful selves. When they see her they have her sit down and tell her not to lie, pre=”so “>Yano tells Sadako that they like her and they asks her what she thinks, does she like them? Sawako says, well, no, um, and she stumbles with her words so Yano and Yoshida assume that Sadako doesn’t really like them, Yano asks Sadako if they were bothering her? Sawako feels the change in the mood and doesn’t like it.
Later, while Sawako is in the girls bathroom she hears the full rumors about her, Yano, Yoshida, and Kazehaya and now understands that Yano and Yoshida were hurt, and it’s her fault. Sawako assumes that she causes hurt to the people around her and she even begins to think that she’ll just hurt Kazehaya, and she kind of blows him off after leaving school.
On their way to school, Yano and Yoshida talk about Sadako and if she really could have spread those rumors and now they discuss the possibility that it could be true because of Sadako’s answer. When they run into the Sadako in the hall, she tells them she sorry for making them sad and runs off before they can speak with her. Sawako tries to find the people spreading the rumors about her, Yano, and Yoshida to clear up the misunderstanding, but to no avail. We see that these problems are affecting Sawako greatly, she’s in tears while trying to study in class.
Later, Kazehaya runs Sawako down and says he saw her crying and wonders if he did anything to make her avoid him? No, you could never do anything to make me hate you, and Sawako runs away from him. When Sawako is alone she wonders if she should separate from Kazehaya, it would be better for him, she doesn’t want to, and Sawako is just totally messed up because she doesn’t know what to do. Well, that’s all for this episode.
Well, this episode really hit me hard, I had been riding along on the emotional roller coaster of Sawako’s life, and until now that ride had been mostly uphill. It was thrilling watching Sawako slowly emerging from her stunted social and emotional cocoon like watching a butterfly entering our world and gracing it with its beauty. Until now, Sawako had pretty much been dealing with people who were basically good at heart and chose to look at her more closely before passing judgement. A big part of Sawako’s problems in this episode are caused by her stunted social and emotional skills, if she had just been able to tell Yano and Yoshida that she liked them most of the drama would have been avoided. But, since Sawako is so socially and emotionally stunted she tends to over analyze and over think situations that we would find very easy to deal with. Sawako’s never really had friends or companionship so she has great difficulty figuring out what these relationship should look like or feel like, do you like us should have been a simple question to answer, and it is for normal people, but Sawako’s not normal. If Sawako had followed Kazehaya advice of making her feelings clear and saying how she really feels about something it would have been a lot easier. Now, Sawako must not only fight against the viscous rumors attacking her and her new found friends she must also fight against recreating those self imposed emotional barriers that she had used to protect herself in the past.
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