Tag Archives: karaoke

Otakon, Oblivion Island, And Stuff I Didn’t Know

It’s been weeks since the 2012 edition of Otakon ended and connections are still being made. One of the first things you do at pre-reg badge pickup, is choose a design for your badge. These designs are images from a popular anime that may or may not have guests or panels at the con. This year I chose the Oblivion Island design. I hadn’t seen or heard of it, but I liked the design and wanted something different than the other choices which were from shows I’d chosen in previous years.

Today, thanks to the cool folks at Funimation, I got to see Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror, for the first time, free on YouTube! When I saw the link in my subscriptions view I thought it was just a trailer to promote the August 14 release of the Blu-ray/DVD. Instead it was the full 99 minute movie in Japanese with English subtitles. I hadn’t planned to watch a whole film at my PC, but I was hooked by gorgeous visuals and a heart warming story of retrieving lost memories and relationships that today was especially resonant with me. So I guess I chose the right badge afterall.

The days leading up to Otakon were busy as always as I feverishly worked to complete my Sailor Mars cosplay. But in the end I just ran out of time and shelved the project for a later con (Dragon*Con hopefully) rather than wreck myself before making a 700 mile drive. That hurt a bit and should have been a warning that I needed to plan things better, but I had my new Mamimi along with a new wig for my Uhura, so I really didn’t take it as such.

No problems on the drive, only some anxiety about not changing the oil before setting out. Again, more planning needed. But somehow I managed to cheat failure and make it into the city as I had 7 times before. I had a lot of trouble getting through traffic to the parking garage, but nothing fatal. No problems with badge pickup either.

I had dinner with friends from the Megatokyo forums, but skipped out on the bar afterwards to get in before the rain resumed and to get some rest for the next day.

As usual, I was several hours later than I would have liked getting ready. But I finally finished up and hit the street in my Uhura cosplay. This costume had gotten a great reception on Sunday last year, so I was anxious to see how it would fare over a full convention day. Well it went over very well with nice compliments, including a “beam me up” from the crossing guard at the convention center. After that, all of my plans started going off the rails fairly quickly.

Anime Midwest 2012 Aftermath II: Another Late One!

Saturday of Anime Midwest would see the debut of my newest cosplay, Mamimi Samejima from Furi Kuri, aka FLCL. It would turn out to be a fun cosplay to wear even though she isn’t a character likely to get a lot of notice. That was quite alright with me since Mamimi herself doesn’t get a lot of notice which is actually not so bad if you’re planning to take pictures of other cosplayers. Oh, and Mamimi is into photography too, so it all fit.

Over the day I spent most of my time tasting panels here and there. One that I made an extended visit to was the Fanservice Renji QA which also featured the most beautiful Pocahontas cosplayer I’ve ever seen. Renji was pretty cool, a nice likeable guy who I first saw at Youmacon a number of years ago. Since that time he’s become a convention staple with some cool original music videos about the anime fandom. I enjoyed his masquerade performance too!

The Perfect Pocahontas

In the afternoon I was treated to The Pillowcases, a fabulous Pillows tribute band! I saw the Pillows years ago at Anime Central and they were awesome. The Pillowcases did not disappoint, they were equally awesome with bonus points! Mamimi had a great time rocking to her favorite FLCL songs. ^_^ The Pillowcases also did some other nerdy tunes including a cool remix of the Dr. Who theme song. Saturday night would bring up the the masquerade and later, the way too popular for the room, Midwest Karaoke Madness. The cosplays for the masquerade were quite good on the whole, but the night was stolen by a Chobits group with the cutest little girl ever as Sumomo who lead the audience in morning calisthenics! I also had the pleasure of helping a lady use her Flip camera to shoot some video of her daughter’s most impressive fur suited cosplay.

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After the masquerade, it was off to karaoke. One of my Midwest Karaoke Madness friends was disappointed that I hadn’t brought my Uhura to the con. Maybe I’ll bring her next year. Since this was my first Anime Midwest, I figured I’d stick with anime cosplays. The small room was packed and overflowing. Nevertheless, I got a song in and had some fun seeing old friends and new perform too! I bounced out briefly to go to the dance which I found was running late. Instead I found a dude rapping about video games and nerdy stuff. I learned later that it was MegaRan. It was freakin awesome! And now I know what nerdcore is! After that I went back to karaoke and did what is seemingly becoming a signature song for me, It’s Raining Men. This is coming way too naturally for me, but the ladies in the audience loved it and sang along!

I eventually got to the dance but did not stay too long before ending the day. I’d had a lot of fun already, and didn’t want to be greedy. And my Mamimi cosplay had gotten a really good shakedown.

Sunday it was back to street clothes. I made a few more photo runs and then a dealer’s room pass. If there was anything I was a tad bit disappointed in with Anime Midwest, it was the very small dealer’s room. There just wasn’t enough variety to spark my interest. I was hoping to find some DVDs and some suitable gifts to take home, but came up empty on that note. Still, I’d had my fun and was happy to head for home knowing that Otakon was just a few short weeks away.

Anime Midwest 2012 Pics

Kollision Con 2011 Aftermath Super Late Summer Edition

It’s funny writing about a con that took place so many months ago now. But I’m really compelled to do so because I think that Kollision was a turning point for me and my con going adventures. At a small con, there isn’t much between you and everything else. There’s no place to hide, everything’s exposed.

This exposure can be a good thing because you can really get close to the guests and take part in the activities of the con in a more personal fashion. But it can also be kinda scary if you’re not a very social person. It’s difficult to be a shy cosplayer in such an environment!

My Saturday ended up being a dim sum of panels and running into old con friends. And I finally got to see Eyeshine perform! The concert was a lot of fun, in no small part because we were are right up close to the stage. Afterwards I bought some CDs and then wandered about some before the masquerade which I had entered as a craftmanship walk-on.

My Uhura cosplay is a fun one to walk around it because the red minidress really stands out and because everyone knows what it is. I’m always getting photo request from older people whether they’re at the con or not. And while I didn’t really know it at the time, I was passing really well.

This would be only my 3rd cosplay masquerade walk-on, and I was excited to be doing it because I really like this costume and had fun making it. Though it looked like there might actually be more cosplayers in the hall than spectators. So many great costumes around me! I wish I’d had my camera. In particular, there was an eye-popping Starfire cosplayer whose skin was completely orange. She was gorgeous!

Kollision Con 2011 Pics

We ended up with a nice crowd and I hit all of my marks. I guess at heart, I love the attention you get walking the stage so it was with great joy, and surprise, when I had to go onstage again to claim my Honorable Mention certificate! Looking back, I think that the enthusiasm I had detailing how I made the costume probably helped. And I think Jamie Marchi was one of the judges too!

Most of the night was spent doing karaoke. It was awesome! The song I had the most fun singing though was, It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls. It’s a fun song that I first heard sung by a group of women at Reactor in the old Purple Hotel. I thought the absurdity of a guy dressed as Uhura singing that song would be a fun spectacle and it was! LOL I visited the dance briefly, but the music just didn’t do anything for me, so I returned to karaoke until it ended.

Midwest Karaoke Madness Blues Brothers

Sunday it was back to street clothes and cosplaying myself. Ran into Ed, another crossplayer I see regularly at the cons I go to. It was fun talking with him a bit as at the larger cons, there usually isn’t a lot of time between one event or another I’ll be trying to get to. I feel like I got a little more comfortable with myself at Kollision Con whether in costume or not. And I’ve carried this forward with me since then. It never ceases to amaze me the situations and venues that God uses to speak to me.

So I had fun at a little con named Kollision Con. I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to return for 2012, but I certainly won’t forget 2011.

A Girlfriend Would Be Nice

It’s been a melancholy Monday, but I’ve been having fun reading the yuri romance manga, Girlfriends, on JManga. The story really tugs on the heart strings with all its might, but I’m a sucker for unrequited/forbidden love stories.

I think I’ve been feeling a little down because this will be the first year that my wife is not joining us for Anime Central. Just got our badges in the mail today minus one for her and one for our oldest daughter. My wife has never really been into anime or manga and definitely not cosplay. Sometimes I wish I had a girlfriend that I could share these things with along with a love for sometimes sappy love stories. It’d be great to have someone to sing Japanese anime songs with badly and dance to dub step music that I either love or hate all in the same mix. And someone I could hang out with whether cosplaying Roger Smith in  a double breasted suit, or a Japanese schoolgirl in a miniskirt two inches too short.

But with all of that, I’m not really interested in having an affair with anyone. I actually have a friend who likes a lot of these things too. Sadly, she’s kind of gone off the deep end lately, so I doubt she’ll be coming out to ACen again anytime soon. Of course it’d be fun to hang out with dudes too, but honestly, I’ve always preferred hanging out with women. They’re just so much more interesting and more fun to look at!

Kollision Con 2011 Aftermath Part I

Almost two weeks ago, I knew that Kollision Con was going to be a nice small con with a chance for fun and a break from a very very busy week. Looking back, I’d say that in a lot of ways, Kollision Con more than met my expectations. It was a small con with more than a few very tasty nuggets of fun mixed in!

I had to work on Friday which is unusual for me when cons come around, but since checkin and parking at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles wasn’t available until after 4pm, it didn’t matter. I packed my costumes and supplies in two bags, stuffed them in the trunk and went to work just like any other day. After work and a drive from Chicago that seemed to take forever, I arrived at the hotel and was able to get parking that turned out to be close to the room I would have for my stay.

I didn’t do that much on Friday except fret about my costume before working up the energy needed to get it ready and go sing at Midwest Karaoke Madness. Even after 5 years of cosplay, I still need a minute or two to cross the initial threshold. Oddly enough though, I have no trouble getting up on stage! Once I got out, I was pleased to see a number of familiar faces from Youmacon, Ohayocon, and of course, ACen!

My goal for the weekend was singing karaoke, concerts, and seeing the guests. So Friday night karaoke was a great start with Shizukana Yoruni, followed by Unwritten a little later. I still remember singing Unwritten at the last Reactor convention with just me and Neo Saturn in the room wondering if anyone else was ever going to show up. I started poorly, but with emotion welling up inside of me, I had a strong finish. More than singing myself though, I really enjoy watching others perform as well and singing along to everything from Mulan’s I’ll Make A Man Out of You, to Cee Lo Green’s Fu*k You!

As usual, I got out an hour late on Saturday morning, missing opening ceremonies. But I did get to see voice actress Jamie Marchi who even complimented my Uhura cosplay as I came in, yay! I’ve been improving my Uhura since its Otakon debut in July and it’s still my favorite right now. So with that encouragement, I later registered for the craftsmanship competition of the masquerade. The judging was done right at sign-up and I had a good time explaining all that went into the costume as well as things like makeup and shape wear. I think the fun I was having actually helped me a bit later at the masquerade, but I’ll have to go into that when I finish this up in the next installment!

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ACen 2011 Aftershocks: Extended Edition

LOL, late with this as always. So here it goes! After about a month of commuting about 100 miles roundtrip everyday for work, I was really looking forward to this year’s installment of Anime Central. And, to make things sweeter, my AMV, Shinji Listen!!, was in the Drama Category finals for the AMV contest!

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Since my commute requires that I leave by 6 am anyway, I decided it would be a good idea to leave as usual on Friday morning in order to beat the traffic. Luckily, I’d finished my work on my daughter’s Hitsugaya cosplay and wouldn’t have to stay up late working on that. I really enjoyed making that for her because I knew that it was going to bring her a lot of joy to wear it at the con. My youngest daughter is a super high pressure over-achiever, just like mom. She needs to have as much fun as possible to blow off steam. It felt really good to be able to help her have a good time away from the pressures of school.

Leaving early paid off and I was able to get a good space in the Hyatt parking lot. And check-in was no problem. The super small room though, presented the first  challenge. But the hotel quickly sent up a roll-away bed at my request. It would be a tight fit for 6 people, but we would only be sleeping there on Saturday night. Friday night it was just me, so not really a problem.

I had plenty of time ahead of me, so I unpacked and set about ironing my costumes. Friday was to be split between my Mahoro and Tohya cosplays. Saturday would be all Stocking all day. I had decided to skip the opening ceremonies because the AMV contest was scheduled to begin at the same time in the Hilton. After rushing over there, not easy in a maid costume, I discovered that in true ACen fashion, the contest had been moved to another hotel and the early showing canceled. It looked like there was some kind of professional conference going on in the Hilton that day. The place was filled with middle-aged white guys in suits who were probably wondering what the hell this maid was wandering around for.

Anime Central has never been the best organized of the cons I attend and this year things seemed a bit more disorganized than most. Apparently a good number of panel scheduling did not meet the program printing deadline. So it was pretty dicey being sure that anything was happening where or when you thought it would. And given that the con was spread across 4 hotels and the convention center, it was quite a hike getting from one event to another.

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With the AMV contest a no go, I headed to opening ceremonies. After that I headed over to the Dealers Room and Artist Alley in the convention center to take pictures, my first pass shopping, and to say hi to some friends working there. For me the main Friday events were to be the FLOW concert, Karaoke Madness, and the Hardcore Synergy dance.

Before the concert I changed into my Miho Tohya costume. Nothing like motorcycle boots and a short leather skirt for a concert ya know! FLOW did not disappoint, they were awesome! They played all of their best anime themes and some other kick-ass songs I didn’t know. This was easily the best concert at ACen since the Pillows played a few years back. Ooh I wish I could get some of their music for Rock Band!

Next up, Karaoke Madness. As expected, there were a ton of people there. But for the most part things went smoothly. Unlike many anime cons, you can sing whatever you want at Karaoke Madness rather than just anime or Japanese video game music. I have mixed feelings about this. I think it’s great that it opens it up to a lot more people. But I really missed the chance to hear people sing some of my favorite themes while waiting for my turn to sing. And through an oversight, my turn to sing was skipped over. But it was okay, I got my chance to sing and I guess maybe I added a little bit more emotion to my rendition of Lion, from Macross Frontier, than I might have otherwise. I wish I hadn’t missed the Saturday night session as I heard they had more people singing anime songs that night. In any case, I still had fun and cannot wait to do it again next year!

After singing, I rushed off to shake it at Hardcore Synergy. I must say though I was kinda disappointed. I just couldn’t get into the beats they were pumping out. I got there during the last couple of DJs and just found the music undanceable. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but modulated noise just was not working for me at all. Other people were enjoying it, so it’s just my taste I guess… Next year I going to devote all of Friday late night to karaoke.

So my first day ended. I could hardly wait for the next day to begin. Saturday the rest of my family would join me, which is always fraught with challenge. One of my goals this year was to find some way for my wife to enjoy the con. Sadly, I would mostly fail in that challenge.