Though I’ve been to almost every Anime Central since 2006, this year marked the first time I’ve ever attended as a member of the press. But aside from some face time with some of the convention’s illustrious guests, it was still business as usual for me between my duties as a member of the gaming news media. My weekend began early Friday morning when I picked up my badge from the press booth. The ladies working the booth were quite kind and explained to me in great detail how the various press junkets and other media-related events worked. After signing up for two press events, one for voice actor Richard Epicar and the other for the 07th Expansion doujin circle, I was on my way.
For some time, I wandered the Dealers Hall in search of a piece of Higurashi-related merchandise for Ryukishi07 to sign later in the day. I would walk the hall for nearly an hour before finally finding a figure of Rika Furudo nestled firmly behind the counter of a dealer’s table boasting figures from a variety of popular series. She was a bit expensive, but well worth the price for one of my favorite authors to sign, and merchandise that wasn’t a DVD or comic.
After putting Rika safely into the bag courtesy of Crunchy Roll, I briefly attended the screening of the first three episodes of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders before leaving so that I could stand in line for my first panel of the weekend “The world of Ryukishi07.” This convention, among other things, also marked the first time I’ve been to a con since getting into 07th Expansion’s works back in November of last year. Thus, it was also my first time interacting with other fans in person. As it turns out, everyone I met was incredibly nice and it was a blast being able to discuss various theories, characters, and other aspects of the “When They Cry” universe, up to the heated debate about witches’ existence in the end.
After the panel, I left for Ryukishi07’s autograph session and met with a few buddies while I waited to get my Rika figure signed. We discussed various visual novels and got rather giddy as the time crept ever closer to have Rika signed. Afterward, my day was over. I difficulty sleeping the night prior to the convention, so I was running on less than two hours of sleep.
The next day began early with an 11:30 industry panel devoted to the ever-popular anime franchise Neon Genesis Evangelion. The panel was MC’ed by one of the admins at Evageeks.org, an excellent site and forum dedicated to Eva that I highly recommend to fans both old and new, and Carl Horn, the Dark Horse editor for most of the English translated NGE chapters. The forum dealt with recent events in the world of Evangelion, including the recent announcement of a Blu-ray release of the original TV series, and the production issues plaguing the latest and last movie in the Rebuild of Evangelion series. Carl Horn recounted Studio Gainax’s early history, his efforts covering Evangelion leading up to its release, and more. Even as a hardcore fan of Evangelion, I learned a bit from the panel, and it was well worth the time I spent there.
Afterward, it was time once more for a 07th Expansion panel, this time focusing on just how Ryukishi07 went about writing a story. Like the earlier 07th panel, you can find a write-up of this one in my other article. Also like the day before, I had a bit of fun talking to my fellow 07th Expansion fans and hope I will be able to do the same shortly.
By 2 PM, it was time for my first ever press junket with Richard Epicar, the voice actor for such characters as Raiden from Mortal Kombat and Batou from the Ghost in the Shell series. Highlights include several stories about voice acting in the game industry, the road leading to Epicar’s voice acting career, and his thoughts on playing a character as famous as Joker. After the end of the interview session, Epicar took a moment to take a picture of all the journalists in a bit of recursive photography.
Afterward I took a moment to eat then made haste for my second press event, this time with Ryukishi07. This was perhaps the highlight of my weekend and was an incredible experience I will not soon forget. After meeting with Ryukishi07, I ran late for one of the weekend’s more interesting fan panels, a murder mystery game inspired by the visual novel Umineko.
In this game, the audience had to use logic and reason, mostly by formulating questions that the panel’s Game Master would then confirm, deny, or refuse to answer, to deduce just who was carrying out the various grisly murders plaguing the island of Rokkenjima. Though I had walked in late, it did not take long before I found myself actively trying to pick apart the mystery the panel’s host prepared for us. Throughout the story, which was narrated to mimic the novel’s style, more and more details were revealed that, when combined with the various truths gleaned by the audience’s questions, painted a picture of what was going on behind the screen of magic and witches. Sadly, no one was able to dig up the exact truth behind the murders, although several did correctly guess the culprit. This meant that no one truly won the game. It might be easy to guess who committed a crime, but why they did it… that is the hardest part.
The last event of my long weekend was a panel devoted to a live reading of some of the worst fan fiction the Puella Magi Madoka Magica fandom had to offer. While the panelist read aloud stories riddled with awful grammar and questionable plots, I found myself laughing and cringing in equal parts. Bad writing is one thing, but to hear it read aloud is another experience entirely, and one that I hope to not repeat any time soon. If you’re interested in hearing the details behind fan fiction classics like “Madoka Gets Stoned” and “Dear Kyubey” check out Doug Overbeck’s review of the convention for the worst that the Internet had to offer.
From there, my day was over. And I was tired. This con experience was one of the most fun I’ve had in years, and was a great experience as a first-time member of the press as well. I made a few friends, learned a little about my favorite series, and even got to meet one of my favorite authors. In all, it couldn’t have been a better weekend, so here’s to APGNation’s presence at Anime Central next year, too.
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