ACEN 2017

2017-May-21, Sunday 11:08
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
[personal profile] dorchadas
​I was incredibly nervous for basically all of Thursday and most of Friday before I went to ACEN and I still don't know the reason why. I've had a great time at the last there ACENs I went to. What did I think would happen?

Well, nothing went wrong, but here's my chronicle of what did happen:

We didn't get a hotel room for Thursday night because since [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd works in a school, there was the chance that she wouldn't be able to get Friday off. And that's exactly what happened--they kept her hanging until Wednesday and then sprung on her that they had scheduled a meeting on Friday and she would have to come. Well, nothing to be done, so we packed on Thursday and I spent Friday morning at our apartment getting things ready and finally left at 1 p.m. and my Lyft driver drove me to our hotel in blessed silence as he listened to a baseball game on the radio.

Since we live in the future I had already checked into our hotel with my phone, but since nothing changes setting up the phone-based keycode didn't work and I got a mesage to go to the front desk anyway. Fortunately, they had the room ready early and I checked in, used by phone to open the door, dropped everything off, and went down to the dealer's room.

After walking past Nabeshin having his photo taken with a Harley Quinn cosplayer, a went to back where [ profile] redpikachu had her booth set up with and [ profile] smtemp and said hello. We chatted for a bit and [ profile] redpikachu mentioned that she had brought the 爆乳 (bakunyū, "Enormous breasts") charm for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, but she needed to find it and put it together. [ profile] pharlik also said hello and goodbye as he was on his way off somewhere. And so was I--off to catch a panel that I had arrived early enough for.

On the way, I ran into the Lone Wanderer.

ACEN 2017 Lone Wanderer

I recognized him by the jingle, jangle, jingling of his bottle caps.

The panel was about 異世界 (isekai, "parallel world") stories, where the protagonist is transported into another world, books like Re: From Zero or I Was Reborn as a Vending Machine and Am Wasting Time in a Labyrinth (translation here). That last one is a real story and the first sentence is

"It is generally acknowledged that he, who was a fanatic for vending machines, died in a traffic incident while protecting a vending machine."
Usually a fantasy world or a video game, something where all the tropes are laid out already and the author doesn't need to explain what levels or elves or bosses are. There are hundreds of these and I'm interested in reading them, since cliche-filled tropey garbage is probably actually good Japanese practice once I get familiar with the tropes and vocabulary. The presenter recommended the website Shōsetsuka ni narō ("Let's become a novelist") that uploads stories in short chunks designed to be read on the phone while on Tōkyō's mass transit network.

About halfway through, the presenter played a game involving Light Novel titles, which are famously long. For example: "My Vampire Older Sister and Zombie Younger Sister Have Gotten into a Pretty Serious Fight... Only in Virtual Reality Though" or "When a Military Nerd Is Reincarnated into a World of Magic, He Establishes a Harem Army with Modern Weapons!?" These are real books.

After a few recommendations from the presenter: 無職転生 ~異世界いったら本気だす~ (Mushoku Tensei ~Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu~, "Jobless Reincarnation: If I Go to a Parallel World, I'll Give It My All", translation online here) and 盾の勇者の成り上がり (Tate no Yūsha no Nariagari, "The Rising of the Shield Hero, incomplete translation online here) and some time for questions, the panel let out a bit early. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was on her way, so I bummed around the free arcade across from the panel rooms (Pac-Man score 32600) and played Taikō no Tatsujin with someone else who was watching the game while I waited for her. After she arrived and settled into the hotel room, we ate a quick snack of pitted dates and pickle-salted almonds, got the hotel app on her phone and then it didn't work. The line was long, so we just continued on to the dealer's room where I found a true soldier of the Empire.

ACEN 2017 Imperial Heitai

We first went to [ profile] redpikachu's booth, where [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd picked up her 爆乳 necklace--the only one in existence, [ profile] redpikachu said--and chatted for a bit and then left to look around. I was looking for a copy of 電撃ピカチュウ (dengeki pikachū, "Lightning Blast Pikachu"), an old Pokémon manga, but almost no one was even selling manga and of the handful of dealers, only Kinokuniya had anything in Japanese. So instead [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd bought a custom Black Widow amiibo and I found a Japanese Sheik amiibo for $30 (American retail value ~$80 on the secondary market). She also got a chibi badge of Black Widow, and I chose one of Fierce Deity Link since it was right there (though I said Onigami because I didn't know what the English was. Oops! Emoji Link happy). Then we did a brief sweep of the Artist's Alley and left before the dealer's room closed and went back to our hotel room to eat our traditional con dinner of homemade beef jerky, smoked cheese, dried fruit, and nuts, like we're some kind of wandering adventurers. Emoji Dragon Quest

On the way out, I got a pic of Isaac.

ACEN 2017 Isaac

I really want to see an Isaac couples' or group cosplay sometime.

After eating I took my glasses and lay down to try to deal with the headache that had been slowly growing since I arrived and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd took a short bath to wash the metaphorical dust of the school off herself. While we were relaxing, [ profile] klenkers sent me a message mentioning that he had tea with our name on it, so that was our next destination.

[ profile] klenkers was eating in the buffet room when we left, so we wandered around the Hyatt seeing what had changed. Since the game room had been moved, the old game room down in the basement now had the "Gen Con Game Collection" of board games, and all the rooms down each side of the hall had card games, board games, Battletech tournaments, etc. If I had different tastes, I'd be down there for the whole con, but as it is we just checked it out and then went upstairs to go find [ profile] klenkers...and found [personal profile] fiendishfanfares and her husband! The last time we had seen them was three years ago, at ACEN 2014. So we caught up with them until we learned that they were planning to go to [ profile] klenkers's room as well, and the saga of us texting back and forth ended with us all meeting up in his room.

After we said our greetings, he offered us our choice of tea from his collection, so we picked out some hōjicha and a green tea mixed with sour cherries. We spent about half an hour chatting with people until 9:20, and then we said our temporary goodbyes so we could make it to the In Good Spirit panel about Japanese alcohol.

On the way, we met pikachu:

ACEN 2017 pikachu

We came in at the end of the whiskey section and then stayed through the shōchū and beer sections. Shōchū was my jam--one of [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's co-teachers offered it to me at an enkai, probably assuming that since I was a foreigner I was a super-capable drinker, and it turned out that when it came to shōchū, they were right. It's delicious mixed with water (水割り, mizuwari).

Most of the rest of the presentation was about beer, which is definitely important to the history of Japanese alcohol, but not particularly interesting to me because I don't like beer. I did like the notes about the history of beer, like how the Japanese government killed off the Japanese microbrewery industry by setting a minimum number of barrels produced to be allowed to sell, or the way that some companies used to market their beer as German beer made by Japanese companies until World War II, after which no one was interested in marketing anything as German. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd got more out of it that I did, though, and would sometimes lean over to offer her opinion of the beers that came up on the presentation slides. Sadly, we missed the sake section. Emoji Extreme crying

After the panel [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd checked her phone and found a message from [personal profile] fiendishfanfares that they had gone on to [ profile] starlet2214's room, so that was our next destination. We sat down and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd spent a while talking with [personal profile] fiendishfanfares about motherhood while I mostly listened until the clock struck eleven and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd decided that she had best go to bed since she had to get up early to meet anime club students in the morning. I didn't have anything to do, however, so I stuck around until [personal profile] fiendishfanfares and a few other people decided to go over to the food truck area for hot dogs. On the way I spotted [ profile] hynoxolus in her Seras Victoria outfit. She wasn't sure that I recognized her, but she definitely recognized [personal profile] fiendishfanfares:

ACEN 2017 Jess and Ash

When we did arrive at the food trucks I didn't get anything, prompting this exchange:
[personal profile] fiendishfanfares: "You don't want a hot dog?"
Me: "We have homemade beef jerky back in the-"
[personal profile] fiendishfanfares: "Fuck. Off."
I did get to steal some fries, though, which were fantastic. And got congratulated on my "cosplay" of Kyle Ren. I just like black clothes, okay?

The next stop was [ profile] klenkers's room again, my last stop for the night. I chatted a bit with [ profile] klenkers about the propriety of punching Nazis (yes) and the morality of K-pop culture until the clock stuck one, and by then most everyone else I knew had left and I was feel pretty sleepy too. I said my goodbyes, walked back to my hotel room, said a brief hello to a couple friends I passed on the way, and then went back to the room and turned in for the night.

I wasn't quite awakened out of a sound sleep by [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd calling me to say that she had arrived with her cadre of anime club kids, but I was effectively awakened because I was lying in bed half-asleep reading twitter. I jumped in the shower, got dressed, and went down to the convention center lobby where she was instructing her students on their obligations. Meet up at 1, leave at 3, don't go into hotel rooms, have a good time. She led one final shy student through the cash line, got her badge sorted out and suggested some panels that she could attend, and then we went to the Artist's Alley.

Polygonal Sephiroth was there again, but I did not get a picture. I think it's the same person from my ACEN 2014 post linked above.

This was mostly showing the shy student around the dealer's room, but we did buy a "second breakfast" soap from Fictional Fragrances and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd bought a Legend of Zelda poster to hang in her office at school:

ACEN 2017 Breath of the Chibi Link

He's so cute!

We went back to [ profile] redpikachu's booth to pick up my copy of Shōwa: A History of Japan 1926-1939 that [ profile] stephen_poon had borrowed to read before Wednesday's book group meeting. While walking through the dealer's room, we ran into [ profile] vixenvoodoo_ unexpectedly! She recognized me and then [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd recognized her, but I generally ignore everyone and my wife does not. After we chatted for a bit and I picked up my book, we left the dealer's room and went on to the arcade room. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and her student went back to the Taikō no Tatsujin machine at my suggestion, but I left to go catch a panel on the first six Final Fantasies, since it is the 30th anniversary of the series (December 18, 1987). It was a lot of things I already knew, more of a kind of overview and general discussion that someone who constantly listens to gaming podcasts (and, well, has played the games, except III) already knows, though they did have a panelist who liked Final Fantasy II. I liked it too, when I played it on my phone on my commute to and from Suzugamine. Then again, I never had a problem with the Elder Scrolls-style leveling system--one of my favorite Angband variants actually has a skill-based, learn-by-doing system too. But I never beat it and never got to the end, so maybe I would have grown to hate it.

They described FFIV as "Feelings: the Final Fantasy." I might describe it as "Melodrama: the Final Fantasy." Emoji Smug moogle I liked it a lot when I first played it through (in 2008, with the DS remake), but at that point I could recognize the heavy hand the game took. They had 16 bits for feelings and filled them all with tears.

There was also an audience member who kept yelling out commentary in that clueless, overexcited con-goer way. The worst scourge of any panel, more annoying even than unprepared presenters. I eventually left most of the way through the FFVI section because [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was waiting outside after dropping her student off at the Hetalia panel...which was cancelled! But right at that time all the other students showed up in a group with plans to go to the arcade, so the student following us went off with the, and we went back to our hotel room to eat.

After lunch we made a quick stop in the video games room to play Puyo Puyo and tried to play Columns but the guy playing didn't notice us and continued on to a new game. I sent a quick picture of the Missile Command cabinet to my father, who once won a prize for highest weekly Missile Command score in his youth, and then we went back to the dealer's room so that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd could be near the entrance hall when the time came to collect all her club kids and take them back to the school.

On the way in, I saw someone cosplaying Stalkid!

ACEN 2017 Stalkid cosplay


We looked around for fifteen minutes before she had to go and I decided to go over to the Hyatt and see what was playing in the AMV room. On the way I met [ profile] stephen_poon and a friend of his, who were looking for the game room in the usual place. I told them that not only had it been moved, but now it was free, and I also told him about our plans for dinner at the Hyatt restaurant. Then I went and watched a few AMVs I had never seen and can't really remember because I haven't seen the shows they were from either.

I also heard multiple people mention my Kylo Ren cosplay. Rude. I always dress like that. Emoji hmmph

I left after maybe twenty minutes so I could make it to the next panel I wanted to go to on Asian Archery. Unfortunately, I couldn't take the skyways because somehow there was broken glass in one of them and staff were turning everyone away. However, that meant that I found Howl's Moving Castle when I went outside and around through the front doors of the convention center:

ACEN 2017 Howl's Moving Castle

The tennis shoes make it somehow cuter.

Right from the beginning, the presenter said he doesn't do kyūdō, but does practice a different style of Japanese archery, and he showed a brief filmed demonstration of kyūdō. He described it as a meditative style, and the video bore that out. Very slow motions, holding the arrow drawn for a long period of time, bowing afterward, and so on. It looks like something I might enjoy, honestly.

Next was a discussion on kyūjutsu, a more war-oriented style. This he gave an actual demonstration using a target set up in the corner of the room that I hadn't noticed, which had some similar characteristics to kyūdō. Bow starts above the eyeline, lowered as it is drawn, and the bow turns out after the show is fired. Then the presentation moved on to Korean archery and the small arrows called aegisal ("baby arrows") fired using wooden guides to hold the arrows, gao ying (named after the Chinese archery teacher 高穎) and its thumb draws, inward-curled fingers, and extra arrows held in the bow hand to enable rapid shots, Mongolian horseback archery, and styles I've never heard of like Pa Kua Chinese meditative style. After a bit about how to get started in Asian archery, the presentation ended and I went back to the hotel room right as [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd returned, so we met there, ate a quick snack, and went out to the dealer's room.

[personal profile] theome was waiting near the entrance, having completed his own circuit of the dealer's room already and knowing that we were coming. We said hello and he and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd talked about grad school for a bit before we left to go find presents for our Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom gaming group! We got some pixel art magnets for our group and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd bought a butterbeer-scented candle from Game and Wick. They also had a Kirby-themed candle called "Dreamland," but it had already sold out other than the display model. It smelled delicious and I'm definitely going to get one in the future! Emoji Fairy La

On the way, we found the Shyguy squad:

ACEN 2017 Shyguy squad

The ties are a nice touch.

We looked around for the ten minutes until the dealer's room closed and I held off buying anything. I found some neat-looking jewelry, but my Hebrew is awful and anyway, anyone selling Kabbalistic-looking jewelry is probably not someone I want to buy it from. So I left it behind and we went to the Hyatt restaurant and met [ profile] redpikachu, one of her friends, [ profile] stephen_poon, and [ profile] abby_the_hairapist for dinner. A $17 buffet and an hour's conversation followed, and while we missed the panel we wanted to attend on the problems facing modern Japan (depopulation, etc.), we didn't mind at all. When dinner was over, [ profile] redpikachu'a friend mentioned that he had to meet some other people who were giving an impromptu Legend of Zelda concert, so that's where we went next, to hear a gigantic Zelda medley performed by two violins and one guitar. And then when that ended, the Blues Brothers gave a performance:

ACEN 2017 Blues Brothers

We left partway through their show to go watch more AMVs, but we came in during the freestyle selection, which isn't my favorite. So we texted [ profile] ping816 to see what he was up to and went upstairs to the Hyatt mezzanine. On the way, I found someone cosplaying the bizarre Hyatt lobby statue.

ACEN 2017 Hyatt weird statue

This doesn't capture the horrific undulating way it moved, apparently from the cosplayer's years of Silent Hill cosplays.

We went back to [ profile] ping816's hotel room and chatted over drinks while others gradually gathered--[ profile] smtemp, [ profile] pharlik, and all the others staying in the room with them. Eventually [ profile] ping816 and I decided to go to the arcade to play Missile Command, so we went past the man bleeding from a head wound and followed the trail of blood to the video arcade (relationship dispute, from overheard comments in the hallway), where we got in a game before [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, work out from herding high school students, said she was tired and went to bed. [ profile] ping816 played a game of Space Invaders on an old flat cabinet and a game of Puyo Puyo, and then I suggested Mario Kart 8 on the Switch I had brought. Near where the Blues Brothers had fish their performance, we set it up on the table and found that Nintendo's promises of portable gaming were true, though perhaps not meant for someone with my size hands. Emoji embarrassed rub head After a Mario Kart game and a demonstration of Puyo Puyo Tetris, he said goodnight and went up to bed.

I sat in the upper Hyatt lobby for a bit, thinking about what to do, and I caught [ profile] smtemp and [ profile] pharlik on their way back to their room to go to sleep and said goodnight to them as well. I went down to the AMV room but the lights were on and no AMVs were playing, despite the posted schedule of 4:00 a.m. to 3:59 a.m., and with everyone I knew asleep and nothing else to do, I went back to the room to sleep.

On the way back, I got a compliment on my boots. I also found a kodama:

ACEN 2017 Kodama

The wire was connected to a motor that made the head rock at random intervals

On the way up to the hotel room, a man in the elevator told me that he had been sketching people the whole con and that I had a "powerful physique." I wasn't quite sure how to take this, but decided to accept it at face value, thanked him, and went to the hotel room to sleep.

We woke up around 8:30--at least, I did--and debated leaving immediately or going to the Tales from Japan panel that started at 9. The description said it was storytelling of two stories from Kwaidan and the tale of Kaguya-hike and we eventually threw on clothes and decided to go only to find when we arrived at the panel room that it had been cancelled! Since the video arcade was just across the hall and we thought it would be pretty empty on a Sunday morning, we decided to get in a quick game of Taikō no Tatsujin and only had to wait a couple minutes before playing. And I just realized while writing this that we should have tried to play the 超ちゃぶ台返し (Chō chabudai gaeshi, "Super Tea-table Flipping") cabinet that always had long lines every other time I was there, but it completely slipped my mind. I can't recall if there was anybody there. Probably not. Emoji cute shrug

As the couple behind us stepped up and took the drumsticks we decided to go to the dealer's room for one last sweep only to find someone checking "tickets" because the dealer's room didn't open for another half an hour. With nothing we specifically wanted and business cards or websites for all the stalls that we had liked, we decided not to wait. We went back to the hotel room, picked up all our stuff, and checked out.

On the way out we saw the two Blues Brothers cosplayers, now dressed in matching black slacks, white shirts, and red vests.

This is the most actual convention-related stuff I've gone to in a long time, and we would have done even more if storytime hadn't been cancelled. I described it to friends as me scanning down the list and saying, "Alright, which of these panels at an anime convention aren't about anime" but that was...well, pretty much my thought process. Most of the cosplay pictures I took weren't from anime either. I don't go to anime conventions for the anime part. Emoji Chocobo

Looking forward to next year!
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