Convention Report / Thoughts
Anime Central 2001 :  May 11-13, Arlington Heights, Il.
Thoughts written June 13 by Terry Chu.

Quote of the weekend : "He flies through the air with the GREATEST of ease!"

Anime Central is NOT the typical writeup, the typical convention experience or even the typical coverage.  I will first some of my personal high moments, then the actual writeup.

High Moments

1.  Thursday night, working on costumes to the very last minute, crazygluing myself not once but TWICE!  I'm AOK!  I'm also scruffy.

2.  Costuming as the MiB's from Serial Experiments Lain.  The costumes were a hit.  I now realize the high,and the intimidation factor, of getting dozens of photos taken of you.  Our entrance was perfect, from the first two seconds we stepped out of the elevator we got a "Oh my god its the knights!"

3.  Even better than the crowd reactions was Guest Yoshitoshi ABe's reaction.  See, when we walked in the "Meet the Guests" event, we were stopped by a translator, who gushed, "Oh my goodness, has ABe seen you yet?"  The translator led us over to ABe's table, where he was facing away from us.  The other guests and translators at the table looked up, started snickering.  When ABe asked what was going on, they pointed behind him.  He turned, then double-taked with a beautiful, "SUGOI!!" He further went on to state that he felt like he'd been captured by aliens.   <laugh!> 

4.  Our skit.  It worked out wonderfully.  From the huge crowd reaction during our entrance, to the incredible crowd reaction when we turned on our headsets, the skit was just absolutely perfect.  Almost the best possible reaction I could have expected to encourage this beginning cosplayer. 

My "official" writeup.

ACen at first glance was a very well run convention.  As usual, they've managed to keep a high degree of eye-candy in everyone's sight.  (Yes, my review is mostly visual since  that's what I focus on at a con.)

Their book?  Top Notch, and I mean, TOP NOTCH.  Full color all the way through, sharp graphics, clean, and they've gotten past the muddy colored backgrounds of last year. T-shirts from them followed the usual track of the "got soap?" ads, with a special print run of a shirt from Abe.  Again, nice touch here, both last year and this year they ran a special run of shirts with art from the actual guest.  Reasonable prices as well. 

Now.. Moving on to the little bit I saw of the convention itself.  I can't say I saw much of the con, because, to be honest, I was busy getting ready for my first ever cosplay. I do remember these little details..

1.  The lobby being under construction was a major drag.  Nothing gets one more fustrated than walking and finding out you have a huge smear of plaster dust on your formerly black suit.

2.  Panels were like last year, popular.  Fansub panels, ironcat's painting panel, etc were all heavily populated. 

3.  Two game rooms, one dedicated to arcade units, the other dedicated to home consoles.  Of note for people like me, they had a full DDR machine in the arcade room, and Konami was filming friday night. Alot of my fellow DDR players hope that other anime conventions follow ACenís path on this. :)

4.  Cosplay was disorganized, from what I hear.  Alot of reports are of the convention crowd being very very very rude to the cosplayers, yelling chants or even worse, yelling GONG.  Now.. basically, the convention, like ACen 2000, had a gong rule instead of a time rule.  If the judges felt that your skit was dragging on too long, they had a gong to ring to tell them to get off the stage quickly.  This did not remove you from judging, only from skitting anymore. 

Now.. my own thoughts on this.. in ACen 2000, the gong worked beautifully for two reasons.. It kept people thinking about time and really keeping their skits smooth, and the judges NEVER used it, except to gong a STAFFER off as a joke.  The gong was small and not in sight.  The gong rule was announced, but when bastards in the audience started chanting gong on the first long skit, the judges YELLED at them to shut up.  They also made it CLEAR that it was NOT meant to be used like the Gong Show, only the judges could use it, the crowd was not to yell for it.  At ACen 2000, people listened.

Not so at ACen 2001.  They made several fatal mistakes.  They made the Gong a central point of the show.  They had a HUGE gong that was a good 3 feet across, on a stand. They had their "Cute Car Girls" around it making a big deal out of it.  And from what I understand, the MC did NOT make any motions to keep the crowd under control.

 Now, our skit was one of the last, so I could not visibly see most of the skits.  From what I hear tho, basically, there was alot of jeering and such, the crowd was very frat-like.  We ourselves did not suffer from a major hit, because our skit kept the crowd's attention, but it seems that the crowd heckled and hassled very quickly.  I also noticed that the judges actually gonged at least one skit even while I was seated. 

The gong was barely mentioned and there are alot of people who claim that people weren't informed of the gong till the last minute.. (I'm ambivilent, cus I knew about it from last year, and thought I'd also seen mention of it in the rules....)

Also, there was no craftsmanship judging.  As in zero, nada, no one ever saw the pieces close up.  Alot of discussion has been bandied about this..  But overall, I think most cosplayers want to see some *serious* craftsmanship judging in contests.

5. The Pavilion party - post cosplay..  This was a major favorite of ACen 2000, for good reason.. The pavilion party is meant to let fans and cosplayers relax, have fun, sociailize, and generally.. PARTY.  At last year's pavilion party, cosplayers did impromtu skits, crossovers, etc. 

This didn't happen as much this year.  why? TOO.  Damned.. CROWDED!   I suspect there were people unhappy with the attitude of the cosplay crowd as well..  But basically, it was so packed in there, there was barely a chance too breathe or move, let ALONE have room for people to have fun..  So.. this year, while it was still enjoyable to have a post-cosplay party, it wasn't as exciting.

However, it should be noted that the wedding cake, as well as the tossing of the boquet and garter belt from the DeJesus wedding was very popular.  Congratulations to the new couple!

I also suspect that a good amount of the "fun" was had BEFORE cosplay started.  See... 

We had to wait an hour as they started nice and LATE.  They kept us in an outdoor pavilion, and it was freezing.  So, cosplayers were basically ripping sheets off of tables to keep themselves warm, as other cosplayers practiced, yelled, sang, etc to keep themselves occupied.  Ultimately, the best fun was had before cosplay, not even during..

Of particular note, and I will say this proudly, was when Me and Scott, along with another cosplay group, started doing songs as we walked around.. Several songs were done, but the funniest was tied between the humming of "Pomp and Circumstance" as we walked to the lobby in procession.  After being lined up like convicts, there was a random fit of oddity..

A very quiet round of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" starts.  This starts with only four people whispering the song.  As the lines progress, other people started in.  As the chorus lines hit, the growing group of people slowly rise their volume.  By the time we hit the middle of the song, we are all BELTING the song, over 40 people harmonizing, quite nicely!  This rousing song put everyone in our section of the lobby in a great mood, and also got a ovation from all the bystanders.

Anyway, getting back to the topic..  Unforutnately, there isnít much else to state regarding Anime Central 2001.  Cosplay was a blast, and the dance seemed to be heavily populated.  However, certain incidents led to a confrontation with Anime Central staff, which severely left things at a depressed state.  This incident was settled with Anime Central, but it left me in no mood to cover or enjoy things from Saturday night on through Sunday.

I do note that there were many good cosplayers on Sunday, and I did havea pleasant flight home.  However, there isnít much else to state.

So.. all in all.. I must say that ACen has a pleasant surface layer, and had the potential to be an excellent convention.  My memories of the first three days are still pleasant, and I will still hold them dear.  First major cosplay moment, first time getting the floods of appreciation from people while wandering the halls, first time experiencing the last minute costuming rush.  Those are experiences that canít be forgotten.

Now, go make some experiences of your own. :)



Cosplay crowds dominate.

What is this... DDR?

The Character designer for Serial Experiments Lain is scanned by the MiB.



Black Mage - give me a fireball please. :)



All cosplayers must eat SOMETIME, after all..

The MiB Agents get crushed by the competition..

Discards of a finished con - a moody picture for a moody ending.


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