This year I went with my friends maxineofarc and Tina and stayed on site. After a disastrous hotel check-in, we found another hotel nearby. The switch also meant we were halfway between the two convention sites but in a hotel without events - thus, it was quieter than it would have been elsewhere. Friday night, we went to the music video contents. There were a few particularly good ones, but, by and large, there were way too many depressing ones. After 15 or so depressing videos in a row, I was so anxious for a happy one that I stopped being able to really care about the quality of the videos. The memorable highlights for me: a Yami no Matsuei video to the tune of YMCA; "I just can't wait to be king" with Escaflowne which was very funny, even though I haven't seen the series; a catchy song called "Destroy she said" which has been going through my head all weekend - I'll have to track down the CD; and the last one, a marvel of intense, inspired editing - an astonishing bit of work.
I spent most of Saturday sampling different video series. The new Live Action Sailor Moon series is amazingly good - very, very well done. Magical Shopping Arcade was odd, but not intriguing. Omishi Magical Theater has a charming premise, but I'm not sure how the writers could get a season's worth of happenings out of the premise - it didn't immediately suggest any kind of ongoing plot. I attended one of maxineofarc's workshops, "Being an older otaku", which was particularly good for amusing anecdotes. Tina and I ate the best lunch I had all weekend, at what was probably part of a chain called La Biftheque. We didn't even have meat - we both had the soup and salad. Their croutons were really good, the soup was tasty and well-seasoned, the service was good, and they had cloth napkins.
The masquerade always starts late. It's hard to coordinate that many people and not have it start late. I stood in line with two guys from Barry for an hour until 8 pm, when they let the long long into the seating area. There was seating for 1500 and it was all filled in densely. I was there by myself, so I snagged a fifth row seat - and then moved up to the second row, center section, when the first few rows were opened up. This was a particularly convenient place to be when things went wrong. The judges were introduced, the first act came out and started dancing with their hamsters... and the power all went out.
The emergency lights were on and the judges' reading lamps were on - reassuring proof that it wasn't really ALL out. Glow sticks lit up all across the crowd. Announcements and hopes at crowd control were yelled from the stage. I was in a quiet and well-behaved section - but that was in part because we were close enough to be able to hear all of the announcements quite easily. The lights came back on gradually - then the computers. It took the better part of half an hour to reset everything. The crowd was entertained with j-rock videos for a while, and eventually the masquerade went on - all 130+ entries of it!! It was very long - and the number of entried doesn't really give you the scale of it, since there were several very large groups of 10-20 people with entries in the contest, including a large SoulCalibur 2 one, and the concluding one of the procession of the spirits into the bathhouse from Spirited Away. maxineofarc was a gorgeous, well-done Belldandy (if you were there, she was the final Belldandy, near the very end).
Today was more sampling of anime and then an unexpected encounter with organized nightclub-style dancing. The latter was completely fascinating. If nightclub dancing was always like this, it would be much easier to get me to go to a nightclub! It reminded me a great deal of watching DDR, something else I'd never done before. Some of those DDR players are extraordinary. I could have spent a great deal more time watching either of them. Today's sampling: Little Snow Faery Sugar Summer Special was a piece of fluff, but Sugar always is. The Special seemed to have even less real substance that the series does, but it was cute. I went to The World of Narue in part because there was an advertisement for it in the program book. It was reasonable, but equally fluffy, if somewhat less cute. I wouldn't go out of my way to see more, but I'd be willing to watch it again.
I didn't spent too much time looking around the artists and dealers. In the end, I only spent $3 on merchadise, and that on two Dragon Mango magnets: an earth dragon and one of Cupcake dressed up as Vash the Stampede!
Best of all, I had a really, really good time catching up with maxineofarc and Tina. It was a good weekend. Thank you to theengineer, Irwin, and all the many, many, many other people who helped put on this convention.
One last thought: if so many people showed up, what did they all do? Yes, the video contest and the masquerade had large audiences, as did the big guest of honor events. But the video and panel rooms, while healthily attended, really weren't all that full, so it was hard to picture where all those people were. Maybe they were just all there for the autograph lines...
Update: You can watch/hear the video for the song "Destroy, she said" here, on what looks like the band's official website.