Tuesday, April 1, 2008

JAMPcon '08! - Recap

I somehow imagined that I might have time to churn out an album review, but that was before I realized instead that my time would be totally, and positively, devoted to JAMPcon. True enough, because while I got a lot of sleep, I was able to do little else until Sunday. The weekend was packed with adventure, comedy, and all sorts of quirky con things so now stay put as I describe in length the riviting tale of my con experiences at JAMPcon, Chattanooga’s first anime convention!

Day 1

Welcome JAMPcon Sign @ Chattanooga Choo Choo

So I got off from work about 1:20 or so, a little after opening ceremonies sadly, and then I headed immediately downtown to the convention. After ConNooga, I knew I’d be pretty familiar with the hotel itself so that was quite nice, although registration would have been easy to find anyways. Once in the lobby I saw a surprising number of cosplayers already, and Veggie, Chris, and other staff floating around, so it looked like the con was already getting quite underway. I then ran into some of my friends, but they were going to check into the hotel and get into their Cosplay outfits so I let them do that and I went to explore the area.

JAMPcon Registration 2

First, I started with the Dealers’ Room because the Roosevelt Room, where the dealers were at, is located right off of the main lobby. I wasn’t sure what the room would look like, but I saw the 7 or 8 dealers there all with there wares, and immediately across from the entrance door was a dealer with a variety of weapons, so that was a cool sight to enter into. I explored on my own briefly, although I’d return on numerous occasions with most of my friends just to glance around. I ran into Brian, who hung out with me most of ConNooga, and we spent some time looking at the cool swords. They even had some wooden ones ready made for cosplayers, and I know I saw several of those being used throughout the weekend.

Dealers Room Vendor @ JAMPcon

Then I left and headed over to Artist Alley, which I do have to say was a bit estranged, at first especially, from the rest of the convention. Since there was a slight overlap with an EMCS convention in the Galleries and Finley Lecture Hall basically there were just 6 or so artists sitting around with few people there looking yet. I was about to have to pick-up my brother to join me, so I decided I’d give the Artist Alley a more thorough look at a later time.

The trip to pick-up my brother was simple, so no story there but once we returned we checked him in, got his wristband, and then headed out once more to explore the con. At this point, let me say I’d taken some of my time early at work to print out a schedule and categorize those events that interested me with a "Might" and those that I felt I had to go to with a "Must." All in all, I feel that was quite a successful way of organizing, even if I didn’t do everything I said. However, with time still left to kill we didn’t yet head out for our first event, instead we came upon an interesting scene, not THE interesting scene but the follow-up.

Basically, we saw our friends Liz, James, and many other Maconites, all in cosplay, hanging around and a Link was recanting how he fell, no, was pushed into the fountain, apparently by a now mostly apologetic Yumichika cosplayer, who we would later see all weekend. Video from YouTube below...

Apparently Link lost some items in the fountain, so Yumichika in repayment decided to wade in for the items, with Link trying to search for the final item himself. This drew quite a crowd, and eventually a security guard came over but as far as I could tell no harm was done and no conflicts arose, but I also don’t know if Link ever got back that missing item from the watery depths.

Yumichika Cosplayer in Fountain @ JAMPcon

Either way, at this point my brother and I realized that it was time to move on and I then gave him the initial tour of the Dealer’s Room, which impressed him but not enough to buy anything at that moment.

We then headed over to the Crystal Room, also just off the main lobby, and joined Linlin of the Funk for her J-Rock panel. I think Linlin did a great job, but clearly we weren’t the most interactive audience so we were hard to deal with. First, she didn’t know whether we wanted to discuss, play a game, have contests, or what and we weren’t really committal, so she put in a cool video she’d put together highlighting 1 minute clips of different J-Rock artists videos. I should have paid more attention since the answers for contest questions were there, but all in all as a DJ myself I found it cool to not only see these videos but also here someone else pronounce the artist names so I could know whether I’d been correct at all.

Afterwards, there was some casual conversation, but for the most part we went into contest mode where I happily, and proudly, answered two of the questions thus earning me candy and a box of pocky! The questions were as follows: 1) What PV, specifically that Linlin showed, had two gay pairings male and female (paraphrased)? and 2) What J-Rock band adds a comma to their name? Well, the answer to the first question is Pierrot’s "Yuuyami’s Suicide" and the answer to the second question is Kaggra,. Sure, I didn’t earn the bigger prizes like the magazines she had, but pocky does taste good. I definitely enjoyed Linlin’s panel, and I hope she can return next year to host too, because crazy conflicts aside I’d like to see what she has in store for us then.

J-Rock Panel @ JAMPcon 1

After the J-Rock panel, my brother and I grabbed a quick sandwich at the deli and headed over to the guest panel with Samantha Inoue Harte! While I didn’t have any questions personally, many of the audience members did thus prompting some quality interplay, with Samantha telling stories about her love for zombies, her crazy apartment, anime on one side horror on the other, and her work as a animator and voice actress. I would see her one other time too, so I’ll save telling her most hilarious story for then; however, Samantha was definitely a nice and great guest to have, and I’m definitely glad she came.

Samantha Harte in Hat @ JAMPcon 2

Since this was Friday, and my eyes were becoming irritated by allergies, a theme for the rest of the weekend, my brother and I decided we’d find some easy entertainment over in the game room where the Smash Brothers Brawl tournament was just about to begin. Now the game room was a bit smaller that day as far as number of TV’s and consoles, so the TV we were watching was a bit small, not normally an issue for me but since my eye sight was apparently wavering that made it difficult to watch the game. Then again, I’m not one for watching I’m one for playing, but I didn’t do that till the next day. So, after watching the tournament for awhile I drove my brother and I home and had a nice sleep.

Smash Brothers Brawl Competition @ JAMPcon 2

Day 2

So I woke up early for Saturday, knowing this one probably be my most packed day, and indeed I had plans for early on until fairly late. Sadly though, the first event I wanted to attend Konoha Confessions, coordinated by Shukaku, could not come to be since too many of the voice actors couldn’t attend. I hope she can get this together for next year, because what Shukaku does with voice acting and paraodies is always quite hilarious. In fact, I actually did get to see some examples of this shortly after, but I’ll get to that momentarily.

Because instead of Konoha Confessions, we headed on over to the voice actor panel with Samantha Harte. While we’d spent nearly 2 hours with her the day before, she kept amusing us, particularly with the story of her first voice acting experience, which if you meet her you must ask her to recant in detail. What’s cool about Samantha, among many things, is that she was actually a fan herself of anime. Most voice actors I’d say become fans to some degree, but she was a fan first. Additionally, she lives in Austin which, for some personal history, was a city I lived in during my youth, although I can recall very little these many years later. She told us stories though of ADV Austin, and its disappearance and the effects on the voice actor community, and gave us a unique perspective on the industry fans just don’t have. Once again I was glad to have her, and since both panels had different feels and different questions I’m definitely glad I went to both.

After that, we headed next door. For the time had come for the Bleach panel, hosted by Chris, VP of JAMPcon, and my friends Liz and James. Chris was taking care of the technical needs, and James ended up being the MC for the event which worked out quite well. The panel was rather packed, and in fact I believe Bleach cosplayers were the most represented at JAMPcon, and of course most of them went to the panel, which was cool. The conversations drifted, from favorite characters to favorite moments and more, with only a few spoilers which I was able to avoid with well-placed hands on ears. The Yumichika cosplayer I mentioned earlier clearly had some Bleach knowledge, as she won both contests, the first required you to name all of Orihime’s attack/defense people, and the last one, for the 1st season box set, required you to name all of the Captains and Lieutenants. But yeah, Yumichika won both, and actually she gave the 1st prize, a Bleach doll, away to win the 2nd prize which works.

Bleach Panel @ JAMPcon 2

Part of the panel consisted of James showing his comedic "Channel Changing" Bleach parody, and Shukaku also showed some of her own parodies as well. Both were very funny, but I didn’t know that apparently Shukaku has overseen some extremely well-known parodies. I mean I knew that was her schtick; however, it was definitely cool to see that many recognized the videos from the internet. This helped round out what was, as I said, an excellent and exciting panel, with the final hurrah being a Bleach photoshoot. There’s not so much to talk about but I’ll upload pictures on here for you to see.

Bleach Photoshoot @ JAMPcon 13

My brother and I realized our schedule was going to be relatively packed, and with Liz, James, and others going to change into their next cosplay outfits we felt that we might as well eat lunch. So we drove on down to Sekisui, which was definitely a great lunch. We both got a bento box type meal, so plenty of diversity yet all, to say the least, quite awesome. Afterwards, we went back to the convention much more rested and now quite full.

Thankfully, when we arrived we were able to see some interesting sights, particularly the last bit of Shukaku’s "Popular Dances" panel. Well, I wouldn’t call it a panel, because everyone was in the large ballroom doing actual dances, including the ever popular Haruhi dance and... yes, the macarena?!? Well, yeah and I’ve got pictures :) Seemed like everyone enjoyed themselves, but like I said we only caught the end but even so I can definitely tell this was something everyone had fun doing.

Macarena @ JAMPcon

My brother and I though had to head on though to the Anime @ the Library Panel, hosted by Ali Banks who puts on the Anime @ the Library events which I sponsor. Most of the information she went over was pretty familiar to be, but some girls from Ringgold were there and since not many libraries have what ours has, you could tell they were impressed. She had a t-shirt to give away, and while I knew the answer I passed, and actually I got to randomly pick the girl who won, so congratulations to her on the shirt! I’ve felt, even before I returned home, that Anime @ the Library was a good chance for those of us local otaku to get together more often, and I hope this will help at least to some degree spread the word about what we do at the library. Of course, you’re going to be there Saturday for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children right? Yes...

Anime at the Library Panel @ JAMPcon 3

Well, my brother and I then decided to hang around in the ballroom, and there were still plenty of cosplayers in there and, while I may have got my timing wrong on this, I believe it was then that I saw once again Yumichika. This time she was leading what I can only describe as a collective troupe of Bleach cosplayers in a dance/song combo from one of the Bleach Musicals. In all honestly, they were quite good and you can tell Yumichika gave it her all too, which clearly showed in the fine results when they were finished.

Bleach Musical Dance Moves @ JAMPcon 1

During this same time, Shukaku I believe came up with the great idea of limbo. While there probably were several individuals not in cosplay, those who did were particularly funny because obviously some costumes do not lend themselves to successful limboing. Even so, the winner was a costume which, and I don’t remember the name now, had a tube which alone would make limboing extremely difficult. Thankfully, I’ve got video and pictures from the event which I’ll try to upload for you all to look at.

Kakashi Limbos @ JAMPcon

After what I guess must’ve been the Final Fantasy Reunion, we then walked around a bit more and eventually wound up at the Rock Band tournament. This time I actually got to play Rock Band for the first time, on one of the game stations not being used for the tournamnent. The only instrument there was the drums; however, playing this game is something I’d wanted to do for awhile so lack of selection wasn’t going to stop me. I did enjoy it, and I think I did alright on easy, but I still have problems with the aestethics of the game itself, but I won’t bore you with that. What was particularly cool was that all of a suddent I looked over and there was Samantha Harte, guest extraordinaire, singing in the Rock Band tournament. I knew she’d mentioned that she liked to play Rock Band, but I guess I just didn’t connect that wiht a likelihood of her being there. Either way, I watched her group play for awhile, and then a Bleach group came and played, which was also cool.

Bleach Rock Band Group @ JAMPcon 2

At that point though, I had to duck out and head over to the Saiyuki panel. This was probably the only panel with substantial delay, but that’s because Andrea was hosting, and to be fair she had a ton to do this entire weekend so it’s amazing she could even host a panel. My friends were coming too as the Saiyuki party and since they were getting their costume together it took a little while longer than normal.

Andrea Hosts Saiyuki Panel @ JAMPcon 1

Thus, the timing worked out perfectly as my brother and I held the room and then we all pretty much convened at one time. Basically, the conversation flow was sort of general discussion; however, of particular interest to me was the difference between the anime and the manga. I always knew such differences not only existed but were pervasive in the industry; however, I didn’t realize how much darker Saiyuki was in the manga. I guess killing demons is a pretty gruesome concept, and their background stories were never that happy. Now I guess I’ll have to pick up the manga and read along.

Saiyuki Party @ JAMPcon

Afterward, we got some pictures of everyone in the Saiyuki party and then sort of split off for a bit, as I went to help my friend Brian prepare what he needed to DJ the rave. David went to another panel hosted by Samantha on animation, and from what I heard had a lot of fun. I learned a substantial amount on DJing, although in no way would I claim to be anyway proficient but I appreciate Brian showing me what he does.

I then hung around a bit to take pictures of Brian DJing and ravers raving for Brian, and while there was a little confusion on the music selection, I believe that all got settled and everything sounded like it went alright. I had to go because my eyes were acting up once again, but I had a very busy and enjoyable day, so I was in need of some rest.

Brian DJing for Rave @ JAMPcon

Day 3

By this time, I was beginning to realize my attempts at getting extra sleep must’ve worn off, but then again Cons can wear you out. Still though, my brother got up and drove to the hotel, this time with the stark realization that this was our last opportunity to go to the Dealers Room. So away we went, my brother picking up some pocky for us, and I buying to prints, one of D-Gray Man chracters, and the other from the Bleach movie "Memories of Nobody." My brother also decided to get an Urahara doll, since this is the character he most likely wants to cosplay, probably for AWA ’08. All in all, we bought surprisingly little, but I was, and am, more than content with my purchases.

After this we explored the lobby, and came across the Crystal Room and lo and behold Chris, VP, had popped in Karas, so we stopped and watched for about 30 minutes. I didn’t realize that it was a movie, but we both agreed it seemed a bit confusing, even though the CG was very well done. Realizing that it was a movie though, we headed off to find out whether the Final Fantasy Tactics Battle was taking place, because I knew this would be a wonderful photo opportunity.

Upon reaching the ballroom, at first I was a little worried since there were tons of people but no fighting. However, apparently they were waiting on Link who was the MC, and did arrive shortly thereafter. What began easily became one of my favorite parts of the convention. Why? Well, the battles weren’t that flashy, and since dice controlled much of the action, the pace wasn’t that fast; however, Link had an excellent humor to him that was often rather dry, but always provided great hilarity.

Tactics Battle Battlefield @ JAMPcon

Thankfully, in addition to the many pictures I have of the Tactics Battle I also have a couple vids to, including one I’ll post below of a full length fight. This event ended up being so good I skipped JAMPcon 2009 (sorry Andrea), and I was really quite disappointed when my brother and I had to leave and finish school work for Monday, but real life always comes in hard Sunday after a con. I did hear that a human Death Note won the battle, but I wasn’t sure, I just know I enjoyed all the battles I saw and that I will strongly request the return of this event.

As I said though at this point we had to leave, and all in all I had a terrific time! This was the first convention where I really had multiple friends attending, and having gone to the volunteer meetings and getting to know the dedicated staff that put this together I definitely have a since of joy in knowing what they accomplished. I’ve already decided I’m going to take a more active role in next year’s convention, because while JAMPcon was great, especially for a first year, we can make JAMPcon better.

Reno Walking on the Tracks @ JAMPcon

So feel like joining me for JAMPcon 2009? I hope so


Susie Q said...

Wow, nice report and pictures of the con! I've never been to one but since I've recently moved to the LA area I plan on checking out Anime Expo this year. It would be cool to see lots of people doing the Haruhi dance :).

AnimeFame said...

Great report and fun pics.