If Only the Rest of the City Knew...
Andrew’s latest convention adventure sticks a little closer to home as he hangs with Voice Actors and hits on Monica Rial at Anime USA.
My second convention this year, and what more can I expect after Otakon? Finally a convention close to home! I won't lie; I should have NOT gone to Otakon as my first convention, because this one is one-fourth the size of Otakon. What are the perks of a small con? For me, mingling with the guests and getting to know them better.
At 9:30 am, I drove off to get my press badges. After sitting in traffic for thirty minutes, I finally arrived. I expected big lines, and was surprised to see a total of ten people in line. After I got my press badge, I felt high and mighty. There were already some cosplayers there. Eager to take some pictures, I realized that I didn't have a camera. So I was off to the store where I bought a nice new digital camera, and then I took plenty of pictures of our costuming peers. There weren't many panels going on this early in the con, but I did stop by and listen to a panel for beginners. Some of the stories that people told were really interesting.
At 1:00 pm, I decided to check out the game room, since the dealers' room didn't open for another hour. To my surprise, there was a line for DDR (Dance Dance Revolution)! Hating lines, I decided to sit down and play Halo. I love Halo! I played for about an hour and busted a can of whoop ass on the other players. One guy bragged to me that he took third in Microsoft's big Halo tournament. I just smiled and actually beat him without any problems. HOLLA!
Finally, the dealers' room opened; I walked around and saw the same old stuff: DVDs, resin figures, and everyone's favorite, plushies! There were beautiful katana swords and kendo sticks for sale. As I walked around the room, I noticed that some of the prices were ridiculous. For example, I asked one dealer how much he was asking for Heat Guy J volume 7 and the box. His reply: $49.95. The expression on my face was priceless.
The big event of the day was the opening ceremonies, where we were introduced to the guests at the convention, as well as some of the events that were scheduled. I was invited by Monica Rial and Greg Ayres to attend a guest and sponsor dinner, and man, did I feel special! Having the opportunity to talk up close and personal with Greg Ayres, Monica Rial, and Carrie Savage was amazing. After talking with them, I came to realize that these guys are just like us. Very down to earth and that was really cool.
After the party, the guests headed down to an impromptu voice-acting panel. There was no moderator to tell the voice actors what they were doing, so it was very disorganized, and only to make matters more confusing, there were no microphones for the voice actors. Luckily, the room was pretty small, so they did not have to yell too loud. After a while, the voice actors began to think up some great ideas. They had audience members come up and do their best impression of a character that each voice actor has played. After some pictures with Monica and Greg, it was time to head home.
Saturday is always the best day of a convention. One event that I did not want to miss was sumo wrestling, because Greg told me on Friday that he was going to participate. I got there after the panel had already started, and I found out that Greg had already gone; another guest eliminated him. I was pissed I missed that! Then it was my turn. I was pitted against the friend who came with me. The outcome: I busted a can of whoop ass on him.
After all that physical activity, it was time for the ADV panel. David Williams, Greg, and Monica were there, answering questions, and both Greg and Monica were making the crowd laugh. David Williams did his best to answer questions, but he couldn't reveal whether certain shows or series have been licensed or not. When not answering questions, David was promoting ADV's new line of live action Korean movies. After the Q&A, Monica and Greg grabbed numerous DVDs from a bag and started to hand out prizes. My good friend Farhan answered a question about Tiffany Grant's bathroom decoration, which was Hello Kitty. The funniest thing was the next question about Hilary Haag. Farhan is unofficially her number one fan, and he knew the answer to the trivia question before David was even finished asking! The prizes given away included Neon Genesis Evangelion Platinum volume 3 and some Hello Kitty minis. The best prize of all was Chrono Crusade volume 2, which I received and had signed by Greg!
After the panel, I had the honor of eating lunch with Monica, Greg and David Williams. It was really cool spending the afternoon with the guests. We ate lunch at Panera Bread and had some great discussions about anime series, working for ADV, and life outside of voice acting. I had a blast, and it was very cool for me, a meathead anime fan, to sit down with a top producer and well-known anime voice actors and just eat lunch like normal people.
After about two hours, we headed back to the convention. I stopped by the Women in Anime panel. This one was organized much better than the first panel that I went to on Friday! The guests there were Carrie Savage, Monica Rial and Janyse Jaud. They answered various questions about how they got into the business, how hard it is to be a full time voice actress, and so on. It was a great panel, and as always with Monica, you never know what you're going to get. Once the panel was over, Monica, Greg and a couple of friends decided to grab some drinks over at the hotel bar. I finally had time to conduct my interview with Greg Ayres. He was very open to the questions I was asking. After the interview, it was closing time for me.
The final day of Anime USA wasn't as busy as Saturday. (DUH!) I got up there early for the autograph sessions, but sadly Monica was not feeling well, so she didn't make it down. I wanted to say goodbye to her, but that's okay; I'll see her again some other time. Every guest was very nice about signing autographs and taking pictures with the fans. Once the session was done, I had to bid farewell to Greg and the rest of the voice actors. I stopped by for the Shizumi and Kodomo Dance Troupe, which was very beautiful. The dancing this group did was amazing. Once that was done, so was my day. I had a great time and I will be returning next year.
Convention number two, and I already feel like a veteran. I enjoyed this small convention because there weren't any big lines, and I could sit in a panel, instead of having standing room only. The dealer's room was OK, but the guests were great! I was very surprised to see how down-to-earth Greg and Monica were, and every fan should know that they are very approachable and great to talk to. I want to thank them for having me around all day Saturday, and I can't wait to meet them again. I wasn't a big fan of dubs, but after meeting some of the voice actors, I am becoming a huge fan of them. Hey, I'm giving dubs more of a chance. Yeah, that's it.
Overall, this convention cannot be compared to Otakon, but the atmosphere is the same: crazy otakus running around and having a great time. Until the next convention, have a great year everyone. Oh yeah... It's still RULE #1 of conventions... SHOWER!!!