What happens when a con-goer decides to become a member of the registration staff? Find out as Susan takes you inside Anime Evolution 2005!
What would you do if you were suffering from long-term insomnia, sleep-walking from time to time, and unwillingly becoming one of the mediocre artists in Flaubert's Education Sentimentale in your dreams for the past three months? You would decide to sign up as part of the registration staff at the local convention in Burnaby, British Columbia, of course!
It just so turned out that my friend Jenny and I became staff members at Anime Evolution 2005 for no apparent reason. I mean, it wasn't until after we tried very hard to think of the perks of being staff at 5 AM on our next working day after the convention that we actually realized what they were! The main perks are:
1. Except on Fridays, when the vendors arrived late, staff could enter the Dealers' Room half an hour early, and half an hour after closing to the public.
2. For several panels, staff got to cut in line and pick better seats.
3. No ID-check at the panels, even when s/he does not look over eighteen, which is great, especially when you're twenty-one and people still think that you go to elementary school.
4. Registration staff got to meet most con-goers, but no quality control was allowed (haha).
5. There is a staff discount in the dealers' room, if the dealers liked you. (I wish someone could have told me this before!)
6. Recognition in the Anime Evolution ‘05 magazine.
7. The super duper discount at the Town Houses on the Simon Fraser University campus! How could I forget?!
That was all of the perks that I could think of post-con. Like I said, neither Jen nor I thought of the perks when we signed up as potential staff all the way back in May. She signed up because she thought I wanted to be staff, and I signed up because I thought she wanted to be one. No other reason. I guess now that we come to think of it, one great thing that I learned from being staff is the realization that everyone is, after all, human...
Thursday, August 18, 2005: Pre-Registration
You would naturally think that a girl would have to try very hard to get lost seven times in less than eighty minutes on the Simon Fraser University campus while driving. I wasn't trying to get lost, even though I was practically tailgating my friend's car; I simply lacked all sense of orientation, and I became color-blind when I panicked -- which was why I showed up at my workstation almost three hours late and quite out of breath!
Thursday's shifts consisted of pre-registration badge pick-up and pre-registration paperwork that lasted well past 9:30 PM. Even though there was no event and no one cosplayed, people were still coming in past our operation hours, which were supposed to have ended by 8:00 PM. Thus the staff was forced to work more than what they had bargained for. There was this one girl, Kiku and her guy friend who dressed as J-Rock punk stars, who showed me their Vivienne Westwood jewelry, bought in Japan. Those imported accessories from England were beautiful. Two of the more remarkable sterling silver pieces were Chrome Hearts and Armour Ring, the latter of which cost Kiku more than CDN$600. (Yes. Wear that awesome ring to a fight, and you are sure to win!)
Since getting lost is no longer news, I shall spare you the excruciating details of how much time I spent in circles trying to find the University Townhouse afterwards. The Townhouse, by the way, was a cozy little place. It was built for one person, but four staff members were staying in it. I was unable to do any Registration Girl Talk (something I invented, but I ended up quoting the Astronomy magazine), and Fire, a registration staff member from upstairs, kindly taught us how to make origami shuriken. We were all simply too excited about the upcoming big day to actually return to our own rooms until after 1:30 AM.
Friday, August 19th, 2005: Convention Day 1
I woke up at 5:00 AM, just in time to cosplay Chii from Chobits and not make Jenny's efforts of hot-gluing the ears the night before to go to waste. It was obvious that everyone was psyched about the Big Day, when almost every one of us left the building by 7:00 AM.
Was it a good idea to cosplay as Chii at an awesome convention? Definitely. Was it a great idea to wear a conical device over your ears at the Registration Desk? Absolutely not, for I could hear things 20 meters away from me on each side, while I had trouble hearing the guests who were practically yelling in front of my face. (I was later told by a Physics major dorm mate that a conical device amplifies sounds.)
Because the dealers arrived late, staff members did not have the privilege of entering the Dealers' Room before everyone else. Luckily, this was of very little relevance to the registration staff, as the registration line-up did not die down until after 1:40 PM. Jenny (who cosplayed as Okuni from Samurai Deeper Kyo) and I spent the rest of that day taking pictures of line-ups of tired cosplayers, and drawing pictures at an interesting yaoi panel. (Hey! You can't blame me for not understanding those acronyms and jargons!) Of course, we also had to pose for about two dozen pictures ourselves.
Saturday, August 20th, 2005: Convention Day 2
The second day was less busy than Friday, as most of the avid con-goers had already signed up the day before; this incidentally meant more free time for us staff members, so Chocolate Misu and Yuna Braska (Jen and I) decided to go fling some cash in the Dealer's Room. Even though there weren't as many booths as there were at Sakura Con, the vendors at Anime Evolution still had a great selection of goods from popular series such as Meine Liebe, Kyo Kara Maoh!, Trinity Blood, Bleach, and Full Metal Alchemist, all in the same booth! This was also the reason why I decided to bring more money to the next con.
Jen and I (Chocolate and Chii) fell asleep at the All Wigged Out! cosplay panel later that morning, even though the bubbly lady made the panel very interesting. Obviously, this was due to the extreme lack of sleep. My apologies, bubbly-lady-who-imported-wigs-from-Japan-because-they-were-pink-and-no-other-reason! See, I was paying attention before drowsiness took over!
I realized by Saturday afternoon that Anime Evolution had become more popular than ever before. Know why? We made and bound 2,000 Pocket Programming Guides during the weekend before, and we still managed to run out. (The last unofficial count was at over 2,900!) In fact, the rest of the staff had gotten so desperate that they even took my copy and gave it to some dude during the brief time when I was off-shift! (Yeah, you heard me! My copy with a personal sketch of Byakuya from Bleach!) But then, meeting interesting people who preferred badge names such as "Meatwad" and "Random Man" totally made my day worthwhile.
Sunday, August 21, 2005: The Last Day
The exciting program continued, but I broke my camera the night before at the Otaku Dance Party. I bargained, as usual, in the Dealers' Room. A word of caution: do NOT go the Charity Auction if you are looking for a good deal! One lady bid CDN$30.00 for a signed bottle of water, and an original Gundam Wing oil painting ended up at over CDN$400.00 because people were so generous towards the Vancouver Children's Hospital. I wanted to bid on a Totoro plushie, but I didn't get to because the Auction was slow this year; the auctioneers were only halfway though by 4:00 PM, when the entire Auction was supposed to have ended. As a result, I left in a hurry after sitting there fruitlessly for four and a half hours.
Overall, the convention was fun, if anything else. I got to meet some friendly people from last year, including the Inu Yasha group, and the Soul Calibur group who cosplayed as the Utena group at Sakura Con 2005 and as the Yami no Matsuei group at Anime Evolution 2004. I met other people with special interests and distinct personalities, posed, took pictures of good-looking guys, and I even got to perform one of my rare astronomy talks with my dorm mates, drunk or sober. This is an experience that I'd definitely like to re-live next year, if Jen and I are still in Canada next August.