ACen 2014 came and went, but I wasn’t able to get my coverage up due to all the site changes. As I flip through the Guidebook app to see what exactly I did there, I do recall some lessons learned that might be useful advice for solo con-goers. This post will have some general info about the con, panel notes, and some cosplay stories. The rest of the cosplay gallery will go into its own post.
The main advantage of attending a con by yourself is that you can go by your own schedule. Don’t underestimate the value of this. Meals, rest, shopping, etc. can all get in the way of seeing the events you want to see. For the first day, I had a small breakfast and didn’t eat again until I was back home from the con. I was fine but if you had a group with you, I’d imagine that kind of thing wouldn’t fly.
Panel notes: Evangelion: Investigating Its History and Meaning
I had planned to start ACen with one of its earliest panels, but ended up oversleeping instead. So I started with a 1:30 panel about Evangelion. Let me tell you something about Evangelion panels: there are roughly 20 of them at every anime convention, and almost all of them say the same things. “Religious imagery, what does it mean?” “Freudian psychology!” “Shinji is a crybaby!” All of those things are good to know and appreciate if you’re into Eva, but they’ve been beaten like a dead horse since the series started.
This panel was titled “Evangelion: Investigating Its History and Meaning.” Its material could be divided into two categories: exploring the creative influences behind the series, and deriving meaning from it. It was fascinating to look into Hideaki Anno’s creative influences and early work. They made a deep impression on him, and Evangelion contains many callouts to those other works. It was also interesting to see his deep obsession with Ultraman and Miyazaki, especially considering interviews he’s given where he was very critical of otaku culture. Of course, Anno has produced quite a bit more than your average otaku.
As for “meaning,” the panelist avoided discussing the world created by Anno, but rather looked at the message he was trying to send. I really liked his approach to analyzing the show, and found that his conclusions were spot on. The main message of Eva is about learning to live with what hurts you, and demonstrating the value of human relationships. Overall this was a great panel, and hopefully it’ll be back next year (I had to miss the last segment for a cosplay meetup).
From the first panel until 9:00 at night I did a whole lot of wandering. I also walked around the exhibition hall, but decided not to buy anything just yet.
The biggest cosplay meetups are pretty much what you’d expect: popular game franchises and whatever anime’s hot at the moment. Final Fantasy meetups always draw a huge crowd, but I think all other meetups were dwarfed by the Attack on Titan crowd. The Friday meetup was enormous, but wasn’t even the biggest one for AoT. It’s weird because last year, Homestuck was the hot property.
Some cosplay meetups just don’t pan out. ACen was unfortunately bad with that this year, I suspect due to some confusion about the locations. The maps were labeled incorrectly, so the location descriptions for the meetups didn’t match up. The Bakemonogatari meetup almost got canceled because of that, but we were luckily able to link up with a group of Araragis. Speaking of which, seeing a wandering band of Araragis is pretty cool.
This Nadeko cosplayer was really big into figure collecting – it was cool to find out she even reads Tomopop from time to time. Our group didn’t have much to do in terms of photography (as there were only a handful of cosplayers) but we did have a long conversation about the Monogatari series and figures. Isn’t it great to be able to quickly identify people with the same interests as yours?
So You’re Dating Your Persona?
This was a dating game, and wasn’t even really about Persona. The format was you’d get one contestant on on side of the table, a separator, and four potential dates on the other side. The main contestant asks a series of questions to which all four candidates replied. At the end the contestant would pick the date who gave the best answers, without knowing what that person looked like.
As you could imagine it started out pretty awkwardly, but got progressively raunchier as time went on. Again, this wasn’t really a panel where we analyzed things (other than genital size). It was just a game where we got to be obnoxious and raunchy. It was a great way to cap off the night.