Samurai here guys! How’s it going? Well, Saturday was prodigiously interesting for me and two of my best friends. After a long week of work schedule changes, family illness, and just overall exhaustion, we decided that we all needed to have our Geek batteries fully recharged in the most epic way imaginable in the most epic city imaginable; MechaCon X in New Orleans, Louisiana! That’s right—the Big Easy once again hosts to one of the biggest anime conventions in the South. Three days of contests, cosplay, concerts and overall coolness descended on NOLA like an Otaku version of Mardi Gras. Fun and revilery was to be had…and this time, for me at least, things were different. More after the break. Unlike my first adventure to MechaCon, which, while fun, was a bit overwhelming, my second trip to Otaku Mardi Gras went much smoother. My friends Shadow and Aria [Not their real names, of course] helped make this second voyage much more fun. And honestly, we all really needed a break from the day-to-day grind. So we all piled into Jiro2 and took the drive down to NOLA on Saturday; the one day that we could all ensure that we would be off from work. About one hour later, we arrived at the center point of action–Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel. From the moment my feet hit the top of the parking garage, I had made up my mind that my 2nd MechaCon experience would be worlds better than my first experience. Having learned from my previous experiences. here’s how I improved:
- We got there early…Kinda – If there’s one thing I can say about Aria, Shadow and I is that we are a tight-knit group…when we’re all able to get together. Our schedule synchronization skills, for lack of a better word, sucks. We were supposed to leave Baton Rouge at 10:00AM…but due to some people running to Walmart…I won’t name names [::cough:: Aria ::cough::] we didn’t leave out until about 11:00 and didn’t arrive in NOLA until about 12 or so. But in hindsight, since we didn’t have to wait in a freakishly long line to register, so I guess our late departure was cool.
- I Stayed on Budget…Kinda – That dawg gone Dealer Room…boy, let me tell you…once you show your badge to the attendant at the door and cross the threshold, you can almost hear your wallet squeak in panic. I mean, think about it; just about everything you can think of from every show you can think of can be found here; wall-scrolls, posters, figurines, Asian foods, clothes, katanas, collectors’ items, DVD’s…the list goes on and on! The problem, as I mentioned earlier, is that some of these things are RIDICULIOUSLY overpriced…especially the DVD’s. While it is understandable that out-of-print popular shows would be more expensive, shows like Toradora and Usagi Drop were marked at prices that would make you flip the nearest table in a rage. It’s insane. I also became aware of another potential pocketbook pilferer which I will discuss later.
- I Met Some Famous Peeps – After we finished depleting our funds, Aria, Shadow and I headed to the Signing Room. Shadow went to the left to visit Tara Strong, and Aria went to the right to say hey to Scott Menville, I walked down and to my right to see one of my favorite actresses of all time—Tiffany Grant, who plays Asuka in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Now, I could lie and say that I was the picture of composure, and acted like a mature 29-Year-Old black man…but I’m not one for lying. Guys, I was as giggly as a school girl. Seriously, I was two seconds away from squealing. Tiffany was so freaking nice and approachable. She was also very smart as she was selling DVD’s and old Evangelion-Related NewType USA magazines for real cheap and signing them absolutely free. Me being me, I went ahead and bought Neon Genesis Evangelion Platinum Edition, Volume 5 for $15. Did I already have this DVD? Yes, of course I did. Don’t I have a policy about double-dip buying anime? Uh-huh. Sure do. Isn’t that a lot to pay for one DVD that I already own? I guess so. Why did I buy it? Because it’s Tiffany-Freaking-Grant; I all but gave her my credit card while screaming “Shut up and take my money, ma’am!” I also took a picture with her and the DVD, so you can imagine how star-struck I was. Seriously, the entire Offensive Line of the New Orleans Saints could’ve walked in the door, and I wouldn’t have been as star-struck as I was right then and there. At least, that is, until later that day. Shadow and I went back into the signing room after wondering around aimlessly for a few hours. Shadow stood in line to get Tiffany Grant’s autograph, but I went to the booth next door. After being inadvertently sold a glossy picture for signature, I took three steps over and was face to face with Mr. “I Mustn’t Run Away” himself—Spike Spencer. After a perfunctory bro-fist and my gleeful squeak, he asked “Hey, you want me to make a man out of Shinji?” referring to the picture I just paid $20 for. I gave a shrug “Sure!” He then proceeded to pick up a black Sharpie and began drawing glasses and a goatee on the young Evangelion pilot. He then autographed it and turned it around. “How’s that? Looks like Gendo, doesn’t it?” I blinked and looked down at the improved addition. It did, indeed look a helluva lot like Gendo. I nodded and grinned “Yeah! I see it!” After one last bro-fist, I walked back over to Shadow, hung around a bit in the signing room, and then walked back to Jiro2 to drop off our signed wares. So, yeah. Even though I just spent $35 on a DVD I already had and a glossy picture of Shinji and Unit-01, the experience was worth more WAY more than that to me.
I Visited All The Panels (That I Was Interested In) – Truth be told, I was only interested in three panels, but due to our late arrival, I only got to attend two, which were actually the most important ones, truth be told. The first was the Evangelion Q&A Panel with Spike Spencer and Tiffany Grant. It was really fun and interesting. Fun because both of these actors are very nice and extremely funny. Interesting because I found myself, ironically enough, sitting next to Gendo Ikari. I could not make this up if I tried. I sat next to Gendo during the Evangelion panel. But he was a cool guy. REALLY! I got a picture of him after the panel was over because I KNEW nobody would believe me. Speaking of pictures, I would’ve grabbed pictures of the panel itself, but truth be told, I was more interested in living in the moment instead of capturing it on film. That and I felt it would be a little rude taking pictures while these two were talking. I managed to ask a question without sounding like a bumbling idiot. The conversation went something like this:
- Me – ::Raises Hand Trying Hard Not To Forget His Question::
- Spike – ::Looks square at me:: Yes, you there!
- Me – ::Thinking:: Oh Lord, stay with me…please don’t make me sound like a blubbering stumbling idiot…::notices how just about every head in the room is now staring at him:: Umm, what was the most challenging line you ever had to record in the series and in the movies?
Spike – ::smiles and laughs:: I think I already discussed what was my most emotional line in End of Evangelion…
- It should be noted that Spike is talking about the scene at the beginning of the movie when Shinji…umm…pleasures himself over Asuka’s comatose boy. The audience had a great laugh over this for the better part of 5 minutes.
- Audience – ::laughs::
- Me – ::is also laughing:: OH YEAH…That would be emotional…
Tiffany’s emotional line was also from End of Evangelion, and it was, almost predictably enough, the “I don’t want to die” line repeated over and over when Asuka is in the Evangelion. It was really interesting. Speaking of Tiffany, later that afternoon, Shadow and I went to her panel about English Dub Script Adaptation. I found it very interesting…Shadow, not so much, as he drifted off to sleep. I jabbed his shoulder to wake him up and he soon walked off leaving me to geek out over the script writing process. There was one moment where I just had to shake my head in a moment of “Why, why, why…” Tiffany started talking about the scripts she was working on, and some of those scripts included Angelic Layer and Sister Princess—two shows that I don’t think particularly have a high regard for…or any regard, really. But despite this, I decided to ask a question again…
- Me – ::Raises His Hand::
- Tiffany – ::Looks square at me and points:: Okay, and you there! Josh!
- Me – ::Blinks and grins goofily while thinking:: Aww, you remembered my name!
My question was about how different dialects, especially southern dialects, affect the script. She gave me a very nice answer which I don’t really recall 100% of, but it answered the question. In any case, even though I only visited two panels, I enjoyed both of them immensely, so it’s all good.
- Batteries and Backup Batteries – Last year, when Shadow decided to go off and get toasted with his friends on Bourbon Street, I was left at the hotel with a dying cell phone. This time around was completely different. My pockets were laden down with so many portable battery chargers and cables, you would’ve thought I was prepping for a hurricane. I gave one to Shadow and one to Aria so that way we could always be in communication with each other. I also packed along a spare camera along with my standard camera, extra AA batteries for my standard camera, extra memory cards for my cameras, and a portable Wi-Fi Hotspot because…well…I had extra room in my pockets and you never know when you’ll need a hotspot. Pretty much, I was a human Doraemon—everything you can think of in my pockets.
- Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone – Last year, I lamented the fact that I was a little reserved when I went to MechaCon. I felt a little awkward and, though I had a good time, I was a little tense. This time was completely different. I took chances and did things this time around. I was more apt to walking around on my own and exploring the convention. I felt more comfortable asking cosplayers if I could take their picture, and I even allowed a photographer to take my picture I loosened the purse strings a bit and splurged on things that, normally, I wouldn’t dream on splurging on. It was fun having that much fun with so many people, and especially with my two best friends. Aria and Shadow helped me open up more than I think I would’ve had I been on my own, and for that I owe them a great debt of gratitude.
So that’s my thoughts on MechaCon X! I have to say, I had a great time with great friends and met a lot of great people! MechaCon XI, if memory serves, is already scheduled for the last week of July, and you best believe I will be there! Before you go, check out the slideshow below of my pictures at MechaCon X! Forgive if some of the pictures are a little blurry!