Weekend at Animethon: Day 1

Day One of Animethon complete!  As first days go this was a pretty good one; a few bobbles along the way but nothing that won’t be smoothed out (hopefully) for Days 2 and 3.

I got to the Registration line at about 9:35 this morning, and there was a fairly healthy line.  Not Gen Con or SDCC long, sizable nonetheless.  After determining there was no ATM by the Reg table (they only take cash), I walked back through two University buildings to the cafeteria area to use the ATM there (for those not in the know, Grant MacKewan University is a long building, with sections of the building numbered according to what city block they take up; including dorms, it stretches from 104 st to 112 st).  Cash in hand I returned to the line, already in progress.  Lucky for me the registration team was really on the ball, and they dealt with myself and the roughly 70 people in front of me in no time.  Shortly after 10am I had my wristband (ugh! I hate wristbands!) and my program, and set out to find Something To Do!

Since neither the Dealer’s Room nor the Artist Alley were running on the Friday, I decided that today was going to be my “viewing day”.  If you aren’t familiar with an anime convention, one of the key components is anime viewings.  They usually occur in 2-hour time slots, and feature either an anime film, or the first 3-5 episodes of an anime series.  These viewings are meant to give attendees the chance to sample anime they might not have seen before, or have heard of but not watched.  For a relative neophyte such as myself, they are a perfect way to find anime I might want to watch in full, without the risk of plunking down money on a series that later turns out to suck (I’m looking at you, Gantz!).

For instance, the first room I poked my head into was for a series called Gurren Lagaan, and it only took me ten minutes to realize it wasn’t for me.  I didn’t really catch the plot or story, but it had too much of a Dragonball Z vibe to it, which in no way appeals to me.  But no harm, no foul; I just left and found another viewing room.  My next choice was much more to my liking.  Nyan Koi was an amusing story about a boy who is allergic to cats.  After accidentally breaking a sacred statue, he is cursed by the God of Cats; he can now understand all cats, but he must now grant 100 wishes to cats or turn into a cat himself and die from his own allergy.  The two episodes I caught were hilarious, and it has definitely made it onto my “Must Purchase” list.

After a quick break for cheap sushi and cold water, I returned to the same viewing room to watch Evangelion 1.11, the first half of a 2-part movie/OVA.  I thought is was okay, but just okay.  The premise was interesting, and I can’t get enough of giant mecha, but the characters lacked complexity and didn’t seem to have any real motivation.  On the off chance it just starts slow, I am watching Evangelion 2.22 tomorrow morning.  If it is really just “meh”, then the good news is I don’t ever have to watch it again.

I took a longer break this time, just to jot down some notes for later (gee, you’d think I took this blogging thing seriously) and down a coffee. Or two.  Looking around the venue, which had filled up quite a bit since my arrival four hours previous, I noticed something: I was easily one of the oldest people at this con, by at least 20 years.  I’ll admit that shook me for a moment.  But only for a moment.  I reminded myself that there is no age limit on enjoying something you love, and I could get just as much joy out of this stuff as they could.

After my existential pep-talk, I hunted up my next viewing choice.  I was going to check out a dark bit of anime called Ergo Proxy, and this is where I encountered the first sour spot of the day.  I arrived at the room about five minutes before the screening was to start, and waited.  Aaaand waited.  For about 30 minutes.  In that time, despite obvious Moderator presence, no one told us what the wait was for.  But I stuck around because I wasn’t really in a rush.  Finally a young girl comes rushing in and with a flurry of apologies gets the DVD in the machine, and we’re off!

Except not really.  After turning out all the other lights in the room, she can’t figure out how to turn of the lights directly above the screen.  You know, the ones currently washing out the anime we are supposed to be watching.  After a few moments spent poking and prodding at her control console, she gives a shrug and a half-hearted “sorry”, she sits down and proceeds to work on a bit of sewing.  She then proceeds to rebuff offers from viewers to see if they can find the errant light switch. And when several people leave because we didn’t come to listen to anime, we came to watch it too, she heckles them.  So.  Someday I may find out if Ergo Proxy is any good, but today was not that day.

Lucky for me, starting right next door and shortly after the abortive Ergo Proxy viewing was another anime series, Rurouni Kenshin.  And this viewing had the right disc, started on time and wonder of wonders the Mod knew how to turn off the lights!  With this trifecta in place I settled in to watch the humorous tale of a mysterious sword-wielding wanderer, set in Japan’s Meiji-period (1868-1912).  I quite enjoyed the first four episodes, but I did not care for the voice work (we were watching it dubbed for some reason).  It goes on my list of purchases for sure, but I’ll be watching it with subtitles thank-you very much!

A Note on Sub vs. Dub:  I am not going to tell you that there is a right way (subtitles) or wrong way (voice dubbing) to watch your anime.  It really is up to the individual viewer to decide which you prefer more.  But I prefer watching my anime in Japanese with subtitles for a number of reasons. The Japanese voice actors give me a better sense of the character, the subtitles are often a better representation of what the characters are saying, and there is a lot of dubbing that, while acted well, is very poorly scripted in my opinion.  So watch anime how it pleases you; how it pleases me is subbed.

And with that, Animethon Day 1 was complete!  There were other things going on into the night, but nothing that caught my eye.  Most of it was costume related, and since I was not costumed it made little sense to stick around for it.  Besides, Saturday was going to come all too early the next morning so I chose to head home, rest and gird my girdy-parts for the next day.

And I may need that girding, because Saturday brings with it the Dealer’s Room, Artist’s Alley and panels!  I may even learn to speak a bit of Japanese…

Were you at Animethon today?  What did you like/dislike?  If not, are you in Edmonton and attending tomorrow? Comment below!

4 thoughts on “Weekend at Animethon: Day 1

  1. A friend and I checked out Animethon about a number of years ago and, yes, we were also the oldest guys in the building by at least a decade or so. As such, we didn’t stick around. Glad you stuck through it and found some good elements in the vast, tumultuous sea that is current Anime fandom!

    • I found it handy to remind myself that we were all there to enjoy the same thing, Anime. And hey, without “Wise Elders” around to lead by example, how will the next generations of fandom learn how to behave? Plus I payed for a weekend pass, I’m not backing down now! 😉

  2. Hey, I’m the rude guy from outside the gym Saturday morning before Eva 2.22. Negativity can make for some good laughs, but when it’s at the expense of others it’s no joke. Everyone has different tastes when it comes to art or storytelling, so it’s only natural that people can disagree. I’d have been more considerate had I known it was your opinion that I was ridiculing.

    Whether you took offense to it or not, I felt the need to come back here and apologize for my remarks which I sincerely regret making.

    • Well, thanks for coming by to apologize, that is really very good of you. But I’ll be honest, I only remember speaking to one or two people before the Evangelian screening, and neither was rude that I noticed. So either I’m not your guy, or you weren’t as rude as you thought.

      In either case, thanks for coming by and reading. And hey, whatever you disagreed with feel free to continue; debate is healthy. I hope you’ll come back and post in the comments when the mood takes you, whatever you think of what I wrote.


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