Sunday, August 30, 2009
My plan for last weekend was to hit the library again repeatedly, looking not only for old newspaper microfilms but also for fellow vagrants and vagabonds willing to learn the ways of the force if they are to come with me to Alderaan. It was also the weekend of the Mizucon, one of those Japanimation conventions that I was hoping would be like most anime conventions I've attended and not actually be about anime. Although I don't watch Japanimation anymore I still like going to Japanimation conventions because they usually cater to a wide enough group of people that I can find something unJapanese I enjoy, like panels about 80s cartoons or Transformers or hot sluts dressed like slave Leia. Unfortunately at Mizucon my luck ran out and it ended up being an anime convention that was about anime. All was not lost, though, because I at least ran into one guy in a cardboard robot costume for my "pictures of me with guys in cardboard robot costumes" collection. Also, one beggar I ran into outside of the Wendy's did express some interest in going to Alderaan.
I HAVE IRON MAIDEN RECORDS OLDER THAN MOST ANIME FANS (AND IN SOME CASES, THEIR MOMS)
The Mizucon crowd skewed waaay younger than me and I found other people my age were there not as attendees but in the capacity of convention organizer, convention guest, guy selling stuff in the dealer room and somebody's mom. However I can get away with hanging out amongst the 12 year olds in Iron Maiden shirts and the slutty teenage girls dressed as Pokemon hookers because my hair is mulletic enough that people might think I'm cosplaying as a rockstar from 1983 or as a beardless Billy Mitchell. If I knew Iron Maiden shirts were cool again I would've worn mine, but I stopped doing that because lately Iron Maiden shirt wearing doesn't mean you're a fan of Iron Maiden so much as it means you shop at Hot Topic.
I spent the weekend hopping between Mizucon and the library where I was looking through the old newspaper ads. I found one for a store appearance by Darth Vader in 1983 and it got me thinking about fandom and how fortunate kids are nowadays to have conventions like Mizucon. When I was a kid someone dressing up like a cartoon character for a guest appearance at the mall was as close as you'd ever get to meeting your cartoon hero in real life. Nowadays kids are really lucky because they can go to these conventions where the actual people who do the voices for their cartoon heroes attend as guests. The opportunity to interact with these people in a meaningful way is usually lost on the average attendee who is not mature enough to ask anything beyond retarded "Order something from Burger King in your cartoon voice" dialogue requests or the same "How do I get into anime voice acting" question that got old in 1999. I'm a dork for criticizing the kids today though, because when I was a kid my most meaningful interaction with my hero Darth Vader amounted to me peeing my pants.
GOING OFF WIKIPEDIA, "MIZUCON" MEANS EITHER "WATERCON" OR "CONVENTION OF SEXUAL RELEASE"
I went in the dealer room with the false hope that dealers at an anime convention would have cool new imported stuff like Shin Mazinger on DVD or the recent plastic Voltron but the dealer room ended up being what I imagine a really bad Japanese pawn shop looks like. They were selling shogun era melee weapons, realistic toy guns, Pocky that tasted stale enough to be from the shogun era and hats that look like Pokemon is eating your head. There was also cartoon porn which I thought was pretty wild but apparently was disappointing to some attendees because it was all old stuff. I knew I wasn't at Botcon anymore when one Pocky eating kid with a hat that looked like a Pokemon-shaped brain tumor looked through the porn DVDs and said, "I wanna get something but I've seen all of this already". (I usually reserve the term "kid" for children under ten but I will make exceptions for 20 year olds wearing Pokemon hats.) I wondered how it was possible he'd seen it all given that there were hundreds of DVDs and he didn't look like he'd lived long enough to have that many hours not just of free time but of years above the legal age to watch that stuff. I looked over at him and thought he should be a guest of honor based on his Japanese porn expertise, or at least put on display as "20 year old guy who masturbated more last year than most people do in a lifetime".
HERE COMES SINTERNIKLAAS HERE COMES SINTERNIKLAAS
Since I'm not much of an anime fan I didn't think I'd find any of the guests interesting so I skipped their panels except for "American Cartoons and Japanese Anime" which I thought was going to be a fan panel because the schedule didn't say who was running it. It turned out to be a full hour with guest Mike Sinterniklaas, an industry professional who not only voice acts but also directs. It was great because Mike was animated and enthusiastic and his experiences on both sides of the microphone were fascinating to listen to. There were only around a dozen other people in the audience so I was able to ask a lot of questions, which I did once I realized this guy was really interesting. I've only seen a few episodes of anything he's voice acted in so I didn't know his work from a character standpoint but I was still totally captivated by the guy because of his perspective of the industry. He's like five guests in one because he's worked in many different aspects of animation. After spending the whole weekend avoiding the guest panels I felt huge amounts of regret once I realized how great Mike was. There's some consolation in knowing his time at the con was mostly in panels alongside the other guests so I probably got the highest concentration of Sinterniklass possible without having to visit the North Pole.
HOW I HAD FUN WAS A MIZTERY TO ME (BUT I DID)
For a fringe fan of anime who didn't really go to Mizucon I sure had a good time at Mizucon. I'm sure that real anime fans and people who dress like cartoons would love it so I say it's worth the $35 pre-reg I paid. Being several heads taller and a couple decades older than the other attendees didn't matter because who pays attention to me when there's so many Pokemon hookers anyways. My one regret is not doing my homework beforehand. I should have researched the guests and gotten more of a background of their accomplishments to properly appreciate them. I also want to say the staff was terrific and not at all like the people running Otakon who I got a real adversarial vibe from. There was one Mizucon door guard guy who worked with us when my wife (who did not register) wanted to go buy Pocky in the dealer room (which was only for registered attendees). I won't say how he resolved our situation because I don't want him getting into trouble but the guy was proactive and resourceful and we were very thankful for his help. On the down side I wish they would have stuck to the video schedule as posted on their website and not pulled all the cartoons I wanted to see from the video rooms. Thanks to that I mizzed out on seeing GI Joe Resolute. But I'll see that stuff eventually and I'm happy with what little time I did spend at the show over the course of the weekend. Next up is Animation Supercon in October and this time I'm a little more familiar with who those guests are.