Saturday morning, I woke up with no idea what I was going to do with myself. As far as I was concerned, my work at I-Con was done. I was completely satisfied with Space Thunder Kids' success and I didn't see how I could have any more fun than I'd already had. I first decided to drop by the last bit of the Retro Anime panel. As I knew (and would later relearn firsthand), panels are a crap shoot. Bad hosts will make a panel about something you love passionately excruciating, and good hosts will make a panel about something you neither know nor care about utterly fascinating. The panel was more a leisurely chat; such topics were covered as not being able to see that Star Blazers show you were in because you could never figure out when the hell it was on, that time they tried to license Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and how good, with the fansubs and all, fans of old anime and manga really have it right now. I'm living proof of this myself; I either didn't exist or was barely conscious during anime's golden age, and I'm only discovering these things in recent years.
After all that, I stopped by the next panel down the hall. It was called "Why This Anime Will Never Be Shown on TV". That's kind of a broad field, so I went in to see what was going on. It turned out one of the people I was rooming with, Jamie, was running this panel. Five minutes in, she was looking... quite out of material. She made a desperate "c'mere" gesture towards me, and then, all of a sudden, I was running the panel. Like I said, anime you'll never see on TV is most anime, so I had free reign to talk about any anime I felt like. I started on Akagi, my favorite yakuza-swindling mahjong player, and from there we just never stopped talking. Topics included Clamp being pervs, Musashi Gundoh, the part in Lupin the Third: First Contact where Zenigata asks a group of black muggers whether he is in the "safari zoo", Osakan accents, Fist of the North Star being animated by the same studio as GI Joe, and how Angel Cop is really about the international Jewish conspiracy. To my pleasant shock, I was able to look like an authority; a girl came to me at the end of the panel and told me how she goes to panels to stump people, but I would not fall.
Jamie, meanwhile, functioned as an adorable mascot character. She's really got "I has a hat" down. If somebody were to voice her in, for example, a Japanese cartoon which would not make it to US television airwaves, she would undoubtedly be voiced by Haruko "HALko" Momoi. I still saved her, though, and Stony Brook's cafeteria is expensive (this money in my pocket is money that could be spent on merchandise), so when she said she owed me I said she owed me lunch. Harsh but fair.
On line at the cafeteria, a Stony Brook kid skipped me and pretended not to have seen me standing there. In a giant, yellow, plush Pac-hat. I guess people do block out things they don't want to see, but seriously... how? As we ate, a guy wearing a "I HATE (insert all popular anime and videogames) BUT I LOVE ME SOME DBZ" sign passed by. I congratulated him.
In the meantime, nothing was really going on, so I hit the dealers' room again. I mentioned, before, the unusual commercial pull of the convention dealers' room. Being immersed in product makes you interested in product you might not have been interested in before (or afterwards), and I guess that's why I found myself slowly agonizing over whether to buy a plush Tachikoma or a plush Saber. The Tachikoma won out.
I decided to really kill some time in the game room after this. Somebody brought a copy of Slash for the Guilty Gear setup, thankfully. I consider myself pretty out of practice at XX, but that day I just kept winning. I stopped winning to join the Third Strike tourney, where my nerves got the better of me, I played sloppily, and I lost by an embarassingly close margin in the second round. After that, I realized I'd been in the game room way too long, and I left.
I bumped into my other roomie Jeremiah here. He was telling me about how he had to run karaoke, hint hint, and how, hint hint, he'd really like some help. I said maybe, probably not. He had a panel at 11 that he'd have to leave for. The other person covering Karaoke (Sarah, the roomie who was paying for our room) would be gone too, so they needed someone to take over. Just for a little while. I said maybe. We got some chicken and fries before the cafeteria closed. They were awful. Jeremiah tried to juggle some of the fries. Didn't work.
Joe was managing the Masquerade at about this time, and I don't envy him one god damned bit. The Masquerade, for the uninitiated, is the most inexplicably popular event at the typical anime convention. Groups of cosplayers go on stage in front of a packed house and perform skits for, typically, three hours or so. These are, without fail, the most agonizing three hours one could choose to spend in the name of entertainment: anybody who feels like it can sign up to be in the show, and as such the quality to crap ratio is microscopic. Your mileage may vary; audiences will laugh and applaud until their throats and hands fall from their bodies, but I'm just not seeing it, guys.
Once I made it to the Masquerade, though, I found out I was, in fact, going to be helping with the karaoke session: just to set up, though. Really. Jeremiah, Jackie (the theme of the weekend was J names; J-names with a hyphen would of course be Japanese names) and I walked over to the building where karaoke was to be held. We talked about the anime dance party going on right after the masquerade, and I shared a favorite Otaku Rave story from last year's Otakon:
George and I, having caught the late showing of Hajime no Ippo, walk out of the Baltimore Convention Center in search of a cab to take us to our hotel. Waiting with us is an assembly of teenage girls in skanky cosplay outfits; it could be my hateful, cynical mind, it seems like the younger-looking, the skankier-looking. What I remember most vividly is the three skankiest outfits in the crowd piling into a van driven by a aging man who I certainly hope was their grandfather.
I got the "eww" I wanted, of course.
Of course, what ended up happening was I staffed karaoke for the whole damn night. Jeremiah and I were getting something of a late-night talk show host and late night talk show jackass thing going, so it wasn't like I wasn't having fun. I was never actually alone with the karaoke setup; Sarah appeared just as Jeremiah was setting up to leave. I could have left myself, but poor Sarah was looking half-dead from con management overexertion, and I felt like I couldn't leave her alone in that state. "Not enough alcohol in the world," I remember her saying to me.
Our best guy was definitely Steve. Steve didn't have much of a singing voice but he made up for it with sheer balls. The whole point of something like this is to see someone scream LISTEN TO MY SONG at the top of their lungs, and Steve delivered. Not like the rest of you guys weren't a lot of fun; I was happy to hear my favorite M-Flo song. So happy I did the Verbal parts. Boom. Clap. Boom b-boom. Clap. Yeah, I was on the mic myself a couple times, most notably for Cha-La Head Cha-La. You guys know I'm a sucker for Kageyama and friends. Matter of fact, you know what? Skill. Nine minutes. Right now.
But seriously, you guys, I had a good time. Made some people sing the Jigglypuff song. It was pretty chill. We were there until something ridiculous like 2:30; equipment had to be picked up by the AV people, so nobody could leave. The bunch of us who were left all headed for the last open cafeteria on the Stony Brook campus, where I got me some overpriced pasta, a Vitamin Water, and FULL THROTTLE: BLUE DEMON for the next morning. Then we slept, as you can imagine.
Saturday and Sunday were going to be one long post, but maybe this post is long enough! Sunday will be one short post.
Seriously, let's do this shit. JAM Project (Japan Animationsong Makers) is so awesome. Maybe the awesome-est? To the max? I'm not even sure they're measurable.
Basically to understand why JAM Project is awesome you have to keep in mind that Japanese cartoon theme songs went on a completely different evolutionary path than American ones. It's kind of like if, instead of just doing the Transformers movie, Stan Bush had sung the theme song for every single children's show in the 80's concerning one of the following subjects:
And if he had just kept going, and if he built up an army of fanboys, that would probably be kind of like Hironobu Kageyama.
Anyway, Ichiro Mizuki (who I'd have talked about to start with because he's really the undisputed king-god of the giant robot theme song, but he isn't as 80's and he's only part-time now) and this guy had a great idea a while ago: that they'd get together a bunch of these awesome dudes and chicks who had been singing these goofy anime theme songs for all these years, and they'd do it together. And they do. All their songs are about about fighting for justice and the burning power of love and also the value of friendship when you're fighting for justice with the burning power of love. Sometimes they dress up like the Village People, and in the video you're about to see they hit a gong, and it's pretty crazy shit. I totally love it and not even the ironic way.
Well then, this is GONG from Super Robot Wars Alpha 3, a game I've been putting off buying for at least a year now. My one buddy always reminds me that he pirated it on day one.