Friday, April 13, 2012

Sakura Con 2012 Coverage

It was quite an amazing weekend at Sakura Con despite the rough early mornings I had to go through to get there and back. This time around, it was a different experience. I had a press badge which was quite handy for some events and had some privileges attached to it, but there was also a responsibility of reporting the events and quickly rolling out articles such as the interview with Urobuchi Gen et al.

Sakura Con Day 1 - April 6, 2012

The convention quickly began on Friday for me right after I got my badge and I visited my first event, the Obitsu Panel. Of course I had great interest in this because I too have a couple of their products, Helen and Raven, who greeted President Obitsu Saburo and Executive Vice President Maki Yuriko, before the panel started. Since they were there as special guests, I opted to separate a post especially for Obitsu :)

Aniplex Panel

Aside from announcing that Fate/Zero box set and Puella Magi Madoka Magica Blu-Ray and DVDs (and other titles) being available at their booth, Aniplex announced a couple of very interesting news. Ore no Imouto series, which DVD box set had been discontinued recently, will be rereleased in separate DVD volumes. Garden of Sinners (Kara no Kyoukai) will be rereleased as a DVD box set. The biggest news, which I've somehow figured out since they were showing it on the same day, was the license announcement of Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari.

With the rerelease announcement of some of their titles it seems they are listening to fans who wants a more affordable copy of their titles. So I'm confident that if you yell loud enough to Aniplex USA, you can eventually see Fate/Zero at a more affordable price sooner rather than later!

Q and A Panel with Urobuchi Gen, Ota Katsushi and Iwakami Atsushiro

This panel was a more general question and answer instead of focusing on a particular series. It was up to the fans to ask questions, one such question was "Have you seen my hat?" A transcript of this panel is available at Anime News Network. I was in my "attendee mode" at this time after a long writing session in the Obitsu Panel, so I was relaxing a little.

Nisemonogatari Screening

The first thing I noticed was the Twister mat in front of the giant monitor. For a while I'd forgotten why they had this there. There were more technical difficulties, so the screening was delayed. Originally Bakemonogatari episode 1 was to be shown as well but because of the delay it had to be omitted for Nisemonogatari.

When the Monogatari cosplayers arrived, it finally dawned on me what the Twister thing was about when I saw Nadeko... Boy, I'm slow ^^;

During the screening itself, I enjoyed watching the Mayoi part in episode 1, but I was starting to get sleepy during the second and beginning of third episode. After the screening was a Q&A period with Producer Iwakami and Vice President of Sekaisha, Ota, who oversees the Monogatari novels. It was around this panel, I think when Iwakami mentioned that ratings and viewer count do not matter for television shows, but the sale of DVD and Blu-Rays. The sales go directly to fund more anime such as Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari.

Dinner at New York Cafe, a quiet and quaint little place since all the other places were PACKED with con-goers. I didn't feel very hungry, so I had cup noodle when we got back to our hotel in Bellevue.

Sakura Con Day 2 - April 7, 2012

Madoka Magica Panel

A big crowd gathered for this panel. Many Madoka Magica cosplayers were present. There was an inconsistency with the press access around this time. Some staff member say that press have priority seating and entry, some say they don't. This rule kept changing every day... I hope one of the Sakura Con staff can let me know what's going on even though it's past the event. I'd like to know why we're getting such a runaround.

Urobuchi looks exactly like his Sakura Con promo pic!
For this panel, Katsushi Ota did not join Iwakami and Urobuchi since he was not a part of the Madoka Magica production team. Since Urobuchi is camera shy, I've made sure that you'll have to find a photo of him elsewhere :P One of the questions that Urobuchi answered was regarding the witches design. The animators for SHAFT came up with other ideas whereas Urobuchi described his witch as a creature with nothing but tentacles as seen in Urotsukidoji. I couldn't help but laugh when I heard this title coming out of his mouth, so did a few other people in the crowd ^^

Later on we had a screening of the second season of Fate/Zero episode 14 and 15. Since no cameras were allowed, I wasn't able to take any pictures, but I was able to exchange some items with Maridah (I bought something from her) and had a nice talk with CosplayShots especially after the episodes were screened. I was on the verge of tears when I watched it. Incredible pair of episodes!

Afterwards we had an autograph session with Urobuchi, Ota and Iwakami where I got my copy of Phantom of Inferno signed. It was either dumb luck or just happened to be at the right place at the right time, but one of the staff members pulled us aside when I thought he was going to shoo us away because we were huddling around as a group in the autograph room. He told us about a press conference for the three guests that I just got autographs from that was going to happen on Sunday morning! It gave me quite a jolt because then we'd have to prepare. I thought I was going to interview Obitsu Saburo, which never happened but found myself about to interview the creators of Fate/Zero!

I couldn't help but take a photo of this cute signboard outside Blue C Sushi (which was packed to the brim and then some!). Sailor Moon Sesame Noodles, Cowboy Bebop Callifornia Rolls, Charizard Roll and more!

Anime Swimsuit Contest

And now for what you've been waiting for! XD Just kidding! It's the cosplay swimsuit competition. It's a 18+ event, so we had to get a hand stamp to get in ^^; Right away I noticed that Narmi is there in the competition as Avenger! The competition was silly and corny but funny at times. Though it was getting late and we were going to have an early start for the next day so we had to leave midway.

Here are the judges... A veritable mix of eligibly impartial eclectic judges... I think.

Hosted by Hardo Gay! Just like the other swimsuit competition at other conventions in Vancouver. Behind him is Yoko and Apple Jack in the cowboy hat ^^;

The judges having some strawberries... And some apples later on courtesy of the male Apple Jack XD

X-Men's Rogue being one of the contestants with some Dragon Age characters to her left...

And Dugtrio in bikinis on her right. The Gurren Lagann crew to their right.

The genderswap Barnaby from Tiger and Bunny seemed to be very popular with the guys in the crowd. I don't know who won the contest itself, but hopefully someone will have the results posted somewhere :)

Sakura Con Day 3 - April 8, 2012 - Easter Sunday

The last day was pretty much quiet, though we had to rush to the Convention Center because our press conference with Urobuchi, Ota and Iwakami was about to start! Afterwards I managed to steal a shot of Zekkyo, the artist of ToraDora manga. I wasn't able to line up for her autograph unfortunately. I couldn't find a copy of ToraDora volume 1 for Zekkyo to sign anyway.

She's one cute lady!
But I was able to get Tateo Retsu's autograph! She's the artist for the Full Metal Panic manga (from the now discontinued ADV Films Manga line). I was able to take some photos of her and with her! It's in my private collection of photos though :P

Near the end of the convention we pretty much just threw our money into the dealers' faces as we grab some last minute loot... And then we were on our way back to Vancouver in the hour long line-up at the border -_-

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