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By Inactive or EX ROG Staffer On 24 Feb, 2014 At 06:52 PM | Categorized As Animation, Comics/Manga, Reviews, ROG Fashion, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarI stumbled upon a little documentary while I roamed around Youtube and while it’s far from perfect I think it gives a balanced overview of otakus. It’s so well made in fact I think it’s the one documentary to show any questioning parents so they have a good understanding of our little subculture.

The piece True Otaku: The Documentary is an amateur documentary that explains the otaku fandom by going straight to the source, questioning regular fans and industry professionals in Otakon and Anime USA about many different topics related to the subject.

Looks like our old banner!

Looks like our old banner!

It explains the anime boom that occurred in the US and how it led to the surge in anime fans that created such large conventions, lolita fashion, fan groups, and cosplay. Granted, they focused too much on cosplay and not enough on anime and manga, nor popular otaku video games such as visual novels and the unbelievably popular shooter Touhou nor fighting games like Persona 4, and not even on collectors of anime merchandise, but it’s a good introductory film to any questioning individual and I believe if  everyone saw it they’d have more respect for the otaku community.

You can see the film for free on Youtube where it’s split into 3 parts: You can watch the first part here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdv0n5DUb4E and see the rest at leisure. Happy watching!

By otakuman5000 On 11 Jan, 2014 At 11:25 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Interviews, ROG News, Tales of Real Otaku | With 0 Comments

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560059_545217922223147_21166582_nI had the wonderful pleasure of being able to interview Leon Chiro, a respected cosplayer throughout the nerd community who has won several awards for cosplays like Dante from the Devil May Cry series, Tidus from Final Fantasy X and Dissidia, Caius from Final Fantasy XIII-2, and the list goes on and on. Today we get a sneak peak into the life of a competitive cosplayer from his humble beginnings, his current works in progress, and everything in between.

ROG: The classic question; we all started somewhere in our cosplay careers. Tell me a bit about that – how old you were, what inspired you, your cosplay inspirations, and what convention you did your first debut.

LC: Ok, so it was 2010…

ROG: Oh, so you’ve only been doing this for a little while!

LC: Yeah. I only started to cosplay seriously when I realized what cosplay was. But my first convention was in 2010. I’m coming from the modeling world, and I was asking myself, “Ok, I love doing pictures, but what if I try to take a character I love a lot and I model with them?” So, I was thinking of doing Tidus because he’s my favorite character ever, and I was thinking, “what if I contacted somebody to see how much this costume would cost?” And they said, “Oh, that’s simple!” And I was like, “… what?” “Cosplay.” “Ok, what is cosplay?” So he explained it and I was like, “Oh. Hm. Sounds like a carnival thing.” He said, “No, it’s more than that…” So he explained it to me. I could never imagine what the cosplay world was. So, I took my Tidus cosplay, I went to the convention alone, and I was a nobody. I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me. That was fine because I was like, “Woah.. where the [expletive] am I?” (Laughter) Someone came up to me and said, “you should enter the cosplay contest [with the Tidus cosplay] because you are very, very good.”

ROG: Yeah, you did a really great job on that. I’m shocked that was your first cosplay.

Leon Chiro's cosplay as Tidus from FFX

Leon Chiro’s cosplay as Tidus from FFX

LC: Yeah, I did Tidus’ first and second version. So yeah, this guy said I should do the cosplay contest. Ok, what is the cosplay contest? Well, it’s like a masquerade. You have to do an exhibition and interpret your character, and I said “oh, sounds cool!” I discovered that I made it to the finals without knowing it. I wasn’t expecting that. A lot of people were surprised because I was anonymous and I came from nowhere, and I arrived in a place that other people have been trying to get to for years. I don’t know what I did… I did it with my heart. That’s the thing – I did my character with my heart.

I have to say that a lot of people started to go against me – “Oh, he’s nobody,” “He only has one cosplay,” “He has too much success” – just people talking bad about me. So I said, “Ok, it’s time for me to do a second cosplay.” I did Dante, and I tried to do the cosplay contest, but I didn’t arrive in time and I had some problems. People still continued to talk bad about me because they were like, “Oh, he’s just doing it for the body” or “He’s just doing it because of the abs.” By then it was 2011, and I wanted to stop because I was like “What the [expletive] is this world?” I’m coming from the modeling world where a lot of people respect me.

ROG: Cosplay is supposed to be fun, and unfortunately there’s a lot of hate.

LC: First of all, it was just supposed to be fun. Secondly, in the gaming and comic world, if I’m winning a lot in a short amount of time, they should be happy for me, and that wasn’t the case. I wanted to stop, so I stopped for two months and I thought about it, and I said, “Ok, there are a lot of haters, but I met a lot of special people and I wanted to do an achievement exhibition for them.” So I entered the cosplay contest, and the winner won a trip to Lucca. I won first place with Dante, and a lot of people were against me because I was doing good. It’s not easy in the beginning and you’re alone and you don’t have recommendations, but I started like everyone else – a nobody. Everything I did, I did by myself.

Leon Chiro as Dante from DMC3

Leon Chiro as Dante from DMC3

I started to get more motivated, and I was like “Ok, you hate me because I’m doing good? Ok.” And I did Tidus from Dissidia, and I started to face more haters, and I was winning every contest I entered. People started to look at me with more respect. I went to Lucca with my Kung Lao cosplay because he’s my favorite character from Mortal Kombat and I won the Best Interpretation Award, which is the hardest award to get. When you win in Lucca, you can say that you’re a professional cosplayer. Winning that award made me really proud of myself, so after I won, that’s when I made my facebook cosplay page towards the end of 2011. So yeah… that’s my story. After my first convention, I won something like 14 in a row, including Lucca. The most important thing was that people were starting to know who I was and that I did good work. That was the main victory. It wasn’t about being popular – it was about being respected. I got a lot of respect for my Caius cosplay because it was very hard. Do you know of Kamui Cosplay (another respected cosplayer in the community)?

ROG: Yes, I recently liked her page on facebook because I saw it on your page. So I watched some of her tutorials on YouTube – they’re really helpful.

LC: To me, she’s the best cosplayer in the world. I had the honor of her complimenting me, and that was really satisfying… someone that big complimented me. I’m also talking to Rick Boer from Ubisoft, who’s the official Edward Kenway cosplayer (from Assassin’s Creed IV), and it feels great to have his respect because he’s such a humble guy. He’s my Assassin’s Creed idol. (Laughter) So that was a long reply for just one question!

ROG: (Laughter) It’s not a problem! How a cosplayer started out is usually a long one. All right, so an editor from ROG and I were talking and we were discussing that cosplaying seems to be mostly female dominated. What do you think about that and how to do you feel taking part in something that’s so female based?

1531739_565873086824297_1431166684_oLC: It depends, because people usually focus on half-naked girls. But for me, they’re appreciating cosplay – they’re appreciating modeling. It’s not the same thing. I’m not looking for likes (on facebook) – I want to earn them. I try to mix the two because I come from the modeling world and I’m doing cosplay from my heart. It’s female dominated because it’s easy to be popular when you’re barely wearing anything. It makes me laugh because girls will be like “Oh, you’re judging me because of my half-naked pictures?” They barely know what they’re talking about, and after you see their page, you’ll see them in bras and barely wearing anything. Girls will get angry and nitpick other girls’ cosplays, but they’re the ones doing sexier versions of a particular character. A lot of girls will judge girls that they can’t be as good as.

ROG: As a girl, I understand that totally. All right, so have you ever been an invited guest to a big name convention? And if not, what would be your dream convention to be invited to?

LC: I’ve been invited to a lot of European conventions, but I still haven’t been to America, for example. It’s unfortunately really expensive to go there.

ROG: Yeah, which is a shame. But, in the same way, I haven’t been to Italy because it’s really expensive. A friend of mine just left for Rome a few days ago and I was mentally cursing her (laughter).

LC: I mean, for me, a lot of people that go to America are really lucky. But even if I was invited to an American convention, I don’t think I’d be able to accept it anyway. I’d love to. I hope one day someone sees my cosplay and invites me over, I don’t know. This year, I was invited to three conventions. I’m taking things step by step. If you reach an achievement, it’s because you deserve it. That’s what we learn growing up. For me, it’s hard to keep up the good work because people love my cosplay, and they have a lot of high expectations. I always have to do my best.

ROG: Sure, it can be a lot of pressure.

LC: No, it’s not pressure. It’s kind of motivation for me. If cosplay was a pressure for me, I wouldn’t be doing it and I wouldn’t be doing this interview with you (laughter).

ROG: (Laughter) Trust me, we all appreciate your work. So, you’re from Italy, which I already said I’m totally jealous of, and you’re jealous of the fact that I live in New York. What would you say the biggest difference between American and European convention scenes are?

LC: I wish I could know about the American convention scene, but I’ve never been there.

ROG: I wasn’t sure if you just meant you haven’t been to New York in particular.

LC: I can say about Italy and other European conventions that there is a lot less competition. There are two European championships, and they’re the EuroCosplay, and ECG, European Cosplay Gathering. In every main convention in Europe, they choose 2 representatives and put them against the representatives from all the other countries.
I’m really proud to say that I’m competing in the world championship for Italy. It makes things harder because the competition gets more and more intense. Sometimes, competition isn’t healthy here because a lot of people are doing all they can to destroy the other cosplayers, with flames, with fights.

ROG: So it’s not good sportsmanship.

LC: Yeah, there was this guy who used to be my friend, and we’re not friends anymore. He always used to come into my job and wanted the basics to cosplays, and he’s good now, but he’s so arrogant. At the first opportunity, after I helped him meet a lot of contacts, he turned his back on me and left, and spoke bad about me. For example, we had a TV show to do and they were going to choose two cosplayers – one male and one female. They called me instead of him and a lot of other cosplayers, and I was happy about that. He wrote to the director of the show and said, “how can you choose that shitty Dragonball cosplay instead of mine, just to make me look bad. I didn’t believe he wrote and the director said, “yes, he did. Do you want to read?” So I read it and I was shocked. I was like “what the [expletive]? I don’t know what I did to him. Maybe he just ate something bad (laughter).” So I began to understand that reputation in Italy isn’t always good because a lot of them aren’t able to be humble and honest to someone else. Cosplay is a hobby, not work.

ROG: Yeah, I was actually talking to the rest of my team a few minutes ago that I truly appreciate you taking the time out. It says a lot about the cosplay community – you being good at what you do and so respected, but you’ll still take the time out for others. I’ve known and met a lot of cosplayers who thought they were better than everyone else and slammed other people. We’re all nerds, we all play videogames, read comics, watch anime – whatever. We’re supposed to be a family, but instead we just shut other people down because someone can’t sew and craft as good as someone else.

LC: There should be a middle ground between those who share the same passion. It’s not everyday that you find someone who understands you. You can’t always talk to others about video games. For example, when I was doing my Tidus cosplay, I had my hair blonde. I wasn’t wearing a wig and I had to face university with blonde hair. People would call me names like fleshlight (laughter).

ROG: That’s awful! I thought it looked great. Who cares?

LC: Yeah, who cares? I can kick your ass whenever I want, so…

ROG: (Laughter) I’d hate to get on your bad side…

LC: (shakes head) Nu-uh. Ok, so I go to school for motor science… what I would like to do with that degree – that future degree. University is a

Chiro's cosplay of Kung Lao won him first place in Lucca.

Chiro’s cosplay of Kung Lao won him first place in Lucca.

cruel world. Not everyone can pay to go to university here in Italy. It’s very selective. They’ll choose the best 200 out of thousands of applicants. Luckily for me, they were extending applications to former athletes. I was a former national champion in athletics.

ROG: What sport were you in?

LC: 100 meters. I was a runner. I’m doing parkour right now because it gives me freedom of expression. I would take my degree, get a passport, and come to the USA. I’m doing this major for personal satisfaction. I want to create my own future and do the things I love. If I can do something with it, that’d be great.

ROG: That’s a great point. Most parents in America – when I tell my parents, “hey, I want to go to school for video game design.” The first question out of their mouth is going to be “what are you going to do with that degree?” There’s no such thing as going to college for something that makes me happy; it’s all about how to make money out of it. Good for you that you go to school for something that makes you happy.

LC: You pay for your time to study. You can’t live anymore because you have to constantly study. School should make you motivated, not miserable. A good teacher isn’t someone who knows everything. A good teacher is someone who can give you those few things during your time at university and motivate you. It’s not a competition of knowledge. Sometimes it could be a former student going through their own frustrations and they pass down to you what they’ve learned in life.

ROG: Great point. So, we’ve all had that one costume that was a lot of fun, and others that were extremely challenging. What costume did you have the most fun making, and which one was the most frustrating?

LC: Caius was the one that gave me the most satisfaction. It’s full of armor parts, and it was great winning because it didn’t show off my body [like how Dante and Tidus did], but I spent a lot of money on Caius. Especially making this (shows Caius’ weapon).

ROG: Wow… how did you make that?

LC: (Laughter) I don’t even know. It’s a bit damaged now. You can say that it looks good, but since I created it, I can say that it’s definitely damaged.

ROG: How long did it take you to make Caius’ cosplay?

LC: Ahhhh… a month. One month, every single day for five to six hours. If you look on my page, I have a work in progress album that you can see. I started with a piece of wood, and then cut the shape, added more layers of wood, and just added things piece by piece. I was covered in sawdust. I had so much sawdust on me that when I went outside, all the dogs kept trying to pee on my leg because they thought I was a tree!

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Caius was the most uncomfortable to wear. It’s a lot to put on. I went to a convention and I took three redbulls with me… I have no idea why I did that. When you’re anxious and nervous about getting on stage, I had to have a redbull. But then I was like, “Oh my God, I have to pee. What the [expletive] am I going to do?” I had to remove all the pieces of the cosplay. It took a half hour to put it on and fix it. Thankfully, the Dante cosplay from DMC was the easiest. I just had the coat, didn’t have a wig, and if I got hot, I could take the coat off. It’s hard with the Caius cosplay because he does a lot of movement, and it’s hard to move in his cosplay. I need to improve some things before I compete with it again for the debut of Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns.

ROG: What do you enjoy doing the most – the outfit, the props, or the makeup and wigs?

LC: I hate the wig part. I have to make them in a way that it wont fall apart. When you’re on stage, you can’t have something like that go wrong. I mean, you’ve seen my Vegeta cosplay. It’s really heavy. I love doing makeup, but I love making my accessories. I’m well known for my props. I can get help with my tailoring and sewing stuff. If I have to do something with a coat, I’ll buy a coat and alter it. Come, on, let’s talk about it. I think it’s stupid. If you need orange pants, buy a pair and dye it. There’s no need to make one. I mean, sure, it can be satisfying, but really. Just buy a pair of pants and do what you need. With the accessories, you make it from scratch. I go to the woodshop, get the wood, and I get to work. Or you can use regular household items, like tubes from toilet paper, paper towels, or wrapping paper. Even plastic water bottles.

ROG: Obviously it takes a lot of work to keep your body in such great shape. What’s a typical workout routine for you? I know you’re all about ‘eating clean and training dirty.’

LC: I avoid fast food and processed food. I train 6 days a week. You have a choice between choosing an elevator or the stairs. Just take the stairs. Exercise is making changes in habits like that. People always complain because they don’t get the results they like because they’re not working hard enough. Or they reach their result and people think they can take a break. No, it doesn’t work like that. You have to maintain it. It’s not just your metabolism – it’s about habits. Everyone can be in shape if they wanted to. We have two legs, two arms, and a brain, and we can do whatever we want. I work out a bit less in the winter – one to two hours a day, a few times a week. During the summer, I’m training three to four hours, six days a week. I’m a trainer too, so I have to make sure I stay in shape. I don’t do the gym… I’m usually in the playground. You should see the face of the kids. They’re like “daddy! This guy is stealing our playground!” Well, you’re gunna have to fight for it. Round one… FIGHT!

ROG: (Laughter) Your cosplays are absolutely incredible. I see that your cosplays are all video game-based. Do you plan on doing any anime or movie characters?

LC: I do video game cosplays because video games, in my opinion, are the best ways to release emotion. Video games give you the power to choose, and to be that character. I believe in the power of books, but that’s the power of imagination. It’s still good, but they have limited potential. You can have great images from a movie, but not control. Video games combine the two – the freedom of movement and the wonderful visuals.
I did do a non-video game cosplay. Well, it wasn’t really a cosplay. It was a tribute to Spartacus. I did it for a new amusement park that was opening in Rome. They were doing different eras – Roman, Greek, futuristic… They wanted to do some entertainment with gladiators and they asked me, “do you have a Spartacus cosplay?” I said no, and that I’ll call them once I was done making one. I have a recycle box with material – if I don’t like a piece of armor, I’ll put it in there because I don’t want to waste materials. So I took out the box, and I made that cosplay in 4 hours with just the recycled stuff.

ROG: Care to share what character we should expect from you next?

LC: Sure, why not. I’m planning on doing Lloyd from Legend of Dragoon. I usually like to do characters that are newer, but I want to do some nostalgic cosplays too. So, Lloyd from Legend of Dragoon will be my next cosplay. Next, I’m going to work on Gladiolus from Final Fantasy XV. He is such a badass. I don’t think this cosplay is a secret anymore (laughter). I want to learn more about him before cosplaying him. Adam Jensen, from Deus Ex, is a dream cosplay of mine. I really wanted to do Nathan Drake. I could cut my hair, but I don’t want to cut it just for him. I want to keep my hair longer for some cosplays in progress and future projects.

ROG: I can say for myself that you’re a true inspiration for cosplayers around the world – whether just starting out, or an expert. To those just starting, what would you consider to be the best piece of advice you can give them?

LC: Like I said before, do everything with your heart. If you really love a character, do it from your heart, and don’t care about the critics. Don’t do it because you like it – do it because you love it.

So, there you have it – backstage access to the world of cosplay through the eyes of a professional. I was fortunate to be told some exciting news and future cosplays (I was sworn to secrecy!). Thank you again to Leon Chiro for graciously allowing me his time and contribution, 

You can find Leon Chiro on Facebook at Leon Chiro Cosplay Art and look through the rest of his work. You can also find him on Instagram at Leonchiro, and on YouTube at LeonChiroCosplayArt.

By Inactive or EX ROG Staffer On 23 Nov, 2013 At 02:53 AM | Categorized As Conventions, Featured, Otaku Events, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarChibi Pa has kicked off today to the delight of many. One of our new writers, HMK, has hosted several panels today (and on his birthday, such a champ). I will be hosting panels tomorrow and Sunday while HMK will be hosting his podcast live tomorrow. Here are the events starting Saturday in chronological order.

Chibi Pa: Future

  • EPIC and HECTIC LIVE (JJ & HMK): Saturday 4-5 PM
  • Let’s Play with Slenderman! (Isabel): Saturday 9-10 PM
  • The History of Vocaloids and their Fandom (Isabel): Sunday 10 AM -12 PM

I will be giving away freebies courtesy of the website to anyone who attends my panels. We’ll have a lot of fun, guarantee. Chibi Pa is also an amazing convention that has welcomed us with open arms repeatedly, and for that we are proud to help them have another spectacular show! Anyone currently in South Florida should make sure not to miss this opportunity.

ComicFest

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ComicFest

Any hardcore comic enthusiast is bound to have Free Comic Book Day permanently engraved in their minds. Since 2002, the event has brought masses flocking to their local comic book stores for free comics. It’s a day celebrated all over the world that might just have a new comic centered event rival it.

Halloween ComicFest is like Free Comic Book Day except it takes course over two days. During Halloween ComicFest retailers that choose to participate in the event give away as many free comics as they want, with comic book publishers providing them with special edition comics for the special occasion. The goals of these events are similar, to raise an interest in comics and comic book shops, because money is always good. However this is where Halloween ComicFest has the upperhand. Halloween as a holiday raises mainstream interest in strange subjects like zombies, witchcraft, monsters, and other classic Halloween staples, which are very common in many popular comics. This makes it more likely that regular joes will participate and thus will introduce comics to more people.

The new event is starting off with a bang, having many comic shops in the US and Canada as well as some stores overseas participating. Currently 20 comics are available with enough varieties to please anyone. And the official website is holding a costume contest (US/Canada only, sorry) with fabulous prizes for those who win.

Halloween ComicFest takes place on October 26 and 27. Check out the official website for more information and to locate comic book shops participating in the event.

By Inactive or EX ROG Staffer On 12 Aug, 2013 At 10:59 PM | Categorized As Conventions, Otaku Events, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarMini Con certainly stays true to its name. Having been to many conventions held in smaller hotels before, I knew the majority of them weren’t as wholesome as conventions held in conference centers and spacious well-equipped hotels. I believed Mini Con however would be a good experience. Was it? Kind of.

It would've been more fun if I had money to buy stuff.

It would’ve been more fun if I had money to buy stuff.

I will begin with the biggest problem I had with this convention, basically, the entire layout. I’ve complained about the layout of conventions before but the layout for Mini Con was nothing short of a panelist’s worst nightmare. Everything was stuffed into one room (except the video game room which was before of the main room). Aside from some artists and vendors near the entrance everybody was packed along with the main event stage, photo booth, and makeshift panel “room.” Basically it was a small area with chairs and some equipment obscured by two walls, one of which served as a doodle space. When you have more people interested in a wall than what’s supposed to be going on in it, it’s very discouraging. I have hosted these two panels before, and all of them have had a decent turn out but for Mini Con that wasn’t the case. The reason for panels being hosted in their own, concealed space is to attract more people by having an environment separated from all the distractions of the con itself so people can wander in and see if what’s going on is of interest to them without being drawn away by something more noisy. The feel of the room is greatly improved by isolation as it does provide a break from the often agitated atmosphere of a convention. My setup didn’t provide that, the loudness of the main stage in this enclosed space had me yelling to be heard and passerby couldn’t understand what was going on. Also the people that attended overall didn’t seem to seek out the unique things a convention provided and were mostly there to hang out. Maybe this was due to the fact an offshoot show hosted by a more notorious well known convention I’ve covered before was happening the same day and might have directed the active hardcore convention attendees away but it’s just a theory. The video game room was quite good, lots of retro games were to be found as well as newer ones. The cosplayers, simply great. The majority of the attendees were cosplaying and there was everything from Attack on Titan to League of Legends. This made the costume contest quite entertaining.

The free table of a young artist.

The free table of a young artist.

The sellers were decent and I did see quite many underage and disabled artists selling their artwork because of Mini Con’s generosity. A paid workshop to make Twinkie minions was held to give the profits to Drops of Hope. And of course everybody’s paid tickets had part of it go to the same charity. With all its faults Mini Con is still one of the only geek events in Florida to be actively involved with a charity and it needs the community’s continued support to keep thriving and growing. As a newcomer to the scene it is bound to make some mistakes, but I have confidence in that the show will get better with time. These are my suggestions in how to make the new show considerably better.

  1. Have panels away from the main event room in their own individual spaces.
  2. Seek out panelists to offer a wide variety of panels so con attendees can see the plethora of things they can do on their con schedules and decide to check some out.
  3. Have parking for con attendees in a more convenient location.
  4. Larger space if exhibitors and main stage are to be put together.
  5. Try to get more attendants by making sure event is not the day of another event and advertise in other conventions more.

To stay up to date with Mini Cons next show, like their official Facebook page.

By Charles On 28 Jun, 2013 At 06:34 PM | Categorized As Conventions, Editorials, Featured, Otaku Events | With 0 Comments

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Always bring a banana to a party.

Always bring a banana to a party.

Well, well, well- look who’s back. It’s been a while since I’ve made an appearance on here, and with good reason: since the beginning of May, I’ve been on a whirlwind of convention travels- all the way from Charlotte, NC for KiraKiraCon, to Sandusky, OH for Colossalcon, and most recently, Portland, ME for Portcon. In between I’ve dropped by VA for AMA, Boston for AB and a splendid little event in Pittsfield, MA called BAMcon (currently my favorite event of the year). And one of the constants I’ve had all 6 of those weekends is new congoers, from those who have always wanted to attend, to curious friends dragged along for the ride, to the confused parents wondering what their children have been jabbering on about incessantly since last summer.

For those of you who have never been to a con, there really is no time like the present to start attending. Explosive community growth, huge influxes of new fans and fandoms, cosplay galore- this is a great time to start hitting up your local con scene, or even traveling someplace new and exciting for a weekend unlike any other.

Wow, that sounds like a sales pitch.

For those of you who have never attended, or find the entire process intimidating, allow me then to provide you with some tips for selecting and navigating your first convention. You don’t need to heed my advice, because everyone’s experiences at the con are different- that’s what makes them so enticing- but at the same time, there are always common pitfalls that have the potential to derail a previously fantastic weekend.

Author’s note: these tips are not the standard sort of “drink plenty of water,” or “sleep and shower once a day” type- the basic precepts of health and hygiene are common sense, and we all are aware of them. And if we are not, the con staff will definitely make sure you observe them. Rather, these tips will (hopefully) allow you to have an enjoyable weekend, free of drama, hassles, and unplanned roadblocks.

SAMSUNG

Dressing like this might get you dinner…or arrested.

Rule 1: Friends make the difference. This might sound obvious, but nobody wants to be attending their first con alone. From the overstimulation of the crowd’s emotions, to the often hectic environment itself, to the huge platter of events and programming, it is extremely easy to get lost in the mix. Flying solo at a con can be one of the scariest, and overwhelming experiences any fan can encounter- so much so that even veterans often dislike attempting it.

Thankfully, the solution is simple: go with your friends. Make new ones at the con. Build a ‘network’ of people you enjoy spending time with, and coordinate schedules so everyone has fun over the weekend. It’s easier than it sounds, because at the con, everyone is a prospective new friend, and many are actively seeking new people, new experiences and new comrades to share them with. Try it out next time, you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Rule 2: Budget, please. Everyone has a con story that proceeds something like this: “I brought $200 with me to cover my weekend, and blew it all within fifteen minutes of hitting the Dealer’s Room. Now I can’t afford to eat.” If this sounds like something that happened to a friend (or even yourself), you are not alone. All congoers fall into this trap at some point- I once spent $400 at a single con on commissions in the Artist Alley, and lived off the charity of my friends for the last day and a half. This often is accompanied by guilt, fear and the knowledge that you just spent a large amount of money in a short period of time, sometimes with little to really show for it.

Budgeting is your friend, throughout the weekend. It’s extremely easy to survive on the cheap at most big cons (especially ones in urban areas, with easy access to fast food), but when the temptation to blow your hard-earned cash on figures and DVDs arises, rely on those friends you went to the con with to keep you in check. Make sure you never take all your money with you anywhere, or give it to a friend who you know budgets well and have them reign you in. Your first con will fill you with impulses you might never have felt before, which invariably leads to impulse buying, and “shoppers remorse.” If you have your friend with you, keeping you from throwing cash left and right, you will make it through the weekend unscathed.

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The freaks might not come out at night, but the yokai certainly do.

Rule 3:Don’t try to experience everything. Simply put, you can’t. It’s not possible to do everything at the con over one weekend, especially if your first con is on the scale of Otakon (which is a popular choice for East Coast congoers), Anime Boston or *shudder* Anime Expo. Often events on that scale are massive, with dozens of panels and programs running concurrently all across the convention space. Trying to “keep up” will drive any neophyte congoer insane.

The best strategy is to find a few things you really want to see, and then allow the weekend to progress organically. What do I mean by organically? Well, even the best-laid plans can run awry. Sometimes friends have different plans, or there could be a completely spontaneous decision to do something other than what you planned to do. Looking at the programming schedule beforehand helps you whittle down what you have time for, but it can never forewarn you about random photoshoots, dinner plans, or bumping into that friend you know online who wants to catch up outside of the internet.

Progressing organically, then, is to just ‘go with the flow.’ Enjoy yourself, enjoy your friends, and decide what’s really important when the moment arises. You might wander into a random panel and find yourself interested in the subject. You might discover that a certain cosplay event isn’t what you expected it to be. Or you might just latch onto a cluster of new people and follow them. This is usually one of the best ways to approach congoing, especially now, so just enjoy yourself, and see where everything takes you. Becoming preoccupied with pre-planned events is a surefire way to ruin your weekend. The real appeal of the con is just being at the con.

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Navigating the halls sometimes requires skills with a lightsaber

Rule 4: Utilize discretion.  On par with common sense, just because you are at a con, doesn’t mean you should run around like a blithering idiot, get wasted, hit on anything with two legs, and consume things you would never touch in your daily life. Discretion, common sense, a bit of skepticism- these will allow you to circumvent any number of unexpected shocks and potentially toxic situations.

Now this might SOUND like a given, but bear in mind- the energy exchange from cons is powerful, and has the potential to itself become intoxicating. And people who start to fall to intoxication lower their inhibitions and act in ways that might be completely unexpected, even to THEM. I’ve witnessed young adult males doing questionale things for a girl’s attention, seen teenagers drink themselves silly because they can, and witnessed all sorts of…unsavory behavior, simply because one person wasn’t paying proper attention at the time.

Now do not take this to mean that cons are dangerous. They’re incredibly safe. But at the same time, even the safest places are not immune to stupidity and bad decisions. Be aware of yourself, and utilize discretion in your interactions. It will save you more than your fair share of drama.

 

When meeting your favorite voice actors, please remember they are people too.

When meeting your favorite voice actors, please remember they are people too.

Rule 5: Don’t feed the trolls. Just like on the internet, trolls exist, and prowl around cons. They can be the guys with the cameras taking candid photos without permission. They can be ‘that guy’ in the back of the panel room who never stops commenting on how ‘wrong’ the panelist is. It could be the kid in the mask throwing water at people. They are present, and sometimes highly visible at the con weekend, and can contribute a huge chunk of unwelcome drama. More than a few new congoers have been driven off by their antics, or reduced to tears in the hallways.

Remember, trolls are a part of the fandom experience. You will eventually encounter one, that’s a given. The real tip here is not just not let them bother you. They are actively trying to provoke a reaction, often for no reason other than their own boredom. They thrive on conflict, and making you feel terrible. If you give in, they win. If you shrug them off, they find someone else.

Look all the way back at rule 1 for the best way of dealing with them- your friends. The words of some anonymous congoer might sting, but remember that your friends are there for YOU, and will help you deal with any trolls you might encounter. Rely on them, and your weekend will be a success.

Note: Also, do not confuse trolls with the grey-skinned denizens of the popular webcomic Homestuck. Those are also trolls, but not of the same variety.

So, first time congoer, go forth and enjoy yourself.

For more information, check out some of my earlier blogs on the subject:

Con-Ventional Wisdom

Con Advice

By Inactive or EX ROG Staffer On 18 Jun, 2013 At 08:44 PM | Categorized As Conventions, Otaku Events | With 0 Comments
End of panel audience

No GravatarThis year’s Mizucon was held June 14-16 to lovely weather and sunshine at the Miami Sheraton hotel. Mizucon has always been one of my favorite conventions due in no small part from the tremendous effort and love their volunteers and staff put into it. But last year the followers of the con learned Mizucon was now under new management after an amazing run. And you know how most people react to change.

NO.

The new management was under an extremely reliable group called the Japanese Anime Investment Group that run conventions like Ikkicon in Texas and Anime Crossroads in Indiana and have investors as well known as AAA Anime (the only United States distributor that sells Good Smile Company merchandise) and Yes Anime (another distributor that is the largest in the Francisco Bay area), and the con chair himself owns a store and online retailer called Anime Pavilion, also an investor. To me it seems this well funded group and the staff would be capable of pulling off another hit this year. Well let me analyze how everything went.

In terms of activities available and use of space they get a thumbs up. There were the necessities, a video game room, maid and butler cafe, vendors room, artist alley, and plenty of roaming space. But the promise of karaoke and an anime viewing room went unfulfilled. The panel rooms were spacious enough but my panel room on Saturday lacked sound and the staff had to fetch me a cable and the likes. Needless to say I believe every panel room should be prepared prior to any presentation but the staff were constantly running around doing things and I could forgive them. The panels were varied enough so there was something for everyone to do. This abundance of activities made it unlikely for anyone who decided to look at the schedule to be bored.

End of panel audience

I ended my panel earlier than expected and ended up improvising, lots of people showed up so now I have a new panel to host…

I loved the vendor’s room and walked out with some amazing deals and the vendor’s alley had great artisans but my funds were limited and I really wanted some merch. The video game room had Super Smash Bros. Brawl but other than that nothing interesting.

The cosplayer attendance was huge, I believe there were more cosplayers than casually dressed people, and the costume contest had great entries. The most impressive costume I saw during the convention was definitely the Alphonse Elric armor that won Best in Show.

Alphonse Elric cosplay

What made the con was the attendees who were hanging all over the place because there were huge problems all three days of the con. All of them were largely the fault of the hotel who caused major inconveniences for the organizers, panelists, and attendees. I’ll break the problems down by day because there were plenty.

  • Friday: Panel rooms were missing and the schedule was changed, panels were pushed back and moved around, and attendees didn’t know when certain panels were being held.
  • Saturday: Solid schedule set but late night panels were cancelled because the hallway containing all the panel rooms was closed off early. The rave was shut down early for unclear reasons and attendees that were planning to stay late were made to leave at the same time.
  • Sunday: The convention was made to end earlier than expected.

Needless to say, the con chair is now looking for a new venue for next year.

The new management of Mizucon definitely tried the best they could to create a good show and it was a pretty good show. Next year will definitely be better with a hotel capable of handling conventions, a larger staff and volunteer pool, and the knowledge gained from this year’s experience to make a show that lives up to the image Mizucon has held for so long. And I’ll definitely be looking forward to next year. All picture taken of the convention are below.

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By Inactive or EX ROG Staffer On 9 Jun, 2013 At 03:57 AM | Categorized As Conventions, Featured, Otaku Events | With 0 Comments
Her

No GravatarIf I was to summarize my experience at Hero Hype in two words it would be “laid back.” Conventions in their first year can’t be expected to do much because technically the first year is always more of a trial than a final product. I was familiar with the location, the Ramada Hotel, from going to previous shows that were solely for buyers and collectors and knew the convention space was smaller than those of other hotels, hence why it’s ideal for buying and selling only events. On my way I reflected on that and wondered if they’ll pull it off.

This convention was a lot more fun than I expected, and a great example of a spectacular first year. I’m not even sure where to begin.

Her

The rented space had three rooms, one large one for the main stage and all the vendors and exhibitionists and the other two were slightly smaller rooms. The first room was the video game room which had only about four or five games set up but was not fully occupied throughout the con despite having a good selection and a room with plenty of chairs and a television as the room for screenings.

Hero Hype Exhibitor/Vendor

One of the funnest parts of the conventions was definitely seeing all the short films that were screened throughout the event. Whether original flicks or fan made tributes, all of them were excellent in their own ways. Several short films were aired by Ginnungagap Filmwerks, a short Thor film featuring cosplayer Ryan Frye Thor, and Last Laff‘s Batman and Spiderman: The Chaos Continues. I signed up for a free copy of the last film, and I’m looking forward to receiving it.

The main stage had frequent giveaways with a variety of prizes given out to those who could answer trivia. The costume contest held was not only a costume contest but also included a dance off, don’t know why but it was entertaining nevertheless.

Cosplayer Dancing

The photo came out trippy. But in a really cool way.

All in all, Hero Hype was a simple but satisfying convention. With this convention’s first show concluded, I expect every consecutive year to become better and better. The atmosphere was great, the activities were great, and the convention is very promising.

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By Inactive or EX ROG Staffer On 9 Aug, 2012 At 02:59 PM | Categorized As Conventions, Otaku Events, Otaku Music | With 0 Comments
August 17-19

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August 17-19

This convention is a can’t miss for geeks in Miami! The convention prides itself as an anime convention, but has expanded to include many fandoms including gaming, tabletop, and American pop culture. Panels to suit any tastes are abundant, but there are too many to cover. So all you need to know is yours truly will be hosting ROG panels the Saturday and Sunday of the con. Freebies will be given out to the lovely people who attend so I suggest you all come and enjoy yourselves, you might get something.

Saturday

10-11 AM: The Birthday Panel

7:30-8 PM: Otaku on a Budget

Sunday

1:30-3 PM: The History of Vocaloids

One of the main events this year is a new Masquerade Ball that will be held the Friday of the weekend. Saturday will also be host to a pool party and a cosplay contest, and while Sunday is the shortest day in convention time, it usually is the most relaxed one, perfect after two days of excitement so you can just lay back, chill with other fans and perhaps catch a few panels. Mizucon 2012 will be fun, so plan your days ahead of time to make the most of what it has to offer and just have fun!

The list of all the panels and events that will occur can be seen here.

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I will never forget about Chibi Pa Sampler III for two reasons, I held my first panel ever at this convention and it was my first mini con.

However, there’s other things one just can’t overlook. The concerts were performed by people with much talent I hope to hear more from. I’m not a big fan of rap but Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew’s humorous raps had me entertained and laughing. They were also very good at interacting with the audience, something I’d like to see more often with live performances. Chii Sakurabi’s Japanese pop performance had the crowd go wild. Her dance moves fit her and everyone just found her adorable. Overall both performers were of high quality even if the con was small.

There was also a well furbished and varied selling floor. The vendors were all friendly and cooperative and I hope to see them again. In addition to that, the same room had a good Pachinko machines and tables set up for people to relax and play cards and board games. Chibi-Pa also has something unique, a manga swap, where one can trade their old mangas and animes for new ones other attendees donate, you can also sell if extra cash is needed. The video game room impressed me. They had well known games such as Left 4 Dead and Super Smash Bros. in addition to lesser known ones and Dance Dance Revolution, which I think is great game in terms of entertainment value watching your awkward friends have a go at it. All the panels held were amazing, and showed much love among all the otakus that were attending. My panel went along quite well considering the links I wanted to show couldn’t be shown due to Internet problems and I had 30 minutes left to kill after my Powerpoint presentation was done. Which brings me to the lovely attendees. Everyone was just wonderful and hilarious. People in the con are also very open to interactions, which makes it possible to interact with others and make new friends. Many attendees were also cosplaying, and glad to have their photos taken. This made the costume contest very varied and interesting. The staff were also incredible, and I’m very glad to be able to cooperate with them. All in all, Chibi-Pa Sampler III was something special, and I hope they have Chibi-Pa Sampler IV next year. Not to mention, I’m sure Chibi-Pa: Future, might be even better!

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