Naka-Kon 2018 Experience/Haul!

Hi everyone!

Since 2015, I’ve gone to this midwestern U.S. anime convention called Naka-Kon. That makes this my fourth year, which is kinda hard to believe! It’s a small convention, estimating around 8,000 attendees in 2015, but the population has grown exponentially in the past few years. Soon, I fear that the convention hall itself won’t be large enough to contain all our anime madness!

Anyway, this year was much less stressful compared to years past. Why? Well, I’m one of those eager youngsters that insists on meeting with English voice actor guests. I keep it brief, but try to walk away with a signature on one (or more if I’m lucky) of my Blu-rays, a picture, and delightful, positive memories to cherish. Typically, I’ll know (or at least recognize), say, 6/7 of the VAs—and you can bet that I’d try to meet with all of them if I could! At this year’s Naka, however, I only really knew (and loved) one or two roles per each voice AKA not enough to validate standing in line for a couple hours, sadly.

So I told myself to limit my VA line-standings to just one, and amp up my cosplay game so that I could spend time taking more pics and having fun. After 2017 when I cosplayed Mika from Seraph of the End, I didn’t realize what great fun cosplaying could be—SO MANY PEOPLE WANTED A PICTURE EITHER OF OR WITH ME (which makes me so happy and thankful), yet it was a tad overwhelming given how I had my own agenda of rushing from one VA line or panel to another. The guest line-up happened to work well with my intentions this year, and it all worked out swimmingly!

The unintentional VA-grab theme for this year must’ve been Cowboy Bebop (last year was Final Fantasy XV), as both Steve Blum (Spike Spiegal) and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Julia, also ADR Director) were both guests this year. While I love Bebop just as much as the next guy, I knew that his lines and panels would be crazy full, so I skipped out to avoid the hassle. Also, I only knew him as Spike and Todo from Code Geass. WE DID, however, manage to squeeze in to a huge panel hosted by Steve and Mary, as well as Ian Sinclair and Wendy Powell. I count my lucky stars that my sister persisted on us sitting down, as it was really cool to hear all these famous voices casually talking in one room!

As for Mary Elizabeth . . . SHE’S THE FREAKIN’ MAJOR FROM Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex!!!! If you’ve been following me for even the past year, you’ll know that GitS has quickly worked its way up my favorites list following my marathon of the franchise just one year ago from now (happy reunion!). She’s also my QUEEN, Cornelia li Britannia from Code Geass!! Long story short, she was my must-meet for 2018, and though I was only allotted one signing (as I wanted a picture for my second), she kindly signed my DVD copy of Stand Alone Complex, of which, fun fact, I had picked up JUST for this con! Our transient meeting—where we chatted about technology’s advancements and  possibilities, the internet, and finding our own path in this digital age—was brief, but one that will stick with me for a long time!

While at the con, I popped in on several of Xanthe Huynh’s panels. I only really knew her as Love Live!‘s Hanayo, Yuki Yuna‘s titular Yuki Yuna, PMMM Rebellion’s Nagisa, and A Lull in the Sea‘s Miuna (as pictured above). Her charming commentary on the industry and business as a voice actor for “all the cute characters” was very insightful, plus it was nice to balance out the wild loudness of, well, a con with a much smaller, calmer Q&A panel. After visiting like three of her panels, I made it my mission to nab an autograph, of which was quick, painless, and fun to meet her one-on-one!

Oh yeah, I also snagged a ticket for Ian Sinclair since I just could. It was a Sunday, lines were significantly shorter and moved much faster, so I thought “Eh, why not.” He’s not a personal favorite of mine, but I do think he does great work!

**Insert my frustrations when Wendy Powell, who had no people in line for like 20 minutes, left just as I had snagged a ticket to meet her after noticing the vacancy. Ughhh, oh well, at least I got to hear her voice IRL in that panel earlier. Also, the staff were very supportive in my endeavors to try and meet her. Shucks, thanks anyway! :3

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Moving on from my meetings with guests, 2018 was also a year to try out some other activities that the con offered given my greater schedule leniency. Each year, I fear that Naka will offer fewer and fewer surprises for me. Especially this year, I figured I’d be bored half the time—BOY WAS I WRONG, and joyfully so! My siblings and I went to our first cosplay shoot (for My Hero Academia), posed for countless many pictures, and even tried waltz lessons of all things together! It was great fun, and EVERYWHERE we went were nice, happy, positive anime fans! So yeah, new experiences all around—I shouldn’t have underestimated such a great con like I did!

But you probably just wanted my haul. Ok, so do I. 🙂

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Pins, pins galore! Each year I make it a mission to scout out new pins (especially from one artist in particular who designed the trio on the right), and this year my bag had nearly 20 some-odd pins from various favorite anime. With most ranging from one to just a couple dollars, it’s an easy, affordable way to support artists, as well as keep track of your favorite characters. Highly advised! In case you were wondering, those three on the left were gifts from my sister that she bestowed upon me as soon as we got home—how thoughtful of her! And of course, I had to get my Sailor duo, plus the almighty, all-powerful LELOUCH VI BRITANNIA!

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I also got some playing cards, this becoming my third set with anime artwork on them. I was a bit let down with this set, thinking that because the main image had the entire cast on it, it should have pics of the other YOI characters. WRONG, all main three, and all random close-ups, ahahaha! Should’ve gone with the other set they had, but oh well, more YOI to go around.

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Traditionally, I like to snag some new wall art (either as a scroll or artists’ prints) each year. Seeing as how I cosplayed a male version of Danganronpa‘s Junko Enoshima (which a crap ton of people recognized somehow and asked me for a pic), I thought it was only fitting to cap off the experience with something from the franchise. I’d never seen this artwork before, so I thought hey, let’s do it!

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I DIDN’T REALIZE CONS HAD CLEAR FILES until I stumbled upon a couple of vendors on the last day that had stacks full of ’em! These epic Fate/stay night: [Unlimited Blade Works] clear files had the absolutely stunning poster artwork on them that my DVDs had, and though I wish they had the last one from the second season, they make an awesome set to either hang up together (considering a Fate wall in my room) or to use them as actual files. (Does anyone use clear files like they’re supposed to? Let me know . . .)

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AND THEY HAD GHOST IN THE SHELL TOO, LIKE, WHAAAT?!? At either just $4 or $2.50 per file depending on the vendor, these are wonderful deals compared to the $10+ that buying off the net will charge. Like my Danganronpa wall scroll, these SAC files will forever be remembered as the ones that I bought when I met Major Motoko Kusanagi, the great Mary Elizabeth McGlynn herself! #unreal

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This right here was the biggest win for me. I knew that as soon as I passed it on day one, it would be mine come the end of the weekend. Because I was unexpectedly busy with all the cosplay shenanigans, however, I ended up waiting until later in the con ’till I finally snatched it up. Thankfully, the artist still had a few, and she was super happy that I was this excited over her Kiki’s Delivery Service artwork. I mean, WHO COULDN’T?! It’s like Ghibli meets Shinkai all perfectly contained within one aesthetically pleasing masterpiece! The artist is Alexis Moore, and you can reach her at both her website alexis-moore.com and social media (presumably Insta or Twitter?) @alexisparade. Love this so much~!

That wraps up the stuff that I personally bought. Much less money was spent than in years past, but that can be a good thing sometimes. Here are some gifts my siblings bought me (and don’t worry, I surprised them with some neat stuff, too)!

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This blind-pick horizontal poster of Yuuri and Victor that my sister got me, ahhh, so precious. You know how anime fans sometimes like to decorate their own spaces with that bit of anime-inspired flair during the holidays? Yup, I think this might be the winter holiday piece that’ll go over my door. 😛

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Here’s a Code Geass soundtrack (again with the con-specific merch to match the times, damn!) that my brother bought for me! It’s got quite a few quality jams from the series, and for only $8, ummm, duh one of us is gonna get it LOL! After I passed it up for a minute, he swooped in, bought it, then surprised me by giving it to me as soon as we got home (omg how kind). Part of it was as a thank-you for me creating the *coolest* part of his cosplay that everyone admired last-minute, so it was pretty nice to get this after he got all that recognition for my work.  >.<

But that’s not all—he also bought me a new wallet, and it’s Evangelion, holy shit! I’ve already swapped it out with my previous decaying Zelda one, and though this one is a bit bigger, I loving having fashionable anime that low-key celebrate my status as a fan. I was the one who introduced Eva to my brother (and sister), and although I know it was thanks for the cosplay accessories, I also see it as part of a return to introducing them to one of their favorites, too.

And that about wraps things up. Lots of cool voice actors, lots of neat stuff, and lots of pics (which are hopefully coming in a separate post). Even Mary exclaimed how cool my Todoroki ice effects were, and Ian knew exactly who I was as male Junko: “That’s awesome!” he said! All the praise felt good, and for someone with a mediocre body image thing going on, it felt nice to be admired for looks, even if just superficially.

This fourth year held all kinds of surprises, despite my thinking that I had Naka all mapped out. As my fifth year comes next spring, I want to do bigger cosplays, buy even more merch and art, and meet more cool people, be it big names in the industry or simply fellow fans wanting a picture together! Thank you to all who made this year’s Naka-Kon possible, as it’s become my favorite way to spend the spring break! Also, thank you for reading this post! Let me know if any of the art or merch I got was particularly neat to you, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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I’m Going to Naka-Kon THIS Weekend!

Evening all, just a couple of heads up items you might be curious about!

  1. Yes, I’ve STILL got the damn stomach bug, but I’m trying not to let it bother me too much, especially for this weekend. It started on Monday and, four days later, you’d think it’d be gone–NOPE. I’ve found out that I generally feel a bit better when I keep moving around, so hopefully all of the walking this weekend keeps my stomach from folding in on itself. Speaking of . . .
  2. YES, this will be my third year at Naka-Kon, an anime/Japanese culture convention in Overland Park, Kansas. It’s kind of a smaller con, but it’s recently gained a ton of popularity within the last couple years. I’ll be leaving tomorrow (Friday) in the early afternoon and I’ll hopefully arrive there at the hotel sometime that evening. I also do this thing with my siblings (and parents since they’re actually somewhat interested in my hobbies), so I’ll be spending the entire weekend with them and all the crazy and colorful things we love.
  3. I’ll be meeting voice actors at the con! In an ideal world, I’ll walk away with a photo and a signature from Max Mittleman, Robbie Daymond, and David Vincent, who will, fingers crossed, sign my A Lull in the Sea blu-ray 1 (I’m bring Aldnoah.Zero‘s DVD 1 in case I get lucky :3), Sailor Moon Viz DVD 1, and Fate/Zero pin-up poster + KILL la KILL blu-ray LTD volume 1, respectively. And though he’s certainly no voice actor, I’ll hopefully run into Kausus from Otaku Gamer Zone while I’m out in the madness! That’ll be an exciting reunion!
  4. Yes, I do cosplay, just a little, though. I’ve revised my Mikaela Hyakuya (Seraph of the End) like tossing the cheap foam pieces the set came with and remaking those pieces out of nice wood with a fresh coat of metallic paint. Same with the little jingly gold thingies–I replaced the basic gold ones with translucent blue ones like he has in all the concept art. I’ve also trimmed the wig so it fits LOL. On the third day, I’ll just sport your typical Attack on Titan jacket but with Shinji Ikari’s plug suit head piece things. They’re neat. It’s a cool, casual mashup.
  5. What happened to my Ghost in the Shell marathon? Well, thanks to my being bedridden, it was put on a temporary hold for a few days. I’ve finished the first two films, the first season and its recap film, and I’ve started the first 3 episodes of 2nd Gig. Currently having a blast with it all, and I’ll likely review my favorite entries from the franchise as soon as I finish it all!
  6. As to other reviews, a Blast of Tempest and Grimgar review are both in the works, so between those, my OWLS involvement, the GitS marathon, and a convention haul, there’ll be much more activity here at the cafe than in the past few months!
  7. I’ve got a TON, TON, TON of catch-up to play once my spring break hits, so I’m sorry if I’ve delayed your lovely comments for what, like 2+ months now? YOU WILL NOT BE IGNORED, I PROMISE!

Thank you all for your continued support. Wishing you all a fun, safe weekend, whatever you may be doing, and send some of your magical healing powers my way for the tum-tum if you’ve got juice to spare. 😉 Happy early Friday, everyone!

– Takuto, your host

Cafe Talk #4: “HARMONIZE WITH ME MAGGOT!” (a Ren-fest experience)

Grab some hot apple cider or a chilled fruit drink because it’s finally time for another “Cafe Talk!” Chinese food, old men in capes, and bee swarms – This one’s a doozy but I’ve managed to get it all (and no, I’m not just trying to reach to a wider audience)! I won’t be leaving an outro at the end like I usually do, so if you have had similar experience you HAVE to let me know in the comments! While you’re at it, feel free to hit the like if you enjoyed the story 🙂

First some prior knowledge:

I frequent a Renaissance Festival every year with my family and I absolutely love the art of it. It started off as my siblings and I performing music with a Celtic group in “The Chapel,” but when the academy went under we stopped going because we had to and started actually enjoying the festivities.

Flash forward and I’m eating Chinese food on a Friday night. I know right, great way to spend the day. But after devouring my beef fried rice, my fortune cookie did as they usually do: It told my future.

Next week, green is a lucky color for you.

So I got super paranoid and tried to remember to wear green throughout the week. I think I managed to fit one day in, sporting a regular lime Nike shirt, but nothing “spectacular” happened. In fact, I was probably even more exhausted that day . . . But Saturday came around ( I realize that a new week would have passed the Friday right before, but it’s a fortune cookie, and their magic can be a bit iffy at times), and this was our family’s planned day to wake up at the freakin’ crack of dawn, dress like fools  epic knights, elves, what have you, and arrive at the Renaissance Festival at 10 AM-ish. Due to my crazy student life (also noticeable by the lack of posts, sorry), I had virtually no time to prepare a costume like I usually do. So what did I end up with?

My makeshift Attack on Titan cosplay outfit. It’s the stereotypical neat jacket, the tight-ass white jeans, that leather skirt thing, a plain gray shirt, and my brother’s old Ren-fest-bought leather boots that resembled giant socks after so much wear and tear. Lastly, a short leather cloak with metal clasps with a freakin’ awesome hood that I bought in the previous year or two to function as the Scouting Regiment’s symbolic flare. Seems legit, so no biggie.

Long story short, I had a fantastic weekend. My weirdo sister kept SnapChatting pictures of an old man in a red cape, crown, and shades who, I’m SO SORROW OLD MAN, looked like a fool. My mom ordered a delicious apple-pie-ice-cream-thing-which-has-a-name-that-escapes-me, and was pretty much attacked by bees that buzzed around occasionally (they left after a while). The sad part in that is that my mom hardly orders anything for herself, but at least she liked the dessert! Anyway, she ended up buying herself a damned nice black cloak and a fancy blue corset, so it all worked out.

Seriously though, awesome weekend! But the story doesn’t end there . . .

We spent the whole day there. Tired in my sock boots, we were making our last rounds of enjoying the smell of roasted peanuts and turkey legs, the cloudy atmosphere, the assorted wooden structures in the hills, and the cool 60-degree HEAVEN until we ran into a large group of young adults. I looked down as per usual and kept to myself, but then an enchanting cosplayer in a white and red fox outfit called:

“MY YOUNG TITAN SLAYER, come hither ~!”

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Something like this.

F*ck.

What do I do?? EVERYONE was looking at me, but I couldn’t even notice them I was so nervous. I bumbled around but quickly accepted my fate. This could have been a call of sorts, you know?

Honor took over me, and I did the fist over heart salute like they do in the show. Everyone smiled.

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I approached the now nicknamed fox demon woman and, after a bit of small talk – her spewing compliments about my wondrous leather one-of-a-kind Scouting cloak – the tall man in the group towering over me (whom I now just noticed) gave a hearty chuckle. The fox lady and the others coaxed their bud into saying something that I’m not sure he himself was wanting to say or do, but he did:

“I can do an impersonation of Keith Shadis’ abridged voice from the YouTube video.”

“Well,” I sputtered, “You have to do it now.” hehehe

And then, clearing his throat, he yelled the scene during training camp right before he twists Armin’s neck. He yelled it loud and proud, starting with the “sweet mother” part.

“Do you sing?”

“No,” I sputtered, according to the skit.

“HARMONIZE WITH ME, MAGGOT!!” woooaaahhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

“WAHAHAHAHGAGAGAAGAHAHHAHHAHAHHAHAH!!!!” I screeched at the top of my lungs.

Then he twisted my neck, gently of course. And it was awkward for everybody.

Oh Internet, how you . . . scare me sometimes. But seriously, where’s the lie?

It was the first time anything like this had ever happened, but oh boy, how I’ll never forget. Everyone around was sharing good cheer, smiling and laughing. I, like everyone else, applauded his and my efforts to pull it off.

That’s when the fox-lady burst out how cool of a guy I was, and then she asked a fatal question:

“Wah, you’re so freakin’ awesome!! Do you have Facebook or something so that I can contact you?”

Ouch. Yep, I’ve got no social media. Just an email, a phone number, this cafe, and of course my MAL . . .

WAIT?!? Doesn’t every anime fan under the sun have a MyAnimeList account??

Too bad I didn’t think of that in time. 

I replied with a weak “no,” and she and the rest were like, “Bummer, well this was so much fun, anyway! :D” I had missed my chance at a real-life stranger-to-friend situation. I had failed as a human. I mean, I didn’t want to just give my email, isn’t that a bit too personal for not having even getting to know each other?

But then she glimmered with hope. “Do you go to any conventions? Maybe we can meet up again sometime for something silly like this!”

“NAKA-KON!” I probably shouted hoarsely. Maybe there is a chance at redemption now!

“Cool! Well then, we’ll be seeing you around!”

And that was that. Two seconds of fame but no way to ever get it back. Perhaps this spontaneous coincidence was meant to be. Heck, a nearby girl in Scouting Legion cosplay ended up being right behind me, and after hearing our skit, she ran up to me with a high-five and we took a picture. So one with her, and one with the other big group. Proud memories to cherish as an anime fan!

We had no Armin since I have dark hair, but hey, pretty much.

So what was the message in it all? It is what it is, or it’s all ultimately left up to Fate? I’m not really too sure myself. But as for my fortune cookie I hinted at in the beginning (but sadly managed to squeeze no luck out of), what color was my Scouting Regiment cloak – the very thing that spotted me out from the crowd?

Oh damn it all.

🙂

– Takuto, your host