Anime Midwest 2015: 3 Teens, 1 Pre-teen, and a Tired Dad

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Anime Midwest has come and gone. I am tired, but really happy. It was a blast and is my favorite Con so far. I packed up my two sons, their cousin, and my older son’s friend (my best friend’s daughter) and headed out early for Chicago. A nice option from the con: this year they started mailing badges for pre-registered attendees. However, I forgot to click the box for my boys to get their badges mailed so we had to pick theirs up at the con. Since we got there early, there was no line: no problem. We checked into the Hyatt Regency O’hare, got our badges, and brought all our stuff in to get ready for the con. The first panels, merch room, and other events began at 12 noon. My younger son and I went to see the opening ceremonies and the teens went their own way. It was a packed weekend and I had a hard time figuring out how to divide it all up to explain it, so here I go.

Panels and Guests

  As I said earlier, the first panel that we attended was the opening ceremonies. This is where the convention staff do a little intro and introduce the many guests in attendance. It was running a little behind so we did not see the entire thing.

 We left to see the “Meet Billy West” panel. Billy West is the voice actor known for Futurama (playing Phillip J. Fry, Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, Dr. John Zoidberg, and Zapp Brannigan), Ren and Stimpy, and a host of other roles. A great speaker and seemed to be a genuinely humble guy who really enjoyed talking with the audience. If you ever have the chance, go and see him.

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 We also caught the tail end of “Meet David Matangra”. He has a much larger catalog of anime credits than I was aware of but some of his more notable roles are: Bertolt on Attack on Titan, Daichi on Say I Love You, and Tomoya in Clannad. We only were able to hear about the last 10 minutes of his panel where he was talking about theater and some upcoming work he was doing. One thing you find is that a lot of the American voice actors have a background in theater.

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 Most of the other panels we caught were on Saturday.

 We started off with “Reviewing 101”. This was an interesting panel, but more focused on  You Tube style reviews. It was put on by a person who was a My Little Pony reviewer (among other things). It was informative anyways and a good slow way to start out the day.

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 We also caught part of the “Meet Caitlynn French” panel. I found out from that she has serious nerd cred being not only a anime fan, but a video game player, and table top gamer. She was recently announced as the voice for Shiro in No Game No Life (which she was very excited about). My son’s main reason for wanting to meet her was for her roles in AKB0048 (Suzuko) and Girls und Panzer (Hana). She is also a pre-school teacher in her non-voice acting life. My son spoke to her briefly after the panel and she was very cool to him.

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 The highlight panels for me on Saturday were the Greg Ayres panels: “Why “Your Fandom Sucks” and “It Gets Better- Anime Con Edition”.

   “Why Your Fandom Sucks” is a panel on how fans can go off the rails, take their fandom a little too seriously, and how this can ruin things for others. Greg told horror stories of where fans did dumb things, outrageous things, and sometimes downright hurtful things all kind of tied to their various fandoms. It is a panel well worth attending if you have a chance. Greg is a good storyteller and the over-arching message of the panel is a good one: Be a good fan, don’t be a jerk, make a supportive community of fans, and that as long as you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else there is not really a “wrong way” to be a fan. As a parent I can get behind this kind of message and find it to be important.

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 “It Gets Better- Anime Con Edition” is based off the “It Gets Better” project which was started in response to a series to teen suicides where kids were being bullied for being (or perceived as being) gay. Greg hosts this panel to talk about bullying of LGBT teens and bullying in the fan community as well. Being the parent of an openly gay teen, this is another panel I truly appreciate.

  The only other panel attended that weekend by my younger son and I was the “Boxers or Briefs- Multi Guest Q&A” on Sunday morning. This was a rapid fire Q & A panel where any silly question was asked. Many of the guests were recovering from heavy partying the night before and it got pretty raunchy. Oh well…I knew there would be some questionable parenting moments at the con. I have come to accept this will happen.. he did find the repeated answer of “three dicks” to be hilarious (best in context I guess) as any 11 year old would. Guests : John Swasey, Caitlynn French, Greg Ayres, Chris Rager, David Matranga, Joel McDonald, Chuck Huber, Sonny Strait, Spike Spencer, Chris Cason, Blake Shepard, DC Douglas, and Eric Stuart.

 There were many other panels I would have loved to seen, but only so much time in a weekend to see it all.

Concerts

 Anime Midwest really shined in the amount of musical guests they have…really quite a great line up of acts. I saw more than I planned on seeing (which was great) and wish I would’ve seen more.

 Face Time Police

 We wandered on this performance on the mini stage off of the Con Sweet ( a place for con-goers to get free rice, ramen, and soda). The duo does songs inspired by anime and video games. They had a lively acoustic set which was pretty enjoyable.

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Brentalfloss

 A comedian and musician who has a popular You Tube channel where he does video game music “With Lyrics” put on an entertaining performance. We ended up in this show thinking we were coming to the end of the Mega Ran and K-Murdock concert so we could be early for Steam Powered Giraffe, but everything was behind schedule so we saw most of Brentalfloss’s set. He was very fun and my son liked the “Mad Libs” song he did (a largely inappropriate version of “Let it Go”).

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Mega Ran and K-Murdock

 After Brentalfloss these guys came out and..damn! I am thrilled I got to see them! I had no prior experience with Mega Ran, but he was awesome live. He is considered to be the best known video-game influenced musical artist out there and is licensed by CAPCOM as their official rap/ hip hop artist. They ended their set with YT Cracker coming up on stage with them: it was awesome! I have gotten a couple of his recordings since the con and really like his stuff. Check him out!

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Steam Powered Giraffe

 We saw them last year and had to go see them  again. The steam punk inspired robots putting on their show that is both music and comedic performance. They put on an excellent, entertaining show and are well worth a watch. My boys and myself were all looking forward to seeing them again.

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Raves

 There were Rave dances on both Friday and Saturday nights. The teens attended the rave on Saturday until around 1:00 am and I checked it out a little as well. While I don’t really dance to rave music, I could appreciate anyways. I like what I saw of Greg Ayres set more than the first and my older so liked his more as well. The downside of curfew for teens: they happened to leave right before $1000.oo in small bills was thrown into the audience. They weren’t happy to hear they missed that.

The Cosplays

 There are always so many great cosplays, so many that I don’t know, and I always mean to take more pictures, but never seem to get enough.

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 Holy Madoka! There were  a lot of Puella Magi Madoka Magica cosplays at this con. I got so many pictures since my son was stopping everyone to take his own pictures of them. I have thought it would be hilarious/ disturbing if I cosplayed as Mami Tomoe sometime, but not shaving my beard and walking with an exaggerated “man” walk while complaining about the other magical girls and about getting older…

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 Metalocalypse

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Zapp Brannigan cross-play and a minion.

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 Not sure who they all are, but video game related I think. They all did great jobs on their costumes.

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Nudist Beach (Kill La Kill) and Mekakucity Actors                                  IMG_3569  IMG_3566

Clannad (Tomoyo and Tomoya) and Full Metal Alchemist (Lust and Greed)   IMG_3561 IMG_3562IMG_3558

 Danmachi (Hestia),  Ouran High School Host Club (Tamaki), Dragon Ball  (Master Roshi) IMG_3565  IMG_3557

Nisekoi (Chitoge and Onodera), A Spiderman, No Face, Winry Rockbell (FMA), and Stein (Soul Eater).

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A few more pictures I took. A Jon Snow, some colorful people, and “Kawaii-Vader”.

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 It wouldn’t be a con without a couple of furries…

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 My favorite photo I took. A cross-play of Death The Kid (Soul Eater)

The kids

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 My son finally got Chuck Huber to autograph the headpiece for his Kululu cosplay, which was awesome.

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 Lesson: Never leave a horse mask unattended..

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 A ramen lunch at Mitsuwa is always a good idea.

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 Exhausted kids on the way home means a job well done.

 It was a good weekend.

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Why Babymetal??? Because. That is all.

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I admit it. I like Babymetal. It is not all that surprising: I like metal. I like j-pop. Why not like the combination of these two things.

Babymetal formed as an offshoot of the female idol group, Sakura Gakuin. The producer, “Kobametal”, wanted a way to feature Suzuka Nakamoto’s (Su-metal) vocals and thus came the idea for Babymetal. With two back up singers/ dancers Moametal and Yuimetal to provide contrast along with an extremely talented backing band you now have this powerhouse of j-pop vocals over brutal technical metal.

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And it has worked….

But can they win over metal fans? I would say: to some degree: Yes! They played (successfully at Sonisphere without getting booed or laughed out of the place.

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They have met some of metal’s biggest acts (admittedly they had no idea who they were meeting half of the time).

Babymetal-and-ChthonicWith Taiwanese Death Metal band: Chthonic

babymetal5They recently collaborated with Power Metal band: Dragonforce.

download (7)They met the “nice old men” , Thrash Metal giants: Slayer.

BrylJm3IUAAE4HK As well as another of the “Big Four”: Anthrax.

Oddly (or not) enough they also have toured with Lady Gaga.

Does this have anything to do with anime? No, not really. But I do believe that if AKB48 could have an anime based off of them, so could Babymetal. I somehow envision them fighting demons with the power of metal and j-pop. To whoever develops this idea into a show: you’re welcome.

Listen to Babymetal, love Babymetal. Head-bang and dance. Enjoy, because life is too short to take things to seriously all of the time.