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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It’s Convention Time Again!!!

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Anime Midwest: July 3-5

It’s time to pack up the kids and go to another convention! This time I am taking my 2 boys, their cousin, and a friend all to Anime Midwest in Chicago this coming weekend. 3 teens and a pre-teen. When I tell most people this, they shudder. However, the 3 teens will probably ditch me for most of the time and so it will just be me and my younger son.

We attended this one last year and really enjoyed it and I have been looking forward to this con more than any this year. There is a ton to do: concerts, panels, gaming, raves, a maid cafe, and much more.

Check the website for full details:

http://www.animemidwest.com/

Highlights for me:

Steam Powered Giraffe

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A truly enjoyable steam punk inspired musical act that are a lot of fun!

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Greg Ayres

Voice actor ( Clannad, Ouran High School Host Club, Deadman Wonderland, Free! Eternal Summer), DJ, and Project Beck. I saw Greg’s “Why Your Fandom Sucks” panel and really enjoyed it due to it’s (despite the misleading title) message of inclusion and trying to maintain a supportive community of fans. As a dad I can get behind this message.

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Chuck Huber

A voice actor known for roles in: Full Metal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Black Butler, One Piece, and most importantly, Sgt Frog. As some of you may have read before, my younger son is a Sgt Frog fan and cosplays as Kululu. Chuck Huber was the voice of Kululu and so he (my son) wants his head piece autographed badly.

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David Matranga

A voice actor who has been in several shows including Attack on Titan, but more importantly for me: Clannad. My first real show that drew me into anime. I’d be interested to see a panel with him.

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Billy West

The voice of several characters on Futurama including the role model for all men: Zapp Brannigan. Also known for tons of other American voice work ( Jimmy Neutron, Ren and Stimpy). ” Brannigan’s Law is like Brannigan’s love, hard and fast.”

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Samurai Dan & Lady Gillian

They know martial arts. They teach you a few things. They are hilarious. Enough said.

There is so much more going on, many more talented voice actors and other interesting guests attending. Check out the website to see all of what they have to offer. I will post some updates about the convention sometime after.

-Most images are from the Anime Midwest website. I do not own them.

ACEN: Days 2&3

A night of poor sleep and breakfast (tip: bring as much of your own food as possible. You will save money which is a good thing at a con) we headed out to see a panel.

The first panel of the day was of interest to me: “Parents Guide to Anime”.  This panel was presented by Mr. David Rothman who is author of a book of the same name as the panel. He was a knowledgeable presenter who guide d the audience through a background in anime, it’s influences that western (American audiences) may find objectionable, and how to screen for things as a parent. He had a scholarly approach, but it was also very evident that he is a fan as well. It was an enjoyable and interesting panel. I had spoken to him the day before and I will be reviewing his book at a later date.

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After that it was time to wander and go to the merchandise room.

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Of course there were cosplayers of all sorts.

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Like from Devil is a Part-Timer.

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Dragons from  Yona of the Dawn.

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Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.

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Eruka and Blair from Soul Eater.

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And of course Soul and Maka.

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Mayoi Hachikuji from Bakemonogatari.

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No convention would be complete with out Deadpools.

My younger son and I decided we were going to go out for lunch at Mitsuwa Market, but on our way back to the hotel to get the car we did see these guys.

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Mitsuwa Market is a Japanese supermarket chain that have a few locations throughout the USA. Each features a food court with several restaurants featuring Japanese foods.

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We had planned on going there for their ever popular ramen, but decided on something different. We instead opted to go to the place serving rice bowls. My son got Katsudon and I opted for the garlic pork rice bowl. The wait was long…very long…probably 1 1/2 hours to order and get our food. It was good though. Very tasty!

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And for desert from Releaf: Chocolate for him and a Matcha Parfait for me.

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After the long break we returned to the con to see The Funimation Industry panel followed by the Noragami dub premiere with a voice actor panel after featuring Micah Solusod, Bryn Apprill, and Alexis Tipton. It was a good dub and the voice actors were amusing.

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We encountered a few characters before and after our panels of course.

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Edward Elric from Full Metal Alchemist.

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These two from Kancolle (I did not envy them trying to maneuver through the crowds).

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La Muerte from Book of Life.

It was a long day and we headed back to the hotel to get some rest before a short day at the con on Sunday and a long drive home.

Sunday we hit the merch room one last time, watched part of a Anime Tearjerker panel and saw the Samurai Dan panel/ performance. If you get a chance: go see Samurai Dan and Jillian, they are a lot of fun.

https://www.facebook.com/SamuraiDanandJillian

We checked out of the hotel and headed home. Tired, but happy with a really enjoyable weekend.

I could put another picture up…

I have a few more…

maybe just one…

So,

Why not Zoidberg?

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ACEN 2015: Day 1

What  a long and entertaining weekend it has been.

This was my first trip to Anime Central, the largest and longest running (I believe) anime convention in the Midwest United States. It is held in Chicago at The Hyatt Regency O’hare and Donald Stephens Convention Center. It runs Friday- Sunday and attracts somewhere around 30,000 attendees. Guests this year included Scandal (band from Japan), fashion designers Akira and Mika Takeuchi, various DJs from Japan who performed at the raves, and American voice actors: Cherami Leigh, Micah Solusod, and Bryn Apprill. This is just a sampling: there were many more.

I took my boys and one of their friends down to the convention. This was our first year going. We headed out early and arrived at the convention by 10am. My younger son and I wandered one direction, the other two went off on their own.

We first watched the opening ceremonies where all the guests were introduced.

After that we went to watch the “One Hour Gundam Rant”panel and the left part way through for the “Meet Cherami Leigh” panel. That was a fun time, she was an entertaining, engaging, and friendly guest. She voices”Asuna”in Sword Art Online, “Lucy” in Fairy Tail, “Lizzie” in Black Butler, “Patty” in Soul Eater, and (the pressing reason for my son) “Natsumi” from Sgt Frog.

He even got a picture with her, along with the autograph on his head piece. She loved it!

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After that we headed to the merch room and saw the dizzying array of vendors and artists who were there selling everything anime related.

On our way we ran into a few things…

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Like a roaming pack of Skelators.

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A yuri bear (Yuri Kuma Arashi) and her super hero friend.

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Koro- Sensei from Assassination Classroom.

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Nudist Beach and Ryuko from Kill La Kill.

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And Elizabeth from Gintama.

After that we took a break back at the hotel room for a bit (which the two older ones had decided to do as well).

My younger son then decided he wanted to get in some “Magic The Gathering” card playing time, so we wandered down to the game room.

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He played a sound tech who had some down time and got beaten both times, but to be fair the guy had a really good deck.

While he was playing I spotted a cosplayer from Kancolle across the hall.

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Turned out to be a cross player, but that is to be expected at cons.

After that everyone was pretty tired. We ordered a deep dish pizza from Giordanos, had dinner and called it a day.

Oh…I cosplayed too. Who?

Steins Gate’s “Mr. Braun” of course…

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Well…If he had less muscles and was a ginger…

Day 2 coming soon.

Anime Milwaukee: Day 1

Myself and son 11 got to the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee, Wisconsin around 10 a.m. and the cosplayers were already in full effect.

After checking in, registering, and lugging all of our stuff up to our room we got dressed and headed out to the wild Con.

We checked out the Merch room, the Manga library, and the table top game room (my son played me in a game of magic while we talked to a nice college student who was about to move to our hometown for college). We also got in line and waited for autographs. My son wowed voice actors Joel McDonald and J. Michael Tatum with his Kululu costume (they were seriously happy).

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My son got a lot of attention and it is still just day 1 of the Con.

A Few Characters We Saw on Day 1

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Kate from World Conquest Zvezdsa Plot (she told me she had just got there so her costume wasn’t complete)

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Mirai Kuriyama from Beyond the Boundary.

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Kurisu Makise from Steins Gate.

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Sailor Moon of couurse.

IMG_3431adventure-time-characters-adventure-time-with-finn-and-jake-33214025-1500-971Adventure Time!

IMG_3430download (14)A mini  Lucy from Fairy Tail.IMG_3428puella_magi_madoka_magica-930x544Kyubey from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. She did ask for my soul…

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Ken Kaneki from TokyoGhoul.

This is just from Friday at Anime Milwaukee and there are so many pictures I didn’t take. A convention is an interesting experience, try one if you haven’t. I will post more later.

Note: I was very tired while doing this post.

 

My Inner Nerd Celebrates

The other day I posted my love for Steam Powered Giraffe and lo and behold I get an email from Anime Midwest that they will be returning again this year. I love this!

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Also in attendance:

Greg Ayres: Son Goku in Saiyuki, Chrono in Chrono Crusade, Kaoru Hitachiin in Ouran High School Host Club, Yuki in The Wallflower, Leo in Ghost Stories , Satoshi Hiwatari in DNAngel, Kaworu Nagisa in the Director’s Cut of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Sonny Strait: Maes Hughes in Fullmetal Alchemist

John Swasey: Lord Death in Soul Eater, Kogoro in Sgt. Frog, Huang in Darker than Black

Chuck Huber:  Stein in Soul Eater, Kululu in Sgt. Frog, Mohji in One Piece, Shou Tucker in Full Metal Alchemist, Han in Blue Gender, Hiro in Shin Chan, Ashe in Black Butler.

Maxey Whitehead: Dende in “Dragonball Z Kai”, Crona in “Soul Eater”, King Kazuma in “Summer Wars” and Alphonse Elric in “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”.

David Matranga: Tomoya Okazaki in Clannad or Briareos in Appleseed or Bertholdt in Attack on Titan.

All this info is directly from the Anime Midwest website. There are many more guests. It is looking to be a great time!

Excuse my nerdy celebration….

http://www.animemidwest.com/

 

Shine Bright Like a….. Steam Powered Giraffe!

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Steam Powered Giraffe…not anime I know, but related for me.

I first encountered this Steam Punk musical group last summer at Anime Midwest. They were one of the musical guests performing last year. I figured that would be something to check out, my boys and I watched a few videos before we went so we’d be a little familiar if we got to one the shows.

Honeybee is probably one of their more popular songs.

Younger son and I hit the first show Friday evening and loved it. They put on an excellent show. Part musical performance, part pantomime, part comedy act: a really fun experience. The opening before they take the stage the audience was met with one of their videos. The cover of Rihanna’s “Diamonds”

The next night we dragged the older son/ brother to their Saturday night show. That night they opened with Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” instead.

Another great night. It is funny how Anime, or really any past time, can lead you to new interests or expose you to something you’d never seen before. I found that that the conventions are great opportunities for just this sort of thing.

Steam Powered Giraffe are a Steam Punk musical group hailing from San Diego. They are a three piece at this point comprised of Hatchworth, Bunny (formerly Rabbit), and The Spine.

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The most poignant moment of the Saturday night show was during their song: “Wired Wrong”. The audience sang along with the band: “We are wired wrong”. For a moment it seemed that the audience was connected by that thread of feeling weird and out of place in the world, but here…they were all together…The same.

One other little fun bit: They filmed a video when we were there!

Go and love some Steam Powered Giraffe. Let your passions lead you to new and interesting places.

“Find light in the beautiful sea
I choose to be happy
You and I, you and I
We’re like diamonds in the sky”

Attempts at Cosplay: Kululu and Kensei Ma

With Anime Milwaukee fast approaching I am closing in on getting my son’s (age 11) first cosplay ready.

I first started attending conventions a few years ago. Each year I come away a little wiser and a little clearer on how best to enjoy the convention going experience.

The first convention made me realize: you need to pre-register and go for longer than an afternoon to really get time to enjoy the experience.

The second convention made me realize: Staying overnight is good, but going for all three days would be better.

The Third convention made me realize: I got to be careful on how I control my money and cosplay might be fun.

acb (You can spend a lot if you’re not careful)

So with that in mind I have been slowly working on costumes for my boys and myself.

I am in over my head.

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My older son (age 15) got his costume online mostly. He is going as Ken Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul.
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This was mostly the mask, and a hoodie. pretty straight forward.

I have decided to go as Kensei Ma from Keinchi The Mightiest Disciple.

kensei(I, in part, chose him to embarass my children by cosplaying as the pervert character…I am such a good dad 😀 )

I have someone I know making me the green outfit and I already own the kung fu pants and shoes (from years of practicing Wing Chun Kung Fu). The hair, mustache, and eyebrows will be the challenging part, I haven’t figured these out yet. I do have the hat as well.

My younger son (age 11) loves Sgt. Frog, so he is going as Kululu.

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I have been sooo out of my depth here. But after about a year of trial and error I have finally got the head almost finished.

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I have no crafting or art skills really, so with luck, and some good advice from various people (I have a co-worker who is a Star Wars coplayer) I have something that turned out okay.

I really wanted this to work for him. When we’ve gone to conventions and he is wearing his Sgt. Frog shirts people stop him and tell him they love his shirt, but I have never seen Sgt. Frog cosplay, so he should get some attention.

But why cosplay? I know my wife, co-workers, and other adults who know I am planning on joining in the cosplay fun are shaking their heads and asking why I’d join the freaks.

I figure that being part of the show, immersing yourself in the experience just adds another layer to your potential enjoyment of the convention. And…Why not? Life is too short to take yourself too seriously. Might as well enjoy yourself and be one of the freaks, because the freaks always are having the most fun.

So IMAGINE!

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Because imagination is fun.