JABbering Stooge

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A-kon Report

Okay, I've been sitting on this long enough. It's time to do my A-kon report.

A-Kon 16: Report from the trenches

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, right? Well, that's what happened to us at the start. Originally, we had planned on having an acquaintance from Kuk Sool Won drive a whole group of us up to Dallas in his SUV. Unfortunately, he couldn't make it, and neither could most of the people we had planned on taking. It ended up being me and the two friends who had helped plan the whole thing. And, oh yeah, I got saddled with driving everyone up there in my Honda POS.

We left around 4:30 Saturday morning and, aside from a few minor incidents like me having to swerve to avoid having an 18-wheeler merge into me just before we reached Temple, and like me exiting an exit too soon once we got into Dallas (Dallas is so confusing!), we made it to the convention in one piece at a little after 8:00.

(Sidebar: Finding parking at a convention is an adventure in and of itself. The parking garage at the Adams Mark Hotel, where the convention was being held, didn't register the fact that every space was filled when we tried to park there, mainly because some of the vendors would park the carts housing their wares during travel in one space and park the vehicles towing the carts in another space. We ended up having to park in an uncovered lot (cheaper, but less secure) behind the Adams Mark parking garage.)

Now as far as registration lines go, this wasn't too bad.

On the other side of the registration tables, they had set up a sort of mini-arcade (mostly various versions of Dance Dance Revolution).

I spent most of the morning in the Dealers' Room (where the aforementioned vendors were hawking their wares):

If you want translations, ask!

Pocky: Don't Leave Home Without It!

Pocky and Ramune - Breakfast of Otaku!

Upon leaving the Dealers' Room with new purchases (an "Anime: my anti-drug" T-shirt, the soundtrack to the Martian Successor Nadesico movie, and a couple of shirts from the registration area: the official A-kon 16 shirt and a Red vs. Blue shirt), it was about time for the offical Red vs. Blue panel, aptly named "How to Make Movies, Meet Chicks, and be Suber Uber Hot Like Us - by Rooster Teeth Productions." Needless to say, the panel was pretty full, taking up at least half of the Austin Ballroom.

About halfway through, my friends and I ducked out for lunch at the nearby Plaza of the Americas.

(Sidebar: Even though we never went more than a block away from the convention center, Dallas apparently has a very good light rail mass transit system known as DART. Would that Austinites wise up to the advantages of light rail. It might actually eliminate the need for toll roads.)

After lunch we returned to the convention center for a showing of the first season of Red vs. Blue in one of the video rooms. Since I have already seen the first season several times, and because I was tired from a long day of driving after staying up much of the previous night, I decided to skip out halfway through (I'm sure no one would've wanted their enjoyment of Halo-based hijinks ruined by my snoring! :-}). I did, however, get the opportunity to check out Terminal Reality's demo of their upcoming game Aeon Flux for X-box. My first impression was that it looked cool, though the gameplay seemed reminiscent of BloodRayne 2 (which makes sense, in a way, since Terminal Reality also created BloodRayne 2).

Other than attending the Dub Your Own Anime panel and the Getting into Video Games panel (which was about getting into game development) there wasn't really much else I was interested in, especially since the RPGA panel (where one of my friends and I were hoping to get a chance to play some pen-and-paper RPGs - just so I could bust out with my huge 20-sided die for a laugh) ended up not happening for some reason. I spent much of the remainder of the time in and around the Dealers' Room and the registration area. We ended up leaving at around 9:15 because we all had seen all we wanted to see.

(Incidentally, I did manage to get a couple of pictures of people cosplaying:)

Ryouga from Ranma 1/2

Kool-Aid Man

Leaving Dallas was as much an adventure as entering - I had no less than three near misses just trying to get onto I-35 headed home!

Overall impressions of A-kon:

  • A-kon was definitely bigger than Ushicon attendance wise, though there seemed to be about the same amount of stuff to do, if less.

  • Other than the Red vs. Blue folks, the guest list wasn't that exciting.

  • While the Dealers' Room at A-kon had a heck of a lot more vendors than Ushicon (because there was more space for the vendors), the variety of items for sale ended up being even less than that at Ushicon. In particular, I had a hard time finding any place that sold anime music at all, much less the soundtrack to the Nadesico movie.

  • Overall, while it was definitely worth my while to experience A-kon at least once, I think I prefer Ushicon.

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