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Anime Central 2000: As seen from the Ucchan

AnimeCentral is back, and it's the chance of a lifetime for Konatsu and me.

We know it'll never come this way again. Even before the con begins, I've seen and heard complaints about how far the hotel is from anything else, like restaurants and what-have-you. And for folks who've flown in, I can sympathize.

But I really like the fact that we're only a mile and a half from the con, and I wish it could stay like that. So I guess we feel just a wee bit responsible for seeing to it that folks enjoy themselves here at ACen this weekend… maybe they'll wanna come back.

But probably not.

Anyway, the day is almost upon us…

Thursday, May 11, 2000

…and we gotta get set up. I've prepared fliers for Friday's after-dinner get-together (hope Sean likes 'em, hope folks come, hope we can be funny… Jeez, I'm nervous), and with Konatsu's help, I get our shop curtain hung up. It's beautiful, if I'm allowed to say so myself. We may not be much into dressing up ourselves, but I think ours is the first house to ever participate in cosplay.

That should make up for the fact that the inside isn't nearly so impressive. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Konatsu and I are slatterns. Part of it is Dan-chan — why tidy up the place if the mess will return when he does every day at 3:30? Part of it may be Konatsu — after all those years of privation, everything is precious, and nothing gets thrown out. And part of it is me — I haven't the heart or strength to go against this flow, so I just get carried along with it. Actually, 'Natsu-chan's the one doing the lion's share of picking the place up, really…

So it's a mixed blessing when it looks like the Ucchan B&B isn't gonna be as populous as first thought. Avatar just emailed his regrets, that he'll be staying with Lara and Sean instead. Fair enough… We'll have enough beds this way for Nightman and a couple of old Mizunoikan sempais who are coming up for the event.

Makes me wonder how much batter to prepare for the weekend.

But, while we're entertaining our regular Thursday night guests, there's a knock on the door. One of my sempais, who I'd forgotten was going to be staying with us, has just arrived. As it turns out, we'll be having one new guest arriving each night over the weekend; just ratcheting up the difficulty level gradually, like a video game. That works for me.

Our regular guests' eyes glaze over as Tobimaro and I discuss titles and what-not. Finally, we have the presence of mind to put in a few tapes. No, we haven't created a new fellow otaku, but at least no one's bored anymore.

On the other hand, not being bored isn't the same as not being sleepy, as doubtless every one of you who've attended this and other cons can attest. And we still have to get Dan-chan off to school, because tomorrow isn't really the weekend yet, it's

Friday, May 12, 2000

Once Dan-chan is off to school, we continue tidying up, going out for groceries, etcetera. Wanna make sure everything is up to snuff, after all. Ton-chan heads out to the hotel an hour-plus before opening ceremonies — partly to register himself on time, partly I think (though he doesn't say this outright) to just get out of our way. (Gomen ne, Ton-chan.)

As for us, we get there with (supposedly) only half an hour to go before the con opens. And it's just my luck that my pencil runs out of lead in the pre-reg line! The Ucchan's nearby, yes, but not that nearby that I could make it back before it's supposed to open… so I scurry over to the gift shop and actually buy a couple of pencils.

Which I shouldn't have bothered with. It's not really a surprise that the opening ceremonies are late, but forty minutes late? People are getting out of line to go… where? Will anything open before opening ceremonies, regardless of how late they are? Not my problem — we're not going anywhere.

At least, not until the line moves. And when we do filter in, the first thing that happens is a loud feedback from the mikes. Okay, so maybe there were technical difficulties…

On top of that, it seems that half the American guests haven't arrived yet. Guess the ACen people waited as long as they could. In any case, that means this'll be short and sweet, and the Japanese guests are here, at least.

On our way out, we run into Nightman. All right, guest number two, sign in, please.

We grab a copy of today's video schedule, and decide to hit the dealers' room instead. Odd, that… despite having brought over Ms. Chiho Saito, and despite the Utena logo, ACen doesn't appear to be showing any Utena. Maybe tomorrow? Of course, it's a moot point for us, but still… screening it would be an ideal way to convince others who don't have it that it's worth it. Hey, it's worked for us on a number of series already.

After a loooong time (and lotsa dollars) in both dealers' rooms (yes, there are two here… ACen is really big for buying and selling anime/manga-related paraphernalia, as opposed to the other con we frequent, AnimeIowa — but that's another story, and shall be told at another time), we decide to head out for lunch. En route, we run into a clutch of fellow writers. It appears that certain reservations have fallen through, and as a result, seven — or is it eight? — people are going to be sleeping in Matt Lewis' room… including the aforementioned Avatar, Sean and Lara. This is no time for Schadenfreude: Konatsu and I make it clear that our offer still stands — but at this distance, there is the matter of transportation for some of them.

Konatsu directs the others to a (relatively) nearby group of fast-food places, but we head home to polish off some leftovers instead. Besides, we need to get Nightman situated. While we're eating, it begins to rain — and Nightman's air mattress is still being pumped up outside — kuso! We get it into the garage to finish the job, but we do wind up tracking in some mud.

"Good thing I didn't get to scrubbing the kitchen floor, ne, Ukyou-sama?" Yeah, well…

Lunch over, I head back to the con, while Konatsu heads off to pick up Dan-chan and take him to my folks for the rest of the day. By this time, the rain has developed into a full-blown toad-drowner. Yes, you may picture me in a wet T-shirt if you want to… that's pretty much what happened.

The rain is enough to make me late to Jeff Thompson's TRSi industry panel. Not much mention of KareKano, unfortunately — had I missed it? No, apparently he'd mentioned it early on in some cursory fashion, but it turns out he still hasn't been able to review the M&E (music and effects) tracks to see if dubbing will be feasible. At least my dream of trying to land a role in the dub isn't completely dashed yet. When I had mentioned this wish earlier, Richard Lawson had pointed out that a career as a seiyuu is a cutthroat one, even here in the U.S., with a thousand people chasing a single role. Well, it's not like I want to make a living at it… I have a day job, and while I'm no millionaire (yes, that's my final answer), we're comfortable. But I can still dream, ne? KareKano is a story I can believe in — that's why I think I could do so well at it. Just for this one time, that's all…

I wander around for another hour, still trying to dry out from the effects of only a couple minutes of rain, and run into Sean Hayden from Fanfic Radioplay Productions outside the Sabre Marionette screening room. Oh, good… can we discuss how we're gonna get everyone together, and how we can get this stuff set up tonight? Well, not right now, but he gives me his cell phone number, and heads out. It's my first inkling that things may not work out so well for recording at the Ucchan… we're both attending this con, not trying to run it, and we're acting like it, too. Besides, how'm I supposed to call him from the con? I don't have a cell phone. More on this later.

SMJ doesn't hold my interest (I think I walked it during the middle of it, so I don't get what's going on), so I wander back through the dealers' room downstairs, where I promptly run into 'the clutch' again. It's really hard to miss Lara Bartram (the only girl in this crowd) and Sean Gaffney (with his black fedora), although Sean worries about losing the others if he were to wander off (which he really wants to do, I can tell). After suggesting that he try to avoid the others, I wander off myself… and promptly bump into them all right outside the room. What'd I tell ya, Sean?

Some of them are still worrying about lodging, when Nick Leifker gets up and announces he wants to beat someone or something up. Richard obligingly gets up and charges him. After this, I don't want to hear either of them complain about characters written OOC ever again ^_^

Ryan Matthews had arranged for all the fanfic writers to meet outside the Artists' Room before heading off to dinner. The way we all chat, seven o'clock arrives much sooner than expected, so we head off to the meeting place. What doesn't arrive sooner than expected is Konatsu… come on, sugar, where are you?

At five to seven, my kunoichi arrives, and Ryan returns from calling the Denny's at 17-something Algonquin Road to warn them of the impending crowd. Jeanne Hedge goes over directions with most of the others — this is the one near route 53 — while we grab what few folks are lacking transportation and head off.

Now, I've never really paid attention to business addresses, even though there are two Dennys on Algonquin Road in Arlington Heights. They're at least two miles apart, after all, so we go by landmarks: either a certain other restaurant nearby, or Arlington Heights Road. We get to this one, and I glance at the address: 2905 Algonquin. Uh-oh… either some of us will be going to the wrong one, or Ryan called the wrong one.

Our suspicions are confirmed as the two waitresses behind the table react to our appearance with shock. Tables for… forty? It's not that they don't have room — the place is virtually empty otherwise — but they're clearly not prepared for such a sudden crowd. Considering they're caught so off-guard, they do their best, and they certainly deserve whatever tips we can give them.

Of course, this still means that some folks don't start eating until at least eight-thirty, including Sean Hayden. When I wander over to his table, he and I both agree that tonight would be a washout. Frankly, I'm relieved.

Nightman needs to borrow our computer for some remote access on a fic of his… unfortunately, our computer doesn't appear to be quite adequate for his needs. He decides that it can be done when he gets back home. By way of apology, we set our copies of the Black Rose arc from Shojou Kakumei Utena on our VCR, and as he and Ton-chan settle in on the second episode, we return to the con for Midnight Madness (we have this… thing… for anime parodies). I wager that they'll still be there when we get back in a couple of hours.

We get to the main programming room, where karaoke is still in progress. Most of the singing is done in true Japanese style: more heart than skill. Have to give these folks credit, though; the fact that they've got the guts to sing onstage like that, in a language they don't even know, is no small accomplishment.

Karaoke isn't even finished before I lose my bet; Nightman and Ton-chan show up, and wave hello before settling in elsewhere in the auditorium. So now I gotta double 'Natsu-chan's salary. Ah, well… I guess I can spare an extra ten yen a week… considering I spent about ten yen per minute of an Urusei Yatsura tape, and considered that a bargain…

They're calling this event 'Jigoku no Anime' (Anime Hell) and boy, they aren't kidding! A tape shows up without sound, and the MC actually goes onstage and tears the magnetic tape out of the cassette casing before jumping on it several times for good measure, to the vast approval of the audience. It should be pointed out that he does show the whole thing, first.

Some of these clips, like 'Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown' (sorry, Sparky, wherever you are), are uproariously funny, but after a while, things start to degenerate a bit. The MC insists that "if it weren't painful, we wouldn't call it hell," but by one-thirty, it's more like Purgatory. Some of these flicks need to be taken to Lourdes… they're that lame.

Anyway, we need to go and get some shuteye for…

Saturday, May 13, 2000

Well, at least we and our guests get the benefits of all the parody fansubs we've acquired over the last year. We watch 'Neon Genesis South Park' over breakfast, and segue into Utena, where Nanami continues to pay off a massive karmic debt. We've seen it all before, so we head back to the hotel. Besides, we haven't a clue what they're showing in the screening rooms — they gave out video schedules yesterday, but that was only for Friday.

We show up right around ten, and Konatsu, ever helpful, drops a quantity of used shopping bags that we had lying around at the Ucchan off with the Redneck Gaijin, who's running a booth this weekend. We get swept up in the crowd flooding the room — how were we to know the place opened at ten?

Really, amid the cursh of otaku, there's hardly any room to buy anything. But you can watch everyone else as they squeeze their way in. The cosplay is already in full swing, too: granted, you have the obligatory older fellow done up as… that's not a senshi costume, is it? but for the most part, the cosplayers are predominantly female, which seems odd, given that they're still clearly the minority here. Of course, maybe the guys simply know their limitations… with the exception of Sabre Marionette Bubba. Sorceror Hunters, various Senshi (including a Saturn with hair dyed a burgundy hue not unlike Shiori from SKUtena — now there's a crossover idea), a Skuld complete with Banpei-kun, even a Deedlit… the girls are certainly making their presence known.

Today, there's no handouts of the video schedule: just a posting outside each room, and by the information desks. Omigosh… they're playing KareKano! In the marathon room? You're kidding

My heart soars as I hear that ACen has been given one-time dispensation from TRSi to show the entire series, fansubbed. It sinks shortly thereafter, when Konatsu notes when it starts… right before the fanfic panel. And after that, there's the issue of the radioplays at the Ucchan, isn't there? Aw, man

And right now there's not much to watch that interests us, so Konatsu heads back to work on preparing the ingredients, while I take in a panel. Voice actors Amy Howard and Jessica Calvello hold forth about life as a voice actor. It's not promising from my perspective; while some of the roles they're known for practically fell into their laps, they treat voice acting quite seriously: "You gotta do it 'cause you love it," okay, I can handle that, "and you gotta do it as a business…" Oog. I'm not fond of self-promotion… and if I wanted a business, I'd just keep my day job.

Once the voice actors wrap up their Q&A session, Konatsu-chan returns, and grabs a seat next to me. Not a moment too soon, either… the place fills up in a hurry. While people settle in, Matt Lewis and Alan Harnum trade good-natured barbs in an FFML power play. As she is introduced, Dreiser announces that she (yes, she wants to make it perfectly clear — she is a she) is retiring from Ranma fanfiction to concentrate on Utena and Buffy. Anyone wanna take over on 'Black Rose, Blue Thunder'?

I actually manage to ask the first question, one that's started nagging at me more and more as time goes on: where does everyone get the time to write some of these things? (I have Alan's 350K+ 'Jacquemart' in mind at the time, but you can think of your favorite epic). The question is met with rueful laughter, and parried off with the general admission that writing gets harder as writers mature. I don't know what that says about me… and it really doesn't answer the question, but oh well.

The topics run from some of the more ugly current trends (such as the lack of proofreading — Sean Gaffney points out that most every word processor has a grammar checker these days: "Come on, take pride in your work, people.") to yuri/yaoi fics (and while even some on the panel don't recognize the term 'yuri', in conjuction with 'yaoi' it becomes clear. Dreiser mentions the vast differences between the average yaoi writer versus the average yuri writer: "I want to write good yuri for a change.") to a writer's emotional involvement with his characters (it would appear that Nick and Sean are on opposite ends of this spectrum).

Gary Kleppe, as a Ranma writer, is starting to become a minority on the panel, as most of them have begun branching out into different series. Any series they'd like to see more of? The question provokes cries of 'Utena!' and 'Slayers!' from the audience, and Alan (in the audience) and Avatar (on the panel) are permitted bows for these series, respectively. Sean Gaffney suggests that it depends on the type of fic one enjoys writing or reading: GeoBreeder provides good comic fodder, for instance, while Cowboy Bebop is more suited for two-fisted action. It's also pointed out that the FFML and r.a.a.c. are not the only sources of fanfiction on the web: writers for certain series (such as Sailormoon, Tenchi and Slayers — and I happen to know that that this also goes for Greenwood) shun them as being too Ranma-oriented. You have to know where to look, I suppose.

On to the more conventional (er, sorry about that) topics. Canon? Move away at your own peril, says Gary. Make it believable, and make it interesting. Alternate universes? Fine, but it seems most of these fics are either no change (boring!) or total change (who are these characters?), neither of which are really appropriate. Chapter-by-chapter or all-at-once post? Gary likes getting C&C en route, Matt prefers instant gratification (as a reader), Dreiser simply doesn't know where her fics will go next time — clearly it's a matter of taste. Action scenes? Everyone agrees that they are hard to write. Ryan reminds everyone that pacing is key, and suggest that aspiring writers read their work once it's written to get a feel for the pacing.

Another thing, would-be fic writers: don't read other fanfics to learn how to write fanfics. While panel members acknowledge having a certain amount of influence on subsequent fanfics (especially, Ryan, the father of the anime genre), they admit that technique is best learned from the professionals. Go out and read real books, people! Storm your local library!

As the panel continues, some of the veterans get a bit impatient with the questions that drag out a bit. C'mon guys, we were all newbies once… but then, some of the questions are more like statements, and some border on plugs. Combine that with the fact that we've only been given an hour to cover fanfiction, and that we've got tons of questions from a packed house, and you can understand their impatience.

Richard Lawson brings up an interesting question: what of other media… such as radioplays? Gary Kleppe (who's had a fic turned into a radioplay by FFRP) fields this one; he considers it icing on the cake, but the fic itself is the important thing. Radioplays will not supplant fanfiction.

Nor, it seems as the panel breaks up, will they be performed, at least not today. It certainly wouldn't be prudent to invite everyone in the room back to the Ucchan for lunch and recording: it looks like there's at least a hundred people in here! We do manage to talk a few writers into joining our weekend guests back at the Ucchan for okonomi-yaki, however. While preparing the batter takes a bit of time, at least we had enough parody dubs to keep everyone entertained — the sound of laughter is always pleasant, especially when you don't feel the need to constantly rush into the room to find out what the joke is.

We're not in any great rush to get back to the con; now that KareKano's started, we feel like we've kind of missed out. Nothing to return for until the cosplay. But when we do manage to return, it turns out Konatsu's left both badge and money behind at the Ucchan. Money's not much of an issue (it's not much, period), but without a badge, my kunoichi is shut out of the dealers' room. Unperturbed, 'Natsu-chan simply plops down and plays Set while I explore.

When I return, heavier in books but lighter in cash, Konatsu asks for the keys to our delivery vehicle… not having ID is getting my kunoichi a bit jumpy. Fine. Just because 'Natsu-chan doesn't want to skip over episodes we may have missed during the panel and lunch, there's no reason to deprive myself of some later episodes of KareKano (can you tell I'm obsessed with this series? Darn you, Rich Lawson!) I'd love to tell y'all what happens, but a.) I've gotten in trouble on this list for spoilers in the past, and b.) I can't stay for the conclusion (such as it might be) — I gotta meet 'Natsu-chan for the cosplay.

If I can find my kunoichi. More than a half-hour before it's scheduled to start, and the line to get in stretches literally from one end of the hotel to the other — and in this hotel, that's saying something. I walk the length of the line five times, back and forth, and no sign of Konatsu. At this point, I'm getting a little frantic; I've pretty much scoured the hotel. Of course, there's one section right near the door…

…but security won't let me past. They don't want people cutting in line — and I can understand that. But I've got to know. So, after some persuasion (no, I did not flatten the guy with my spatula… they don't permit live steel at these things for what you'd think were obvious reasons), a burly fellow escorts me to the front of the line, where Konatsu and I are reunited.

As usual, I needn't have panicked — the cosplay is delayed by some thirty minutes. At least this time, everyone's here and it goes off without a hitch (well, if you discount the fact that an Utena/Akio and a Sailormoon sketch are drowned out by their background music).

Cosplay highlights include: the cast of 5-Star Stories doing Monty Python's "Camelot"; Gendo Ikari introducing a new candidate for 2000: Irresponsible President Tylor; the cast of Fushigi Yuugi argue over who'd make a better presidential candidate (they're talking about themselves, not Gore or Bush); Lupin III doing a breakfast cereal commercial; the Slayers cast poking fun at the 'no live steel' injunction — Lina realizes the Sword of Light has been checked at the door, and scrambles after it; an MKR skit where the commander falls asleep while Guru Clef is talking (his commlink to his ship is still on, and they're playing Pokemon on board: "Turn off that damn Jigglypuff song!" the captain barks) and ends unresolved (yes, that's right, a 'Clef-hanger'); a real-life Jigglypuff, for good measure; all three Goddesses (and Skuld even has her own little Banpei-kun with her) AND the rat from the Chibi-Goddesses show — the rat, by the way, announces that he's not there as a contestant, he's just there to warn folks that the hotel has a serious pest control problem; in verification, an omu from Nausicäa, which looks like nothing less that a colossal roach (Konatsu insists it's more like a sowbug, and I hope that knowledge doesn't come from working at the Ucchan!)

But the big winner is a little less anime-related than you'd expect… an exquisite Godzilla, complete with eyes that light up. Toho Studios would've been proud of this one.

Afterwards, there is supposed to be a reception in the outdoor pavilion, where folks can take pictures of and with the many cosplayers. There's also supposedly food, but as some of the audience (oh, heck… nearly half, I'd say) leaves before the awards are presented, I don't think any of the cosplayers will be getting fed tonight.

Of course, we wouldn't know, as we bump into a fellow looking for Zen. Turns out dear Zen-chan's staying right next to the con suite (not by choice, as it turns out); we decide to follow and grab some nosh at the con suite, under the assumption that the pavilion's tapped out.

Should have made that assumption about the con suite, too. Oh, well. The four of us (Zen, this fellow Jason, 'Natsu-chan and I) sit outside Zen's room and chat until nearly one o'clock. Jason has some cheesecakes to deliver to Zen in the morning; so, in order that the two of them will be awake and coherent by the time Jason plans to deliver his wares, we bid them both goodnight, and leave…

…for the video rooms. It's the first time all weekend Konatsu-chan's been in a video room, and what do we go to see? The 'H' room. Actually, the first short (which is at the end of a tape I didn't catch the name of) is a bit of an odd tale, about an otherwise clean-living fellow that suddenly can't get enough glimpses of this little match-girl's panties (and what's beneath 'em); the sap winds up spending his entire Christmas bonus, sacrificing his clothes, and disowning his family in his single-minded pursuit. Kind of an odd story to sell as 'hentai': "now that you've blown hard-earned cash on this tape, looking for sex, let us tell you a cautionary tale about a man who blows hard-earned cash looking for sex" —that's what I call hitting below the belt. It's certainly not the sort of thing to get one 'in the mood', shall we say.

"My Fair Masseuse," on the other hand, is much more pleasant and fun; the whole Japanese work ethic story, brought to the floating world. It's not the sort of occupation we'd recommend to others, nor is the tape anything we'd go out and buy now, but we're glad to have seen it. 'Natsu-chan actually shows some interest in one of the more, ah, unusual positions demonstrated in the series… oh boy, am I gonna have to train in order to handle that one…

And now we can head home and get ready for…

Sunday, May 14, 2000

…although it's already upon us at this point. We get to the Ucchan around 2:30 am, and our third guest has been waiting up for us. Fortunately, Dave-sempai hasn't been waiting long (he'd just gotten over after the Magical Girls party let out), so we set up his bed quickly, and after a few words of catching up on old times, we all turn in.

Sunday morning, and while I'd usually be going to the dub-your-own-anime session, we've still got the radioplays to put on, which I consider a cut above the usual session. We arrive at the con at about the right time, but it's Sean we're looking for, not Toshi Yoshida.

We never do find Sean, as it happens, but we do catch up with Zen (yes, he got up in time) and most of the other writers. A lot of talk about Utena, particularly the later arcs not picked up by Software Sculptors yet (actually, it appears they just did over the weekend. There go those fansubs off the grey market…) I toss out the idea of Kodachi in the Black Rose arc, and get a few strange looks. How it evolves into a casting for a Ranma live-action movie, I couldn't say, but it's agreed that Judy Tenuta would make a swell Dachi-chan. The group keeps going through female comics; Rita Rudner as Kasumi, Ellen 'I hate boys' DeGeneres as Akane… no one can figure out Nabiki though. And I'm not sure what to make of their casting Rosie O'Donnell for me…

But I suppose Bobcat Goldthwait might make a pretty good Happosai…

Anyway, the clutch is starting to wonder what to do for lunch. Some of them have discovered the Bowl House on their own (best damn beefbowl in Chicago, if ya ask me). Unfortunately, I happen to know that the joint's closed on Sundays. But there's a nearby Chinese place that's doing a reasonable Mothers' Day brunch buffet… just follow me, everyone!

Thank heavens the turn out of the hotel is in the opposite direction from the Ucchan. The traffic is suddenly horrendous… the racetrack nearby is opening for the first time in two, three years, and EVERYbody (except us otaku, of course) is here for that. But the turns we take to get to the restaurant go against that grain, and we thumb our noses at the poor saps just dying to get in there and blow their hard-earned cash on some horse.

It takes a few minutes for everyone to assemble, but it's just as well. The place is packed. After all, it's Mother's Day, people! What on earth were the con organizers thinking, putting ACen on Mothers' Day? After all, who's the most important woman in most otaku's lives? Who feeds, 'em, clothes 'em, puts up with all those tapes of stuff they don't understand (and may not want to)? Dear ol' Mom! And how do we reward her? "So long, Mom, I'm off to an anime con!"

Konatsu points out that it might be a present in itself to give Mom a break from all that anime… okay, but still…

As a sidelight, Konatsu also has a conflict with the con: my kunoichi turns thirty today. And here the best I can do is buy a Totoro doll as a present — but 'Natsu-chan loves that movie, and is thoroughly grateful. Of course, in a way there's a certain symmetry to this, a bit of closure that won't exist at any other con: I had celebrated my thirtieth at the opening of the very first AnimeCentral, and now Konatsu does likewise on the closing day of the latest one. Well, at any rate, happy birthday, sugar.

We're still waiting for Rich Lawson and Nick Liefker to show up when our tables for thirteen become available. Not that bad of a wait, really, for not having reservations on a holiday. But when Rich arrives:

"Didn't I mention I was going to get a few friends and join you…?" Oh, rats… I hadn't remembered. And so, instead of the two places we've saved, we need another table for eight. But the staff is cheerfully compliant, and another batch of otaku are shortly situated.

I wish Gary wouldn't get such a kick out of talking about his 'Justice' around me… you'd think he was trying to get my goat by talking about my life as a dog. That aside, he's the Clark Kent of fanfiction — very mild-mannered in RL, but get him online and… well, at least he doesn't destroy phone booths in the process.

It's nearly three o'clock when everyone is finished eating and talking, and most of us are heading home. Zen and Nesse, in particular, have quite a drive ahead of them. Shame they didn't have the chance to drop in on the Ucchan… I'd heard he found the place — and did a U-turn right on Wilke Road in sheer disbelief. But we do arrange to keep in touch — and I owe him a couple of esoteric fansubs shortly (I've really got to get things hooked up, now that the storm is passed and the power's back on up here)

After seeing Ton-chan and Nightman off, we head back just in time for the closing ceremonies… or should I say, just in time for when the closing ceremonies are scheduled. They say that the closing will be short and sweet… well, could it at least be longer than the wait to get in?

Yeah, apparently it can be. This time, just about all the guests are here to thank the thousands (that's right, there were over two thousand of us) that came, and in most cases, to express hopes of returning. Chiho Saito's publisher, attending to keep an eye on Ms. Saito (evidently she had a deadline to keep up with — you'd think they'd know that no work gets done at a con!), has apparently been keeping his eyes on other ladies, and bemoans the fact that he speaks no English, so he can't get names and phone numbers. He says he really needs a girlfriend — Jessica Calvello volunteers (gee, now that's service for ya).

And that's about it. We get home, whip up some okonomi-yaki for Dave-sempai, and… a walk-in customer, would you believe? and bid them both safe journey. And to all of you that visited, and all of you that wish you could have, we offer a Chicagoism honed by years of disappointing sports team, but now inspired by the ever-improving AnimeCentral:

Just wait 'til next year!

See you then (or at AnimeIowa, if you're so inclined)!

Itsu mo,
Ucchan ^_^

AnimeCentral 2001
Layout, design, & site revisions 2005

Webmaster: Larry F
Last revision: May 21, 2007

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