Lost Library Email Form Lost Library Mailing List
Lost Library Home Page

AnimeIowa 1998— Ucchan's Diary

Thursday, 17 September…

"Lemme see… got three changes of underwear, three tops, swimming costume, jeans, denim jacket… oh! Toiletries, right!"

I've been to a couple of cons already (two, actually, since April), but this is a first: we're actually having to travel to get there, and stay at the con for a change. Up till now, we've enjoyed the advantages of being a mere twenty-minute drive (tops) from convention center Rosemont, IL. Indeed, we're considering turning the Ucchan into a B&B of sorts during AnimeCentral next year… note I said considering… nothing's cast in stone.

Geez, the con doesn't start for 20-plus hours, and already I'm digressing. The point is, this is gonna be different: we're gonna be there 24-7 this weekend. Should be interesting.

"… aspirin (for the video rooms and the possibly loud speakers), K-Y (for the H room ^_~)… oh, and I can't leave this laptop behind."

"Ukyou, are you bringing your spatula?"

"Not if Zen's gonna be there, and he shows up at all the cons, doesn't he?" Is there such a thing as spatula envy? And what would Freud have to say about it? "Where's my bandoleer?"

"I think we lost that a while back. You gave up fighting when we got married, more or less."

"Oh yeah… *sigh* No one's gonna recognize us like this, ya know. Why don't you wear your kimono?"

"And use these crutches under those sleeves?"

"Oh, right. Sorry."

"Anyway, you got those shirts, right? And the caps? They'll do, won't they?"

And so on. It has been a while since we were on vacation, and it shows. We don't know how to pack. Finally, we get Dan-chan assembled, and Jeni-imouto-chan comes to pick him up — she just volunteered out of the blue last night to take him for the weekend… this might make things a whole lot easier…

Now we're off to stay at a friend's place in DeKalb for the night; hey, it's closer to where we wanna be.

Friday, 18 September…

Didn't think to ask our host in DeKalb for an alarm clock; turns out we didn't need it. I guess the bed we share back at the Ucchan has spoiled me, but a night on a futon, well… let's just say it made me feel my age. So, I was up by 6:30 am, and, after stubbing my toe three times in two minutes, so was Konatsu. We were off for Iowa City by seven.

And got in town just before ten, three hours before we'd expected to. We'd made arrangements to brunch with a couple of old friends — Dave Leach, in fact, had stood up in our wedding, and Ton-chan (he's gonna kill me for this) ripped his pants diving for our garter. But, arriving as early as we had, we'd caught them off guard… all we got was an answering machine. So the two of us headed into Iowa City on our own.

Is there some kind of rule that college towns have to have confusing layouts? After a few one-way streets and wrong-way turns, I decided it was lucky I hadn't ended up with Ryoga — I was getting lost quite well on my own, thankyouverymuch. Some collegiate directed us to the Hamburg Inn, and I exorcised my personal demon with a bacon/ham/sausage omelette. Very nice place, BTW — I wonder if the attendees from last year's con had learned of this place? If so, the joint'll be filled with otaku soon enough.

After a little bit of sidewalk sale bargain hunting (Konatsu-chan is a master of the craft. Had to be, ya know), we headed back to the hotel, just in time to be trapped behind a foursome of teenagers whose reservations didn't seem to have gone through. More on that later, I'm told. In any case, we can't check in, either. Too early, apparently.

So we hung out in the lobby, watching the otaku filter in, flipping through the info packet. It's not nearly as polished as the stuff from Anime Central, but somehow, it strikes me as a good thing. There's something so much more… real… about this place. I can feel it even now. It's not as big; it looks like it's more personal. I have a feeling everyone's gonna know everyone by con's end. That has its disadvantages, though…

Anyway, we're sitting with all our luggage in the main room, watching "Like the Clouds, Like the Wind." I'm told it's a Miyazaki flick; whatever, it's really good. There's something about this story a spunky girl from the hinterlands that makes Chief Consort of the Emperor's Harem that strikes a chord with me.

Finally we manage to check in. Those four teens without a room come by; turns out they've got a room on the other side of the hotel. Turns out our room's over there, too — in fact, we're right across the hall from them. It's also on the second floor, which is a bit of a pity, what with Konatsu-chan still on crutches and all. And what's with the two single beds? Oh, well…

While Konatsu-chan relaxes in front of the telly, I head off to the con suite, and I have to say hello to the Ironcats, Steve and Kevin Bennett. For my mentor Niiru-kun's sake, I have to thank these guys for putting out Futaba-kun Change. I have to confess a lack of personal familiarity with the series, and they admit that it took several episodes before it really took off. Beyond that, there's chitchat about our Japanese abilities (Steve's far surpasses mine), and something about "Gozaimasu, Ohio." Mark Engel drops in, and places me: "You're Ucchan, from Anime Central, right?" He invites me to his room party after the cosplay. Turns out, he's invited everyone; there are flyers for his bash by the registration table. More on that later, too.

On to the dealer room. This is one place where size could be a problem. Not all that much selection, and not everyone takes plastic, either. The layout's a bit erratic, too. Still, I shouldn't complain… finally found an SD-Ukyou pin that I couldn't at AC… and anyway, it might just be that it's early.

En route to the opening ceremonies: Travis Butler was showing off some QuickTime files on his PowerMac. Zen had sent him the recordings (he wasn't here!), and he'd digitized the opening credits. Most impressive. Jeanne Hedge happened by, declaring that the opening credits Travis was just showing were the best thing about Evangelion. Hmm…

At the opening, the speakers acknowledged that this year's crowd was considerably larger than last year's… well, if they say so… anyway, it was a hoot. Robert DeJesus pulled off an… interesting… Clinton impression, denying any involvement w/Amanda Winn, and the Ironcats just cut up the place… I never knew that a speech in English required interpretation. This con was definitely gonna be fun. Leave it to Amanda to put it in perspective: "My grandmother once said 'Just because it's small doesn't mean you can't have fun with it.'" Sentiments understood and duly agreed with… not that it's an issue with me. ^_~

Now we could go out for dinner, and Dave, our local, suggests doing Japanese. Well…? They say Sushi Popo is one of the best Japanese places in Iowa City… for what that was saying. It's not bad, at that. A bit pricey, but otherwise good. Of course, no okonomi-yaki.

A little bit of wandering around, and we bumped into a woman with a nametag reading "Name Changes With Costume"… didn't we see you at the opening dressed as Akane Tendo, complete with P-chan? who are you now? A swimming costume as Vampire Princes Miyu? I'll be… but you can only wear one to the cosplay, ne?

Once Dave and Ton-chan head out (they aren't staying in the hotel, after all), we take a quick dip in the pool. 'Natsu-chan's foot is still wrapped up, so the one leg has to stay out of the water. Back to the hotel room, where we've set up a VCR of our own. Ton-chan's lent us a Anime18 release, and we take a look at it. *sigh* Lunatic Night isn't all that titillating, to be honest… and the plot is really confusing and weird (yes, we like a bit of plot in our hentai stuff. Anything wrong with that?). Of course, now these videos are showing all the bits. Just no hair. I wonder what the reaction is of Japanese couples on their wedding nights when they discover otherwise…

Anyway, we've brought some older standbys, and they're much more serviceable… heh.

Saturday, 19 September…

Five hours sleep will have to do. We'll get even less tonight, I suspect. At any rate, I volunteered to monitor the marathon room for Key the Metal Idol. Got started watching that at AC, and really wanted to see what happens next. Oh, BTW… to the person who recently did a "Key" teaser taking place after her 30,000 friends have passed away… how about linking her up with Yuta and Mana of Takahashi-megami-sensei's "Mermaid" series? Could make for an interesting triangle…

The marathon room's a new feature, both to AnimeIowa, and to cons in general (the few I've been to, anyhow) It's an idea whose time has come, given the number of long series that people are interested in. On the other hand, it takes a lot of stamina to follow the whole thing, ne? And 'Key' is one of the shorter marathons. I felt sorry for the lone girl when I showed up… she'd been monitoring the overnight showing of Irresponsible Captain Tylor, all 26 episodes. Oy…

I'd left 'Natsu-chan sleeping when I headed out (well, it started at eight, after all), but when I visited the con suite for a donut or two, my kunoichi was discussing hentai with a few others sitting there. Ah well, I had let Konatsu to do whatever… I had to expect this now and again, ne? ^_~

Got tape #5 plugged in just in time to take off for the fanfiction panel; Dave took over for me in the marathon room. Managed to get J.W.Biles' signature on my copy of "For Want of a Nail." Can't believe I did that, but how often to you get to meet one of the guys that got you interested in fanfiction in the first place, after all? And it's not like I was the only one doing a bit of fawning; most of the others on the panel took a turn at directing the "we're not worthy" schtick at Biles-sama… damn, though, I thought he'd be older.

The questions tended to deliberately avoid the troubles of late on the FFML and RAAF; "Don't feed the troll," as Richard Lawson had put it (and put into practice over the past month), and started in on the fine line between fanfiction and translations/novelizations.

The topic of MSTs comes up (honestly, I didn't start it!) and the place goes silly for a moment. Mark starts handing out more flyers for the Twin Cities room party — evidently, they'll be doing an group-participation MST schtick of some badly dubbed anime this evening. Cool… I call the part of Crow ^_~

Anna Johnson spoke of the craft of writing, recommending that fledglings look into Writers' Digest magazine for the rules of writing… oy, this is a much more serious occupation than I treat it as. Ah, and then there's Travis Butler, reminding us that the rules in WD aren't hard-and-fast, after all…

After a bit of a break, the panel discusses the concept of writing more serious fiction. One man inquires as to how one writes about such matters (disease, madness, loss, abuse, and other pleasant topics) when one hasn't personally suffered so. Greg Sandborn: "And you call yourself a writer?" The response was pretty unanimous: research. Nick Leifker, in particular, mentioned how his own library was looking rather strange thanks to his work on "Clothes Make The…"

The topic finally swings round to self-insertions. It is time for my question to Jeanne Hedge: "I hear Chris Davies is writing an EVA SI fic… what is the man thinking?" It’s penance for having confused the fellow a little while ago with a Mark Page (aka ‘Dark Day for Anime’); evidently Mr. Davies doesn’t appreciate being mistaken for an archrival.

Laughter. "Chris Davies is going to die." She's grinning, so you may be safe all the same, Chris, but I think I'd watch my back if I were you. That, or this is gonna haveta be a damn good fic you're writing.

That wraps it up, apart from some miscellaneous chatting and a few posed photos from an e-fanzine writer, and I head back to the marathon room. Oh, dear… we ran out of Key. Volume 8 still isn't available… damn. A word of warning to the fellow writing that Key story: things are not what they seem, and the later episodes may just pull the rug out from under you… but I guess I shoudn't give things away over a public forum like this, ne?

Anyway, while Dave pops in El Hazard, Konatsu-chan settles down to a card game, and I head off to the con suite. Gotta hand it to the staff… they stocked the place pretty well, considering that there's supposedly so many more folks here than last year.

The dealer's room is a little more lively now, too. Even some doujinshi… but no Ranma, darn it. My mentor mentioned that a Ranma doujinshi video exists out there somewhere (he's even sent me stills!), but I've been looking for it at two cons now without success. Oh well, guess the Ucchan won't be sponsoring an H room at next year's Anime Central after all.

A few purchases (but hardly anything to write home about), and it's back to poolside, where Scott Jamison has just arrived. Poor guy, he'd found out about the con less than a week ago, and hadn't been able to get Friday off work. Nor had he managed to grab the early bus to Iowa City. As a result, he'd gotten into the hotel barely half an hour after the fanfic panel had wrapped up.

We and a computer newbie named Morgan get to talking with him about fanfics, characterizations, and works-in-progress (mine is an empty docket, for once). Eventually, stomachs start rumbling, and we adjourn to a local pizza place that 'Natsu-chan recommends from the childhood hometown.

The four of us eat well and have a good time, but we manage to miss the cosplay almost entirely… rats. Looks like the ML's gonna need Lawson's report every bit as much as mine, after all… maybe more so, in fact. It is he, after all, who's bid the highest for a chance to take first whack at this enormous P-chan piñata the con folks have put together. Bad enough for my report he's so much closer to the action… I have the bad luck to be, uh… indisposed… at the moment he actually takes bokken to the bacon. WHACK-o! and P-chan is rent in twain, or so I'm told, with one slice. He smote it well, it would seem. I do manage to salvage some candy, though, before heading up to room 201 for the Twin Cities room party …

Which happens to be great fun. Besides having a great laugh at a fansubbed parody of EVA (while the episode is clearly quite serious, the subtitles quite are obviously — and salaciously — NOT), and an intentionally misdubbed copy of Voltrons, we do get a crack at MSTing a couple of badly dubbed commercial titles: Shadow Skills (which is really a stitch every time the lead female asks the lead male — in all apparent innocence — to prove to her how he's become a man — and this happens, gosh, how many times in the course of an hour? It gets to the point where the hentai among us don't even have to comment; everybody just bursts out laughing at these junctures. That's not to say one-liners aren't being tossed out, mind you…) and a relatively old Naausica (sp?) title, 'Warriors of the Wind'… well, that's what the company that dubbed the thing call it. After an experience like this, one suspects Miyazaki was pretty reluctant about Kiki getting dubbed. On the other hand, it's a reasonably good story, as the jokes sort of die down as it comes to a close.

Of course, that might be as much due to the lateness of the hour as anything else… it's well past three, and most of the crowd had left after Otaku no Video (which 'Natsu-chan and I, having just seen it a week ago, would you believe, ducked out). By the time Warriors is over, the suite is down to a handful. So we depart as well. After all, there's still…

Sunday, 20 September…

I guess after all that, we should be thankful that checkout isn't until noon… still, that's gonna mean several hours of lugging around the VCR and the laptop (don't wanna put 'em in a hot car any sooner than necessary, ne?) before pulling out. While 'Natsu-chan sleeps, though, I head down to the dealers' room (even slimmer pickings now, as Ironcat and the doujinshi place aren't there anymore) and the Grille (buffet doesn't close 'til 2 — cool). After a shower and a bit of fun, we're off.

The AnimeIowa staff were on the mark about the brunch, though… excellent. And so considerate of 'Natsu-chan's injury, too — got us a seat right by the food, so we didn't have to walk much. I had to slip out, however — with Konatsu's permission — to get to the acting seminar. It still makes me think about my little dream of audio fanfiction… there's still that one web page someone mentioned a while back with such a project in progress. It's fun watching everybody perform their monologues, and even more so watching Amada's critiques. She can be absolutely over the top, and I mean that in a really good way. The only thing I can't imagine (not having seen any Evangelion dubs) is: THIS woman is the voice of Rei Ayanami?

[A footnote to that last remark: I got a chance to ask her about that role, and she admitted that one was definitely playing against type — she considers herself more akin to Rally Vincent. But she considers the subtext of Rei Ayanami when she plays her: a 14-year-old girl with (by definition) abysmally low self-esteem, fully aware that if/when she dies fighting the Angels, she can be easily replaced, and nobody would shed a tear. I considered that as I made a final run through the dealers' room, looking at the Evangelion wallscrolls and other paraphernalia. Poor Rei… if only she knew how the fanboys loved her…

The final pair really had a tough job, rendering a scene from "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead," and did really well on the second take… I think 'Natsu-chan is gonna wanna play Questions en route home…

Once the acting seminar wrapped up, it was on to the gripes (My gripe was that this session went on so long, it delayed the scheduled closing by a full hour!). The rumors are flying as to whether we'll be back here next year, and they can't be confirmed or denied. Personally, I wouldn't think it's a reflection on the hotel — the con's gotten too big for it, really. Discussion on video rooms was rather lively: some folks wanted less open play, another suggested multiple theme rooms (which makes sense to me, especially since I favor certain genres and tend to shy away from others, but I can't tell just from a title) The organizers made known their regrets at not being able to show fansubs of such stuff as Escaflowne or Fushigi Yuugi, as these series have been recently picked up for translation/distribution in the U.S., and they obviously did not wish to trample on legal toes. They also mentioned one thing that came as a bit of a shock to me: there had been quite a bit of shoplifting. This just ruins it for everyone; maybe we ought to treat offenders like the P-chan piñata — give the privilege of discipline to the highest bidder. We'd handle both punishment and restitution in one fell swoop! ^_^

Speaking of P-chan, the piñata's severed head was now resting by the registration table when I signed 'Natsu-chan and I up for next year, complete with Xs taped over its eyes, and an orange setting where its mouth would be (evidently they'd run out of apples in the con suite) I wondered if Lawson was planning on taking his trophy home… imagine mounting this monster over your mantle!

With that, though, it was all over but for the shouting. A big thank you to one and all, and we were out the door, and off on our four-hour trek home, theme songs and dialogue echoing in our heads.

How'd I like it? It's a matter of taste, after all… if your goal is to obtain merchandise, you'd probably do better at a bigger con in a big city. But if you just wanna met fellow otaku, to see and be seen, then you couldn't do better than this place. It's anime's answer to Cheers… complete with everyone yelling "Steve!" when Mr. Bennett walked into the room for closing ceremonies. I recommend it… it's real.

Itsu mo,
Ucchan ^_^

*sigh* Jeez… this report's larger than my last four fanfics combined

AnimeIowa 1999
Layout, design, & site revisions © 2005

Webmaster: Larry F
Last revision: May 21, 2007

Old Gray Wolf