I spent the weekend on the Vermillion Bayou in Lafayette, LA attending MechaCon, an anime convention in only its third year of existence. MechaCon 1 is considered a trial run since Katrina overshadowed everything that year.
Though fear not readers, even while sequestered with 3000 or so anime/gamer/science fiction fans, I did try to keep tabs on the world. Like those two yutes your Honor caught outside the Navy's nuclear storage depot with bomb material, the strange submersible that turned out not to be Champ nor Ted Kennedy, or the 150 screaming DEFCON attendees running an NBC Dateline reporter to ground when she tried to infiltrate their gathering - note to self, watch the video soon.
Back to the reason for this post. It was a small convention, which after the 12,000 or so at Project A-kon 18 this year was a positive breath of fresh air. It was more relaxed and the staff tried to keep it that way. One of the best things they did was to have a wandering minstrel all dressed up in costume while he played anything including Iron Man on his electric guitar and portable amp. During the shockingly long wait for the costume contest Saturday night, while we sweltered in the faltering air conditioning, this minstrel kept people entertained and made the wait bearable.
As for the costume contest, it was like others I have endured. There are some truly gifted people pulling off some insanely funny skits and then there are those you wish Berry and his gong were still around. The costumes also ranged from good quality to 'is that Naruto character running around in a Hilton bedsheet?' I have a photo, will post pics soon on Photobucket, of one of the costumers dressed as Link from Zelda; the cosplayer's grandfather created the shield from real metal. Now that is impressive. There were others who had multiple costumes, like one 17 year old young lady I photographed early Saturday dressed as Cait Sith from Final Fantasy VII who for the costume contest dressed up as Gatomon from Digimon. Naruto and Kingdom Heart were the most cosplayed series seen.
The Dealers Room was a smallish affair. There was one that dealt only in games and game supplies. One dealt only in DVDs and collected translated manga. Another dealer had bootleg anime CDs from Taiwan. One had a small mountain of Gundam models for sale along with a lot of figures. By far the largest contingent of sellers had edged weapon replicas. Things like Bill's Hanzo Hatori katana from Kill Bill I&II. Or Lionel's Sword of Omens from Thundercats. Tetsaiga from Inu-Yasha was another spied. There was no one pushing anime cels or artbooks and there was a couple of empty booth areas; even with these accidental spaces, the dealer area still felt small for all the attendees circulating through it.
Another good idea the con organizers had was to have their spokespeople, yeah those cute anime girls on the web site actually exist and were constantly circulating. Big kudos need to be given to them for being good troopers, they even did this at A-kon when they advertised for MechaCon. The reason why they were circulating was to give out prizes to people who could answer some anime trivia. And the prize giving did not stop in the hallways, but was even encountered in the panels like Harmony Gold's Sunday talk about Robotech and its future. Good questions were rewarded by the questioner getting a Robotech Southern Cross polo shirt while the really good question got a Masterpiece Edition VF-1J Veritech, one of only 15,000. Freebies are expected as part of the pre-registration package but during the con, thumbs way up from this attendee on this smart move.
Barring some culinary faux pas like ordering Saturday night some Chinese and finding the Hilton charged me for the local call, I had a real good time at this con. So did my friends who went with me, they had a blast also. And if you want some good sushi, try Tokyo Live on West Pinhook in Lafayette, that place rocks and so do its prices. Next will work on the pictures from the con, will update when I get this done.
I hope next year there is an art show to go with the gaming room. They had DDR in there and even the professional grade DDR pads bore the MechaCon logo. Time will tell but it seems they are off to a very good start.