Duodenum's Sakuracon 2002 Report
This was my first anime convention. What follows
is not a formal or exhaustive report but rather my personal thoughts/musings
relating to my con experience. As far as specific panels went,
if you want hard facts on what was said or announced, then I would
advise going to fansview
for further info. Also, check out fansview for more pictures of
cosplayers, as I was rather biased in who I took pictures of as
well as which pictures I decided to post here.
Thursday, April 25
I carpooled up from Portland to the Seattle area
Levi. We arrived at Rick and Annie's place around dinner time
and took it easy that night. They have two cute cats that they
got since I saw them last:
Friday, April 26
First day of the con! We commuted down to the Seattle
Airport Hilton (about 45 minutes away) and arrived in time for
the opening ceremonies. We wandered around a bit afterwards, checking
out the fanart on display (I was told, once I was about to leave,
to put the lens cap on my camera; I'm surprised they let me take
it in there at all) but holding off on the dealer room as there
was already a big line (there was an occupancy limit, and the
dealers didn't expect nearly as many people as there were). The
first panel I went to was the voice actors' panel, featuring Doug
Smith (Kintaro from Goldenboy), Pam Lauer (Kei from Dirty
Pair), Jessica Calvello (Yuri in Dirty Pair, Mink in
Dragon Half, Excel in Excel Saga!), and Johnny Yong
Bosch (former Power Ranger, and voiced Vash in Trigun and
Kaneda in new Akira dub):
Doug Smith, Pam, Jessica
Calvello, and Johnny.
Rick talking to Johnny
The voice actors were all very nice, humble people
with good senses of humor. I got the impression that they were
really enjoying their work (although Jessica made it quite clear
how difficult and painful it was to voice Excel) and that they
liked meeting and talking with the fans. Someone asked what I
thought was a rude question regarding the difference in quality
between Japanese and American voice acting, but the voice actors
took it in stride. It was interesting to hear how they each got
into voice acting, and how each one prepared (or didn't prepare)
for the roles they took. There was quite a range of backgrounds
and methods represented, and I was glad to hear Jessica acknowledge
how helpful it was to do group voice recording for the original
Dirty Pair. In Japan, voice actors work together more often
than they do in the States, where most roles are recorded individually
and then combined after the fact. After the panel we noticed there
was no line for the dealer room, so we checked that out. I bought
the first volume of Goldenboy and then had it signed by
Doug Smith. I ended up giving the DVD to Rick, because while I
thought it was funny (and Doug's acting in the dub is hilarious),
I knew Rick would enjoy it more.
The dealer room was packed,
and most of the vendors ran out of stock before the con
was over, not expecting such a big crowd this year.
One of several vendors
selling Ghibli plushes. Why oh why are stuffed animals so
There were a fair amount of cosplayers wandering
the halls, and I got pictures of a handful of them.
Menchi from Excel Saga!
No salt shaker in sight, however...
Kaneda and Tetsuo.
Annie with a Ryoga cosplayer.
I was trying to get a
picture of some cosplayers but my camera has a slight delay
and I got a picture of voice actors Pam and Jessica instead.
Kuroneko (from Trigun
Subtle You're Under
Vash was the most popular
cosplay character, regardless of gender.
We then attended Toni's lecture/discussion, in which
she talked about encoding and decoding of anime (not digital encoding,
but rather what the creator invests in the work, and what the
audience takes from it), which is a particularly interesting issue
when dealing with anime such as Evangelion, which uses
a particular Japanese interpretation of Western religion, which
is then re-interpreted (decoded) by an audience it was never meant
for in the first place (Western, non-Japanese anime fans).
Toni talks with anime
fans about cross-cultural issues in anime.
Annie and Rick, who has
found a cheaper alternative to cheap con food.
That evening Toni met with the other guests of honor
for dinner, and Annie, Rick, and I dined on frozen pizza and dry
cold sandwiches (mmmmmmm). We watched the first three episodes
of Samurai Girl: Real Bout High School. It began slightly
repetitive (it was a fighting anime, after all) and heavy on the
skirt-in-the-wind fanservice (I'm very curious to know how these
strong gusts of wind get inside buildings), but the third episode
started to get a little more serious, as the main character (I
forgot her name) convinced a samurai master to take her on as
an apprentice. It reminded us of Jubei-chan, which starts
silly but changes in tone as the series progresses. Samurai
Girl is a Gonzo anime, but I didn't notice any out-of-place
CG, which is often the main complaint relating to their productions
(Blue Sub 6, Vandread). I thought it was decent,
and I'd like to see some more of this one.
Saturday, April 27
After catching the last half of Johnny Bosch's panel
(during which he yelled "Love and Peace" for the crowd),
Rick, Annie, and Toni remained in the main room to watch Metropolis.
Since I had seen the movie just a few days before (I highly, highly,
highly recommend this movie by the way), I decided to meet up
with them later. To kill time, I went back into the dealer room
and bought a stuffed Totoro, the Art of Laputa book, and
a Faye Valentine T-shirt:
This was the second largest
Totoro they sold there. I would've gotten the biggest one,
but it was 80 bucks.
I then noticed that the Excel Saga dub was
playing, but the room was filled to capacity and they weren't
letting anyone in. Well, after the first two episodes enough people
left that they opened the doors and I was able to catch the third
episode. I was thoroughly impressed with the dub. Jessica Calvello
nailed the role of Excel, and all the supporting actors shined
in their respective roles. Pedro wasn't quite as exaggerated as
he was in the Japanese, but he was still good. In addition to
the high quality of the acting, the dub was an accurate, non-watered
down translation. Lines like "I'm more concerned about your
lower half" remained in the dub, as well as humorous mild
swearing such as "bastard" and "goddamn."
Accents were used when appropriate, and overdone when called for.
I was especially pleased that certain language-related jokes still
worked in the English version--such as the Engrish spoken at the
beginning of episode 3, and the food word game played by Excel
and Tet-chan. And yes, he's still called Tet-chan, rather than
"Iron Baby" or something appalling like that. There's
no dumbing down of the dub here, folks. A few more things to note:
the opening song was not re-recorded in English, but is soft-subtitled
for the dub track (there are multiple subtitle tracks, as well
as pop-up vidnotes); also, it's "Hail" and not "Heil
Il Palazzo". I'll have to listen to the Japanese again to
be sure, but I think it was the Germain "Heil" in the
original. I don't know how they'll spell it in the subtitles.
After watching episode 3, I left to reconnect with
my friends, but I couldn't find them anywhere. I even waited in
line to get into the dealer room again, but they weren't there
either. I then noticed that the ADV panel was under way and nearly
over, and I found them there. I had wanted to sit in on the whole
thing, and regret not getting there earlier, because they were
giving out cool Excel Saga posters which Jessica Calvello
was signing. But Rick, Annie, and I met with David Williams afterward,
and expressed our admiration of the job they were doing. ADV has
shot to the top of my list, in terms of professionalism, dedication
to their product, and friendliness to the fans. Pam kissed DLW
(as he's known on the animeondvd.com boards) after he gave her
a copy of the first Evangelion DVD.
Pam Lauer and David Williams
of ADV. Awwwww! ^_^
Learning from our con food experience of the previous
day, we got hamburgers and sandwiches at the Hilton's Spencer's
Restaurant. It was very good food, and worth the extra money (not
that it was that much more expensive). That evening there were
two main events I wanted to attend: the cosplay competition and
the anime music videos contest... however, they were both very
popular and overlapped on the schedule (grrrrrrrrrrr), so I only
went to the latter, thinking that at least fansview would have
pictures of the cosplay. Well, as it turns out, the guy from fansview
was at Fanime on Saturday, so I lost out there. Oh well. I just
hope they do a better job of scheduling next year's Sakuracon,
because I'd like to go to both of these events and I'm sure I'm
not the only one. As for the videos, a lot of them were so-so,
but there were some great ones that stood out. Pink Floyd's "Comfortably
Numb" and Memories, a DBZ/Cowboy Bebop
crossover, Evangelion set to "El Tango De Roxanne"
from Moulin Rouge, footage from one of the Card Captor
Sakura movies set to techno, and a tense scene from Irresponsible
Captain Tylor using the soundtrack and German dialogue from
Das Boot. It was entertaining, but the seats were uncomfortable
and the projection was too low (I couldn't see the bottom quarter
of the screen... a problem which would have been remedied had
it been in the bigger room where the cosplay competition was currently
being held... yet another reason to schedule them at different
times!). A rather arduous four hour ordeal that left us very
Sunday, April 28
We didn't go into the con on Sunday; not only did
we all oversleep because of staying up late the night before,
but Toni and I had a decent drive ahead of us and we wanted to
leave the Seattle area before it got too late. I'd like to find
out which music videos won the competition, however... I suspect
that will probably be posted online somewhere, either at sakuracon.org
I took a picture of myself
using the mirror in one of the Hilton bathrooms.
Toni, Rick, and Annie,
just before Toni and I left to return to Oregon.
Overall, it was a fun experience, and I'd really
like to go back to Sakuracon next year, if not another con (although
travel expenses may prohibit that). It was great having friends
that lived in the Seattle area, since that cut down on hotel and
some food costs, although there are certainly advantages to staying
in the hotel: room parties and the anime viewing rooms that go
all night, not to mention no commute. But money is money, and
I was glad to keep costs down on this trip. (I spent less than
140 dollars over all... over half of which went into the Totoro,
the art book, and the T-shirt.) I might consider cosplaying in
the future (it looks fun, and the con is a very friendly environment),
if only I can figure out who to cosplay as (I don't think I look
I think that about covers it. ^_^