Welcome to the Orobouros.net con report page for Animazement 2002. Animazement was held May 23rd to 26th at the Sharaton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center, located next to RDI international aiport and right between Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina. After the first three years at a hotel located in downtown Raleigh, Animazement moved to the larger facilities of the Sharaton Imperial to meet the demands of large and large attendance numbers. This year, the convention hotel sold out and the overflow hotel, the Comfort Suites Hotel came close to booking out, as well. No exact attendance numbers are available at the time of this writing. Even though Animazement has enjoyed a continous growth since its start in 1998, this year may be the smallest increase. Many fans were disapointed with both the Sharaton's facilities, the hotel staff, and the convention programing. Additonally, Anime North in Toronto, Canada was held the same weeking, making many fans choose between which convention to go to, and Project: A-kon at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport takes place the following weekend, again making many fans choose. Next year Animazement is confirmed to take place in the same location, at a similar time.
Once again, Animazement has turned out to be a great convention. I have to admit, I had my doubts, too, after last year. The new hotel wasn't quite as nice as the old one, the hotel staff seemed to hate us, the programing left to be desired, and the disasterous pricing scheme left everybody scratching their heads. Despite that, I still managed to have fun last year. Animazement is right at the end of my adacemic year, so it's the natural choice to start the summer off with. And if nothing else, I know there will be a lot of great people at Animazement who I can enjoy with weekend with. In the end, the con is more about people than just anime or manga.
My trip actually started out Wednesday, when I hoped on the MARC train from Baltimore Penn Station to Washington Union Station, from which I took the DC Metro to my house, where I found my car and promptly raided the refrigorator. After sleeping in Thursday morning, I packed the car, pluged in the CD player, and got on I-95 to head south to Raleigh. Or so I thought. The capitol beltway was crowded, but moving, and nothing I wasn't used to. The problems began at the Mixing Bowl, the intersection of I-95 with I-395 (which goes into DC) and I-495 (the capitol beltway). As always, it was backed up for miles. Once through the Mixing Bowl, though, traffic usally clears up. It didn't. I-95 was almost one continous backup from DC down to Richmond. I had left in time to avoid the worst part of rushhour, but with the backups, I got stuck right in the middle of it. Somewhere between Fredericksburg and Richmond, I even turmed my car off for about fifteen minutes. It took me almost eight hours to drive down to Raleigh, when it should normally only take about four. In the end, though, I'd prefer to get stuck in a traffic jam this year. I left early, had plenty of time to travel, and nothing I had to get down in time for. At least I wasn't in a hurry. Love driving, hate parking in the middle of the road.
It was a little after ten before I got to the hotel. Most of the locals I knew coming to pre-con night had already left again, unfortunatly. But slowly, one by one, I started seeing familiar faces again. Even though the night consisted of little more than just "hello!" and watching the Discovery Channel, it was still very enjoyable.
Friday morning I started off by just walking around and taking pictures. Of the four panels I wanted to go to that morning, one got canceled, one I lost interest in, and the other two I was late for. Opening ceremonies, though, I was on time for. Usually, I don't go to opening ceremonies. While I wish the con the best, I know who the guests are and what the con is all about; I don't need to spend an hour while the moderator goes over rules and such. That having been said, they're still fun, and I wanted to go to this one. I was sitting towards the back, actually looking through the program guide and schedule as much as watching the guests. Then the announcer brought up "Hokuto no Ken" (Fist of the Northstar), and asked who was familiar with it. I thought he just wanted to show the guests the audience knew what some of their work was. Well, up goes my hand before really thinking about it, since I do know a fair about about the series. Then once I actually look up, I see that only about a handfull of other people were raising their hands, some of them only partially. Well, the sly announcer asked me to stand up, then he asked me to come up to the front, and then he asked me to "do your best Kenshiro impression, and you can pose if you want, too." Well, my friends and I have something of a little in joke regarding Kenshiro's fighting style, because it's that cool and that corny at the same time. Anyways, I generally don't like to be in front of crowds, but when I am, I will make the most of it. So, I turned around to face the audience, and let out the biggest A-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-Wah-TA! I could. From the amount of applause I got, I think the audience liked it. I turned to the announcer and smiled, but I was a little too embarased to turn to the Japanese guests to see what they thought. My throat hurt, and I may have made a fool of myself, but it was all in good fun, and a great way to start the weekend.
After that, I just wondered around taking more pictures and catching up with friends as they came in. Certainly one of the most interesting things to hear was "Meet my husband!" It was nice to be back in touch with people again. However, it was a little odd, since many people I knew were up at Anime North. With the same crowd of people attending most of the east-coast cons, you get used to seeing familiar faces, but with so many missing, the con felt a little less crowded, and certainly a little lonely.
Once my roommates showed up, I could finally get into my room at the overflow hotel. All else being equal, I have to say the Comfort Suites is the nicer of the two hotels. The rooms are bigger and come with a free continential breakfast buffet -- I love to eat -- and free internet access. To some of us, that's enough to call somewhere home. The big, big drawback of course was the walk to the hotel. Even cutting diagionally across parking lots and streets, it is still a good five minute walk at least from one hotel to the other, longer especially if you're carrying something or in cosutme or if it's late at night. In the end, as is human nature, convienence beats out better alternitives.
Amongst waiting for things to happen, I sat down with a friend of mine and his aquantinces. They were watching some very, well, intersting commericals from Japan. "Hi-ho!" were the lyrics to some melody played as a set of three helmet-wearing naked super-deformed children went on various hijinks and adventures. (There's no better way I know how to explain this.) What was it? Even though it looked like it was done in Flash, it was apparently a TV ad in Japan by Panasonic for Internet service. I've been a fan for almost ten years now, but some of the stuff that comes out of Japan will always amaze me.
Then there's the just plain wierd. After the barrage of naked midgets singing hi-ho! I was treated to a music video to a song called "Yatta!" If you know what I'm talking about, I pity you. If you don't, read the rest of this paragraph at your own risk. Instead of nekkid animated midgits, the Yatta! video featured five young Japanese men -- the band, I presume -- wearing leaves, Garden-of-Eden style. And the video featured them going through various places from their own concert to the streets of Tokyo. If anybody can tell me where to get a copy of this video, please contact me. Having lived through it myself, I'd like to expose the rest of my local anime fans to it.
Whatever happened between then and the music videos has become a blur. The music videos were quite entertaining, even though they started to get a little repetitive and boring after about an hour. I had watched the Katsucon music video contest (at home) and was glad I didn't spend any con time to do that. However, even though a fair number of music videos were less than entertaining, enough were good enough to make me glad I went to watch. Each of the award-winning videos was very good, but in particular I thought I'd mention the Violinist of Hamelin video that was set to what I think is a blue-grass song (if you're a country music fan, please don't flame me for getting that wrong) called Devil Went Down to Georgia. What made it stick in my mind was not just good editing, but the good, original idea.
One particular thing I liked about the con hotel staff was that they didn't at all enforce their rules on when the hot-tub and pool closes. Technically, they said it closed at 11 pm. Long after that, though, I joined the large group in the hot tub to relax. After quite a long time in the pool, I wandered the halls again, seeing who would be up late, late Friday night. Before too long, and since I found little noteworthy going on, I decided to get some rest and headed off to bed.