☆ Anime Los Angeles 2012 ☆
As one of my New Years Resolutions, I resolved to begin writing convention reports! I haven't written one of these since KumoriCon some years back, and that one seems to have been lost to the wind somewhere. But, here we are, 2012, and it's time to hit the ground running!This was my first time attending Anime Los Angeles, and I have to admit, I was excited and nervous. I didn't really know what to expect, but I was also excited to experience something new.
☆ THURSDAY ☆
My con experience started long before the weekend -- I spent the entire week leading up to my flight pulling long hours in an attempt to finish my new costume, Homura Akemi magical-girl form, from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I've been busting my butt on this costume since around early-November, but no matter what, I always seemed to have setbacks. Thursday, I was scheduled to fly out to LA, and as of that morning, I still was not finished. I went to work on what is likely the least amount of sleep I have EVER had on a work-night, then was let out early to go home, pack, and catch my 6 o'clock flight. In a mad-scramble around my disaster of an apartment, I gathered up my costumes, the supplies to finish Homura in the hotel room, and was whisked off to the airport by my Dad. About 10 minutes away from the airport, I realized I had forgotten to pack the red bow for my school-form Homura costume. I was REALLY upset -- this meant I couldn't wear it. In a moment of panic and desperation, I sent a text message to Suzanne, ask if she would pick up a piece of red casa satin for me, so that I could make a replacement in the hotel room. What an angel. <3
My flight landed at LAX around 9PM, about 20 minutes early! Though that lovely surprise was counter-acted by how long it took to ride the airport shuttle to the hotel (almost half an hour, for a drive that was maybe 2 blocks, thanks to all the stops at various airlines). I arrived and trekked my way upstairs to our room, where Kayla and Mandy were already in PJs and chilling in bed. I pulled out my jacket and started sewing in the hook-and-eyes for the front, and then realized that all I had had to eat that day was a small cup of pretzels, and a cup of coffee, and I was STARVING. I text-ed Chris and asked him to please bring me food, which he did, and once he arrived, I scarfed it down in a matter of MINUTES. I know that at some point this evening, Kayla and I were the only two awake, and we talked about skit plans for Fanime. Around 3AM I decided I was done sewing for the evening, and crawled into bed for a nice solid 7 hours of sleep -- the most I had had in days.
☆ FRIDAY ☆
I woke up on Friday morning in the way I usually do at cons -- to the sound of others shuffling around the room. I find this the most pleasant way to wake up, because the energy of others helps me to keep from drifting back to sleep. I felt VERY refreshed from having finally gotten some good sleep. Kayla decided she was going to wear Alois, so I borrowed her bow for School Homura, and Mandy got into America. The three of us, and Chris, ventured down to explore the hotel layout. It was SWAMPED. It's been a long time since I've been in such a crowded con space. We ran into Suzanne and Mike downstairs just as they were getting in, so we passed them the room key so they could go up and unload their stuff. Meanwhile, the girls, Chris, and I wandered out to the pool-deck, where we almost instantly ran into Al. Photo time! He took some dedicated time with each of us, and I LOVE how all of our photos turned out. I was SO EXCITED to finally have good pictures of school-Homura, that it was as if I were debuting a brand new costume. <3
Afterwards, we decided to go up to the room, where we had to wait for Suzanne and Mike to get back from one of their trip to the car because we had quite stupidly given them the only room key we'd actually taken with us. Once they returned, however, we flooded into the room and all proceeded to go gaga over Suzanne's Ysera armor. I was SO EXCITED to get to see it in person, hold those pieces in my hands, and really see how they went together. I gotta tell you, it's pretty cool, and totally inspiring! Suzanne then started to Purple (which, we decided, was a verb) and the rest of us borrowed Mike and Suzanne's badges so we could go down to the Dealers Room and see if there was a wig that Kayla could buy for her Tutu costume (there had been a fiasco with shipping-timing, ad her REAL Tutu wig did not arrive in time). We did our usual swap-a-roo to filter everyone in, and then browsed the vendors. Unfortunately, a suitable stand-in wig could not be found for tutu, so the executive decision was made that Kayla would just use the base of her Madoka wig as a stand in for this con. Kayla got a small plush Flying Mint Bunny, as well as the last Kyubey plush : D One of the last booths we stopped at was a booth of very nice hats, and the guy running the booth was hilariously eccentric. Kayla, Mandy and I basically peed ourselves over this absolutely gorgeous English top-hat, and then were mightily entertained by the vendor, who told us the story of his first time at a convention and his sales technique. It consisted of pointing at passers-by and telling them "BUY A HAT" -- to which, of the 18 times he did it, every time, that individual stopped, went 'Hat?' came in, and bought a hat. Best sales technique ever, huh? For the rest of the con we would be quoting "buy a hat!" After that, Mandy circled back to a booth where she purchased a new Hetalia shirt, and by then, we'd seen enough. After snapping a few more quick photos, we headed back up to the room to change, and check on Suzanne's Purple-ing.
Kayla and I decided to rest a little, before changing into Princess Tutu and Mytho respectively. While all of this was going on, we made plans to go out to Olive Garden for Dinner once Suzanne had de-purpled that evening. Putting on my school-form Mytho was a trip, because between KumoriCon in September, and ALA, I had lost a fairly significant amount of weight; I was able to fit into the smaller pair of white pants that I had, and my blazer (which had been snug before) was now loose, particularly around the hips. I think before I wear it again, I'll need to take it in. So, once dressed, and Suzanne completely purpled and armored, we all ventured downstairs; Suzanne to do her night-shoot with Vince, and Kayla and I to go off and do some Princess Tutu pics (Mandy was a huge help to Chris, doing a lot of lighting work during our shoot). We ran into "buy a hat" man in the hall again, as well as Lionel, who stopped us to get a couple of quick shots.
We met up with Suzanne and Mike again, Kayla photo-bombed a couple of pics, and then all of us went upstairs to dress down, de-purple, and what-have-you before we headed out to Olive Garden.
I have to say, that dinner was probably one of the best times I had all weekend. We all really had a chance to share con stories, our thoughts and experiences, and just generally get to know each other. We discovered that NOTN and Underground Cosplay really function very similarly, think similarly, and just generally mesh really well. We pigged out on soup, salad, bread sticks and pasta, laughing our asses off, until we realized it was 11 and we were the only people left in the restaurant. Ooops!
We all headed back to the hotel were I finished putting the braided trim on my Homura costume, we figured out new sleeping arrangements, and then once again around 3AM, I crawled into bed and went to sleep. Somewhere during this evening, Suzanne found out at the last minute that Angel Hearts had been drafted to fill the Masquerade half-time slot, so she had to make sure to get up early to go rehearse.
☆ SATURDAY ☆
This was the Big Day -- When most of us woke up, Suzanne had already run off to rehearsals. We puttered around, looking at photos on Chris' laptop, and finally decided to get into costume. Mandy got into France, and when Kayla couldn't find her compression vest for England, we all searched the hotel room but with no results. In the end, she had to forgo wearing that, and instead put on Soul (whose jacket was loose enough she could borrow my ace bandage for binding) and went to go get pictures with Amy in her Maka costume! I'm actually really glad she was able to do this, since I felt really awful about not having been able to finish my own Maka costume in time for ALA. Meanwhile, I proceeded to get into Homura, and when Suzanne returned from Rehearsal, decided to get into Mami. : D This was really what I had been waiting for all this weekend -- finally getting to cosplay with Suzanne! We had so much fun getting dressed together, and once we had finished, we decided to go out and wander until Kayla finished her Soul Eater shoot and could go change into Madoka.
Suzanne was on Staff for Hall Cosplay, and so most of the time was spent looking around for people to give ribbons to. I sort of forced my help on her, pointing out costumes I thought she should look at for giving out ribbons. We wandered a lot, and got stopped a lot for photos. Finally, Kayla was able to go back and change into Madoka, and we visited with Amy while we waited for her. Eventually, she made it down, and our little magical girl trio was whole! unfortunately, one of Suzanne's rifles cracked, so she had to run upstairs to fix it. By the time she made it back down, we had maybe 45 minutes before she needed to go change for more Angel Hearts stuff, so we ran to the garage, and proceeded to have an awesome little Madoka Magica shoot. I am SO PLEASED with all the photos that came out of it, and can't wait to cosplay with my fellow Magical Girls again!
Kayla, Mandy, Chris and I wandered the convention center looking for food options. The day before, we had discovered this awesome little deli half a block away, but they closed at 4 and it was already 4 again. So, we wandered, complained about our feet, and eventually staggered upstairs to decompress and eat cup-of-noodle. I took off my wig and borrowed Suzanne's neat little PVC wig stand to comb out Homura. Ashe and Ali stopped by, and there were hugs, and chatting, ans then they had to go, but it was nice to actually see them, since we apparently sucked at seeing each other most of the weekend. I finished completely changing out of Homura and into casual clothes. We all sat around the room for a while (minus Suzanne) , just chatting it up. Kayla and Mandy decided to put on Shuichi and Yuki for a while, and they went out. I apparently was exhausted, because I crawled into bed full clothes and passed out. When I woke up, the girls were back, it was 10PM, we had ordered pizza, and Chris had hooked up Dance Central. We dove into the pizza like rabid animals, and Suzanne joined us later. We spent the rest of the evening playing Dance Central, and chilling out. I made sure most of my stuff was re-packed, and afterwards, went to bed.
☆ SUNDAY ☆
For most of my convention life, I haven't cosplayed on the last day of the con -- I can count the exceptions on one hand. I'm usually too tired, and if the afternoon involved checking out AND catching a plane, I'm almost guaranteed not to. I briefly debated wearing school-Homura again w/ Kayla's school-Madoka, but in the end just put on my NOTN t-shirt. We packed up the room, check out, and then proceeded to putter around the con for a while. Kayla got some solo-pics of herself in school-Madoka as we horsed around while Suzanne was busy at the Angel Hearts IdolM@ster panel. I felt bad that we didn't go watch, but we never ended up getting badges, and so we didn't have much of a choice. We chattered on about what a great weekend we'd had, and we walked around the block to Burger King, where we got food -- or in my case, soft serve and diet coke. Afterwards, we met up with Suzanne and Mike again, to decide what we wanted to do next. Unfortunately, I was fussypants-mcgee because I had a flight to catch at 6PM, and I wanted to be at LAX at 4:30 to account for any crazy lines, since I know LAX is a really busy airport. I ran into Ashe and Ali again, and we chatted a little bit, exchanged hugs, and promised to hang out more at Fanime. Then, our little group of 6 ran down to the garage, had Suzanne take a Steamtank picture in Miki, and then let her change before we proceeded on to our last adventure of the weekend: FABRIC DISTRICT. (before that, we somehow managed to squeeze in a goodbye to Amy, as well as Kayla getting a fabulous picture with someone dressed as Randy Marsh from South Park.)
Kayla had been wanting to go to Fabric District for a REALLY long time. Heck, so did I, but I kind of operated on the idea that, if I don't know what I'm missing, I'd be better off. Still, we ran to Fabric district, and I immediately lost my shit. It was AMAZING. ROWS AND ROWS OF FABRIC STORES. I wanted to cry. My time there was so limited, maybe about 45 minutes. at 4, Mike and Suzanne were kind enough to split off from the others and drive me back to LAX. Goodbyes were said and I made my way through security, and out to my gate... where I ran into Lionel! I had never run into a convention-acquaintance outside of the con, so it was really nice to just have a chat with him, about plans, and the scene, and all of that. Thankfully, he didn't seem offended that I never got back to him to solidify any shoot plans. His flight left before mine though,so we had to part ways, and then I got on my plane for home.
☆ FINAL THOUGHTS ☆
Overall, I had a really fantastic weekend, though it had almost nothing to do with the con itself. The hallways were crowded, and there wasn't much to do or places to go, so I give the con itself a B-. In the future, I don't plan to go back to ALA, just because it was a lot of money to spend on such a small convention. Even so, I don't regret it at all -- it gave me the opportunity to spend time with Suzanne and Mike, and really get to bond with them in a way we might not have at a larger, busier convention. I got to see and spend time with Amy, as well as (however brief) Ashe and Ali. I got some great pictures, and some mid-winter sunshine, and can't wait until the next time I can be with these people again!