• Krystal Stoner

☆ FanimeCon 2012 ☆


This year, preparing for Fanime consumed about two months of my life, in it' entirety. Whenever I wasn't at work, or sleeping (and sometimes this last one was sacrificed), I was working on costume pieces, or set pieces. After last year's masquerade experience, we knew we wanted to perform at Fanime again, and we spent a lot of time cycling through ideas. Finally, after being forced to switch ideas many times, we decided on one at the end of February, and got to work.

Fanime was my fourth convention this year (that is, if you count the one day I spent at SakuraCon, though really, I don't...), and honestly, the most disappointing. It wasn't ALL bad but... we'll get to all of that.

☆ THURSDAY ☆

On Wednesday night, I stayed up absurdly late. It wasn't my intention, but there was so much I wanted finished, and I was determined to get it all done. On top of that, was the fact that I needed to be packed before morning - I had work on Thursday, and wouldn't have time to pack between getting off from work and catching the train to the airport. So, around 5:30 AM, I called it a 'night', took a nap until 7:20, then hauled my butt to work, with my suitcase in the trunk.

That afternoon, I received a distressed text message from my friend Heather; she had somehow left her hat for her skit costume at home. I immediately went into Con Mom mode, told her not to worry, we'd make it work... and as soon as I got off from work, I dashed out to JoAnn to buy supplies to put together a new hat in the hotel room. I had just enough time to snag a craftfoam kids pirate hat, some heavy interfacing, brick-red crushed panne, and some wire. I threw these in my suitcase, and hauled ass to my friend's house, where I parked my car and walked to the nearest MAX station. This experience was not-so-fun, as I got SO turned around trying to find the station, that it took me a good 25 minutes to get there and I was SURE I was going to miss my flight thanks to missed trains. Still, I hopped on the next train, and rode all the way out to the airport. I managed to get there 20 minutes later than I had hoped, and was really scared by the long-ass line I had to wait in for security. I don't think I've waited in a security line that long in YEARS. The universe must have been smiling on me though, because I managed to get through and out to my gate just as my boarding group was lining up. I boarded the plane, found myself a window seat, and slept for the hour-and-some-change of the flight to San Jose.

My flight landed around 10:45, about 10 minutes early, and I called Chris about getting picked up from the airport. and then, my phone went dead. I had a hell of a time getting a charge back in it, but finally was able to connect with Chris and catch a ride to the hotel.

We had kind of an unfortunate rooming scenario this year. Normally for Fanime, we reserve a suite, and try to get the additional room next to it as well, in order to accommodate our large group of out-of-towners. This year, we somehow missed out on the suites, and furthermore, struggled to even get a SECOND room, PERIOD. In the end, we had 2 rooms at the Marriot - one on the 7th floor, and one on the 17th floor. One room was a single King-Sized bed, and the other was 2 queens. In the King-sized room was Chris, Stephany, Shawna, and John. The remaining seven of us - Myself, Rynn, Kayla, Mandy, Heather, Amelia, and her friend Alycia - all cosplayers, crammed into the double queen. The arrangements were uncomfortably tight; I'm now 100% convinced that the maximum people you can comfortably fit into a double-queen room for a con, is 5, especially if every single one of them is a cosplayer with multiple costumes in tow.

I made a point to keep almost all of my things isolated in my large suitcase (which I set near the door because that was the only space there really was for it) and my makeup bag, which I set on the back of the toilet, to help keep the sink-space clear. We spent a couple of hours on Thursday night listening to our skit audio, and trying to get most of us on the same page. I made it clear to my friends that I would be sleeping in the next day, and I gladly went to bed that night (around 2:30AM) fully intending to follow through on that.

☆ FRIDAY ☆

I woke up twice on Friday; once around 9AM to the sound of all my room-mates chattering and moving about. With a little effort, I fell back asleep, though my friends all attempted to wake me up at various times. I recall being half-asleep at one time when Kayla poked me and told me to get up; when I didn't responded, she asked if I was dead. I tend to breath pretty shallowly when I'm sleeping, which I'm sure is what prompted her half-serious question. I must have inhaled deeply then, because she quickly amended it with a 'nope', and I passed out completely again. I didn't fully wake up until about noon.

Friday was a really laid back day for me. Since I hadn't been able to re-make Mytho's school-blazer like I'd hoped, I quickly had thrown some fusible interfacing into my suitcase, in hopes of ghetto-fixing my current one. I spent about an hour over the ironing board, adding interfacing to the jacket while everyone else got ready. I'm not proud of this. XD But it at least made the costume look a little nicer. The new pants helped, too. Kayla, Mandy, and Rynn went off to film a segment for our Rules video for KumoriCon, and when they got back, I finally got dressed in Mytho. For some reason, I was exceptionally slow ALL WEEKEND -in hindsight, probably due to the number of people preparing themselves in our tiny room, and my inherent instinct to stand out of the way until all the shuffling is finished. It somehow took me longer to get into Mytho than it did for Kayla and Rynn to change into Tutu and Rue. Still, once we were all ready, we ventured out to take some pictures. Kayla discovered that she's lost a lot of weight since she made Princess Tutu, so sadly it didn't fit her quite so well anymore. We snagged a few pictures out by some fountains, and then went back to the room so that she could change into Ahiru. After this, we ran back outside to get some more pictures, film another segment for our rules video for KumoriCon, derped around, ran into Al, and went to Peggy Sue's for lunch/dinner. We actually spent a lot of time at Peggy Sue's that afternoon, just chatting, and thankful to finally have some food in our stomachs.

After food, we split up for a little while. Chris and I had to run to Will Call for UPS, in order to pick up the streamers for our skit. Apparently, because the package was under my name, they wouldn't allow him to claim it on his own when he attempted to do so the day before. We spent almost an HOUR waiting in line for that. I officially hate UPS. I was extremely tired, and my energy levels never really hit a high that day. I spent part of the time with Chris, talking about how my perspective on cosplay and my approach to conventions has been changing. I don't have the stamina to wear multiple costumes per day, and be in cosplay ALL DAY. It's just too draining. We made it back to the hotel room, and at that point, I don't remember exactly what happened next... it all sort of blurred together. I know that eventually, we ended up downstairs in our usual practice spot, and got to work on the skit. Once again, we stayed up until around 3AM, working on choreography and blocking, and got about 2/3 of the way through before we decided to call it a night.

I feel like I've got some of this day out-of-order, somehow... ah well. You get the idea.

☆ SATURDAY ☆

Fanime is a unique convention, in that it runs for four days, rather than the usual three. Because of this, there are TWO 'main' days; Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, Kayla, Rynn, Suzanne, Myself, and our friend Mandi (not to be confused with NOTN's Mandy) made plans to wear our Madoka Magica costumes. This was something we'd had planned out for months (except for Mandi, who had been a last minute addition when our original Kyoko ran out of time to finish her costume), and we were all very excited to finally be able to wear them together! But before that, we had some errands to run - Kayla, Chris and I ran off to JoAnn to pick up some fabric paint, snaps, and some lace.

Kayla needed the fabric paint for doing some face-decorations for Sunday, and I needed lace to re-do my gloves for Sunday. We got back to the room around 11:45, and got started on prepping for Madoka.

It was this morning that I realized I had REALLY never taken care of detangling my Homura wig after wearing it at KatsuCon. While Kayla and Rynn got ready, I had to spend a solid half hour just combing my poor wig, as delicately as possible. Once again, I was the last one to get dressed, and while Kayla and Rynn went out ahead of me, I finished up, and finally ran down to Stage Zero to meet up with the whole group. The girls had been practically MOBBED by photographers, and hadn't moved even an inch. This was actually really great, because it made it very easy for me to find them, and when I showed up, there was a delightful moment of smiles and hugs as I jumped into the fray of photographers. Once that rush of cameras finally calmed down, we decided to head outside, take some pictures, and try to get in touch w/ Ackson, since he'd wanted to film our group for one of his videos. In the process of doing this, we got a few pictures with Chris, wandered over and put in appearances at the Madoka gathering, and stopped to chat with some friends. This was really the only time all con that I got to see anyone outside of my immediate group.

Eventually, we hooked up with Ackson, and we ended up getting that done, getting a few pictures with Leonard and Al, and then sadly Suzanne had to run off to collect her costume for Craftsmanship judging. The remaining four of us went out to the park to get a few more pictures with Chris, and sadly, my tights got a big-old-hole right in the toe, so at that point, I was ready to call it quits. :/ I'll have to make a new pair before I can wear Homura again. Kayla and I got our pictures first, then I walked back to the hotel with her, where she changed into Italy to cosplay against Amy's Romano. She bounced off to do that, and for a while, I just chilled out in the hotel room by myself. I pulled out my lace from that morning, and started to sew it onto my gloves.

Eventually, Rynn came back to the room and chilled with me, and then Amelia and Alycia showed up. After some mixed/poor communication (where in we thought that Kayla would call us when they were ready to go eat, and they were just waiting for us) we ended up downstairs. I was stoked to go get some Olive Garden - it's a Fanime tradition, and I had been craving Olive Garden Soup/Salad/Breadsticks for over a month now, mind you - only to find out, it wasn't going to happen; turns out Chris had scheduled a photoshoot event, and could not drive us, and none of us was confident enough in our ability to use straight-up directions. There was a trip back up to the room to get SOMEONE's phone with GPS, but by the time that was over, we all said 'screw it' and begrudgingly went to Pizza My Heart instead. I would just like to note, I was SO upset about missing Olive Garden!

After dinner, during which we discussed Politics and stupid Drama, we went back to the hotel to round everyone up for our last big night of choreography and rehearsal. Waiting for some of our crew to get back from various dinner engagements and other plans, I got Heather to break out the supplies to work on Dagger's hat, and just sort of... dived in to help her out. She admitted she'd been putting it off because she wasn't entirely sure how to even start, since her first had had just been a lot of trial and error, but I just went to town. I only got so far as adjusting the foam base, before we were all ready to head downstairs for skit work. We collected all of our skit stuff for the first time, ready to get into the nitty-gritty. This included completely assembling our tent, and working with all of our major props. I also brought down all of the stuff we'd been using to work on Dagger's hat, knowing for a fact there would be times I wasn't needed.

Boy, were we in for a long night. Once we got downstairs, there came the task of assembling everything. I stayed out of the way for that, since I tend to get very mixed up when there's more than one other person working on assembling the PVC-pipe things. Instead, I sat to the side and worked on Dagger's hat. Unfortunately, we got a much later start than we would have liked - Despite our efforts to wrangle Chris, he was a couple hours later than we had expected, because he'd somehow COMPLETELY forgotten that he was actually necessary for the skit itself, and not just there to run a camera; we didn't get started until almost midnight. We hit a lot of snags here and there, including finding the best way to keep Kayla's hat from falling off during her cartwheel, as well as keep the feathers secured in the hat. And then there was the scuffs on Kayla's white boots - I once again went into Con Mom mode, making a point to avert minor crisis whenever they popped up. As it turns out, there's something to the term 'spit shine', as that's actually how I got the scuffs off of Kayla's boots. Somehow, we managed to stay up working, choreographing, rehearsing, EVERYTHING... until around 6AM. Everything was broken down, packed away, and we headed back to the room for what can only be described as a nap. Heather and I actually stayed up a couple hours longer, putting the finishing touches on Dagger's hat. Finally, with the sun coming up, I crawled into bed, dreading when I would have to wake up again.

☆ SUNDAY ☆

Sunday can only be described as the day in which nearly everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that getting less than 3 hours of sleep NEVER bodes well for me. I woke up to the prodding of my roomies, and felt absolutely ill. I was weak, cold, shaking, and felt sick to my stomach. But, I didn't have a choice - it was rise and shine time.

Remember how I mentioned earlier that we had an unfortunate room situation? Well, this is where it really became obvious that there was a problem. Now, our costumes were a bit more complicated than the usual fare, but they were by no means as complicated as say, my Yui costume. Our judging slot was at 1PM, and we got up and started moving around 10AM. This should have been plenty of time.

It wasn't.

Of the 7 people staying on our room, 6 of them were in the skit in costume, and the 7th (Alycia) had jumped into help us out with additional ninja work. We had an additional 2 who came to the 'party' to finish getting ready. There was an additional 2-3 people who were NOT getting into costume. For those of you who don't want to keep count, that's 12 people, in 1 double-queen size room. There was, quite literally, no room for half of us to get dressed. Half of our group members could not dress themselves, or do their own makeup. Bless his heart, Chris went out to get us food... but most of us, having slept a scant few hours, had very sensitive stomachs, and the Donuts he brought back were hard for us to choke down. Ever walked that line between starving, and not wanting to eat 99% of things because you feel sick? Yeah. That's what happened. I milled about finding whatever space I could, whenever I could, when I wasn't cutting the lace on a wig, trimming another wig, or just trying to stay out of everyone's way so that I wouldn't get the red glitter of my costume on everyone else. Not only did we take 3 hours to get ready... we took more than that. By the time everyone was finished, all of our stuff gathered up, and brought down to the Theater, we were 45 minutes late.

Earlier in the weekend, we had received some pretty nerve-wracking news; there was another group entering the masquerade, with the same series as us, and even the same story arc. When we came out of judging, they are exactly who we ran into. We had an almost identical cast of characters. Even so, we all chatted it up, gravitating to our counterparts, and honestly, I think it helped all of us calm down a little bit. As soon as they were ready for us, it was time to cart our giant tent back stage, and do our tech rehearsal. That went off fairly well (asside from me whipping myself in the head with my whip), and I'm so grateful to Fanime for doing that, because it let us see where we needed to adjust putting our sets and props, as well as our spacing. I whipped myself in the head, but otherwise came out ok.

Now, here's where things started to REALLY go down hill. We had all gotten a really terrible start to the day as it was. Originally, we had a very packed day: The plan was the get up, get judged, and then we were squeezing in 2-3 photo shoots between tech-rehearsal, and pre-meet in the green room. We had originally hoped for Chris or Stephany to run and get food for us in the in-between, since neither of them were in costume, and we all needed to eat. Well, we missed any sort of time for one of our shoots, Amelia (our Snake) ran off to be fitted for a tux to go to the Black And White ball that evening (something that came up just the day before), and Stephany was having personal disputes with her sister and so her mood and cooperation went downhill very quickly. In a scramble to get ANYTHING done, Our group ended up splitting off. We got screwed out of our last 2 possible photo-ops because Stephany had somehow gotten Rynn's phone, and her phone was the one with all the photographer contacts. It was an unmitigated disaster. We DID manage to snag a couple of quick photos with EBK, but then we had to focus on re-uniting, getting food in us (which turned out to be Mcdonalds) and then get our asses back over to the Theater in time.

While everyone was gathering for the pre-meet, a couple of people helped Kayla get into her tear-away. The Ciel from the Other circus group, who was also wearing a tear-away of the same outfit, looked a bit displeased. The rest of her group just laughed though. We were in for an interesting show, that's for sure.

In case you've somehow missed every post I made before this report, here's a copy of our skit!

One thing I will say, is that of all the Masquerades I've participated in Fanime's continues to be one of my favorites. The energy level is just so high, the number of GOOD performances outweighs the number of mediocre, we get to sit in a designated area in the audience, and everyone is just so friendly with each other. Lots of the skits this year were GREAT, and even despite getting there and how things turned out, being IN the Masquerade was the highlight of the con for me (well... aside from being Magical Girls). This year, we really put our heart and soul into this production; we pulled out all the stops, taking strides to make more complicated costumes than we ever have for a skit in the past, as well as making that huge tent. It's hard to follow something like Portal, but we did our best, and we were so exceptionally proud of all the hard work that went into this.

So, you can understand we were disappointed when we didn't receive a performance award. Even harder, was seeing the other Kuroshitsuji Circus group take home the prize for Best in Show. I don't think this would have hit us nearly so hard, if it hadn't been the group doing the exact same series and nearly identical costume set that we had chosen. It's hard not to feel, in that case, like a direct comparison was made, and for groups doing such identical costume, it's impossible not to feel like we were judged directly against them. Rynn and Kayla both took home craftsmanship awards, but it was bittersweet - both girls expressed such intense disappointment and to an extent, confusion and anger, for being singled out when we all worked so hard, were on equal level, and yet most of us received no acknowledgement. It's definitely done a little to change our perspective on Masquerades in general. I can say with confidence though, what it HASN'T changed is how we approach cosplay skits; NOTN has always aimed to entertain a crowd, in a way that can be enjoyed and understood by people who don't know, or even don't LIKE the source material. We go big, or go home, and nothing is going to change THAT.

After the Masquerade was over, we were all tired, sweaty, and just ready to change out of those costumes. We went back to the hotel room, changed, wound down a bit, and then watched a recorded copy of our skit. Several times. It really helped us all to feel good about things, watching the final performance, because we were able to see that we had done what we set out to do, and hear that audience really responded to it.

It was creeping up on Midnight when we decided we were hungry.

☆ MONDAY ☆

To any of you who have made it this far in the report, I applaud you. I swear, we're in the home stretch now. Around midnight, we debated ordering pizza, and other take out, only to come to the conclusion that no one was going to be delivering. So, instead, we good lot of us (Me, Rynn, Heather, Mandy, Kayla, John, Chris, and Lizzie) all piled into the car and drove to Denny's.

Worst Decision of the Weekend.

We got to Denny's and, since it was so late, there was literally maybe 2 or 3 other tables with people at them. That was it. We were seated, and then proceeded to be the crazy people we are. The service was terrible, and the waitress had a really bad attitude. We were ready to order by the time she came for our drink orders, but refused to take them until she had gotten us our drinks. Once we placed our food order, it went even more downhill. We never got drink refills, and it took an HOUR for any of our food to reach the table. Even then, it was only half of it, and most of it was cold. Mandy's flat out was the WRONG THING, and the waitress insisted that no, that's what she ordered. When John complained about eggshells in his omelet, the waitresses solution was to offer him the screw-up they had made for Mandy. I wish I was joking. Some of our food straight-up never arrived. A handful of us (myself included) had started to fall asleep at the table. Finally, after a couple of hours of this stupid dance, we asked for a manager, paid for only what we actually ate or were satisfied with, and trudged back to the hotel room, exhausted. Once we got to the room, I don't even remember what happened, except that I changed into my PJ's, crawled into bed, and was from there-out dead-to-the-world.

Monday in general was kind of a blur. Seeing as it's the day most of us were going home, the morning consisted of a lot of packing, flight checking, and hanging out in the hotel room. This is also when we made the official decision to leave behind several of the skit props, like Betty the Tiger, and a few other not-reusable pieces. Lizzie, Dane and I were all on the same flight back to Portland, and Rynn's flight left around the same time, so we pre-arranged to ride together to the airport. We spent the last part of the day wandering around Artist Alley (where I bought myself a Fat Rabbit t-shirt, which has quickly become a weekend-favorite), meeting up with Heather again, and taking a quick cruise through the dealer's hall before Rynn and I finally had to say goodbye. The ride to the airport was tight, with all of us plus all of our stuffed crammed in the car, and Chris driving. Poor Rynn had to have flights re-arranged, but we were all able to rush through security together. Lizzie, Dane and I got Jamba Juice in the terminal, rode the plane home... then it was back on the MAX, back to Jeremy's, and then I drove myself home.

☆ FINAL THOUGHTS ☆

Of the three years I've attended Fanime, I can honestly say that this year was the worst. So many things went wrong, the construction to the convention center made things so difficult and crowded, in in the end, I came home with very few photos - considering Fanime is usually PhotoCon, this is kind of a big deal. However, despite all that went wrong and the disappointment I felt on so many levels, I still had a WONDERFUL time with all of my amazing friends. We laughed a lot, had some ridiculous in-jokes, and spent a lot of time just being a good group of friends. Rynn, Kayla, Mandy, Heather, Lizzie, Chris, Suzanne, and Mandi, you guys made this con worth it for me. With that in mind, I think we all learned a lot from this convention, and I'm personally looking forward to putting those lessons to good use in the future. FanimeCon, see you in 2013!

#FanimeCon #ConReport

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