☆ KumoriCon 2012 ☆
Although KumoriCon is a small (about 4,000 attendees), local convention for me, I'd been looking forward to this year since September of 2011. This was all because, last Kumoricon, Ninja of the Night had been asked to take up the now-vacant Hosting slot. Our friends had been doing it for a few years, providing an entertaining video about the rules of the convention, doing panels, MCing for the cosplay competition, and providing entertainment while the judges deliberated on cosplay contest entries. Last year, their group had disbanded and announced they'd be stepping down, and the chair of the convention stepped up to ask us to fill the void, which we were more than happy to do! In the midst of all of our other conventions, we'd been preparing our material off-and-on for months, and I was personally really looking forward to a new kind of convention experience!
Yeup, we're an attractive bunch.
☆ FRIDAY ☆
KumoriCon is an unusual convention, in that it takes place on Labor Day Weekend, so rather than the usual Fri/Sat/Sun format, it takes place on Sat/Sun/Mon. It's nice, because it means I don't have to take any extra time off of work, since my office gives us Labor Day off anyway. Planning to head up to Vancouver was a little more involved than it might have usually been, because I was going to be leaving for Germany the day after the convention. This meant extra planning. I had planned to leave my car at my parent's house, and ride with Kayla and Mandy up to Vancouver. At the last minute however, there were some personal issues, and I elected to stay and spend some time with my Mom and Dad before I had to leave, and my Dad agreed to drive me up to Vancouver later that night. After my mom trimmed up my hair (which had already grown out a lot from my big hair cut only 3 weeks prior), We loaded up the car and all three of us headed up to the convention hotel. I arrived around 10:30PM, hugged my parents goodbye, and got some assistance getting my multiple pieces of luggage (stuff for this convention, and also my bags for Germany) up to the hotel room. Mandy had picked Rynn up from the airport and so I was really the last to arrive, and there were hugs all around.
Unfortunately, my own personal life was not the only one thrown out of balance (and mine was by far, certainly not the WORST) -- Mandy's mom had just passed away the week before, and while she would be at the convention for most of the weekend (A good way for her to get out of her head for a while), she had to attend the Memorial on Sunday evening, and wouldn't be able to play her part in the MCing or halftime presentation. So we spent part of the night just going over audio, and getting our back-up casting straightened out. We also ran over the basic points we wanted to cover for our panel the next afternoon, titled "Holy Skit!", where we'd talk about and show examples of putting together effective skits. But, I'll talk more on that later. Since we were Special Guests of the convention, we were given our hotel room at a discounted rate, and were right down the hall from the 'con suite' -- a room that had been booked out as a 'hide out' for staff and guests, where they had food, and free drinks for anyone who had the green-room pass. Since I had arrived, we all went over to say hello, and were extremely surprised to be given a gift basket with KumoriCon bags for each of us, as well as free t-shirt vouchers, a box of fancy chocolates, and a bottle of sake. We agreed, we'd be breaking out the sake on Sunday night, after all our work was over. I wish I could remember exactly what happened on Friday night, but I only can remember that something triggered us on some really STUPID Disney-related jokes, and we could not stop laughing for a solid 2-3 hours. Seriously, we wanted to sleep, but we couldn't stop laughing, and for the life of me I don't remember why. If my friends can enlighten me, I'll be sure to come back and edit this. Either way, we eventually fell asleep -- Rynn and I in one bed, Kayla and Mandy in the other, and Chris and Joe on the air-mattress.
☆ SATURDAY ☆
Saturday morning, we were all up bright and early to get dressed. For this year, we chose to go with the cast of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya -- Kayla was Haruhi, I was Yuki, and Rynn was Mikuru. Originally, Mandy was going to be Kyon, and Lizzie was going to fill the small part of Itsuki. However, with last-minute tragedies and all, we had asked Lizzie to step up as Kyon, and her friend Chip was going to fill in as Itsuki. Our first act as Convention Hosts, was to put on a presentation at Opening Ceremonies, laying out the rules of the convention. In years past, The Anime Hunters had contributed a pre-made video for this purpose. We decided to take a different approach, doing a presentation on-stage, with video for visual aid. Unfortunately, another in our string of hiccups, was that two of our cast members hadn't listened to the audio enough to know all of their lines by heart, and Lizzie (dear that she is, helping us out) hadn't quite finished her costume and was hand-sewing the sleeves in back stage. Seeing how exhausted and stressed Lizzie was (which is completely understandable given her life is already quite full and busy without convention activities), and how enthusiastically Chip had dived into things, we made the last-minute decision to have them swap wigs, and parts.
I wish I had a video of our rules presentation, but I haven't yet found a good copy. Despite the hiccups, I think it went over pretty well. The audience laughed in all the right places, and we had several people tell us afterwards that it was really good. From there, we were free for about an hour and half until the start of our first panel. We retreated to the room to touch-up, re-group, and then get back down to the panel room. Kayla and I ran down there first, while the others finished up with some other things. When we got to the panel room, we were SHOCKED to see a line around the corner, and that we had been given a HUGE space. It only took a little bit of time to get the tech up and running (thanks to the helpful staff), and then we were off and running.
For our panel "Holy skit!", we touched a little bit on the steps for putting together a cosplay skit. Still, this wasn't what we would consider a Cosplay Skits 101 type of panel. We talked about things to consider when you decide to do a cosplay skit -- the different ways to get started, important things to discuss with your group, the importance of Ninjas (respecting them, and understanding that there are things that can't be done WITHOUT them), respecting that in a good skit, not everyone can be the Main Character, and a little bit on the dynamics of green room atmosphere. We talked about being sore losers, and sore winners, and focusing on having fun with your skits rather than focusing on winning. We talked about the different styles of cosplay skits, and showed a few examples of our favorites. There was a little bit of Q+A and overall, I think things went over very well, especially for our first panel!
While we were still in costume, us three girls got a few photos around the park (thanks to Joe and Chris, and no thank to my complaining about things like the grass being cold, and being afraid someone was going to see up my very short skirt while I was laying down like that). We agreed to get some more later, but we were tired, so we got one good group shot, then headed back upstairs.
After the panel, we migrated upstairs to the greenroom, where got our first taste of Free Food. From there, we pondered what to do for the rest of the day. Rynn and I opted to change into normal clothes, while Kayla went and changed into Brief to go on a photo-shoot with Lizzie and Amanda as Panty and Stocking. As Special Guests, we'd all been invited to the guest-and-staff reception dinner at the Red Lion, so those of us not otherwise preoccupied just goofed around and then headed over there for food. It was buffet style, which was nice, because it meant we could just get up and eat whenever we felt like it. I chatted briefly with a few staff members, one of which guessed which of the girls in costume I had been during opening ceremonies, and told me that he really enjoyed what we did. Kayla, Lizzie and Amanda didn't show up until dinner was almost over, but luckily a couple of us had saved things for them to munch on. Overall it was a nice evening, but it was far from over.
From there, we all headed back to the hotel, and made a point to swing by the Cosplay Pre-meet to check out the entrants, and try to get a copy of the skit lineup so we could maybe work on some material. In the end, they didn't have a final list for us, so we went off our mantra for the weekend -- "Ok, we'll just wing it." So, we headed back up to our floor where we found a spot out in the hallway to work on the blocking and practice for our half-time skit the following night. After the hours and hours we've spent on our last several skits, this premise and style of performance was much simpler, very straight forward, and took almost no time to work out. Maybe a couple hours? Either way, we finished up, and headed back over to the green room for a while, where we ate more free food, watching people play Cards Against Humanity, and ultimately went back to our room for some sleep. ☆ SUNDAY ☆
On Sunday, our only commitments for the convention itself were for the cosplay contest that evening. In the morning, most of us just got into normal clothes, but Kayla got into her Circus Ciel costume, to go on a shoot with Lizzie in her Sebastian costume. While she got ready, Chris, Rynn and I ran down to Main Events to pass our audio off to the tech guys for that show that night. We saw a couple of skits do practice runs on the stage, and talked a bit with the tech guys about certain lighting cues, and that our Ninja, Stephany would be back there to cue them at just the right times, to make things as painless as possible for them. Once Kayla and Lizzie and the rest arrived, we all went and got some breakfast, before heading out to get some photos of Ciel and Sebastian.
It was actually kind of nice to just relax while they took photos, and I spent a good deal of the afternoon sitting on big rocks and getting a little bit of sun. We split up a lot during this time, I remember Chris and Rynn went to this little coffee shop up by one of the hotels, and at some point, we saw a lady who had dressed her little baby up in the tiniest America costume (Hetalia) we had ever seen. I think we spent a solid half hour just squealing over how cute he was. Once the photo-shoot was over, we wandered up towards the hotel that had the Dealers Hall and Artist Alley, where we wandered around for a while. There was this one girl dressed as Sebastian, and she stopped Kayla to get a picture with her. I will say, she was perfectly in character, beautiful, and charming as hell. @_@ Kayla made jokes about getting me her phone-number. We stopped by the Sock Dreams booth, where Rynn and I picked out a couple of pairs of socks as gifts for my friend Dani, who was going to be letting us stay with her when we were in Munich. I also ran into one of my friends from WA, which was really nice, I hadn't seen her in a long time!
We were hungry then, and knew we'd need to start getting ready soon, and we HAD to eat before the cosplay contest... so we headed over to the street fair! The location of KumoriCon is right across the street from a big park, and next to the park is a weekend market. We went there several times over the weekend, looking for food and just generally enjoying ourselves. Sadly, the stands only took cash, and since some of us (including myself) weren't carrying cash, we went around the corner to a sandwich shop for lunch. Kayla and Mandy headed back to the hotel so Kayla could get out of her makeup, and Rynn, Joe, Chris and I waited for the food, which we brought back to the girls at the hotel. Getting ready was bitter-sweet... we were running on a tight schedule, and while most of us were getting changed into her Haruhi costumes, Mandy was getting dressed to go to her Mom's memorial. It was such a weird moment, knowing she wasn't going to be coming down to Main Events with us, and sadly we had to say our goodbyes in the hotel room, knowing we'd meet up again later in the evening.
Heading down to Main Events involved also bringing down our small curtain and other various props that we needed for our half-time skit. Once we got there, we set everything where we thought we would need it, and finally managed to get a copy of the skits and walk-ons that we'd be announcing during the show. Unfortunately, there was one thing we really weren't prepared for -- they decided to throw us up on stage to "Kill Time" for "about 4-5 minutes". It was an unmitigated disaster, and not only that, I found a video later which revealed that our "5 minutes" ended up being more like 12 before they finally informed us that they were ready to start the show. Oh, and during all the stupidity that we attempted in order to entertain the crowd, my shoe was destroyed. I mean, literally. This guy in a Black Star costume was up on the stage, and chasing Rynn around. I attempted to calmly step out of the path of this shenanigans, only to have them stumble into me, step on my foot, and as I pulled/stumbled back, the side of my shoe tore out completely. I spent the rest of the shoe with my foot wrapped in black duct tape to keep the shoe on my foot.
Thankfully, the rest of the show went off without a hitch. Between each performance, we wold glance at what was up next, come up with a quick bit, and send 2 of our cast up on stage. The show itself ended up not being terribly long, and soon, we were on for real. The way we had coordinated the half-time presentation, was to have the end of the last skit followed IMMEDIATELY by the start of our performance. This created a seamless flow, where the audience was not aware that the contest was over, keeping most of them in their seats. It worked like a charm, since the house stayed almost COMPLETELY full during the entire performance. Although the skit itself was hardly anything Special, it was a test run for us in a lot of respects. We had complete control of the lighting cues thanks to our ninjas helping out the tech crew. We also had the video aid for the performance, and we were able to break a few normal cosplay contest rules ... like getting off the stage. At one point during the performance, we actually got down off the stage, and went looking through the audience with flashlights. Although the middle video-segment of the half-time was probably a bit boring, we know that and can make adjustments for next time! It was a learning process for us as well, but I think overall it was very successful, and we're all happy with it. (except, you know, for that whole 11-minutes-of-awful at the beginning)
After skits were over, it was surprisingly, still daylight out! With all of us still clad in costume, we headed out to get a few more pictures all together this time. We made sure to snap the group shots first, because Lizzie and Chip had to go to The Roast of Jon Bressler. We stopped by for the tail end as well, but then headed back up to the room to clean ourselves, and our space. We ordered pizza, and I'm pretty sure I fell asleep for a little bit.
Around 10, Mandy returned from her Mom's memorial. I don't know how she'd held it together so well the rest of the weekend, but finally, she broke down. We all sat with her, and after a short while, we all decided that the only solution was to drink ourselves silly. We cracked open the sake. I was pretty much the only person who didn't hate the taste of it. XD We ended up mixing it with soda of various types, and out came the deck of Cards Against Humanity. We played several hilarious rounds, before we ended up in the con suite, still drinking. Some of the others drank more than I did, but I was pleasantly buzzed on the remainder of our sake mixed with ginger ale. We laughed a lot, and hung out until the suite was closing, and then migrated back to the room for more Cards Against Humanity. I however, was not able to keep my eyes open, and dozed off fairly quickly.
☆ MONDAY ☆
Normally, the last day of the convention is kind of a slow, nothing day. Not so for us! We had one last panel to do, as well as put in an appearance at Closing Ceremonies. That morning, we all get dressed in our My Little Pony costumes, ready for a COMFORTABLE day in cosplay. Our Second panel, titled simply "Cosplay Music Videos" was a simple viewing panel where we had selected a few favorite videos, and were going to show and talk about them. Unfortunately, we hit a snag. For some reason, in the process of transferring them from one computer to another, over half the files had become corrupt, and unplayable. We played the ones we had, had a lot of discussion with our small group of attendees, and in the end wound up showing a few of the skits from our Holy Skit panel, again. Somehow, we managed to nicely fill up our entire time slot, and promised to post the full list of video links on our facebook page for everyone to look up later.
From there, the rest of the day was ours for the playing. We went to the street fair where Kayla and Mandy got shaved ice, and Rynn and I got food. I got a huge corn-dog and diet coke. We sat around the park for a while, discussing idea for next year, and ultimately deciding we should go get some pictures of these costumes.
Our little group consisted of Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Twilight Sparkle, and Apple Jack. Just as we were getting up to go find some picture spots, we ran into this ADORABLE little girl dressed as Pinkie Pie, and her mom dressed as Rarity. And thus, our little group was completed! We hung out with them for quite some time, getting lots of pictures, until finally we had to split up -- Little Vivian needed to get some lunch, and we needed to get to closing ceremonies, but we traded contact info, and Vivian asked if we'd come to her Birthday. It was so cute. <3
Closing Ceremonies was pretty straight-forward. They just had us come up on stage, and say a little goodbye to everyone. We hoped we'd be invited back for next year, but there was nothing official at the time, and Convention Elections can always change things, so we stuck with a safe "looking forward to seeing everyone again next year!" With the con over, we all headed back to the room. Since Rynn and I would be flying out the next day, we elected to keep the hotel room for one more night. We all cleaned ourselves up, took some nice, REAL photos of us together, then hopped in the car and headed out for a late night trip to Olive Garden -- something we were deprived of at Fanime this year! All in all, a great end to a great little con.
☆ FINAL THOUGHTS ☆
I think this was the best KumoriCon I've ever been to. Hosting was such an amazing fun experience that helped to make me feel like I really had a purpose in being there. All weekend, the lot of us were saying how this con had made up for how terrible Fanime had been this year. Although Rynn won't be able to attend next year (she has prior engagements for that weekend), I'm really looking forward to possibly having the opportunity to host again, and really show what we're capable of now that we've gotten our feet wet.
I know I missed a lot of things from this weekend. It all just blurred together into one long stream of laughs and fun. There were glitches, but overall, I give this con an A.