Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My voice is shot but that's okay: A look back on Anime Detour 2012

So, my voice is completely shot from the past weekend, where I volunteered on staff for Anime Detour.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  I'm taking a week off, in a sense, to talk about the awesomeness that was this past weekend, and show some of the awesome costumes.  Regular articles will resume next week.

A lot of the staff showed up on Thursday to help set up for the convention.  I worked in the video game department, and we brought in our games, set up the arcade cabinets, and got everything ready.  One of the Logistics staff has a Raiden arcade cabinet, and had set it up on "free play" for the weekend of the convention.  Another attendee brought four arcade cabinets, which was most of his collection.  There were a total of five arcade cabinets, three xbox 360s, three PS3s, two Wiis, three PS2s, two Dreamcasts, one N64 and Super Pong. (Wut?)  The same guy that brought Raiden also brought Atari Super Pong for the convention's entertainment.  Retro ftw!

Guests started showing up on Thursday afternoon, and the staff had their own Gala with the guests on Thursday night.  There's a real sense of camaraderie in the staff at Anime Detour.  We socialized, we talked to the guests, we made fun of the new chairman, it was a lot of fun.  And on top of that, we saw a sequel to an event from last year.

During the staff gala in 2011, one of the guests, Tadao Tomomatsu, had the operations department head doubled over from laughing so hard.  How did this happen? Like this:

In the background are Monica Rial, voice of Hello Kitty, Michael Tatum, voice of Scar from "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood," and Anton Petersen, Guest Liason for Anime Detour.  Anyways, I was chatting with Taliesin Jaffe, voice of Blanka and Adon in Street Fighter IV. Damarra was talking to Tadao, who I pointed out to Taliesin.  I explained what had happened last year, and he walked up to Tadao looking like he was about to go full white knight mode.  Instead, the two of them start serenading Damarra together. Everybody turns to see Damarra on her knees, laughing so hard she's already on the verge of tears.

"There's TWO of them!" she said.

Poor girl.

Nabeshin signing shirts at the staff gala
One regular staple at Anime Detour's Gala is the annual signing of the shirt for the charity auction.  While Taliesin was signing shirts, he and I started singing the theme from Super Mario Bros. 2.   It was made of win.

Myself with Kristopher "Phade" McCormick, founder of

For many of the staff, this is the one opportunity to chat with the guests.  We get this two hour moment for over 100 staff to talk to the guests.  Conversations are regularly interrupted for photos, autographs, and tormenting Damarra. 

After a largely sleepless night, Video Gaming spent the morning and afternoon prepping consoles, inventorying supplies, and getting everything hooked up.  Five minutes before the 3:00 PM opening time, we popped a circuit.  Games were in consoles, we're doing our final check, and a whole wall of screens goes black.

We were like, "everything ready?  Games good to go?"

Suddenly, black screens everywhere!


After a few frantic phone calls, an extra power drop from facilities, and half an hour of resetting everything, we opened Video Gaming about 45 minutes late.  Thankfully, attendees were understanding, and gave us the time we needed to make sure everything was working correctly.

On Saturday, I ran two tournaments: Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Mortal Kombat.  The UMvC3 Championships were a close fight that had everyone watching in rapt attention.  Both players ran Wesker and Vergil, but had different third characters.  Wesker's white suit costume eventually became known as "Disco Wesker," just because.  The winner won 2-1, but all three matches were very, very, very close.  It could have swung either way.

He doesn't like me taking his picture....
Now, there were originally no plans about including a Mortal Kombat tournament.  The attendees kept asking about it, so we said, "sure, why not?"  On Saturday night at 9:00 PM, we ran a Mortal Kombat Tournament.  One of the highlights was Ermac getting into the finals, maining as Ermac.

All the shouting from those two tournaments completely destroyed my voice.  I'm drinking a lot of tea with honey right now, just trying to get my voice back.

There were quite a few video game cosplayers this year.  Here's just a few of what I found, along with other cosplayers from various anime and pop culture.

Where's the wig?
Now, here's where things get awesome.  On Sunday, Anime Detour holds a Charity Auction, with all the proceeds going to the American Red Cross.  The total donation this year amounts to just under $28,000.  This is not as much as last year ($37,000), but given that the funds will be going to reconstruction in Japan, that number is very respectable for one year later.  We are always amazed by how much our attendees give to charity. In response, Stephen Gifford, the Chairman of Anime Detour, was put in a kimono with a Miku Hatsune wig during closing ceremonies.  April Fool?

It's not just the attendees that make Detour awesome.  There's this passion among the staff.  Everyone came together to make a convention that ran so smoothly, and everyone had a great time.  Staff drama was minimal, medical incidents were fewer in number, and the overall vibe from the attendees was positive.  And hey, I'm totally fine with blowing out my voice for something epic.

On that note, there's something unique about the way Anime Detour operates that I wanted to touch on.  When I talked to Monica Rial in 2011, she commented how much she likes the atmosphere at Anime Detour.  She's able to walk around in the halls without worrying about being mobbed by fans.  Carrie Savage, another prolific voice actress, went even further.  During the closing ceremonies this year, she said that "Anime Detour is the best anime convention in America."  This was totally unexpected, and caught everyone off guard.  We (the staff) just put on a convention and want to have fun doing it.  But this passion is infectious.  Nabeshin brought a friend of his along this year, and both of them had a lot of fun.

I'm going to sign off this rant now, and attempt to let my voice recover.  See you next week!

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