Anime Weekend Atlanta 11
By James D. Deaux IV
27 September 2005 — Each and every year at the end of September, I attend one of the largest anime conventions in the Southeast — Anime Weekend Atlanta. This year was no different, of course. What you will read in this article is my overview of the convention and the activities in which I participated. It's sort of a journal-review hybrid. At the end of the article will be my Top 5 Costumes sections where I honor the hard work and effort of a few of the various attendees I spoke to briefly. You simply must see some of these costumes. They are astounding.
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Friday, September 23rd
I arrived about an hour and a half before the convention officially opened at noon. During this time, I wandered about the Galleria for a while and doodled in my sketchbook a little bit. I garnered a few compliments for the drawing of Murdoc (from the animated band Gorillaz) that I was working on. When the convention finally opened, I headed to the video game rooms, but they hadn't opened yet. (The VG room not being open for free play would become a commonplace occurrence throughout the weekend unfortunately.) This being the case, I spent a large part of my weekend in the Dealer's Room where I wound up spending about $300 over two days.
In the Dealer's Room, this immediately caught my eye.
While in the Dealer's Room on Friday, I meet Greg Ayres and Vic Mignogna — two of America's most prolific anime voice actors. Ayres has provided voices for countless anime titles such as Chrono Crusade, DN-Angel, Neon Genesis Evangelion and many more. Mignogna is perhaps most famous (especially lately) for his role of Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist. More on him later.
Ayres was one of the friendliest people I have ever had the undeniable pleasure to meet. I could tell that he genuinely wanted to be there to meet his fans and sign autographs for everyone who walked up to him. More celebrities need to take this attitude as far as I'm concerned. I talked to him briefly about how beautiful and brilliantly written Chrono Crusade was, and admitted that I cried at the end of the last episode. While he was signing my Chrono Crusade box set, I asked him if the person who did the voice of Azmaria Hendrick was going to be at the convention. He quickly turned to his right and said, "She's right here!" Embarrassed, I looked at Jessica Boone (whom I primarily know as the voice of Arumi in Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi) and I pretty much felt like I was going to shoot myself in the head for not knowing that she did Azmaria's voice. However, both of them joked about it and I got the box set autographed by both of them. So hey, it was all good. I got my picture taken with Greg, and I think it was well worth the 40-minute wait in line to meet Greg Ayres alone. Jessica Boone being there was a big bonus.
Moving on, I trolled around the Artist's Alley because it's always neat to see the works of my fellow artists. Most were there to do commissioned works, but some were there to advertise their websites rather than sell something tangible. A few tables had custom cosplay items for sale. Those who attend the convention every year will know that there is a group there every year that sells custom Miroku (the monk from Inuyasha) staffs and Inuyasha ears amongst other things. It's really quite an interesting area of the convention because many artists stay 24 hours a day all weekend long just drawing and drawing. I wish I had half their skills so I could rent a table there year after year. Good way to make some money and showcase your talents. (Later, I went to what should have been a class on drawing taught by Robert DeJesus, but unfortunately he never showed up. So that was a bummer.)
At midnight, one of the greatest annual AWA events took place — Japanese Animation Hell. In Japanese Animation Hell, a couple of the staffers play fan-made dubbed parodies. First up was the 25-minute "Fisting of the North Star", an obvious jab at Fist of the North Star. As you can imagine, the sexual innuendos were in full force for that one. It was absolutely hysterical. The next one was a Neon Genesis Evangelion parody that sees Shinji trying to find out what the heck "nookie" is. As an extra treat, they showed some of the best of those infamous G.I. Joe PSA dubs that we love so much. Also, they treated us to some funny foreign videos such as a German instructional video for forklift drivers. It started off innocently enough with a guy getting his forklift certification. Everyone is smiling, the guy is all happy that he can legally drive a forklift. It's all peachy. However, after that, things start to go downhill... quickly. (For them, I mean. For us, it's hilarity.) From then on, we see people being dismembered, sawed in half, decapitated, impaled and otherwise mutilated because of stupidity while driving a forklift. Incredibly bizarre, but morbidly funny. I had the time of my life watching those weird videos for over three hours. After I had enough gut-busting entertainment, I headed home for the night.
Saturday, September 24th
I set my alarm to wake me up at 8:30 am to get there for one of the many workshops they offer at each convention. However, being that my alarm is worthless, it never woke me up and I wound up waking up around 11:30. Not a good start to the day at all. Anyway, when I arrived back at the convention center around 12:30 pm (ugh), I went to see if the video game room was open for free play. It wasn't. (No shocker there.)
So, I once again found myself in the Dealer's Room to spend more of my hard-earned money. And this time I saw quite possibly the greatest sign ever. I wanted to buy it, but I don't think it was for sale. Plus it was probably way too expensive for me even if it was.
At 2:00 pm, I waited in line once again for autographs. This time, as I said earlier, I actually met Vic Mignogna, the voice of Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist. Another really nice person and another picture opportunity! (See the image in the title bar.)
Jessica Boone was there again and this time she autographed my Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi collector's box set. Just for good measure, she put a mark on the mouth of the picture of her character to make it look like she's missing a tooth. I didn't object because, quite frankly, it was pretty funny given what the picture looks like. Boone also said that Arumi (her character in Abenobashi) was her favorite that she's ever voiced because of how hysterical the dialogue in the anime is.
After leaving the Dealer's Room, I went and played in my preliminary match in the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament, and, like every year, I got owned right and left and chucked out in the prelim. I honestly don't know why I even bother entering that tourney every year when I never advance past the first round. It's quite depressing considering how much I play that game. Oh, well. It did give me time to peruse the Dealer's Room one last time since I wouldn't be able to return on Sunday because of my stupid job. After spending another inordinate amount of money, I left and got some food. When I returned, I turned on my Nintendo DS and got in a Pictochat room with some people lurking around the area. That was very amusing. I watched various movies in the screening rooms until it was time for the Cowboy Bebop Lounge to begin. While waiting outside for them to prepare the room, I helped get a rousing rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" started to kill some time and boredom amongst the large group of people waiting. It was quite funny. But by the time the doors opened, I had to head for the Melty Blood Re-Act tournament, so I wound up not being able to see what happened in the Lounge. It really sucks for me because I dressed in 1940s-style clothing specifically for the occasion and I never got to put them to use. In the MBR tournament (and it was 12:40 am on Sunday, by this time), I won my first match, but lost the next two; so yet another disappointing showing for me. I stuck around for the rest of the tourney and headed home at 4:00am. Thus ended AWA 11 for me.
My Top 5 Favorite Costumes
This is something I thought up spur-of-the-moment at the convention. I figured since I was covering AWA I should award the hard work of cosplayers who put so much blood, sweat and tears into making the best costumes.
Number Five: Awesome Kingdom Hearts costume and great craftsmanship on the Keyblade. It gets me pumped up for the sequel when I see stuff like this.
Number Four: While not technically anime, I simply had to put this in for the hilarity. I mean, it's Trogdor for God's sake. Hell, I laughed so hard when I first saw this that I almost couldn't hold the camera straight while taking the picture.
Number Three: A very well made DiGi Charat costume. I believe the character's name is Usada Hikaru.
Number Two: I cannot even fathom how long it took this group to make that ball of clutter along with their suits. In case you don't know, this is a replication of the characters from the cult classic video game Katamari Damacy, and the large object behind the cosplayers is a replica of the mass of material you have been ordered to collect throughout the game. Very cute and very cool at the same time.
And the award for undisputed best costume I saw at Anime Weekend Atlanta 11 goes to...
Number One: Yes, I'm a sucker for Xenosaga, but bias or not, that KOS-MOS costume was absolutely awesome. The young lady who posed as KOS-MOS said that those cannons she was lugging around weighed 16 pounds each. SIXTEEN POUNDS! That's like carrying two bowling balls around all day. And I know for a fact that she and her friend, who's dressed as Shion Uzuki, posed for over 50 pictures while standing around in the lobby and the Artist's Alley. It must have been hell on her arms. Excellent job on a spectacular costume!
That will just about wrap this recap up. Overall, the convention was a very exciting experience, as it has been pretty much every year. Missing the Cowboy Bebop Lounge was a big disappointment for me, but them's the breaks when you're in a video game tournament. Other than that and Robert DeJesus' drawing class not happening, I really have no complaints. (Just getting to meet the voice actors was worth the membership price alone, let alone Japanese Animation Hell.) The AWA staff does a marvelous job year after year and they don't receive enough credit for all their hard work. Here's to another great year and I'm looking forward to AWA 12.
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I took all of those pictures at AWA and I'm pretty sure I received permission from everyone. However, if you are in one of those pictures and do not want them posted in this article, please do not hesitate to e-mail me so I can remove it. Please remember, though, that no malice or anything of that nature was intended when taking those pictures. It was simply my way of complimenting the costume-wearers on a great job. Also, these pictures will be used in this article and only this article.
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