2 Cons get scheduled the same day. One is a free screening con in ann Arbor out on by the University of Michigan anime club (Codename: Animania) and the other is a $12 entry fee comic book/scifi con in Novie (Codename:Motor City Comic Con). Which con do you go to?
It really was a no brainer. Animania has been running their Con Ja Nai for the last 8 years, I've been going since 1996 and have always had a good time. Now this is a good fun con for several reasons.
1) It's Free - The stereotypical Jew that I am, I can't bring myself to pay $12 for Motor City when this baby is free.
2) 3, count'em 3 screening rooms! No small TV's either, we are talking 3 movie sized screens and a projector VCR/DVD player in each.
3) It's in Ann Fuckin' Arbor, a fun little town with a the best damn Pizza place in SE Michigan/NW Ohio! (More on this later)
The Getting There:
My alaram goes off at 8am. I drag my ass to the shower , lather up, wash off and soak for a while. During the soak my friend Rob arrives. Rob and I have hit this con steadily since 98. Rob is a good man and he does admit that his knowledge of anime history and general knowledge increased through our association.
Anyway... I towel off, get dressed and talk with Rob quick as we dash to the car. We rive 3 blocks and pick-up myt buddy Dan. Dan is another good man, though a tad intense at times. He is not an anime freak like Rob and I but he enjoys a few shows that's I've shown him (Berserk, Kenshin and the kid just might be the biggest Vegeta fan in the US. Rob and I theorize that Dan likes Vegeta becaue they are so much alike i.e. short and angry).
We swing by Bowling Green State University and pick-up our wild card palyer Joe. Joe is trying to get the BGSU Anime club going with some people and didn't have a ride ot the con. Rob talked with him online and low and behold we have a car of 4 people. I put in the Cowboy Bebop "ask DNA" tracks I got off Morpheus and we all sit bacvk and talk about various and sundry geek things (the SCA, Anime, Comics and Gaming). we are on the Road by 8:50.
55 minutes and 1 stop at Kroger later (Dan needed his Mountain Dew transfusion to function like a normal human) we arrive in Ann Arbor. We park acroos the street from the Modern Language Building where the con is being held and begin our 14 hours of anime.
Round 1: "Now And Then, Here And There" (Episodes 1&2)
2 episodes of this series from the director of "Jubei-chan" and "Kodomo No Omacha". I was stunned, the animation in this is primitive but the story is the hook. A boy named Syu meets a girl named Lala-Ru and is then transported to the far future. Turns out Lala-Ru was on the run from nation of Helliwood, a tyrannical empire seeking to dominate the limited water supply of the word. The catch here is that Helliwood is at war with every country out there and thus uses children as soldiers. syu is armed with a stick, the other kids are armed with weapons of destruction and military training. Syu gets tortured, Im' stunned... I need to see the rest of this series!
Round 2: Movie - "Slayers Gorgeous"
We rush from Auditorium 2 to Auditorium 3 to watch this hilarious "Slayers". Great stuff as Linna Inverse and her sidekick Naga try to stop a feud between a noble and his daughter. Turns out the daughter started a war with Dad because she wanted a raise in her allowance. Daughter also has an army of dragons at her command. Real funny stuff, I can appreciate parody of Sword & Sorcery and this is fun parody.
Round 3: One Piece Tv Series (Episodes 1-3)
Say hello to the next "Dragonball"! Not DBZ, I mean REAL Dragonball before Toriyama got bored with his creation. "One Piece" is fun comedy/action featuring pirates as the main theme. Turns out that long ago a man named Gold Roger acquired all the treasure and power in the world. Upon his death bed whe nasked where he hid it he told everyone "My treasure? You can have it, it is hidden along the Grand Line". Thus began the age of Pirates. Now a boy named Monkey D. Luffy searches for the treasure known as One Piece. This show was wild fun with a unique artstyle not seen in most anime/manga. The show eneded tis run because the staff didn't want it to drag on (like dBZ did). A series that knows when to quit? what si he world coming to?
We hit local anime store Wizzywig. Dan goes nutas and buys the Black Swordsman Gutts figure from the "berserk" toyline. Rob buys more Excel Saga manga and the Original Dirty Pair DVD. Im' broke and thus weep when I see the Cowboy Bebop DVD box. We follow up the trip to the Wig with a stop at New York Pizza Depot (NYPD). The folks who run this shop are New yokers who moved to Ann Arbor and were annoyed at the crap that passed for Pizza there. Made me miss NYC incredibly... especially Anna Maria on 85th and York.
Round 4: Infinite Ryvius TV Series (Episodes 1&2)
I wanted to like this show but damn did it put me to sleep. I hear it is a emcha show but no mecha appeared in episodes 1 or 2. Good concept though with a disaster on a space station leaving the children onboard to run everyting. I need to watch at least till episode 6 before passing judgement. Still I was underwhelmed upon first impression.
Round 5: GTO TV Special!
GTO aka Great Teacher Onizuka) kicked sooo much ass! Da nfell asleep during but he wasn't feeling well. Me, Rob and Joe loved it! When Eikichi Onizuka, one of the most feared gang leaders in Japan decides to becaome a high school teacher hilarity ensues. The animation isn't great but I knew that already, Yuo watch gTO or the jkes of Onizuka's moral dilemmas (does he seduce an underage student? Does he beat the crap out of students blackmailing him?) GTO is fun... what anime should be.
Round 6: Oh! Super Milk-chan! TV Series (Episodes 1&2)
I've been anting to see this forever and... lord was I disappointed. Sure there were a fewgood jokes but overall the show fell flat. So not what it is hyped to be.
Round 7: Initial D TV Series (Episodes 8-11)
Now this show kicked ass! An anime about Street Racing amongst the youth of japan? Sure why not. Word has it that this series was the basis for "The Fast And The Furious" and now I can see why. Takumi is a high school student whose natural driving skill has been honed since he was 12 when delivered food for his father's noodle store. Now everyone wants to challenge him and his Hachi-Roku street racer. Great stuff with some neat computer animation. I know notyhing about drivign but this show sucked me in.
Final Round: Escaflowne - The Motion Picture
The last event of the evening was the Ecaflowne movie. Let me start my analysis by saying.. Durn that movie sure was preety to look at. The aniamtion is top notch and beautiful. Sunrise really poured the money into this. Too bad, they shouldv'e used some of that money to hire someone to write a better story. Everything that I loved about the TV series has been gutted from this version. Real Version my ass! Only 2 characters are fleshed out while everyone else is made to look pretty ut are essentially cardboard cutouts of their TV series counterparts. This movie was A-W-F-U-L! 2 hours of my life I want back. Sure Escaflowne is "medieval Macross" but it was still fun and cool in its TV version. This had a thin plot and no characterization. The Bebop movie blows this away nine ways from SundaY!
Post Game Show
FOG! the drive home was shrouded in fog. Rob drives home mega-fast (no doubt inspired by Initial D) topping off at one point near 105mph! Amazingly we didn't get pulled over and got back to Bowling Green at 12:37 (we elft at Midnigfht). Nothing like beating a 90 minute drive by 53 minutes! Overall this con was fun. The group agreed that GTO was the fave with us (Rob and I loved "Initial D" but Joe didn't care for it. On the other hand e, Rob and Dan loved "One Piece" but Joe didn't care for that either) . I wish Animania did this more than once a year because it is mucho fun. Next year I'm hoping for a big screen debut for The Bebop movie or even Gaogaigar Final. Fun was had by all, the pizza was top notch and we amde it home safe despite Rob's maniacal driving. what more could a guy ask for?