Animazement 2015


Eight years.  That's how long it had been since I last attended an anime convention.  After ACEN 2007, and a six year streak of attendance, I decided I'd had enough of "the kids" and their...questionable taste and antics, and the con's subsequent patronization thereof via more American guests than Japanese ones (at a JAPANESE animation convention *ahem*), etc.  But with the big 4-0 looming, a desire to do something special for said milestone, and none other than the seiyuu (voice actress) of my favorite character of all time (Kikuko Inoue / Belldandy) as one of the many Japanese guests, I decided it was time to shake the dust off the 'ole Chiyo-Dad hat and get my booty down to North Carolina of all places for Animazement.

And so it seems, just as this convention marked the end of my retirement as an active con attendee, it also appears to have ended my hiatus of work here with the Cult.  It's good to be back.  Now on with the report...


Despite feeling like death warmed-over on the day of my departure, I managed to make my flight and get to the con in a timely manner, only forgetting one thing (more on that later).  By the way, while I'd heard of RDU (Raleigh-Durham Int'l Airport), and was a little concerned about making my way through to get my rental car, it turns out that compared to ORD (O'Hare), RDU can actually be described as...well...cute - very small and unintimidating.  Flying-in it looked like it was out in the middle of a forest or something.  As I would come to learn, this was par for the course for the "City of Oaks" (which from what I saw could also be the "City of Pines").

Arriving at the convention center, I immediately thought, "yep, it's an anime convention" as I was greeted by the sight of innumerable cosplayers and other assorted oddballs, as well as...a brutally long registration line.  *sigh* But then a glimmer of hope as the guy in line behind me was sporting a shirt from quite possibly my current favorite anime - Non Non Biyori (and I'm still kicking myself for not commenting on it).

Another of the first things I saw was a religious fanatical dude with a big sign that read, "Stop Sinning" and "Fear the Lord" (or something like that) haranguing con attendees.  Now on the surface, one might wonder, "what's sinful about cartoons?" Well, for those not in the know, one of the big draws of anime for "The Kids" in recent years is the LBGT element (particularly yaoi or "boys love" series among the ladies), as well as the hyper-perverse adult (hentai) series.  Chances are this religious dude had his blinders on to not even remotely "sinful" series like the aforementioned Non Non Biyori, and pigeon-holed anime fans as a wanton, lustful lot destined for the imaginary firey pit.  And quite honestly, many of the female cosplayers certainly did little to negate this view with their insanely skimpy, provocative costumes.  Indeed, it seems the likes of Lain bear pajama or other unsuggestive cosplay has taken the backseat to showing as much skin as the con guidelines will permit, and then some.  And I don't get it honestly, but then I've never understood the female penchant for wearing sexy outfits and then bemoaning leering eyes.  But I won't go down that road of philosophizing...

Anyway, the reason for the long registration line quickly became apparent as I got near the registration table, and saw that they only had TWO people taking money/handing out badges for thousands of attendees.  While ACEN always had this same problem of long registration lines, to their credit they usually had like 5-10 people working the registration tables.  Oh well, no big deal, I wasn't in any particular rush since I had no idea when any events I wanted to attend were scheduled since they didn't have the schedule available prior to the con (another stroke against them, but understandable since some guests / panel hosts flake out at the last minute).  On the plus side, I will say the badges were rad.  No flimsy paper with janky plastic sleeve ala ACEN, but rather a nice sturdy slab of plastic with some very nice metallic paint work on the original art.

So, badge in hand (and quickly thereafter around neck), my old con experience kicked-in and I proceeded directly to a seat to plan my weekend, circling the events I wanted to attend in the program dealio.  As expected, the most important events were scheduled for Saturday, so I could relax a bit and familiarize myself with the convention center.  One cool thing they did along with the chronological listing of events in the program was a tabled timeline with which you could find the time and skim down to see what events were going on at that time in case you found yourself want for something to attend.  This table also included the schedule for the video rooms, which I'm happy to say I didn't have to resort to once during the weekend.  Props to the con for keeping up a steady stream and healthy mix of panels/events to keep nearly everyone satisfied so you wouldn't have to resort to watching stuff, which you could do any time at home.  This helped maintain the "specialness" of the event.

With a little time to kill before my first panel of interest, I decided to make my inaugural trip to the dealer room.  On first sight, it appeared to be something approaching heaven on Earth for any otaku - an ENORMOUS hall filled with seemingly endless rows of anime goodies.  But a perusal of the sea of merch quickly killed the dream as it became painfully obvious that the dealers followed the trend established by all other elements of cons in the past, pandering to the latest, most popular series - commercial fan-service if you will - with only tiny pockets of older or more obscure series.  So if you were looking for anything Sword Art Online, Free, Sailor Moon, One Piece, Pokemon (yep, still popular for some reason), or other series about which I could give a Rattata's ass, you were in shangrila.  If you were looking for anything else, you were SOL.  Well, it wasn't completely hopeless, and on my first run through I did spot some Lucky Star and K-On! goodies, but I managed to control myself for the most part, and only caved on a set of racequeen costume Hiiragi sister figures.  The decision to hold off would later prove to be something of a blessing/curse depending on whether you were my inner collector or my personal finances.

Then came time for the first panel of interest of the weekend: Weird Japanese Video Games - Live Let's Plays! Seeing as I have a definite soft spot in my heart for "weird" video games (they're practically the only kind I have any interest in anymore actually), this sounded right up my alley.  As tends to happen, it ended up falling short of my expectations, mostly due to the fact that the hosts considered themselves stand-up comedians, when their comedic ability was the real joke.  Sure, they had their moments, but these came at the expense of a real dirth of gameplay.  Actually, as it turned out, they only played ONE game the whole time I was there - Chulip! - and it really wasn't all THAT weird, just a slightly quirky adventure/simulation game where the goal appeared to be gathering experience to use in woo'ing the object of your affection by kissing various people while not getting knocked the f%^& out by individuals not keen on being kissed.  There were some creepy characters to contend with including big-nosed guide dude who came out of what appeared to be a vagina in a tree, and a spooky old lady with glowing devil eyes, and you had to go to the bathroom to restore your life after getting smacked too many times due to your unwelcomed advances to the townspeople, but beyond these things, there wasn't all that much that made me say, "HUH?!" I really wish they'd played more games, but "the kids" seemed content with the mindless bantering of the hosts and thus the gameplay fell by the wayside.  Oh well, what can I say - "the kids" are dumb.

After that it was time for a 180 degree change with the first of what turned out to be numerous performances by the Japanese traditional musicians Sho Asano (on shamisen) and Taishi Tamabe (on taiko drums).  I was a little nervous at first when I saw the huge line for the concert and the small size of the room they'd be playing in, but thankfully my worries were unfounded and I made it in with no problems.  As it turned out, Seizan Ishigaki - who was billed as a reknowned shakuhachi (Japanese flute) player - proved conspicuously absent.  "Irregardless," the other two fellows ended up putting on a great show, which included a little fan participation (including a demonstration of a bit of the main riff of "Smoke on the Water" on shamisen :)) and much emotive-yet-rocking tunage.  I was not at all disappointed at getting to see these guys do a number of other performances throughout the weekend, including their final AWESOME performance just prior to the closing ceremonies.  Supposedly they've got stuff on iTunes, and I will be searching for it.  I am also very curious as to whether Yamabe-san is actually a member of the group that marked my first forray into the realms of "world music" - Turtle Island.  I swear he looked familiar...

Next up was the Opening Ceremony!  At first glance, it may seem strange to have "opening ceremonies" more than halfway through the 1.5th day of the con (they had a half day of pre-con events on Thursday night), but given that people were still in line for registration at 3 PM, a 5 PM opening ceremony wasn't such a bad idea at all.  Besides the usual opening ceremony guest introductions, we got the second performance by the Asano/Yamabe duo, and it didn't disappoint even having just seen them an hour prior.  With opening ceremonies in the bag, there was a bit of a lull in interesting panels for this old man, so I decided to take the opportunity to head over and get checked-in at my hotel.  As it turned out, it was hardly conveniently located, being about 20 minutes away, but it was a nice, relaxing drive with next to no traffic so I didn't mind.  Funny thing about Raleigh, once you get out of the downtown area, it's like you're immediately out in the country or a giant forest preserve - there are just trees as far as the eye can see!  I described it to my mom as being Milwaukee plopped in the middle of northern Wisconsin.  A pretty nice place overall really.  And the hotel was also nice (I figured it would be, I don't tend to skimp on accommodations when I go on trips - since I tend to get stressed out easily, I like to have a nice place to crash when I make my escapes).  I neglected to bring a swimsuit so I couldn't take advantage of the hot tub, but still...  Since my stomach was still giving me problems, I took advantage of my rental car's nav system to track down the nearest Walgreens to obtain some medicine as well as rations for the con and after-hours at the hotel.  I also hit up the ATM in preparation for the slaughter my wallet would take the following days at the dealer room and artist alley.

After dinner and a shirt change, it was back to the con to check out Animazement's version of "Anime Hell." For those not in the know, Anime Hell can best be described as a mish-mosh of bizarre video clips, fake trailers, disturbing existential art-student animation projects, and general weirdness generally having little to do with anime unless it was some wacky re-dubbing of cheezy giant robot fare from the 70s or something along those lines.  It's typically very good time that tends to be tainted somewhat by cramped conditions due to the massive turnout it usually brings in.  Thankfully, as with almost all the major events at Animazement, the main hall was sufficiently large to hold even the most popular events, and this was one of the most enjoyable Anime Hell's I've ever attended.  Thumbs up!

I followed-up Anime Hell with even more weirdness in the form of the Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos panel.  And while I took exception to the (somewhat predictable) inclusion of BABYMETAL's "Headbangya!!" video being included in the evening's line-up, it was otherwise very enjoyable and humorous.  Indeed, if you combine the excess of the 80s with the typical Japanese flair, you really get some interesting results.  Check out their Facebook page for some of the wackiness.  Huge thanks to these folks for introducing me to the wonder that is BUBBLE-B feat. ENJO-G!

Given my physical condition and age, I decided the evening's dance was out of the question, and it was time to head back to the hotel.  MAYBE I'd give the Saturday dance a shot if I was feeling really adventurous.

"I'm on my way!" AKA Lake of Clouds AKA Requisite Shot From the Plane

Yep, it's a convention!

Consumerism Central AKA Kiss Your Savings Goodbye AKA Dealer Room

Artist's Alley

Opening Ceremonies AKA It's ON!

Pretty Typical Hotel View


Perhaps thanks to my early retirement the night before, I managed to make it to the complimentary breakfast at the hotel.  Pretty predictable fare, but I didn't have to go out to find food in the morning, so I can't complain.  I will forever be spoiled by the breakfast I got at the hotel I stayed at the first time I went to Japan, but this one's modest buffet got the job done.

After squeezing in a little more sleep after breakfast, it was back to the con for the main events of the weekend for me.  Indeed, today s#%& was about to get real!

I opted for the Shinichiro Watanabe (director of such series as Macross Plus, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo and Space Dandy) panel over the digital anime drawing performance because...Cowboy Bebop!  For lack of a better way of putting it, Watanabe-san is a cool cat, whose musical interests - ranging from jazz and blues to hiphop and punk - shine through in his many unique projects.  He's a vet and his experience shows.  He's also got a good sense of humor, which is always a plus for events like these where some guests' dry, withdrawn, professional personalities can prove cricket-and-tumbleweed-inducing to Q and A sessions.

Next was what I considered the pinnacle event of the weekend - the Kikuko Inoue autograph session.  I headed down at what I thought was a pretty safely early time - a half an hour before the scheduled start of the session - and found to my dismay that the line had already exceeded the point where they guaranteed everyone would get an autograph (the cutoff was supposedly 100, and I was something like 126).  I got in line anyway with dangerous hopes for Inoue-sama's understanding that many of us had traveled great distances for the opportunity, and that the con staff would allow her to be accommodating.  As it turned out, the line would expand even further beyond me.  Thankfully, it also turned out that I would indeed get my freshly purhased Belldandy pencilboard graced with the signature of the voice of the goddess herself.  Standing in line was a pretty intersting experience it its own right.  Ahead of me in line was this little dude who clasped and stared with nearly unflinching focus at a vintage 90s-era Goddess Family Club (singing group comprised of the seiyuu for the three goddesses in Ah! My Goddess - Kikuko-chan (Belldandy), Touma Yumi-san (Urd), and the uber-awesome Hisakawa Aya-chan (Skuld)) CD single, in its unique rectangular packaging.  That ellicited some nostalgiac stirrings in my otaku soul, so I decided to strike up a conversation with him about it.  I got the impression that he had some social...issues, as he seemed pretty withdrawn, but he gradually came out of his shell and we conversed about our con experiences and the like.  After getting miss Inoue's autograph, his excitement was clearly overflowing as was mine, and we reveled in the moment a bit together, reflecting on how sweet she seemed, and how she seemed to get a kick out of seeing the old CD single and pencil board (which, as I heard someone else mention, used to be EVERYWHERE - a requisite, cheap collector's item - but have now essentially disappeared except for dusty, old, leftovers found in clearance bins).  By the way, I must mention that she looked absolutely stunning for a 50-something (perhaps not to the extent where we could believe the joking claims of being 17 that she made in her self-introductions, but still damn good).  And her outfit!  <3 <3 <3  I can only feebly hope to eventually get in a relationship with someone who looks half as good at her age (not that she's "old," but given the average age of the attendees of the con, anyone over 30 is an ancient relic, and even at 10+ years younger than miss Inoue, I still felt hella old).  Oh, and as a bonus, Hidaka Noriko (voice of Akane Tendo of Ranma 1/2 fame among many others) was also in attendence at the signing, so I got her autograph as well.  Whoo!

SO, it was mission-accomplished at this point, and I figured it'd be all downhill from wrong I was!  For after the autograph session, Inoue-san and Hidaka-san had a special event in the main hall - a live recording of their radio program - It's a Voiceful World! This event included a Q&A session, with the seiyuu answering questions in your choice of any of their characters, some songs, a clip of their live action Sakura Wars musical, and a giveaway!  Kikuko-chan even sang a bit of the Ah! My Goddess opening theme a-cappella, which was a real treat.  The two just couldn't have been cuter or more entertaining - absolute professionals who clearly love their jobs and appreciate their fans.  AND, amazingly enough, I managed to win one of the giveaways they had!  Indeed, they had a mass jan-ken-pon (rock scissors paper) contest, and I ended up winning a signed Sakura Wars card and still-sealed "mystery" card.  I don't know if I dare even open it...  Anyway, this was absolutely the most enjoyable event I've ever attended at an anime convention, and made the trip more than worth it.  Kudos to Animazement for bringing these ladies to the con, and to miss Inoue and Hidaka for being great guests.

With the Inoue autograph and radio show in the bag, I just kind of wandered around in otaku bliss for a while, and eventually ended up at the Hidenori Matsubara (director/character designer extraordinaire, with work on Ah! My Goddess, Bubblegum Crisis, and what's it called?...Oh yeah, Evangelion) Q&A.  I'd seen him before at ACEN, and he's one of those slightly dry, quiet, professional-types I mentioned before who make for a less-than thrilling panel, and the fact that he couldn't use the overhead for his drawing demos made the panel even less entertaining, but I still managed to embarrass myself by asking a question that drew a blank from him.  *facepalm* At least my question was a little more general and unobtrusive unlike some of the crazy nerdlinger questions he got from the obsessive Eva fans.  I guess I just find it surprsing that he didn't take any more pride in any of his original characters than he did.

After that snorefest, I hoped the Shoujo Rock Heaven panel might prove a little more lively.  With a broad sampling of everything from 60s garage rock groups to modern power metal acts, it didn't disappoint.  Although I must say the Aldious clones that abound these days are totally overrated, and Existrance SUCK everything in sight.  I have a particular distaste for all "visual kei" AKA glam rock bands who put image on-par with - if not of more importance than - their music, and the tripe spewed forth by Existrance was the absolute dregs of a completely s#|++y genre.  This crap is not cool people, it never was, and it never will be.  At least I got the pleasant discovery of 54 Nude Honeys to wash the bad taste that Existrance left in my mouth.  Props to the hosts of this panel for their broad sampling of groups and excellent preparation for the panel.

Next up was the oft-ballyhoo'd masquerade.  For those who don't know, this is the costume and skit contest.  At its best, the masquerade offers some costumed humor and hijinks.  At its worst, melodramatic shlock.  Unfortunately, the latter ruled the day at this masquerade.  Truly, the levels of cheese that arose in this event put Mars Cheese Castle to shame.  Thankfully at least, I didn't have to wait in line to get in (at ACEN, the masquerade line frequently puts even the insane registration line to shame, and leads to being crammed-in like sardines with a bunch of overweight con-goers who smell only slightly better than those fish), and I had an uncramped seat once I did get in.  General impressions: AKB48 are bad enough, making an anime about them is even worse, and cosplaying as characters from that anime is the stupidest thing in a long time, making a lame wannabe Broadway-style musical dance routine is an insult to any anime, Aladdin et al are NOT anime (this was an annoying trend over the course of the weekend by the way - WAAAYY too many non-anime cosplayers - the f&*%ing Joker is not an anime character people, nor are Star Wars/Trek characters, etc.  It's a f#$ing anime con - cosplay appropriately.  This is, by the way, is the reason why you will see no cosplayers among the photos I took - there was not one character I liked covered by any cosplayer.  LAME!) and as Seinfeld stated to the nude guy on the subway - some people really shouldn't be so comfortable with/unashamed of their bodies.  Holy $#|+ people...  Oh yeah, and their was MAYBE one costume from any series I liked, and maybe one or two others that really wowed me in any capacity.  Also, the judges for this event were the most hilariously stereotypical nerds one could ever imagine, and are precisely the types who make me embarrassed to be an anime fan.  Yikes.  I'm sorry, I know I'm supposed to be more open-minded, but seriously people - shame, get some.

So after the masquerade, they herded everyone out of the main ballroom, only to have to herd them back in for the anime music video contest.  After the disappointment of the masquerade, I foolishly held some hope that the AMV contest might provide some humor or Slayeristic offerings...sadly, I couldn't have been more wrong.  For just as "the kids'" taste in anime tends to be dubious at best, their taste in music is the absolute WORST imaginable.  It's like slurping the bottom of the sewer that is modern music.  And what makes it even worse is their inexplicable obsession with hyper-melodrama.  It seems the sappiest sap isn't sappy enough.  There were at least three videos featuring footage from some wack-looking series where some girl violin player "tragically" (obviously!) injures herself and must make a heart-wrenching comeback accompanied by her crying male pianist co-protaganist, these videos were generally set to crappy acoustic drivel where the sounds of the singer's tongue clicking off their teeth or roof of their mouth was amplified to nauseating levels (much louder than the instruments...which of course generally only consisted of a sparsely jangled acoustic guitar) to over-exaggerate the "tenderness" and "sincerity" of the singer's delivery...*ahem...WRETCH!* The only things worse than these cheese-fests were the ever-so-dramatic "action" videos set to "epic" modern melodramatic fake emo-meets nu-metal with orchestral keys for more drama, including s#|+ I would NEVER willingly submit myself to under any other circumstances like 30 Seconds to Mars guessed it...Fall Out Boy.  The latter was particularly traumatic and bile-raising as they BLATANTLY ripped off the hook from an 80s hip-hop tune the name of which escapes me.  I have never felt so compelled to throw things and scream obscenities in public as while watching that video.  Nearly as annoying was a video set to the theme from Friends, which people were singing along with, and the video using clips from Evangelion set to the them from Fresh Prince of Bel Aire, which actually had potential to be funny, but the idiots sitting around me completely annihilated that potential by blowing the "hilarity" of the video WAY out of proportion, acting as if it were the greatest thing since Amy Shumer (that's a joke by the way, I think Amy Shumer sucks, but the young people love her "irreverent" barrage of unfunny smut).  I surprised myself by making it through the whole contest, but let it be known: if I ever attend another con, I will be avoiding the AMV contest like the plague.  I never want to hear crap like that again as long as I live.  Oh, and did I mention the complete dearth of any anisongs?  What's up with that people?!  Where's the love for the music that's at the heart of the entertainment genre you claim to love?

After the pain of the AMV contest, it would've taken something substantial to make me stick around, and with nothing but panels seemingly geared towards the female fans in attendence, I reluctantly bailed at the ridiculous hour of midnight.  Sadly, I wasn't going to attend the otaku dating panels with a bunch of teenagers, and the debacle of the AMV contest left me less-than motivated to give the Saturday night dance a shot.  I was feeling hella old right about then, and similarly compelled to act the age I felt, so I bailed.

At this point, I considered some wild ideas to distract myself in lieu of anything of interest at the con, but in the end I wussed-out (or common sense kicked-in, depending on how you want to look at it), and I convinced myself I needed the rest for the big day ahead of me Sunday and that I should hit the sack.  And so, reluctantly, I did just that, but not before being reminded of my crippling loneliness and loserosity by the couple having sex in the room nextdoor.  Yeah, have I mentioned that this is another of the reasons I stopped going to cons?  There are few worse feelings that being brutally alone in a sea of humanity - people who theoretically could be your friends or significant others, but for the "grace of God" preventing this from being so, other than perhaps having miles of skin shoved in your face all day and being unable to indulge your animalistic urges upon it.  Truly, such exhibitionism should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

Watanabe-san wears his sunglasses at he he can...

Dude in line for the Kikuko Inoue autograph session had this large-scale Belldandy doll/figure/what-have-you. T'was full of awesomeness.

Inoue Kikuko-chan(-sama?!) autograph in progress!

Aaand commence major flusteration/fanning out!
Whoo hoo!

Mission accomplished!

The "It's a Voiceful World" panel/show was a
great time for all!

More than just a pretty voice, Inoue-chan brings the live action!

OK so I lied about not having any photos of cosplayers...

Remember to stay hydrated at the con.  At Animazement, this meant going to see Fred.


With the bad taste in my mouth left by the previous evening still present, and the nervousness about the return trip looming, it seemed there was only one thing to do to cope: SHOP TILL I DROP!  And so, I hit the dealer room and artists alley hard, and with no regard for my wallet's feelings.  Unfortunately, or fortunately - again, depending on your point of view - Artists' Alley was sadly devoid of much quality original work, with everyone seemingly pandering to "the kids" with countless works featuring characters from all the popular series, and next to none from anything classic or even modern-but-moé.  Seriously, there was a brutal shortage of moé in effect at this con.  Why do "the kids" seem to hate anything cute that's not Alpacasso?  *shrug* I only made a couple of small purchases at Artists' Alley - one from Danielle Marciniak who did thoroughly un-anime - sorta tattoo-styled - but undeniably rad work, and one from Alyson "Tsundear Art" Comino, which I thought was an original work, but turned out to be her take on the girls from Madoka Magica in kimonos.  She probably thought I was an idiot when I asked if they were original characters, but her rendition of them looked so much different from their original Hidamari Sketch-esque style they were very hard to recognize.  Mercifully she managed to contain her laughter.


Then it was time to head back to the dealer room for the real buying spree.  Someone had saved me the decision of which figures to buy by snatching up the Konata (Lucky Star) and K-On! The Movie Yui figures I had been considering, so I actually resorted to buying anime DVDs, which I fully did not intend to do.  But of course, I DID score SOME figures - namely the absolutely mandatory K-On! 5th Anniversary Tainaka Ritsu, and...wait...that's it?!  Yes, sadly I couldn't justify paying $90 (marked-down from $135) for the Futami Ami figure I was drooling over.  MAYBE if it were bigger than 1/7 scale, or if paired with sister Mami, but as it was...sorry, just couldn't do it.  Similarly, I couldn't justify paying $60 for the Ganaha Hibiki Figma.  I mean, it was rad, but $60 for a 4" figure?  No, there were much better deals to be found (but while I'm on the subject of Idolm@ster, I must mention how disgusted I was to see MUCH more Love Live merch than Idolm@ster.  Why disgusted you ask?  Because Love Live is a crappy idol series that has become more popular now that Idolm@ster, which preceded it by several years...not to say that Idolm@ster is completely original, but in my book it really is the bar against which all other idol series are to be measured, and Love Live falls dismally short of that benchmark).  One such deal was the SUPER rad old school Ken-Ichi Sonoda "Bijyon" art book, featuring CLASSIC works from Bubblegum Crisis, Gunsmith Cats, Gall Force, etc.  I heard a rumor at the con that he'd died, but searches of the Web seem to indicate otherwise.  I certainly hope he's still alive, because he's one of my favorite anime creators of all time.  I was super tempted to buy some other classic artbooks from the same dealer (should've wrote down the name!!), but I couldn't justify it.  Anyway, back to the purchasen...  For DVDs, I snatched up the Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (atrociously re-titled as "Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl" for US distribution) box (including DVDs AND BluRay, plus a lovely hard-bound story guide book, all packaged in a gorgeous box that's sturdier than most box set boxes I own - this is one of my favorite series in recent years, and is definitely worth checking out - a nice mix of humor, romance, and general weirdness), which netted me an Alpacasso-esque squeeky pink ram plushie.  LOLrus.  Let's see...oh, when I grabbed the Ritsu figure, I also purchased K-On! The Movie on Bluray from the same dealer.  Yeah, I'd been leeching off my Web-downloaded copy of that favorite for far too long and it was time to give cash where cash was due.  Also on the DVD front, I scored the first three All Purpose Cultural Catgirl NukuNuku DVDs.  Funny thing was, the place I bought them from had a deal where if you bought four DVDs, the price dropped from $13 to $10 each, but I'll be damned if I didn't have a hard time finding a fourth DVD of interest!  I guess that shows either how particular I am about series, or how the majority of anime fans like lame-ass dramas or Shonen Jump fare, and distributors follow suit by carrying mostly those series.  Anyway, I ended up snagging the vintage 1989 Assemble Insert OVA.  Yeah, stuck in the past I am.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, when I picked up the Ah! My Goddess pencil board for Kikuko Inoue to sign - because I forgot to bring her solo CD and/or Goddess Family Club CD and/or Ah! My Goddess the Movie insert (which I'd previously had signed by character designer Hidenori Matsubara), I also picked up a You're Under Arrest pencil board.  I think that about covers all my purchases.  I really wanted to get more figures, but alas...

So after my shopping was complete, I gave the art auction a shot, but when I heard them auctioning off f$%&ing Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle paintings, I decided to nix it and I went up to the Live in Japan panel, which only served to further squash any dreams I had of living there.  *sigh*

The last event I attended ended up being another gem - it was the final performance of Asano/Yamabe, and they let it all loose!  Can you say intense?  Yeah, basically, your favorite drummer sucks compared to Yamabe-san on the taiko.  Just absolutely full-bore bashing PLUS technical cross-sticking and all that.  No kickdrum?  No problem!  And Asano on the shamisen - three strings, no power?  No way!  They just tore it up and induced more energy in the crowd than most modern rock groups could hope to do.  Add in the sword work of the Jacabals, and you've got some major entertainment going down!  Glad they saved their best for last and that I was able to witness it.

Since the closing ceremony started at 4 PM, and I figured I had to leave by quarter to four to make it to the airport on time, I simply milled about for a bit and took it all in one last time, then headed out.

Thus concluded my Animazement experience.  All in all, it was better than the last 2-3 years I went to ACEN, but still had a lot of the pitfalls that discouraged me from going to cons for so many years.  Will I ever go again?  Or will I ever go to ANY con again?  That all depends on a couple factors: if there were quality guests (if, for example, I ever saw any of the seiyuu from K-On!, or the aforementioned Hisakawa Aya, Ken-Ichi Sonoda, or similar calibur Japanese guests appearing anywhere), or I found ANYONE to attend a con with, I might be compelled to attend.  More likely however, is the possibility of my volunteering, or even preparing some works for an Artists' Alley appearance.  The Cult must be promoted afterall!  BUT we shall see...

Dream crushing in effect!

"You are now leaving..."

I was told BBQ was the thing to throw down your neck when in the Carolinas, so I treated myself at the airport.




So there you have it.  More than you ever wanted to know about my Animazement 2015 experience.

p.s. There is no post-script...I've said too much already!