By now readers have likely read through my previously posted convention coverage. I reported on a variety of events to give a well-rounded view of the convention and I hope our readers have enjoyed it!
In this final post of convention coverage, I'll talk about a few of the other events I attended more briefly than the previous posts (which is why I'm putting a few together in this one). For any readers who did get to check out Sakura Con first-hand, we hope you had a great time!
On Friday afternoon, I met with a group of Sailor Moon cosplayers for a "Sailor Moon Picnic." It was a lot of fun to participate in a Sailor Moon photo shoot! I got quite a few photos of me cosplaying Princess Jupiter taken with a Sailor Jupiter and some other cosplayers. It was this photoshoot that was one of the major reasons I decided to wear my costume all day on Friday. My costume also met the masquerade guidelines and was something I wanted to wear for the Sailor Moon panel.
In the evening, just before heading to the Sailor Moon panel I was leading, my boyfriend and I went to the masquerade ball for a short time. It was nice, but the song choices gave it a high school dance kind of feel, since there were a bunch of popular dance songs played while we were there. The selection did not include many slow songs, nor did we hear many j-pop or anime related songs. Last year it was mostly slow songs, so it was really nice for couples and gave those who checked out the waltz lessons a chance to try out what they learned. I would have liked to hear more anime, j-pop, and video game songs this year as well, since it was an anime convention. Those don't tend to be played in public very much, but the latest pop songs are heard everywhere. It seemed like there were a lot more people dancing this year though, so the change appears to have been a good thing overall!
On Sunday morning, the first thing I attended was the Kotono Mistsuishi and Dreamcatchers event. Although the title of the event as written in the pocket programming guide listed Kotono's name first, she was actually only on-stage for the last twenty minutes of the event. Some audience members obviously grew tired of waiting and left early, before she was called up on stage. The majority of this event was comprised of skits by the "Dreamcatchers" that coincided with some anime clips from properties I didn't recognize (the titles of the anime that these clips were from were not revealed at the event). This portion of the event was plagued with technical difficulties, and one of the skits was re-done in its entirety, although the only problem they had for that skit was during a live song performance. The skits did not seem very well rehearsed overall, and the fight scenes seemed a bit lacking in choreography as well. Some performers visibly showed hesitation during sword fights, which wasn't particularly entertaining to watch. Although I understand the importance of safety during sequences like this, perhaps additional practice and choreography could have made for a more interesting performance. The anime and skit sequences didn't seem to have any correlation to Kotono Mitsuishi that myself and at least some other audience members could discern. If anyone knows what anime the different clips were from, please share the details in the comments!
When Kotono was finally on stage, she was asked to do some live dubbing of scenes from a variety of her past anime roles. This seemed a little awkward, since the scene would be played in original, usually without English subtitles, and then the scene would be played again while Kotono voiced her role but all other audio was muted. Kotono did a good job, even approximating the "echo" of one of Boa Hancock's lines at the end of one of these scenes. Unfortunately, it was a little hard to understand for those of us in the audience who don't speak Japanese. English subtitles would have been helpful on all the clips so that more fans could understand the demonstration more clearly.
To close the show, Kotono sang "Moonlight Densetsu," accompanied by a live band and the Dreamcatchers who also sang along. With so many voices singing, and the band being a bit loud in comparison to the vocals, it was difficult to hear Kotono's voice among the rest (we were seated near the front, so the sound may have been more intense that close). The event ended with a disappointing apology from one of the Dreamcatchers, claiming that they had planned a two hour show, but didn't realize they were going to have a one hour time-slot. This meant that a competition that Kotono was going to judge had to be cut.
Later, people complained about this event (perhaps you've already seen some comments on other websites?); regarding the timing and how short Kotono's appearance was.
My boyfriend e-mailed convention staff to say that we were disappointed with some of the technical difficulties this year, while also mentioning that we were highly impressed last year with how smoothly everything went. He also asked about the Dreamcatchers event. The convention representative who responded indicated that there was some faulty equipment that will be replaced before next year's convention. Also, the representative stated that the Dreamcatchers were told on multiple occasions how much time was actually allotted to them. Convention staff tried to give them extra time, but they were not willing to set back other events in the same room because of an oversight by the Dreamcatchers.
I think it's worth noting that the pocket guide schedule was released on April 7th, a full 15 days prior to the convention. As a panelist, I made a point of looking out for the schedule to verify when the panel would be and how much time I was allotted. It's strange to me that the Dreamcatchers made it seem as if convention staff was responsible for there not being enough time, when the timing details were released in advance and they should have modified their event if there were unexpected discrepancies; instead of unprofessionally blaming convention staff. I must admit, I was disappointed in the event to the extent that I felt it would have been much better for me to attend something else instead. It may seem harsh, but if I see Dreamcatchers listed in the programming guide of a future convention, I'll choose to miss their performance.
Unfortunately, the Dark Horse Industry panel was scheduled at the same time, so I was unable to catch it. Sorry about that one readers, but I'm sure they have a list of newly released and upcoming titles on their website!
Sailor Moon Trading Cards. A few of the card fronts, a card back, and the package.
A view of all the card front is available in an alternate photo.
One of the other events I managed to catch a portion of on Sunday, after lunch, was the "State of the Industry" panel, which had representatives of Funimation, Bandai, Dark Horse, and MGS. One of the major topics of discussion during this panel was the problem of piracy and how it hurts the anime industry. Companies are currently making efforts to lessen piracy and illegal downloads, but there is no expectation that piracy will disappear any time soon. The panelists even indicated that they expect piracy to always be a problem in some form.
Panelists encouraged the audience to use legal methods of viewing anime such as authorized streaming and simulcasts (many of these are free, but ad-supported). There are also companies who sell combo releases of Blu-Ray and DVD together. Costs are able to go down for these items as they take up less shelf space while offering multiple viewing options for buyers. It seems to be just one of various efforts being made to keep anime affordable, in order to encourage ownership and reduce piracy.
Regarding e-manga, there is currently no simulcasting type efforts in place for manga series. However, Dark Horse is interested in having releases online sooner and making efforts to find a way for faster online publishing to become a reality.
My boyfriend and I had to leave the convention early (it was Easter weekend and we had plans with family) so we did not catch the closing ceremonies this time around. All in all it was a great convention experience. Although there were some technical difficulties, staff was great about dealing with issues as fast as possible. I have seen things get much worse at other events when there were unexpected (or sometimes even plausibly expected) issues that had to be addressed for a safe and pleasant convention experience. I'm quite glad that Sakura Con staff shows that they care about having events run as smoothly as possible by dealing with any unforeseen issues quickly and professionally.
It's also encouraging to know that faulty equipment will be replaced before next year, to ensure things run even more smoothly. I've only been to Sakura Con twice now, but I have to admit it's one of my favourite conventions to attend. There's an awesome variety of events, a large dealers' room with a plethora of items to entice fans, and you get to see some of the most interesting costumes - from anime to video games to Disney princesses. It was also exciting to lead the Sailor Moon panel, despite my initial nervousness in front of a large crowd. I plan to be on more Sailor Moon (and other!) panels in the future. It's a fun way to interact with fans.
Here's hoping I see more readers at future conventions. And maybe I'll make it to Sakura Con next year too!