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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Anime Central Report - May 17th-19th, 2013

ACEN-2013__by_Kaitlin-Maginnis (31)
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Anime Central, also known as ACEN, is one of the largest anime conventions in the United States.  Held in Rosemont, (a suburb of Chicago) Illinois yearly, the convention encompasses both the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Located close to the airport for travel convenience, it’s just a short ride from O’Hare and then you’re there! Right in the middle of everything, this is the Midwest’s largest anime convention.


There were so many amazing panels offered that it was impossible to be at all the ones desired, there were so many events that sounded amazing and that was only at a first glance. With a con of this size, there is truly something for everyone. Starting earlier than most of the conventions I have attended, Anime Central began around 10AM with the opening ceremonies. They also offered a few other events at that time, but as often is the case, opening ceremonies draw people in.


On the first day of the convention, there was so much to choose from that it was a dream! Panels offered ranged from ‘bad anime’ to cosplay on a budget, and even NaNoWriMo, as well. Other amazing things that grabbed my eye included a panel on the origins of Dragon Ball, Anime Name That Tune, Philosophy in Video Games, Zombie Survival 101, JRock for Everyone and a behind the scenes panel from Funimation.


Anime screenings were plentiful; I was excited to see Shaman King, Neon Genesis Evangelion, One Piece , Inuyasha, and Love Hina just to name a few! The Everything Ghibli panel was particularly informative and a lot of fun. They talked about a wide variety of Ghibli movies from the well-known Spirited Away, and Castle in the Sky to Grave of the Fireflies which some people were surprised was indeed a Miyazaki film. The “On Your Mark” music video shown during the panel was terrific!


My Friday evening was solely devoted to music. Yukino’s press session was first up and she was so incredibly nice. It was a great beginning to the convention and it left me feeling energized and ready to tackle anything. Afterwards a group of us went over to the Rosemont to figure out where it was and collect our Kalafina tickets, allowing me a chance to learn the layout of the largest convention I had been to.  The rest of the time between was mostly spent exploring the convention and the amazing Dealer’s Room.


Anime Central did a fabulous job with their Dealer’s Room and Artist Alley! Another convention with the two combined, like MomoCon did earlier this year, which allowed for everything in one convenient location. At first, the size of it seemed overwhelming, but once I got used to it and spent enough time there it was terrific. There was a fabulous variety in vendors; though I do have to admit I ended up spending most of my money there at the Kalafina booth, buying the three different CDs they had available. And boy was I glad I did that, because they were so popular that they sold out on the first day. I stuck around the dealers room exploring and enjoying the wonderful variety until it was time to go line up for Kalafina’s concert.


The line for Kalafina’s autograph was extremely long, and while it got cut, they were kind enough to mark the concert tickets of those who got cut to get priority access the next day. On Saturday I had the amazing opportunity to attend their press session!


The early Saturday morning hours were filled with more anime for those late night/early morning folks, which really catered to even more people. That way the people who don’t want to leave or couldn’t sleep had something to enjoy. But as the morning came, more events popped up, bringing with it the congoers awakening from what little sleep they probably had (I know my room had too much fun for a lot of sleep!)


There were panels on Japanese Culture, Folklore and Mythology which sounded fascinating and I’ll have to catch them if they come around next year. Don Hyun Kiiolbassa, a Gold medalist of the United States Chinese Martial Arts Team, did a great martial arts demo and answered questions about his work on the 2011 Mortal Kombat game. That doesn’t even begin to cover all the panels that existed about Cosplay, writing, even the ever-growing Homestuck fandom. ACEN did a great job of making sure there was always something to do and something for everyone!


“Cosplay Does Not Equal Consent” is a very important panel that I think everyone should have gone to or at least, think about. It is currently one of the hot topics in the convention community. In the evening Deathnote Mafia was a huge success and wildly popular as always. One can always find a good time there according to many congoers, and of course the Rave was a highlight for many. During the Rave I chose to play in the games room instead, having some great games of “Werewolf” with some amazing new friends. That’s one of my favorite parts of conventions – meeting new people and making new friends!


In addition to all this, some people enjoyed the Burlesque show Saturday evening. The general assumption of the people I spoke to were concerned, they assumed that it would be a teen friendly, and perhaps a bit ‘watered down’ event. Understandable considering the average age of congoers seems to get younger all the time. But the general consensus was a resounding joy. It was very ‘nerdy’ yet true to the concept and an adult worthy show. Apparently the Misty from Pokémon was one of the most memorable. A great success, the biggest complaint was that it was too short.


All three days of the convention have a variety of photoshoots! I attended several of them, and planned to attend more. They were mostly located in the same convenient locations so that if you went to one, you could find the rest with ease. The Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra and Fullmetal Alchemist shoots were my favorites. I also heard the Naruto shoot was awesome, and with all the terrific cosplayers I saw I don’t doubt it.


Sunday was a lot of press-related activities; but the highlight of that day was the final thing I did. My very last activity was well worth the wait – Yukino’s second concert. This was so amazing because it was so up close and personal and real. Performing on a large stage she seemed to utilize the runway of the stage and walk forward towards the crowd, connecting with the audience. Her outfit was casual, the dancing seemingly unplanned and the vocals honest.


I spent the concert listening to her and taking pictures, smiling at the genuineness you could feel from the whole encounter. Her management actually told everyone that it was acceptable to take photos and video, just to tag her if they were going to do it, spread the word. In today’s day and age that’s a very good move as people often try to take pictures and post them everywhere. With her talent and charm I’m sure she’s making new fans at this very moment. You can see my photos of here concert here.


All around a great con, ACEN was a little overwhelming for my first time. I look forward to see what Anime Central brings in 2014 because 2013 was completely amazing! One of my favorite conventions ever! To find out more about this amazing convention, please visit ACEN.org!


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This Anime Central 2013 report was written by Kaitlin Maginnis (Rain) and edited by Alicia R. Thomas. We extend our thanks to Anime Central, their wonderful guests and all the staff involved that made this coverage possible, and this weekend memorable.


 

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