Hot damn, it’s been a while since I’ve written something like this. There wasn’t many blogs on Sakuracon experiences, so I decided to post my own.
I’ve never been to Sakura-con before. The decision to go was kind of abrupt and sudden, but I ended up flying over to Seattle to attend, namely to get away from work for a little bit, and hopefully to get a signature of Fujimura Ayumi on an arcade stick art of Ibuki that I had made for me by Tek-innovations for my eightarc fusion stick. There was also some SAO related stuff happening, and while I’m not a huge SAO fan, I did want to ask about the infamous Chapter 16.5 and see how the author, Kawahara Reki, would respond to it. So I had a few motivations to go. Was it worth it? Oh hell yes. Still, every con experience has it’s fair share of struggles when things don’t go exactly your way, so I will take the time to share those struggles with any person who should stumble across this post.
Quick protip if you guys are flying in from the Pacific Northwest: Don’t take Alaska Airlines. They will lose your shit even though you only flew from Great Falls to Helena (30 minutes away) and then straight to Seattle. They lost my bag, which contained my arcade stick, my Kara no Kyoukai BD Artbook, CLOTHES, toiletries, everything. Essentially, this meant that I had the same smelly crap on for the next few days depending on whether or not they would find it in time. At the very least, they’d have it the next day. At most, they wouldn’t find it until a month had passed. I honestly don’t see how you can lose people’s luggage this easily and nonchalantly. As such, I was in a very salty mood going into the shuttle to the hotel and trying to find the convention center to pick up my badge.
As for actual pre-registration, one thing I do like about Sakura-con is that their pre-registration went from Noon until 9 PM. I don’t remember what AX’s was, but I remember it being only a few hours. Also, the wait wasn’t very long since I had gotten to the center at 7:30, I waited 30 minutes at the most to pick up my badge. Afterwards, with nothing else to really do, I decided to go back to the hotel, to get myself situated as far as clothes and toiletries were concerned. Since I didn’t know the city very well and didn’t really want to wander around looking for things, I merely bought a Seattle T-shirt at the hotel gift shop, a tooth brush + paste, and deoderant. They didn’t carry much else, so that plus what I had on besides the shirt were my clothes for tomorrow as well. Felt pretty gross.
Ended up eating at the hotel restaurant that night, got some sort of fish special with capers, white wine sauce, some asparagus and carrots. It was actually quite nice, and I remember thinking afterwards that it’s a good thing I got seafood since Seattle is a seafood heavy city. In lieu of bread and butter, they gave out a cheese, olive, and cracker plate which I ended up eating the majority of. The olives were the things I was a little cautious about as I’d never had them outside of a pizza, but it actually tasted a bit fruity. Dessert was this apple tart, which tasted pretty good. After this, felt sleepy, and I ended up trying to go to bed at around 11 PM, trying to get my 8 hours.
Aw yeah, let’s get fat.
I ended up waking up at like 3:30 AM for a random moment, I have no idea why. After trying to fall back asleep in vain, the neighboring room (1621) is filed with various laughter; I found out later that it was some guy and his 4 daughters staying over for the convention, but I have no idea what they were doing up this late. I do now that their attempts to keep quiet about their laughter was preventing me from falling asleep, so after waiting for maybe half an hour, I banged on the wall a few time, and it got them to shut up real fast. Still couldn’t fall asleep for whatever reason, so I just stayed up the entire night browsing, and ate at Starbucks once it opened. I honestly got so bored, that I just decided to show up at the convention center around 8:50 and wait out the last hour to get into the exhibition Hall first. Turns out it was a good thing I did, since this actually set into motion my entire weekend.
Again, rather than go to the opening ceremonies, I opted to wait it out to get into the Exhibit Hall in order to find Shikishi boards for autographs. Call it “Fate” (harr harr), but for whatever reason I walked down the aisle to the Aniplex booth first, where they were selling a con exclusive SAO wallscroll for $30. However, this was one of those “buy it for an autograph” incentive items similar to the time it was done with Katsuyuki Konishi back in AX 2010 or most of what NIS America does with their guests when you buy a BD set with the featured guest. As such, I was guaranteed the autograph session on Sunday with Kawahara Reki, the author of Sword Art Online, Eir Aoi, singer of Innocence (2nd SAO OP) and Memoria (1st F/Z ED), and Luna Haruna, singer of overly (2nd SAO ED) and Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau (2nd F/Z ED).
It was during the line waiting to buy the sAO wallscroll that I would meet my companion for all of today and of Day 2: Chang Kim. I had chatted with him a bit while waiting, but it wasn’t until after I had gone to the Copic booth to buy some loose Shikishi boards and headed towards the Sony/Aoi Eir and Luna Haruna booth that we ran into each other again. I bought the $20 concert shirt, as did he, and we started talking for a bit before I decided to ask if he’d wanna have some company for today, and he agreed.
After the dealer’s hall purchases, we headed towards the autograph room, which essentially was an isolated version of the autograph section that AX usually has during it’s years, with it being separated from the Exhibit Hall a good walk away.
The first guests scheduled to be signing autographs would be Vic Micnogna and Kawahara Reki at 12 PM. So we decided to try for it around 11:20, as Sakuracon does not let a line form until 30 minutes prior to the signing. This was actually a smart move on my part because I could monitor when the lineup for Fujimura’s panel would be. I would get out of Kawahara’s since I had Sunday’s session guaranteed (Chang had to leave on Sunday to prepare on school for Monday, so this would be one of his only chances). Because of this, I ended up being the first 4 in line for Fujimura, and Chang would wait for me once I got my signature until the time for lining up for Luna Haruna and Aoi Eir’s panel would be, which ended up being so. While in line for Fujimura, we did see an entourage and an Asian girl walking towards the back of the autograph part, which we assumed was Fujimura. It turned out to be Luna Haruna, however, as she was much too small. Apparently, she was walking towards one of the paths to prepare for her panel, which would take place at 1. When Fujimura finally showed up, her hair was a lot different from the Sakuracon/agency photo: it was brown/brunette, with short princess curls that went longer than her cheeks, stopping short or just after her neck. As soon as I got up there, I went ahead and did my awkward “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” to her and waited for her to finish. After getting it back and exchanging an “Arigatou gozaimasu” I awkwardly managed to stutter a “I love Ibuki from Street Fighter” (Sutriito Fuaita no Ibuki wo daisuki-desu) and she kinda laughed before I left.
I went to line up for the Luna Haruna and Aoi Eir panel, where Chang had said it’s already starting to fill up, but he was able to save a seat for me so far. When I went however, the line was already circling around the panel hall and some staff member said that “It’s to capacity, you won’t get in if you line up” …right as the line starts moving inside. Fuck her, I thought, and I proceeded to follow the line where I promptly got inside, got in Chang’s seat he saved for me, and proceeded to listen in on the panel. It was the same PR related questions where Aniplex/Sony is pushing their albums, and they only took 4 ish questions. Anime News Network has a summary of all the questions, I was able to ask one regarding the Type Moon 10th anniversary concert last year.
After their panel was over, it was a mad rush to get to their autograph session, which wasn’t too bad. Me and Chang got there fairly quickly, got near the front of the line and got our autographs signed quickly. It’s a shame that their actual autographs weren’t super decorated like the ones Aniplex was giving out on their facebook contest, and they weren’t personalizing them either which kinda sucks, but regardless it was great getting autographs from them. I really like Aoi’s butterfly motif in her signature, pretty clever.
After that was the Gundam Unicorn dub premiere. I’d already seen episode 6, but I was mostly interested in the Q&A portion (again, PR questions with like 3 questions from the audience), and whether the panel would be ticketed for the Gundam UC autograph session tomorrow (which it wasn’t).
So we all know that there are a bunch of retarded fans at cons right? Here’s one such example:
Some retard cosplayer was sitting in front of me wearing some weird Naruto costume (It had Sasuke’s clans symbol on the back, and he was wearing a blue leaf village bandana similar to that guy with all the scars on his face), and he was talking to some other nerd about which Gundam was the best or which ones were really good. Sarcastically, I go ahead and yell “Guys, the best Gundam is G-Saviour.” First off, these motherfuckers either don’t get that I’m being sarcastic, or they just really didn’t want to go along with my joke because I’m stupid, but Uchiha man seems more the one that’s like “You don’t deserve to like Gundam” because of it. Afterwards those two start talking again, and Uchiha man says that SEED Destiny was good.
“And you think I’m retarded for saying I liked G-Saviour?” Which I actually said to him, with only him rolling his eyes and turning away towards the screen again. Uchiha-man pls.
During the fan Q&A, I direct the question at both Fujimura and Stephanie if while reading the script for these past 6 episodes, if they feel Mineva is in love with Banagher or if it’s just some Newtype connection that exceeds all bounds and crap.
Fujimura was the only one who answered (but I would’ve rather heard her opinion than Stephanie’s, I just didn’t want Stephanie to feel left out…even though the previous question was directed solely at her) and she said that in the previous episode, 5, when Mineva jumps off the ship and tells Banagher to catch her, it symbollically means that Mineva is entrusting everything to him, whereas like she said before that Mineva usually hides her feelings and it isn’t until episode 6 when Banagher asks her what she wants to do that she steps up to her beliefs. As far as love is concerned, however, she feels that Mineva has the war to think about and Fujimura would like to think that after the war is over, perhaps they could have a romantic relationship.
Oh and they did a live voice acting contest. And I took part in it. That was fun.
The five that were picked (myself, two other guys, and two girls) was to dub Mineva’s dialogue with Riddhe right before she jumps off the ship and tells Banagher to catch her. So, essentially, we guys had to act as girly as we could for Mineva…except that the ones that did try to act girly and match Stephanie Sheh’s performance didn’t actually win, and it was the guy who went first who made it funny by having Mineva act as a man that won 2nd place. A girl won the first one and got to choose between two MG model kits, the Sinanju Stein (which she picked) and Riddhe’s mass produced ReZel suit (which the guy took as second place). The other three, however, got a poster…which was the same that I already got for asking a question so I got two and ended up giving one to Chang.
After the Q&A session was over, it was time for me to head to my most awaited event of the night: the Guest Reception.
I made my way up to the Sheraton hotel and took the elevator up (which, surprisingly, I took with Stephanie Sheh who was also heading towards there to prepare for it. She noticed me and congratulated me on doing the voice acting thing, lol). While up there, I decided to call Alaska Airlines once more to see if my bag was found, and they told me it has, but that it would not arrive at my hotel until around 10:30, which was all that could be done at this point. I then decided to mingle a bit with the other guests, asking a person named Spencer about how the Guest Receptions usually go, and him telling me it’s pretty relaxed and intimate. Another one, Ronikka Kendall, came and we talked about a bunch of various stuff relating to military crap (she’s a Navy brat), before going inside and finding a table to sit at. I immediately look for Fujimura’s Table, and while she isn’t here yet, her table is almost full. I snag a chair, leaving one left, and I’m introduced to essentially 4 pairs of couples/spouses and no one for me. Why can’t I have a qt3.14 gf. Turns out, none of them are really for Fujimura personally (besides one couple, but they’re more interested in just autographs in general) and said that they’d move out their for the sake of me once she comes. She wouldn’t show up until around 7 or so though, so we decided to just eat while the food was hot. I didn’t want to eat too much, so I only got a portion of the mushroom beef filet, yukon gold scallopped potatoes, and some bread and butter. After sitting a while, Fujimura did show up, but her and her translators, Bandai Visual rep and Ken Production rep sat at a table more towards the corner of the room, and we had to wait a while before someone would escort 4 (me, the couple, and this other guy who knew more Japanese than me but was still pretty bad) to her table. Even when we got there, she and her group hadn’t finished eating yet, and they would only semi nibble at their food when there was a large enough gap between questions. The couple asked if she would sign something for them, but the management said that Fujimura wouldn’t be signing anything today, and they left afterwards. It was just me, this other guy, his friend who spoke more fluent Japanese that would join us later, and Ronikka who would show up later as well.
I sip water the entire time whenever I get nervous. And it becomes apparent during the entire dinner because they start bringing me other pictche I’m chugging like 3 pitchers of water
First off, during the dinner, I stop myself at the beginning A LOT because of my nervousness. I end up talking with her translator more at first as he asks me to just relax and calm down for this. I take a few deep breaths and at some point later somebody (Her agent from KEN Production, I think) pours me a glass of water and I immediately take to drinking it whenever I either don’t have much to say, or before/after any question I ask. Ended up drinking 3 pitchers of water while sitting there. I still don’t really relax much, but I am able to squeak every possible question I could think of at the moment, every little trivial thing that I would want to ask a seiyuu if I had the time to interview them.
I wasn’t writing this down when I asked these questions, so the order in which these are presented don’t match the order these were asked except for the Ibuki question, so keep that in mind if these seem inconsistent. These are also only my questions, and don’t include the other people sitting here asking their questions unless I mention otherwise.
-For Ibuki, did she research 3rd Strike on the other actress who played Ibuki in order to get her voice down, or did she just audition normally?
She says no, and instead says something like Ibuki fits into an archtype that she’s very familiar with, so she played her as she did with no reference to 3rd Strike.
-She then asks “You were at the panel weren’t you?”
“Yes, I’m a little embarassed. [Voice Acting] the scene was really hard.”
She says she knows the feeling, she was like that too before.
-I ask if she went to a school to become a seiyuu, and she did. I ask if there’s anyone from her class that she also now works with currently, and she says the new seiyuu for Tsurugi in the new Inazuma Eleven. I think it’s Maeno Tomoaki (Junichi in Amagami, Hwoarang Japanese in SFxT)
-I apparently made myself apparent that I was a “die-hard Fujimura fan.” I really am not, I just seiyuu-fag a lot, but I won’t lie that I do find Fujimura’s roles among the ones I look forward to a lot of the time. I’m also just not over the general shock of getting some real face time with her. So when they point this out, I kind of laugh, and they ask me what character she’s voiced is my favorite. I list 3:
Chiharu from Hayate no Gotoku
Misaki from Maid-sama, but I do not for the life of me remember what her named was, so I just said Kaichou wa Maid-sama no Main Chyara desu. Yeah, exactly like that. I am such a faggot.
I say I’m sorry I can’t remember Misaki’s name because it’s been a long time, since Maid-sama aired in at the time I thought was 2010 (I was right too, April 1st, 2010)
I don’t know why I didn’t mention Azaka from KnK, but I do really like those other characters. Azaka should have been 2nd though.
As for Ibuki…oh boy here we go…
I say Ibuki because I tell them that I play SF in tournaments and Ibuki is my main character, even though none of this is the case at all (I don’t even play SFIV that much, let alone main Ibuki). They want me to go in more detail and I tell them about the Evolution fighting game tournament, and I give them a better idea by mentioning Umehara Daigo, Which seems to have gotten the point across a lot better. I then tell them I have something Ibuki-related that I’d like for Fujimura to sign tomorrow, which I don’t think got across to them due to something happening on Day 2.
-Me: “I know she worked with Okamoto Nobuhiko in Maid-sama and Seiken no Blacksmith.” I asked if them doing the opposite leads in Blacksmith led them to doing Maid-sama together.
She says it was merely coincidental that they starred opposite leads again for Maid-sama. Their translator said that it may have had to do with the synergy/chemistry they have together.
-The girl translator asks if the guy next to me ever thought of going into voice acting, and he says no, and I agree with him, since I knew a few hours ago how hard it was. She asks if he likes plays and he mentions he was in theater, and I mention I sang in musicals in high school, so I can sing, not act. The girl translator explains to me that actresses in Japan, besides voice work, also sing a lot sometimes. I mention that Fujimura sings the ED for Seikon no Qwasar. She mentions she doesn’t think she has a good singing voice. I don’t remember if I said “No, I liked it!” or just left it hanging like an insensitive prick.
-I ask about her working with Sakamoto Maaya and Suzumura Kenichi for Kara no Kyoukai.
She says that she felt like, because of how much of veterans they are to acting, that she had to try and keep up with their abilities when recording for Kara no Kyoukai, and that they have a deep connection with each other during the sessions. I mention to the translator “Well, that’s because they’re married, aren’t they?” and he laughs.
-Ronikka asks for her role as Kneesocks if she did anything to get into character.
Fujimura mentions that before she goes into work, she takes a shower in the morning and does a training session in front of the mirror to help warm up for the day.
-Following off that, I asked if her “RUUUUUUURRRRRRUUUUU” was already in the script, or if she herself added how Kneesocks pronounced it.
She says that in the script, the direction to elongate “rrrruuuuurrrruuuuuuu” was already in the script, but she of course was the first one to do it. I then asked if Scanty’s seiyuu then emulated her, but she says that each actress just said it the way they wanted to.
-Ronikka asks how she got into voice acting.
Fujimura mentions that she’s wanted to go into it since seeing Sailor Moon as a child when she was 12/13. I ask which one of the Sailor Scouts is her favorite, but it’s misinterpreted as which series she likes (Original, S, R, etc.). I then correct her in saying which of the Scouts/Senshi she likes, and she says at the moment, Rei.
We mention to her that Sailor Moon is being remade, and she asks if it’s a live action, but we mention it being an animation.
-I ask if she’s in any new anime this new season, and mention that she was Hauhau in Sakurasou, which they talk about amongst themselves a bit; they actually mention Ishizuka Atsuko, who at this point had already arrived at her own table earlier. She looks at her agent and then concludes that I need to come to the panel tomorrow, and she’ll reveal what she’ll be in, besides the new Hayate season.
-Fujimura asks us about Stephanie Sheh, and what we think of her. Me, being the ass-kisser I am, immediately say I like her Mineva more than Stephanie’s, but the dude next to me actually goes in depth on how Stephanie knows the community and material really well, and because she speaks english, she can communicate with the fans directly, and is very chill when approaching us. Fujimura asks how in dubbed anime, Stephanie also does production work, and if that’s a common thing. We say that it’s not common, and it’s the ones who have been in the industry for some time who also are able to acquire those skills during work to then work on those things. She asks what characters Stephanie plays, and we mention Yui in K-On, Mikuru in Haruhi, Hinata in Naruto.
-Question is asked if there’s any American actors she really likes.
She says she likes Johnny Depp, and her mother really likes Kevin Bacon. lol.
-Me:Your hair is different from the photo in the sakura-con book. (Smooth, jackass)
That hairstyle makes her look like a boy, she’s trying to be more girlish,
I ask if that’s her natural hair color *facepalm*
She says no it’s black.
Fujimura excuses herself for a second, most likely going to the bathroom. Guy translator asks that he notices that American fans are pretty erratic, but they’re also pretty polite with the Japanese guests. He asks why that is, and I explain that we don’t want Japanese guests to have a bad experience in America because we want them to come back again eventually. He then mentions that he thinks her Japanese fans should be willing to fly out to Seattle so that they can do things like Sakura-con’s guest reception to meet and have dinner with her, rather than just autograph sessions where you see her for about 10-20 seconds, she signs, and they leave. I agree whole heartedly. He also asks if there’s any other con that does stuff like this, I mention AX’s meet and greet, but the Bandai Visual guy says that it’s not dinner, it’s just being able to say hi to them for a bit, and not as intimate as this.
As soon as Fujimura got back, they said that it was time for them to go, so they thanked us and me and the other guys got up to leave them. All this while, people were taking pictures with Luna and Aoi, so I also went to get a picture of them with me. I then told the translator to tell them I’m looking forward to the concert tomorrow and they said something back to the likes of “Let’s all have fun together and sing!” I think LiSA said the same type of thing last year during her panel, standard idol answer lol.
Luna is actually a lot smaller than me, I’m just leaning against the window.
Got an autograph with Atsuko Ishizuka, who spoke a bit of English, enough to understand me when I said I wanted to get her autograph.
I tell her I really liked Sakurasou, she thanks me and asks who my favorite character is. I say Shiina, she says Nanamin. I tell her I cried for Nanami a lot because she goes through a lot of stuff in the series. I thanked her and left, and headed back to the hotel for the day.
Best $50 spent. Aside from the other $50 shit I bought here.
And to make things even more sweet, my luggage did actually come in at 10:30. Today ended on a good note, so tomorrow would be too and I’d get my goal of getting my Ibuki stick art signed…or so I thought…