Guys, Seattle is going to be crawling with cosplayers tomorrow. Some really good, some kinda terrible. The thing with conventions like Sakura-Con 2012, which I sure all attendees know officially begins tomorrow morning, is that most con-goers don't even really care who wears the best Itachi garb, or even who can pull off a better Cloud Strife. Just the fact that everyone can have fun wearing and doing and saying whatever they want for an entire weekend is enough to get those not already obsessed with cons hot and bothered. And if that's not enough for you, the idea of seeing the ironically "fashionable" Emerald City suddenly swarming with people in furry costumes and huge groups of sentai heroes should do it to convince you that Sakura-Con is still a big thing in Seattle every year.
There's a lot going on this year, with plenty of guests ranging from American voice actors like Steve Blum, to important figures in the anime industry like Gen Urobuichi and Yoshiaki Kawajiri. In between the tons and tons and tons and tons of panels throughout the weekend- hosted by fans of anime, guests, voice actors, and companies like FUNimation and NIS America- expect to hop in line for the huge concerts and raves going on. Naturally, it's difficult to keep track of all of the cool stuff going on, especially if you don't already have a plan set in motion.
This is where this handy guide and Japanator come in! Aside from keeping track of some key stuff happening this weekend, I'm here to break down some of the smaller, cooler stuff going on as well, breaking it into categories for those who love AMV's, want to show off your cosplays, the cool stuff screening in the theaters and so so so much more! Hit that jump for all of the details on this years Sakura-Con!
[Images credit to Eli Schwimmer]
There's a lot of crap to take care of before going to a convention. Aside from the necessities that you've already (hopefully) taken care of (food, costume, hotel, etc.), here's some things to supplement you're already awesome weekend, as well as things that you'll wonder how you lived without until now:
1) Download the Sakura-Con 2012 Guidebook App
This entry is not endorsed or advertised by Sakura-Con in any way... I'm saying this as a man who hopes to help out so many people this year when I say this. Listen to me, people: If you have an iOS, Android, or Blackberry smartphone or device, then you absolutely must download this Guidebook App. I was messing around with this a few days before, and what I can gather from it is that it's the solution to about every complaint I've ever had about Sakura-Con. Never. Again... do I have to pull out that ol' flimsy, 800+ page schedule that takes ages to decipher in order to find out when the next panel for Japanese bondage is. As well as providing the most up-to-date scheduling throughout the con, the app features a map of the convention floor for the newbies, as well as a complete list of guests, panels, times and social networking connectivity. Also, did I mention you can create your own scheduling, complete with custom time reminders and direct updates on how lines are doing? Fucking. Genius.
2) Scope the place out a bit
Even if this isn't your first/second time at the Washington State Convention Center, Sakura-Con has a knack of switching and changing locations up a bit year after year. Obviously, I don't mean to be babysitting you on this, but make sure you know where your hotel is in relation to the Center, where to get some good grub in case you and your friends get hungry, yadda yadda yadda. Honestly, if you download the app above, it'll take care of virtually everything.
3) Dude, just check out Seattle while you're there
Being a Washington native, I honestly forget that people come from all around the nation to visit Seattle. Looking at Mt. Rainier in the city backdrop, you have to realize that people used to paint pictures of this shit. It's a beautiful city (not always as rainy as people make it out to be), and if you're flying in or planning an awesome road trip... take some time out of your love of anime and check out some places. Pike Place Market is so close to the con location that you can practically smell the fish coming in!
Let's move on with the big stuff: If you haven't been keeping up with the stuff announced this year, here are the big events you should at least be psyched up for to see this year.
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
Start the con off right, people! Here's where you can get all hyped up as all shit, and get to listen to the organizers, guests, industry figures and special appearances all in one place! hopefully, we don't get another Van Von Hunter situation...
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
AMV's! If ya love 'em, they're here!
Dragon Age animated movie World Premiere
2:00 PM - 4:30 PM
The first look at the new Dragon Age anime project, brought to you by FUNimation. Features a behind-the-scenes and Q&A panel immediately afterwards
6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Here it is: this years big musical guests! if you want to rock your ass off, then make sure you grab that priority bracelet and snag a spot in line really early.
Masquerade Ball 2012
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Honestly, this was one of my favorite events that Sakura-Con held each year, so if you know how to dance, then make it a point to try and show up this year! No partner required.
Delightful Dream Dance
10:00 PM - 3:00 AM
Basically, this is the huge-ass rave that lasts into the early-morning. Glowsticks and Soul Eater cosplays galore. Cool name, though.
Cosplay Contest / Skits
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM [Main Stage]
Skits and comedy! There's no humor like anime-related, meme-spouting humor! Funny stuff for friends and family I guess and stuff... If you're big on dressing up, this is pretty much a must.
h.NAOTO Fashion Show
2:30 PM - 3:00 PM [Main Stage]
Dresses and shit! This fashion line has a period in the middle of it, so you know it must be hot shit in Japan!
Cosplay Chess (Main)
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM [Sakuradome 6E]
Another fan favorite, Cosplay Chess returns, where cosplayers act in a scripted, yet still entertaining, mock-chess game in from of a live audience.
AMV Iron Editor
4:00 PM - 7:00 PM [AMV Theater 6A]
Again, if you're big on AMV's, here's a really awesome event going on: watch in real-time as two editors create an AMV live. Siiiiickkkk.
Moi dix Mois / Kanon Wakeshima Concert
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM [Main Stage]
Another dose of hardcore rock coming at ya on Saturday night, where the band Moi dix Mois will be opening for Kanon Wakeshima. Both are hearty offering of loud noises and sweaty fans. Awww yeah...
Delightful Dream Dance (Saturday)
10:00 PM - 3:30 AM
Holy shit, another one? Well, in case you missed it the night before (because there's no way that you'd have the energy left to go to both dances two nights in a row), check out Saturday's encore outing.
Cosplay Chess [Unscripted]
11:30 PM - 2:00 PM [Sakuradome 6E]
A more insane, fan-participation-esque version of the popular Cosplay Chess. If you enjoyed it the first time around, this showing will be sure to top that, no thanks to its unpredictable nature.
12:00 PM - 4:00 PM [Panel 604]
Come join and help pitch in for charity by bidding on cool, autographed stuff from all of the guests at this years con. I certainly don't have that much goddamn money on me, but you can go right ahead and try to snag some sick swag.
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM [Main Stage]
This is it! The final event of the weekend! If you aren't leaving early to beat the traffic, check this out and feel all emotional and shit knowing that it's all over.
Now that you have a run down of what's featured this year, check out some of these to get into the cool stuff involving the industry, including company panels, sneak peeks, announcements and so on:
First off, the big-boys at the FUNimation panel kick off our FRIDAY batch [12:00 PM - 1:00 PM, Panels 618-620], no doubt talking about new releases and the new Dragon Age film premiere later that night, but stick around for some possible announcements and new titles acquired by them... it's FUNi, so expect something awesome.
PREDICTION: FUNi has been pretty silent about their upcoming series Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt... I predict some more info on that... maybe a cast list?
Following that, Aniplex of America comes in [2:00 PM - 3:00 PM, Panels 618-620], no doubt riding high on their horse with Puella Magi Madoka Magica recently coming out. More snags for AniAmerica? Absolutely. Even Gen Urobuchi is joining the panel! Holy shit... There'll be giveaways, a Q&A and a lot of translating
PREDICTION: A lot of talking about Madoka, given that Urobuchi is there. It's kinda obvious that Aniplex might grab the upcoming Madoka films releasing this year, but that'll probably finally be announced. A man can hope, right? Also, there'll obviously be some touching upon for the Bake/Niseimonogatari series and Fate/Zero, as well.
NIS America will also be making a modest appearance [6:00 PM - 7:00 PM, Panel 303] that night. Not much is given in the description, but there's still a lot that this upcoming distributor can prove tonight. Their more robust, extravagent panel will be held the following morning on SATURDAY [11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, Panel 615-617], where their official industry panel will hopefully bring the big guns.
PREDICTION: You know, I have no idea what could be in store, really. I am expecting an announcement for a newly acquired anime or OVA or something in that regard, but apart from talking about their latest releases and answering some fan questions, I'm really not sure what NIS could be planning. I'm setting my expectations low, but I would absolutely love it if NIS manages to blow me away with an announcement.
Viz Media [1:00 PM - 2:00 PM, Panel 615-617] and Yen Press [5:30 PM - 6:30 PM, Panel 3A] both have panels on SATURDAY, no doubt talking about their respective models for digital manga / releases.
FUNimation is holding a workshop for Princess Jellyfish fans [4:00 PM - 5:00 PM, Panel 601], making cute jellyfish and no doubt thanking their fans for the strong demand for a Princess Jellyfish release in the US.
Alright, so you spend (at most) $60 to come to this convention to meet awesome guests, loud concerts and show off your sick Team Fortress 2 cosplay... but why beat around the bush? We all love anime, and now instead of watching it at home, you can enjoy the comfort of watching world premieres with strangers. Perfectly loud strangers.
NOTE: Aside from these select few anime, there will be a ton more anime showing all weekend long. Literally. The three days of the con will feature non-stop anime screenings in 6-7 theaters. Here are only some of the amazing gems hidden within those three days:
Kimi ni Todoke [Eps 1-6, Sub]
10:30 AM - 12:48, Theater 4C-3
Okay... seriously? If you haven't watched this yet, march your ass to Theater 4C-3.
Okami-san and her Seven Companions [Eps 1-3, Dub]
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM, FUNimation Theater 4C-4
Screening of the newly released dub by FUNi. Todd Haberkorn should make an appearance in the theater, as well.
Bakemonogatari & Niseimonogatari / Q&A [Sub]
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM, Panel 6C
Features guest appearances by some people from NIS America and guests / people from SHAFT who worked on the series Atsuhiro Iwakami and Katsushi Ota. Pretty cool stuff if you dig the series.
GANTZ Live-action film DOUBLE FEATURE [GANTZ + GANTZ II: Perfect Answer] [Sub]
4:30 PM - 6:45 PM, Theater 401
An awesome opportunity to catch BOTH of the awesome live-action film adaptations of the awesome manga series GANTZ.
8:45 PM - 10:30 PM, Theater 4C-2
Madhouse blew it out of the park a few years back when Redline first came out, and now here we are with a screening of the (bound to be ridiculous) dub here tonight. Experience it. With an audience. On the big screen. My mind right now is, like: "Whoa..."
AKB48 Live-action Behind-the-Scenes documentary [Sub]
9:30 AM - 11:30 AM, Theater 401
Hey, if you like your idols, who are we to judge?
Princess Jellyfish [Eps 1-7, Dub]
12:15 PM - 3:00 PM
Okay, so I fucking love Princess Jellyfish... but if you haven't gotten the US release yet from FUNimation, you can check out the new dub here!
Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood Movie: The Sacred Star of Milos [Dub]
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM, FUNimation Theater 4C-4
Did you guys know that there was a red carpet opening for this film back a few months ago in Texas? Huh. I guess this movie is.... kinda?.... important to FUNimation...?
Alright, now we get to the good stuff. Aside from the awesome vendors area and getting to meet some voice actors and other guests, panels are where you're bound to spend most of your time. There are just waaaaaayyy too many panels to list, so instead here are my personal picks for some really neat/promising panels throughout the weekend:
Anime that Scarred Me for Life
6:45 PM - 7:45 PM, Panel 604
One of the more really entertaining panels, Anime that Scarred Me for Life never fails to have really entertaining stories to tell... I remember one year, a 14-year old boy talked about how he was not only tricked to watch the hentai version of Elfen Lied (cleverly titled Elfen Laid), but then he was actually pressured to finally watch the actual, gory series. Double Whammy.
The Busted Pixel Panel / MOVIE NIGHT (Powered by Friendship)
7:15 PM-8:15 PM / 12:30 AM - 2:00 AM, Panel 206
Starting a video game sketch comedy group sounds really lame and cliche nowadays, but The Busted Pixel actually has a lot of hilarious stuff, most of which has been featured on Destructoid and shit. One-part Mega64, two-part Derrick Comedy, the movie night screening is something you're sure to not be disappointed by if you're a late-night type of comedy guy. I mean that literally, because this movie night is at 12:30 in the fucking morning.
Anime Stand-up Comedy
9:15 PM-11:15 PM, Panel 303
Destined to either be genuinely funny, or terribly, terribly hilarious, I'm really excited to see both the talented people here, as well as the bombs.
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Anime trivia. Now it became a useful skill to know what color Ryouko's jeggings were in Tenchi Muyo.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Panel [Urobuchi/Iwakami]
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, Panel 6C
Like it or not, Madoka Magica is huge now. This panel, likewise, is bound to be huge. What surprises await us?
Behind-the-Scenes with FUNimation's DVD & Blu-ray Production
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM, Panel 604
Criticism of how translations and distribution work in the anime industry are bound to be put to rest with FUNimation's new outing in giving a look at how their anime come to be.
Cooking Otaku: The Panel
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM, Panel 309
Cute and Kawaii in Japanese Manga and Anime
12:45 PM - 1:45 PM, panel 3B
Do you see this?! That is the legitimate name of a panel. The year is 2012. And there is a panel call "Cute and Kawaii in Japanese Manga and Anime". Fuck yeah I'm going to this panel.
The worst (best?) part about this huge list? There's still tons and tons and tons more to do, including video games, tournaments, the AMV Showcase, autographs and countless panels all to satisfy anyone coming to the con.
So what about you guys? Anyone else excited about the convention this weekend? Let us know below, and maybe, aside from mine and Josh's scheduled interviews and panel-hosting, we'll see your ass there.
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