USA! USA! USA! USA!
Patriotic for Japan, but patriotism’s patriotism, right?
Rising from the depths of the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Virginia, AnimeUSA brings out the best, the worst and the weirdest in the local population for three days of mirth, merriment and more than occasional bit of debauchery and bacchanalia. For anyone familiar with the history of anime fan cons on the East Coast, the Hyatt Regency Crystal City will certainly spark some memories. For those who aren’t so familiar, the con space consists of three levels of meeting space broken up by the lobby and an intermediate level with a restaurant and some space under renovation. The simultaneously nifty and somewhat annoying part of the arrangement was the way the convention was split across three floors: the meeting halls, the exhibition level, and the ballroom/basement.
It’s great in that it creates the really unique atmosphere, especially in the basement, of being in a world unto yourself. The annoyance is that there’s only one escalator up, one escalator down and the very overburdened elevators to get between floors, and less than that for the top floor of meeting rooms where the escalators don’t go. Added in this year was the renovations going on that closed of the usual stairwell to the third floor, forcing everyone to go through the restaurant when they would let us. It was closed off for part of Friday night due to some communication slipups between the con and the hotel. Not a total disaster, but still annoying.
The convention started strong and never let up too much, and I was able to kick off the convention a bit earlier than expected due to my current unemployment. In an unexpected treat, mostly due to my own inability to apparently read a computer screen correctly, my video was in the AMV contest. It was the first time I had ever seen it on anything other than my computer screen, so it was a very pleasant surprise. The evening rolled strong through dinner and a short bit of the concert by Freezepop, an American electro-pop outfit from New York City they brought in mostly because I guess they were available. Very fun act, but a little, well, odd for an anime convention.
As is usual at a con, Friday night rolled deep into Saturday morning. Your own intrepid reporter had a panel covering the best of the worst convention horror stories along with one of my roommates for the weekend. A surprising number of them happened to involve the very hotel we were in, said hotel having been the host on so many conventions in the past. After myself and my co-presenter ran over the time limit for the room we all ended up out in the hallways overlooking the atrium chatting the rest of the night away as the ravers roamed the lower levels of the building.
After a late start to Saturday due to some sleeping issues and too many people in not enough space overall, FUNimation led off the afternoon with a panel covering all of their upcoming projects. Nothing new, but they did admit to trying to take over the universe and gave a timeline of late spring to early summer 2009 for Sgt. Frog being released. The rest of Saturday was filled in with a mixture of panels and events culminating with 3 hours of “Bad Anime! Bad!” and a little bit of the band Versailles’s very very late starting concert. They were scheduled to start at 10 PM and ended up not taking the stage till about 1 AM due to massive technical difficulties. By the time I got there the audience was overall less than enthused and a lot of people were walking out.
Normally Sunday is the “chill” day at a convention. Things end early, people are already leaving, the dealers are clearing out stock. AnimeUSA Sunday was probably that way for most of the crowd, but not for yours truly. Starting any day with a Peelander Z concert will kinda do that to ya. Think really loud punk rock performed by a bunch of extremely goofy Japanese guys who live in New York and generally try to find the weirdest thing possible to do at their concerts. Using themselves as bowling balls, hula hoop games, getting the audience to do the limbo, chant “Mad Tiger” over and over while banging on colliders and more. Oh, and playing their instruments as loudly as possible. They do tour the US fairly frequently and I would highly recommend checking them out if and when they come to your town.
Sunday closed out with staying a little bit longer than I was hoping to at the convention site due to the needs of the person I was riding with. Watching the breakdown and closeout of what had previously been a buzzing hive of activity is a very interesting bit of time, but I’d rather not do it again if possible. Such concludes my adventures through the seedy underside of Crystal City Virginia. Looking forward to next year, or at least next February when Katsucon takes the space over for another weekend.
Below is a gallery of selected photos from the convention. Click on any image to enlarge: