Since I realized what an otaku was, I dreamed of going to an anime convention. I tried to convince my parents to let me go, but with college and us being not yet adults, but close, it was hard. So, once I was married and thank the heavens he is an otaku too, we knew we HAD to go to an anime con! So, this is our 3rd anime con in 1 year and we love them. ^_^ It is A LOT of money, work, and prep beforehand and can be stressful, but once you are there, a magical event happens and your heart is overloaded with joy and wonder. 🙂 You are no longer alone in your obsession with anime. People know what you are talking about when you compare CLAMP’s manga works. Gamer shirts are everywhere and each one is unique and creative. You feel like a movie star when people hug you or demand for your pictures; it makes all the money or time for making the cosplay worthwhile. Everything you love about the fictional world comes to life and it lets you see the good traits of reality. I love everything about an anime con and I know I will raise my children to go to them, WITH cosplay! 😉
So, Anime St. Louis is in Collinsville, IL, about 15 minutes from St. Louis in my home state of Missouri. It takes about an hour and a half or a tad longer depending on traffic. Which, as con goers know, is not bad at all. After crazy packing, wig checking (it was my first time wearing one) and a near disaster with my brother’s natural hair with me trying to spike it for Roxas; thank GOSH my momma happened to stop by and saved the day! 🙂 We were on our way! We refers to myself, my husband Derrick, my brother Miles, my brother-in-law Nathan, and his fiancé’, Hannah. So, five of us started on a journey to amazingness, a little cramped. It was Hannah’s first con. Listening to gaming music and doing goofy voices the whole way, we made it there a few hours before the main events started and already there were people there in costumes. 🙂 Hannah and I took a while to get ready in the fancy hotel bathroom and the boys waited nicely in the car. My husband already got a hug from a fan girl for his character. ^_^ Here are our pictures from Saturday as our characters (Hannah was Nana from the anime Nana on Friday):
We went in to get our badges and Col. Mustang borrowed my brother’s keyblade for a picture. I was barely in the door when I heard “Mai Valentine!” And I got a few pictures. I sadly had been practicing my Mai pose for a while and I think at least by Saturday morning, I had it down. My duel deck and sleeves kept sliding off though (it was a closet cosplay). So I tired purple ribbon TIGHTLY to my forearms over the sleeves so they would stay. Saturday I attached my duel deck to my boot tightly to the side and it still looked fine; it was going down my leg anyhow. I even got a secret ‘lover’ who asked me “Will you be ‘my’ valentine?” I cracked up and told him yes since Derrick already had fangirls and found someone cosplaying as his character’s wife, having to take a picture with her. 😉 Every time we saw each other, we flirted with each other jokingly.
Miles almost had his keyblade taken away though because it was medal and they said it could kill someone. I respected that they had to keep the con safe, but the way they were telling me did not make me happy. It was hard to not be rude (since I really love the con) and seeing the disappointment on my brother’s face. Luckily, a gentleman staff member took a look at it and said it was a soft medal. He told Miles he could carry it the point facing down, the keyblade in front of him and the chain at the end had to be attached so it would not swing and hurt someone. We happily agreed to that! Crisis dodged!
Went to Steak n’ Shake after this, which was awesome. The waitress was asking us about our characters. Then we checked into the Days Inn and unpacked. Now, time for the convention. 😀
We got there a half hour before opening ceremonies so we peeked into the vendor’s room as they were setting up. Near artist ally, there was a stand called Cosplay Armory. They knew my character along with my brother’s and husband’s. The gentleman, dressed as Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians, had a replica form sword for Derrick’s character. Well, Derrick wanted a sword so bad, but they were pricey on-line. The young man said it was $60, but he would sell it to him for $50. Even I had to agree that it was a good deal and he needed it to make his cosplay complete and I am always so tight with my money. As Derrick was getting money from his wallet, I saw Jack Frost and the young lady (who later drew an awesome sketch of my in my Mai cosplay for only $8 bucks; they were so fun to talk to all weekend), did a fist bump behind Derrick’s back and smiled, saying “Made a sale before the con.” I cracked up at this. Derrick was smiling from ear to ear and with his sword in hand, we headed to the opening ceremony.
The theme for Anime St. Louis 2013 was Adventure. The hosts were cute and the opening ceremony was decent. I would give it 7 out of 10 stars. Last year’s had a J-pop song, which really got the crowd excited and this year, the microphones were AWFUL all weekend. By Sunday, even the guests were getting upset with it. >.< But, the stars, as always, were incredible. I filmed the opening ceremony into chucks and it is on my youtube, which you can view by clicking on the blue cherry blossom icon on the upper right that says You Tube. Eric Vale was as funny as I dreamed and he is a huge fan of “Once Upon a Time!” ^_^
We then took about 45 minutes to look through the vender’s room and artists ally. Fridays at a con, I am getting used to all the people so I am scared to really look and shy to ask for pictures. Sometime Saturday, I break from my shell. At 6:00 pm, we went to the panel entitled “Eric Vale talks about stuff.” WOW! The line was long! I knew he was popular, but dang! Still, the room had enough space and I got a semi-decent seat (there is hardly a perfect seat from filming at an anime con). Eric spent the whole time answering questions and he is awesome. You can view this panel in chucks also on my You Tube channel. Eric also produced a film, titled The Chariot. Here is the link: http://www.ericvale.com/Chariot.html The preview looks SUPER INTENSE! A few other voice actors are stars in it too. Eric’s panel, for sure, was a 10 out of 10 stars. ^_^
After this, Hannah, Miles, and I went to get autographs while Derrick and Nathan went to explore. I got to ‘duel’ with a Seto Kiaba and made friends with a Jaden and Alexis from Yugioh GX. They were super nice. ^_^ The wait was only a half hour and the line went fast. Last year, we waited over 2 hours, but there were a few more guests. I got to Lauren Landa first. One, she is really pretty. 🙂 Two, I was in my cosplay still and she stopped and said “OH! I know who you are. Don’t tell me! ” She ponders for a minute as I keep smiling. I show her my Harpy Sister card and she snaps, saying “Mai! From Yu-gi-oh! I knew I would get it.” This made me happy and she signed my program. We discussed leather jackets (she was wearing one) and I asked her how she liked our weather here, with it rainy today and it was sunny the previous day. She smiled a little and said “I guess your weather is bipolar.” I cracked up and I am now saying this. She signed my program like this: “To Sexy Mai, Love Lauren Landa.” 0.o I was flattered at this.
Next was Jason Charles Miller. He was kind and signed my program as well. I told him his cowboy hat was legendary and he looked at me funny. It was not a mean funny, more like an “OOOOOkay…” He also signed it “To Mai.” It was my turn then to go to Eric and he stood up and left. I thought I did something wrong, but the guy in charge said he had to use the restroom. Charles sighed and Lauren said “Really Eric?! You couldn’t hold it? “Then she stands up and yells “Hurry up Eric!” and smiles at me.
Eric comes a minute later, saying he feels refreshed. I am shaking a little, but not NEARLY as bad as when I met Monica Rial last yet. That was so bad, my brother was standing next to me and could hear my heartbeat. Anywho, I said “Hello Mr. Vale.” He said hi back and I handed him the picture I drew him. It is not very good, but it is all his characters that I know him as, as chibis, trapped in a giant cheeseburger. America and Canada are at the top. A picture of it is on here. Eric’s eyes grew wide and he smiled, and said “Wow! I love this! Thank you. Here, you are so awesome, you can have a Chariot bracelet. No, you can have two!” And he tosses them at me all excited. He also throws one at Hannah and one at Miles. He kindly agreed for me to take a picture with him and he said “I have to have the picture you made for me in it.” I told him that was nice, but that it was not necessary, but he insisted and did it anyway. I was grinning a lot now. He signed my Hetalia fan art picture I got at Anime St. Louis last year and his signature is between America and Canada (both his characters), by Monica Rial’s. He then signed the back of Miles’ America plushie. Eric chuckled and said “Hey! I’m signing my head!” We thanked him and then left. In the little hallway to get back to the lobby, I took a deep breath and then shirked “I TOUCHED ERIC VALE!” (I touched the back of his leather ‘America’ style jacket, VERY lightly to not hurt it). Hannah and Miles rolled their eyes and laughed. We then went to find the boys.
After this, we all went to the hotel and were half way to dead on our feet. It took us a while to change into our normal clothes, but we did and we all went to White Castle to eat quickly. Miles, Hannah, and Nathan were too tired and decided to go back to the room to rest. Derrick and I, although tired too, knew we HAD to go to Anime Hypnosis at 10:00. I went at Natsu and it was AMAZING! It was the same guy too. I recorded parts of it (since there was a professional camera crew member in the back filming it). It will be on my You Tube channel as soon as it let’s me (it’s being dumb). The volunteers, which are so brave, did not have the cohesion as last years, but that is no one’s fault. The room was TOO big and it was hard to see what was going on, but I am glad it was filled for the hypnotist. I liked most of the situations he gave them, but again, they were not as good as Natsu’s. Not BAD by any means; I still laughed a lot. I would give it 8 out of 10 stars and Natsu’s (which is on my You Tube) a 10 our of 10 stars. Derrick LOVED it and now he wants to try it for Natsu 2013 (which is July 12th to 14th by the way. Here is their site: http://www.natsucon.org/ They also have a facebook). I think my favorite parts of this one were the Super Powers, The Hot Springs, and, and I HATE saying this…the MineCraft situation. Check out my videos to see what I mean or maybe the professional one is on You Tube… ?.?
It ended around 11:40 at night and Derrick and I were drained. We tip-toed back into the room and then got ready for bed. Day One of Anime St. Louis complete.
Day two: I woke up a little before my alarm. I normally have to get up at 5:00 am and be at work by 6:10 am every morning so I woke up around 7:25 am, which was so refreshing. 🙂 I caught the sunrise, which was lovely. We all slowly got ready and arrived at the convention around 10:30. We explored a lot at the vender’s room and artist ally again, me slowly becoming braver at looking and making a mental (and later that night) written list of what I wanted Sunday. The things I were scared would sell out, I got. I also spent most of my down time and a good chuck of money getting stuff at artist ally. I like the vender’s, but about 75% of there stuff I can get on-line and it is usually a little pricey. Artist Ally stuff is all original, handmade, and takes talent to make or create. I made sure though that I looked thoroughly through the 2 full length allies of artists and focused on the 3 vender’s allies on Sunday. All the items I purchased are below.
We also took pictures individually in our cosplay (Hannah was wearing normal clothes that day for her wig was bugging her, but she still posed with a lovely fan) by two lovely light pink cherry trees. Sadly, I had to swtich to some cheap batteries I bought and they messed up my camera! 0.o It made me upset and I went to bend to get my purse and fell! I was tearing up, I think mostly from embarrassment for I was wearing a short skirt, but I DID see dancing flashes for a while. Luckily, my cam corder can take pictures too.
Our first event of the day was a at noon and it was a Pokemon Game Show by the game show host Greggo. There was a professional crew again so I did not film plus it was PACKED. We were in the last row. Greggo said this was the 2nd time he had done this show and the first one went viral thanks to Cheeseburger (I am not sure what that is…Maybe you guys know?). I loved it! The questions were hard, but not overly so. Ones that if you missed, you went “Oh duh!” I got half of them right. ^_^ And he mixed them up, using all the generations. The goal was for players to get questions right so they could connect 5 of the same Pokemon together in a sort of connecting shape. This was round one. Round two, they had to find 2 or 3 evaluation chains. Like, if they found Butterfree, they would have to find Metapod and Caterpie and they would somehow be connected to Butterfree. But, if you got a Team Rocket space, your Pokemon were gone and a new question was asked. The third round was battling the Generation V Elite Four and having to find the attacks that were super effective against two of their Pokemon. The winner got to battle the champion and she got all 3 KOs in her first 3 turns! And since the game is all random by the computer, it was SO funny! We all loved this game show and I hope it continues. I will give this a 9 out of 10 stars ONLY for the winner. I do not want to say mean things about a person, but if you find the video and watch it…you will see why…-_-;;
We went to the Honey Tea Maid Cafe’ next. It was a 25 minute wait since we were a larger group, but we got to talk to this nice guy who was dressed as a character from Game of Thrones. He told us nicely how he made his outfit, even his chainmail undershirt, which took him a month in itself! >.< Derrick and him bonded and discussed his armor and leather accessories more. When we got in to the cafe’, it was huge and had lots of people. Maids and Butlers were everywhere. They had so many different teas and several sounded yummy, but due to my citrus allergy, I am always a tad leery, so I settled for hot chocolate, which was great. We got cheese omelets, which were good too, but small. Then, I saw a table have an order of French fries in this fancy swirl vase thing and I HAD To have them for that vase. So, we all shared 3 orders and the fries were GREAT! I didn’t want my vase to go though. :'( Poor Miles was inhaling fries and did not realize it. We sadly did not get to talk much to the maids and they looked so tired, all working for only a few hours and still having several more to go. We did play Hungry Hungry hippos while we waited. One maid preformed a dance, which was kawaii, but the workers were moving, serving, and talking during the whole thing. I know they had to work, but it saddened me to miss her dance. I think if the head of the cafe’ would announce we are all going to watch this 3 minute dance and then gladly get your food, us fans would have happily waited! I REALLY loved the group dance last year where everything stopped and we all watched their dance they worked so hard on for 3 minutes. Later, our maid from last year, Sage-chan, came back from break and she just happened to serve our table. She smiled at Miles and I and I asked if she remembered Nathan. She glared and said “Oh yes, I remember you and your costume; that is why I had to take a break to prepare myself for your black magic ways.” OKAY: Last year, we played Hi Ho Cherrio with Sage-chan and in one game, Nathan said “It would be funny if on your next turn, you dumped your bucket” (Sage only had one cheery left to pick). She spun and…her bucket tipped over. We were all shocked and Sage started wagging her finger about how mean it was to use Black Magic on a maid so she wrote him all these cards he HAD to wear the rest of the con and he was ‘band’ from the cafe’. Derrick was too for being related to him. ^___^ So, Nathan challenged Sage to Hungry Hungry hippos…and lost twice. He was upset that his black magic was gone and Sage grinned, saying she went to get her black magic shielding powers on her break. Nathan then showed her that he was wearing her notes from last year and she was delighted, reading them all. 🙂 The cafe’ was fun, but I missed the personal interaction. They added so many new things and sadly had no time to master them. I think if they added one new element this year and slowly built it up, it would be amazing. These lovely maids and butlers worked hard and we <3 you, but I had to give the cafe’ this year a 6 out of 10 stars (last year was 9 out of 10, only because they did not serve food).
Now, a little more exploring for me and Hannah in artist ally (although I was starting to get one of my really bad headaches and had to rest for a while) while the boys checked out the game room. Then, off we were at 4:00 to the Masquerade. This is standard for all anime cons. For those who are new, this is where people who created or put together their own cosplays get to be models and show them off. Also, there is a skit contest for original skits. I did not get to film this for someone or the con ALWAYS films this. EVERYONE goes to this! Last year, there were over 70 entries and the MC had no idea how to say the names. This year, we had the cute, Sailor Venus and Princess Tutu lover (YEAY) professional cosplayer CourtoonXIII, be our MC, dressed as female Robin then. She did a great job, there were 56 entries listed, but maybe only 46 showing and they were all AMAZING! I took pictures of the ones who stayed after and my favorites and they will be on the blog. The skits were cute too. There were 4, but the crowd’s favorite was Milktank (from Pokemon) meets Lickwick (spelling?). It was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO funny!!! I cannot express how shocking and humorous it was! I mean, the WHOLE audience gasped at the same time and then roared with laughter. I am not sure who won any of the contests; I will have to look. But, it was all amazing! I hope you guys (and me) can find it on You Tube. 10 stars!
We tried to get Nathan and Derrick in to the sleeping samurai, where you pay to battle people with issued foam swords, but they were having a tournament and were packed the whole con. I will scan it at Natsu to see down times for next Anime St. Louis. Jack Sparrow was there and he was wonderful, as always!
We then changed and headed to Golden Carrel. It was wall to wall people and cramped! The food, sadly, was not that great compared to the last two times we had been there. But, Saturday night on TOP of an anime con must have been a nightmare for those poor workers. Around the end of the meal, I got this explosive pain in my head. My headache was strong and I sadly was starting to sniffle. We had 45 minutes before the next panel and I needed batteries and Nathan and Miles had to get new phone chargers (Miles lost his on the trip and Nathan’s was busted). They went to Wal-mart, right down the road from Golden Carrel while I leaned back in the car and was miserable. 🙁 A near mini disaster did happen. Someone just left a cart in the MIDDLE of the lot and it started rolling towards the car across from us. I got nervous and started praying to the Kaze Otaku spirits, willing the cart to stop before it rammed and damaged the car. Well, I suppose they heard me, for it stopped. I exhaled, but I suppose the Kaze spirits are not fond of me for the cart, I kid not, did a 90 degree turn and started rolling very slowly and in dead center, towards Derrick’s car! I begged and prayed again, my eyes wide. When it was 3 feet away, I grabbed the handle, getting ready to leap out and push the cart out of the way when the wind died and it was maybe four inches from the car! I sighed again and then the cart flung backwards into the middle of the lot, stopping traffic. Two cars had to stop suddenly and were honking. A poor cart pusher had to get the cart and got yelled at by bystanders. It was pretty freaky and made my head worse. >.< Derrick was really lucky his car was spared.
At 9:00 pm, we went to Whose Line is it Anime? I always get a little nervous about fan made panels; you never know what to expect. It took it a while to set up, but the group knew what they were doing and again, someone was filming in the back, so it must have been well known. The games were decent (some I had never heard of), but the volunteers they picked were PERFECT! We were all rolling and laughing within minutes and Derrick said he already was in love with this panel after 10 minutes. I really want everyone to check it out if they can. The only major thing was that once, the microphone was dropped and the cute little girl at the front stepped on the volume button, turning the volume all the way up. It was the LOUDEST shrilling sound any of us had ever heard and it lasted about 2 full minutes as the group was trying to figure out how to make it stop. Luckily, Dead Pool, who was in the front row, saved the day. He won the whole game show BTW with audience consent for his comedy. So, I would give this 9 out 10 stars.
Next, we went to check out the rave a little bit. None of us are huge dancers, but it is fun to see all the lights and dance a little. Miles and I still had our light up sabers from last Anime St. Louis and the Light Up stand guy’s mouth dropped and said “They still work? Apparently I make too good of products because I was going to convince you to buy a new one!” Hannah got this silly green headband that looks like octopus tentacles flying everywhere. It felt odd too…-_-;; But, she was happy. ^.^ We danced for about 25 minutes, the boys in the corner passing the balloons I brought (we were handing them out to random people; Otakus love bubbles, lights, and balloons). The DJ was great too! Last year, the bass could clearly be heard outside and Derrick throws up due to the vibration when there is too much bass, so yeah…no Rave last Anime St. Louis.
At 11:00, we went to an 18+ panel, called Eric Vale’s Dirty Mother…of pearl…Shut your mouth. They card you AND check your badge. I could tell they were shocked I was over 18, but when the guard saw I was 24, his eyes went wide and he cleared his throat, saying “Oh yeah…you are fine.” Not sure how to take that…-_-;; I sadly cannot tell you what was said at the panel and recording was forbidden. They even promised to cut our throats open if anyone was caught with one! I panicked, dropping mine, and sweating with fright. Derrick laughed. I can tell you that the topics included: Eric’s Worst Con Experience ever along with some amusing stories about Chris Sabot, Lauren’s Con from Hades, Jason getting sung to by Ozzy Osborne, Jason having a butler cleaning up his throw up at some musicians party he went to (and yes, someone made a Black Butler reference), and Eric’s experience with his wife in a haunted hotel. ^_^ Although I was nodding off and they said WAY too many dirty words, it was great and made me love all 3 of them, especially Eric, even more, to share these experiences with us fans. 10 out of 10 stars for sure! It was so good, it went over by a half hour and the staff kindly had to stop it for clean-up, which made us all groan. None of us got to sleep until 1:45!
Sunday, we ate breakfast (again, I got up first and caught the end of the sunrise), packed, our trunk loaded, and put on our comfy Otaku clothes for Sunday. Hannah wore her pretty purple Chinese dress she got the day before that matched her popular for photos purple and gold glitter rose fan. I wore my Glacion (spelling) ears from last year, but my headache from the night before was still bad so after 30 minutes, I teared up at having to put them in the stag bag (which is a panda, woot!). It helped a little. I also had to deal with some major drama, but I will not get into that. I did get what I wanted from the vender’s room since several people leave before Sunday and although stock is a tad less, it is much less crowded. Oh, for you newbies out there, you know how there are sales on Sunday…that is a myth! We asked several venders that last year and they laughed at us. Two or three may have a few things slightly reduced, but that is it. Some lovely summer kimonos were on sale though, but I did not have enough (usually I never spend all my money at a con, so I took $75 less than I usually do; big mistake this year. Derrick and Nathan did a lot better than last year though). I did get my snacks, but the price on them went up by a $1 compared to last year, which adds up. I did get my one spoil myself item and got the plush of the Cat Bus from Totoro! ^_^ Last year, I got a giant Usua-chan, Hunny-sempai’s bunny from Ouran High School host club. I saw several plush I wanted, but I could get them on rightstuf.com or Amazon. It is hard to get the Cat Bus unless it is an import (I have researched). I spent more at that stand than I wanted so I had to ask Derrick to borrow money, which I HATE doing. I paid him back the next day at home, but most booths do not take cards or checks so I only had the cash on me. I will remember for Natsu. The rest of the stuff I got will be in the pictures below.
The only panel we went to that day was the History of Kimonos (me and Hannah. The boys did more gaming in the game room). The St. Louisian woman is a true American kimono expert and historian with many projects and a large kimono collection. The panel was very informative, but held your interest. At the end she showed us how to put on a kimono. MAN! I knew it was complex, but not THAT much! >.< I did film this and will add it to my You Tube very soon. I would give this panel 9 out of 10. Later, she did a tarot card reading for Hannah and myself. Mine was not too happy. 🙁 I am apparently supposed to have a fight with someone I love, but I will rise above it like a warrior, using the divine as my sword. Hannah’s seemed fitting and hopeful for her. 🙂 I have always been fascinated with tarot cards and would like to learn more. Miles and I wanted to get Eric’s autograph again and photos in normal clothes, but we missed him by 2 minutes for he had to catch an early flight! o.o This made me sad for I wanted to normal picture and him to sign my panda bag (I have 7 guests/voice actors signatures on it already and want to make a collection. I sadly forgot it on Friday). But, he did have work in Texas the next day.
There was nothing else to do for us and we bought everything we wanted. Although I felt bad, we left at 2:00 and missed the closing ceremony at 4:00. Before we went, we got subway close by and it was tasty. I, again, got my headache back and it was hard to focus. I almost fell asleep. Hannah, Nathan, and Miles did in the back, but I made myself stay up to help Derrick look at the road. The only problem we had getting home was we took one turn too early in St. Louis and ended up in Busch stadium! The roads were blocked due to a game playing. Derrick was starting to panic. I offered to go across the road and ask one of the 7 guards talking to each other for help on how to get out, but Derrick carefully pulled a U turn and we slowly got back on track. It was only an extra 20 minutes to get home and we still got home by 4:45. We all collapsed after this.
Another con experienced and another chance to feel at home. ^_^ Thank you Anime St. Louis and I look forward to next year! Check out http://animestl.net/ or their facebook page for pictures and updates.
Us with others:
Great Cosplays (I have several more pictures that I will try to add to my facebook soon):
Maid Cafe’ Fun:
Candid and Other Types of Fun:
HomeStuck for my ‘candy corn’ kiddos:
Full Metal Pictures for my snapping fans 😉