Look out Collinsville, IL! Exactly 3 months from our departure for Anime St. Louis, we went to its younger sibling, NatsuCon! This is our second year attending and my four con since April of 2012. Not too bad huh? We ventured off with our good friends Nathan and Tabby. It was their 4th year at the con and it has only been around for 5 years. 🙂 We started the fun the evening before, on Thursday. I got tickets for us for our local college theater’s production of Clue the musical. It was mysterytastic! Mrs. White was played by a tall gentleman and he was a riot! The audience even got to pick the cards for the person, the weapon, and the room randomly and the actors, by the music, had to figure out who did it that night. But, in the end, it was my awesome college choir teacher, who was playing the piano in the back! xD WHAT A TWIST! The audience also got to try to play the game with the actors and the winners went into a hat and two got free Clue board games. It was so great! I was SO happy because I got a HUGE discount for all the tickets since I work at the college in the summer for College for Kids. I got all our tickets for $6 when normally I would have had to pay $28! WOOT! >.< I was SO tired that day though, working all day, staying late with my sub to go over the next day, and staying even later to make last minute copies and prep for the next week until I walked to the theater. Still, it was a great kick-off to the con! ^_^
The ride there was smooth although we were 45 minutes behind schedule, but we still made it there a tad after 11:00 am (the con got moved up 4 hours from the previous year). Tabby and I went to get dressed in our cosplay. I FINALLY got to be my Sailor V, Champion of justice! ^___^ Tabby wore her Alucard from Hellsing cosplay. I got lots of high pitched shrills from girls and guys and tons of hugs and smiles, but hardly anyone took pictures of ANYONE this year! It was so great being a character I love, but the weapons I made did not hold up well (the paint was peeling off), so I just put them in my purse and Arteritis would not be taped to my shoulder, so I carried him, which was hard to work around, but I got it after practice. Will talk more about my cosplay later.
The line was all the way around the side of the building and the main doors locked. However, the lines were organized with those movie theater ropes into four sections and the lines on the side hall that is rarely used instead of looking like a wiggle worm in the middle of the convention center. It was very organized and I am grateful for their time on that along with how they posted what was in each room outside the room itself along with times! So, Natsu Con, YOU ROCK FOR ORGANIZATION! 😀 10 out of 10 stars and the most organized I have seen a set-up so far. ^.^ It took no time at all to get in line.
We had a little time to walk through the halls, where the artists were. They were amazing and bubbly as always. Last year, with them being on the side of the hallway, it was cramped, so I was worried, but it was not too bad this year. I even got some Pokémon, homemade of coarse, plushies BEFORE the con started! I am SO BAD! >.< I got a baby Ninetails, a baby Glacion (since I have the ears), a really rad looking Magikarp, and a kawaii Vaperon, all for $15, which was great. 🙂 However, the vendor’s room was not open until 4:00, which was odd. I am curious why, but once it was open, they were good and I liked how it had more space they had compared to Anime St. Louis. There were a good chuck on new vendors, which is nice for us locals. 🙂
The opening ceremony had the same MC as last time and he was, once again, FULL of energy and amazing. Not too crowded in there since most cons start at 4 or 5 and it was noon. Nothing flashy, but good fun. I DID like the game show host who took a picture of all of us and was so happy and funny! ^_^ I will give it at 8 out of 10 stars.
Next was Samurai Jillian’s stage show. I have seen her and Dan do it together twice now, so this was my third time, but this was her first con alone (Dan double booked them…-_-;; BUT! Dan was with VIC that weekend! GAH!). She had 5 helpers though, all awesome, along with her two Akita doggies who were so sweet and fluffy! *fan girl shrill* xD But, I did tape the highlights of the stage show and its on YouTube. She did amazing and I could tell she had so much fun doing Dan’s part at the end. Jillian, you are amazing! ^_^ I also love how they interact with the audience. At the end of the stage show, which was only a half hour, they sold DVDs and had 3 new ones. They also sold fan buttons that Jamie, her main assistant AKA Sneaky Ninja, drew. One has Jillian chasing Dan with a sword and the other has Dan holding a shiny sword above Jillian’s head because she is obsessed with shiny things (ADOS). I got both buttons and for the first time, Jillian did autographs! YEAY! 😀 I got her to sign the shiny one and am saving the chasing one for Dan to sign. I also got a picture with her in my Sailor V outfit, however, my mask was falling off something awful (later I fixed this with top stick on my face in the hotel room…odd), so sorry the picture it not that great. 10 out of 10 for Jillian!
We went to St. Louis bread company after that for lunch. MAN! It’s expensive and, please do not kill me fellow Missourians that I love <3, but I was not impressed. My sandwich was so expensive and did not taste that great at all. Derrick said the same thing about his. However, my soup was fantastic and so was my muffie (I got corrected by the clerk when I called it a muffin for they told me they do not sell those). This was my first time in there so now I know. The food was stuck in my stomach all weekend and everything else piled on top of it. If you have ever had that happen, it sticks! >.< I got to see our guest cosplayer, who dressed up at human Ariel in her blue dress. She was a sweetheart and was gushing over my outfit earlier when I asked for a picture. She waved at us in the restaurant. 🙂
After this, we dropped off some items to our hotel room. Forgot to mention: we decided to go all fancy and stay at the Double tree, which is literally across a little bridge and the parking lot from the convention center. That was nice, but the price…not so much. We even got a deal for Natsu. We did get kawaii little card keys for our room with a red panda holding Japanese fans on it and we got to keep it along with share a cookie. It was a nice room and nice to be so close along with using the quick pass (I will explain that later). However, I hated that if you wanted breakfast, it was $18+ per person EXTRA, A DAY! >.< We got milk and cereal, but I could tell no one was really in the mood for it so breakfast, for me personally, was a bust. I honestly would rather spend the $65-70 max a night with free breakfast a night at our Days Inn and drive or walk the 2 super short blocks it is. I DID love that they had cleanest room contest for the con-goers and the 3 cleanest rooms would get a prize. I suppose it wasn’t us for we did not hear from anyone, but we thought it was a nice idea to get a good clean-up. We even left High-Chews (basically a Japanese Starburst) on the bed, instead of a mint, with a note to thank them. I would rate the hotel a 6 out of 10, mostly for price.
Went back and explored the artists some more (the vendors still were closed). After this, we went to the AMV contest. This is you watch all the anime music videos people made and submitted for Natsu’s contest. The internet was giving them issues, but the set up was much bigger than last year, which was an improvement and I loved how many videos there were! We saw all, but the master class. They still had a lot of fine tuning, viewing the videos wise, to work on, but the entries were all wonderful; I did not see one I did not like! ^_^ My friend Tabby did a fantastic job too! Woo! I would give this 7 out of 10 stars just for the set-up, but like I said, the set-up was SO much better than last year’s.
The vendor’s were open by then, so we explored and there were TONS of Eevee items at several of the booths, all a tad different from the next. I went Eevee nuts, but not as much as some. It is always hard to take everything in the first day. I promise I got more than my poor wallet wanted me to. ;)-
After this, we went to Samurai Jillian’s Ninja Sword class, which is where if you want, you get a wooden sword and she trains you for an hour on the history, reasoning, blocks, and attacks of the ninja and you get to carefully try them on each other. I get scared too easily, so I did not do it, but I filmed Derrick, Nathan, and Tabby’s group doing it. It seemed to me they had a great time and I loved listening to Samurai Jillian’s directions with her information and humor. Once again, 10 out of 10 for her!
None of us were super hungry, so we ordered pizza. The local place I wanted to try that said they delivered on-line apparently does not, which made me sad, so we settled for Pizza Hut. It was good, not great, but good (I am used to Dominos or Little Creasers). The reason I do not get them is, sadly again, price. It was almost $18 for a medium thin crust pepperoni pizza! >.< The pizza was not fully cooked too and the bread Tabby was kind enough to share with me was surely not (super doughy, although the spices were tasty). But, the coke we all shared was great, LOL! ;D After this, we played Uno until we had to go back. It was a new Uno with a new card that made us all mad…-_-;; Tabby and I changed out of cosplay (Derrick stayed in his) and we headed back to the center.
We were on our way to one event I was super looking forward to: Anime Hypnosis! ^_^ I friended (I suppose that is the right way to phrase it) the hypnotist, Mr. Brandon Elliott, on Youtube and linked all my videos of him to his page. He is so cool and talented at what he does so I wanted the world to know! 🙂 I asked him kindly that if I filmed him again (this would be my third time), if he would consider hypnotizing my friends. Well, we thought it started at 9:00, according to the schedule, but it was at 8:30 and that was the time we walked in, the second he asked for volunteers! >.< I was nervous they would not get picked, but he grabbed Nathan, Derrick, and Tabby on stage. I ran to the front row on the side, wearing my Glacion ears (I think I told him I would wear Pokémon ears a while back…). No one was near me, but I already had my camera in my hand and was turning it on when he smiled and ran over to me (still on stage) and whispered “Sakura Star 07?” (That’s my Youtube name). I nodded and he got happy and announced to EVERYONE, a crowd of close to 100 con-goers, about how I have been filming and posting his work, how I was doing it again, and asked everyone to give me a hand, which they did happily. My camera had to turn on when he said this so I got it on tape. I just nodded awkwardly and tried to smile without blushing…-_-;;
ANYWHO! 😀 Derrick and Nathan sadly could not get hypnotized and went to sit by me while I filmed. He had about 20 people up there, him in a LARGE room (in fact, the MAIN room this time; big time there Mr. Amazing Elliott?! ^^) and normally, he tells us that one fourth to one third, so 5 our of 7, will not go under. When he had his clear group, he only had 5 who went under! 0.o So, three-fourths of the people did not go under. I was nervous for him, but, as always, he was a delight, funny, safe, and playing along with whatever happened. Tabby, however, DID got under and BIG! She was a gem and one of the 2 most vocal. ^_^ They did try a few new things, which was fine, but I still love the classic Pokémon, hot springs, gender bending, and K-Pop (this time it was a 5 headed singer, which was a hoot and a half! They all even crashed together at one point! >.<). I just wish Mr. Elliott had more people go under since he had to cut it a little short, but again, a riot and it is even better when you personally know someone up there. Mr. Elliott was is so nice and I hope he does this for a long, LONG time! He is a treasure. The room was a little easier to pan around, unlike Anime St. Louis, which I like. I will give him a 10 out of 10 and be ready to film his work and promote him for all time! 😀
Tabby was really wired after being hypnotized and kept hugging her guy, Nathan, all night, calling him sempai because she was hypnotized to! It was adorable and goofy all at once. Nathan loved it. Originally though, Derrick would have been next to Tabby and have that attention, but since I knew it was coming, I told him and the two switched. What was funny is one of the assistants was nervous Nathan was taking advance of a hypnotized girl (which, by his eyes worrying, has happened before, which is so sad). I told them they were dating and we all shared a laugh. We got to bed earlier than we thought, but we needed it.
Woke up Saturday around 8:30. I sadly woke up at 6:45 so I took my time getting ready for the day and read a book I had been trying to finish for over 2 weeks (summer school). We all ate breakfast, Tabby and I cosplayed, and were ready to set off, Nathan with his dog from Cowboy Bebop that he fell in love with (I still think my fuzzy bear that is cosplaying as a duck is cuter, but…^_-). Tabby wore a cosplay she worked hard on making and was entering in the cosplay contest. It was Koto from YuYu Hakusho the fox demon announcer. She skinned and tanned the tail herself! 0.o I once again went as Sailor V, my mask issue solved thanks to top stick. However, my wig was falling off ALL day and by 5:00ish, it was so bad that I had to take my whole cosplay off. 🙁 I will work on that for next year.
We explored the vendors and artists for about 90 minutes and Derrick and I headed off early to get a good seat for the Voice Actor Q & A. Natsu managed to grab Clairine Harp and Jeremy Inman. Ms. Harp is famous for China on Hetaila and Mr. Inman for Android 16 on Dragon Ball Z (the original). We got there early and I got to be in the front row, which was incredible. They came out with coffees, comfy chairs, and Mrs. Harp ready to knit socks (one of her favorite things to do) while talking to us. I look around and the main room only had, like 10 people, for them! 0.o My heart broke and Derrick and I were both in shock! Voice actors normally get at least 50 people at their group Q & A’s, even small cons like ours and I know Ms. Harp is well known for China! They were so awesome, talking about the industry and playing around. About 20 minutes after it started, about 10 other people showed up so there was 20 people in all. Still not right for their talent and kindness! >.< I did feel bad. I had my video camera ready to film it and Ms. Harp spotted me and stopped, asking “Excuse me, is that a video camera?” I was so nervous, but I told her it was and she asked very nicely if I could not film her; it has always made her nervous. My face was so red and I felt AWFUL, making her even slightly uncomfortable. I apologized many times, hiding my head, and turned it off immediately. I would have liked to film the session, but I respect her space too much. They were amazing and I wish the fans could have seen that. I give the panel an 8 out of 10!
Next was a self-defense class with Samurai Jillian. This is one I really wanted to go to for I am not very strong and I wanted to know how to defend myself if the situation occurred. I was not very good, but I did my best and Derrick was very patient with me; him and Nathan got them almost right away while the helper, Sneaky Ninja Jamie, had to help me a lot. However, Derrick did baffle her by how it took HER five good moves before he felt it at all. She said it is rare, but some attackers’ nerves might not feel it as quickly as most so to keep trying. I hope to practice more. 9 out of 10 stars. And yes, the doggies were there, peeking out from under the table, looking adorable! ^-^ By this point, my wig cap somehow snapped UNDER my wig, messing it up and there was nothing I could do other than take it off and try again, which was too much work. I suffered with it a tad longer. 🙁
After this, we all got a quick bit at Subway, always good. ^^ We then headed to the main event room for a new panel by Samurai Jillian and her crew: The Ninja Olympics! It was a lot of fun to listen to. First, we were split into two large groups and named our teams. We were *had to say it in a deep, throaty voice* Team Batman and the other team was team Velociraptor (they even had this cool move where they stood on one leg, did raptor claws, and made a high pitch shrill). The Olympics basically were fun and crazy games, all indirectly helping us with ninja skills. Some of the games were balancing a full cup of water on your body, bouncing a balloon without it falling, dodge ninja stars (like dodge ball), and others. Nathan and Derrick even got to compete! They had to do a close race. Nathan crab walked while Derrick hunched over him and they had to walk and race as one. Good thing they have known each other for so long! 😉 They got second and one point for our team (who won at the end). They got a prize and Derrick got a pair of toy Nunchucks (which are now on his desk). When they were racing, Samurai Jillian asked for the stronger one to probably be on top and she yelled “Derrick!” It made me laugh at how she picked MY guy, lol! This was fun, but just a tad too crazy for me, but since it was their first time ever doing it and they chose to share it with Natsu, nice job! 9 out of 10 stars!
After this, Tabby had to get in line for the cosplay contest she was in and Derrick and I raced to the side room for autographs from Ms. Harp and Mr. Inman. OMG! If I thought only 20 viewers for them at the Q & A panel was sad, then only having 6 people waiting for them at 5:00 on the dot like I was is a disgrace to humanity! -_-;; Even Nathan was surprised as he sat down and waited for us. OH! And my choker decides to snap right when I am in line, near Mr. Inman… >.< I was the 5th one and did not see any more come in, but they took us right away, all us fans of looking around to make sure this was right, that these great people only had us handful of fans. 🙁 So, I got Mr. Inman first. The girl in front of me asked if he could sign it “Stay awesome.” He smirked and did. I went to him, all shy (I always get nervous and shy when I am asking for autographs) and asked him to sign my panda bag, I started having as many con guests as possible sign it so I will have a collection. He looked at and smiled, finding the leg (he is the first; everyone else has signed the space above or beside him) and signed it “Stay Awesomer! and then his name”. ^_^ I called him sir and thanked him (so far, he has been the only one not to mind I do that).
I then went to Ms. Harp, who was smiling. I asked her to sign my panda bag and she lite up, grabbing it and said “Of coarse! I’m freakin’ China!” I cracked up at this, at how honest she was, and she signed it “China forever!” then her name, RIGHT ON HIS HEAD! I love it! <3 😀 I also just bought myself my expensive gift for the con: a $35 Espeon hat that I love and I asked her sign it (Monica Rial signed my special Usa-chan bunny from Ouran, but was nervous about ruining it). As Ms. Harp was gladly signing it, I apologized immensely for filming her, telling her I had no idea she did not to be filmed. She waved her hand and gave me a sweet look, telling me something that blew my socks off. “No, I actually wanted to thank YOU. You are the nicest one I have ever dealt with. All my other fans get angry, some even yelling at me, enraged. You were by far the nicest about me being weirded about being filmed, so thank you.” First, I was thrilled and delighted she was thanking me, second, shocked she was thanking me for being a human and respecting her space, and three, disappointed in all the fans who did that to her. She is doing us a service with her talent and as our guest and should be treated better. I did have one more thing and I looked behind me, worried I would make someone mad. Mr. Inman cackled and told me “What line?” I normally draw a picture for all the voice actors I meet with characters I know them as, thanking them. This year, I had no time and Ms. Harp was announced less than 2 weeks she was coming BEFORE the con, so that didn’t help. I knew she was mostly known for China, but I betted although she was grateful to China, she did not want to be known as one character. Plus, I knew she was part Chinese and did not want to offend her by drawing a whole bunch of Chinese things, the main role I know her as. So, I read on her bio that she LOVES bunnies and has several. So, I drew 7 anime bunnies with different expressions and colors. The title was “What happens when Ms. Harp comes home from an anime con…” and they all are saying things, each having something to do with a con. I added a picture of it below. She seemed to really like it and was gushing over one who I colored white with black spots everywhere. She said her grandma had a bunny who looked exactly like it! She motioned me to lean towards her and look at the phone with her; I was in Otaku heaven! ^___^ Lastly, I got a picture with her. Sadly, my wig was bloody AWFUL at this point, so I look, honestly, horrid, but I still have memories and I was so glad I got to meet and chat with these two grand people. I changed out of cosplay super fast after this and then off to the cosplay contest!
We went to the cosplay contest next and MAN, that line was long! Literally EVERYONE goes to this! However, our Double Tree key cards (since the hotel as a deal with the con), counted as fast passes, which meant we got to go to the front! That was pretty rad! 🙂 We got decent seats on the side and I liked how they had the front rows reserved for the cosplayers when the finished so they could watch. I personally really liked all the 25+ costumes I saw (Tabby was darling! ^.^) and the skits were all good. Yet, Tabby said several of the cosplayers were up to 20 minutes late and the judging over 2 hours due to people being tardy. This made the whole event at least 20 minutes late to even start when they were very clear when the cosplayers needed to be ready. *sighs* It was sad and several did not stay at the end to get their awards, which I think they need to. I hope they make some stricter rules next year. I loved the cosplays, loved the skits, loved the judges, and loved the MC, so I will still give it a 7 out of 10 stars.
We went to Golden Carrel next. It was much better than last time, but my stomach still felt off from St. Louis Bread the previous day. We really wanted to go swimming, but we were all tired and it was 8:40 by then in the evening. I was passing out on the bed as I cuddled with Duck Bear and tried to take a power nap. It must have worked because I recall Derrick kissing me, telling me they were going and then the next thing I know, I’m awake and no one is near by. I try to watch TV, but I cannot focus. After about an hour, I drift off again until they call and tell me to open the door. I missed the dance. 🙁 They informed me that honestly, it was not as lively as it normally was, but I still like the lights. Anyone who was there, I hope you had a great time and I will hit it, even if just for 10 minutes with my bubbles and balloons I even brought, next time! ^.^ They also went to Samurai Jillian’s 18+ panel, Cards against Humanity, which is a board game that is apparently an 18+ version of the Big Bang Party Game (if you have never played that, it is one of the BEST investments I have ever gotten in my married life! SO FUN!), but Derrick said it was even a little to crud for them. After this, we all tried to sleep; it was well past midnight.
We all woke up groggy Sunday morning, but I slept a little bit more (still the first one up). We ate breakfast (no lunch for us that day, but a large supper on the way home), packed and cleaned well, hoping to win the contest, and headed to the con.
Tabby and I went to a panel about easy to make with American ingredients Japanese food (other than sushi and ramen). We even got to taste it and it was yummy! ^.^ It was a little disorganized, but the lady was the nice co-chair for the whole con, so she was BUSY! 🙂 I give it a 8 out of 10 stars and I have a book to look for at the Japanese culture festival this fall.
Lots of exploring; it got a tad old for I wish I had more money, but I made sure I was happy with what I got. 🙂 I still have yet to get a kimono, but ONE DAY! >.< After this, we followed the fuzzy puppies and got to pet them, watch the do tricks, and feed them as Samurai Jillian told us about the Akita breed (her two dogs are them. Their names are Naya and Kuma). The stories were so cute and the history interesting. She totally sold me that if I want a bigger dog one day (although I am prone to little dogs), then it will be an Akita. Derrick LOVED them! 😀 It was funny how Derrick was calling the dogs and they were ignoring him and Nathan, but when I said their name and clicked my tongue, they came to me and even lingered for a second so I could pet them. Naya LOVED Tabby’s shoes (she works at a vet clinic) so much that it took two helpers to get her to get off of Tabby’s shoes and stop rolling on them. At the end of the panel, Tabby had treats for the dogs and Samurai Jillian was answering questions. I saw Kuma (the boy) standing by Jillian and by impulse, I patted his bottom lovingly, like I do with my little dogs. Now, the second I felt his fur, my body flinched because I was thinking “Oh crap! This dog can pull 400 pounds like it’s NOTHING! He could bite my hand off (they are also double jointed if you did not know that).” Kuma-kun looked at me, sat immediately, and gave me the sweetest eyes, asking me to do it again. I laughed, seeing he is a big baby like my babies and I gave him light belly rubs, which he loved. These puppies are adorable and I hope to see them at every con as the mascots! 10 out of 10 stars!
Tabby, Nathan, and Derrick took a whack at the Samurai Sword class, but I could not film it for I was out of film. 🙁 Still, they had a fun time and plenty of extra swords, the helpers trying to get me to do it, but I was in charge of guarding stuff. People kept coming up late and the poor aides would have to catch them up on everything real fast and some were not nice to the assistants, which made me upset. I would give this one 8 out of 10 stars as an observer. We had a blast afterwards with Jillian talking about cosplaying and Avatar (she was impressed I knew the names of several of the characters; she loves Appa, like me!). 😀
After this was the closing ceremony, which was small, but SO friendly and fun! We even had a surprise proposal! IT WAS SO KAWAII!!!! <3 to the new couple! The video is on my Youtube. ^-^ I had some extra room on my SD card for my camera, so I switched them to get the closing ceremony. We, of coarse, ended with a sing-a-long. Not many of us knew it, but it was fun and taking another picture thanks to the game show host was rad. We talked to some artists, packed up, and after our cooler leaked, but we fixed it before we took off, we headed home.
We ate a dinner at Cracker Barrel (after having a ten minute delay because we hit St. Louis traffic), which is always amazing and then headed home, super tired from the fun weekend. Collinsville, thank you for opening your doors for us Otakus once more and Natsu, you were so organized and kind; we love you! Guys, please check out my Youtube for over 60 videos from the con, most all the events I listed above. Also, if you facebook, they have a page: NatsuCon. Check that out too for information for next year’s even. Here is their site too: http://www.natsucon.org/ I look forward to next year! <3 =D I hope you will have more people and higher spirits. The guests and staff were the best, but honestly, the goers as a whole did not have their spirits up and it did affect the aura. Cheer up con-goers! I love you and next year, we will rock this con so hard that Japan will hear us and join in; let’s make a pinky promise! <(‘0′<)