2010 June 19

A more proper FanimeCon postmortem for this year, unlike last time, where I just went all drftgy and failed to elaborate any further. On the flip side, most of this is Momoi-related (you’ll see why), so it’ll be like an extended version of my drftgy post with actual backstory. Anyway, here we go!

So I’d been looking forward to this year’s Fanime for a couple of reasons. The first two are tied to my birthday, which is May 30. Since 2004, Fanime has always positioned itself relatively close to Memorial Day weekend, if not on the actual weekend of Memorial Day — among other things, Memorial Day, always being on Monday, would enable them to cap off the convention with a cooldown day after a weekend of excitement.

However, from 2006 to 2009, the May Thirties of those respective years weren’t con days. 2010 saw a return to that: my birthday would coincide with Sunday, the third day of the event, and I would turn 21. It was for this reason that I decided to take this year off from staffing (last year, I staffed E-Gaming and everything was very hectic mostly due to being a bit understaffed.)

The second reason — just as important — was the fact that I share a birthday with Panda, who I had gotten to know more and more over the past year. We’d made a promise to break in my freshly-minted two-one with a couple of (responsibly-taken) shots.

The third reason was the fact that Halko Momoi was announced to show up again. Having enjoyed the previous year with her (once again, drftgy), I looked forward to attending her autograph session(s), panel(s), the fan-run call panel, and concert — and Fanime had said that she would be interacting more closely with attendees this year.

And then they announced Momoi Quest. Momoi Quest was a stamp rally: collect stamps on a card at all six events for something special. It sounded really hype, so I looked forward to that.

In the midst of finals and finishing up the semester, Fanime snuck up on me really quick, but not before I got in a rush order to ExtremeGlow for 10 green, 10 aqua, and 13 Cyalume orange 5-minute ultra glowsticks for use in Momoi’s lives; they were all 5-minute glowsticks because Paranda did note that the performances would probably be indoors and I didn’t want to risk using low-powered glowsticks in a potential battle against the sunlight.

Day 0

Arriving at the convention at 4, I made my way to the pre-registration line, where I bumped into a couple of friends. The pre-reg line this year was interesting — sometimes, the line would shrink into itself, giving the illusion that the line was going even though registration wasn’t open (and because I was far back enough in line, I didn’t realize reg wasn’t open until Tom from Traveling Valentine tweeted about it!). It took about thirty minutes per “section” of the line to clear, which means that once Registration finally did open at 5, it took my group about an hour and thirty minutes to finish.

E-Gaming was open; I spotted a couple of people at the Technika cabinet that was set up in the arcade and said hi before helping out Tina at her Swap Meet booth. This gave me the unexpected side benefit of people I hadn’t seen in a while visiting me while I was helping.

At 11, I started to get lightheaded, mostly from thirst and the fact that I’d been standing quite a while hawking Tina’s stuff out — and I wasn’t about to pay $4 for a single bottle of Dasani water, so I left the convention.

Day 1/Day 2 (Friday/Saturday)

I arrived at 1, after passing by Home Depot to get a couple of LED glowsticks, picking up a friend, and doing a food run. The problem: opening ceremonies were at 2. Momoi’s event was at 3. My sister’s graduation commencement was also at 3. Thus, from 2:30 to 6, I wasn’t at Fanime, and so missed the first two events and stamps. There wasn’t much else to do during Day 1, so what I ended up doing was playing a bit of Technika and wandering the halls for a bit.

Day 2 was a bit better: I started the day off with some Momoi at 11 in the morning — then it was announced that makeup stamps were possible by telling staffers where the first two stamps were. (These makeup stamps would continue up until Momoi Quest 5.) I didn’t have a card on me — I had left my Fanime bag at home after Day 0 — but asking around if anyone had an extra card produced one, of which I was really thankful for (you know who you are!!). I got the three stamps, and a lime-green L-size Momoi 2010 shirt from the merch booth, then I headed back to my room and, while resting a bit more, ended up entranced by 2008 J-drama Osen, which my roommates were watching. (As an aside: the opening theme is really good and is probably the song I associate most with the convention.)

I went to the panel at 2 pm. Although it was titled “Momoi Halko and the Industry”, most of the questions asked weren’t industry questions at all. After thinking about it for a while, I went up in line and asked Momoi* how she ended up collaborating with Namco for Wonder Momo-i (a Taiko no Tatsujin song, of which its Oni chart is AMAZINGLY fun).

After the panel, the announcement was made that the next Quest checkpoint was at 12 noon in the karaoke room tomorrow. I got my fourth stamp and went to the Momoists’ call panel — which, although not as well-organized as last year, was still pretty fun and was a needed refresher for otagei — and I was finally able to securely put faces to names (namely catsspat and Paranda). Then, I went back to my room to rest up for Masquerade.

Masquerade, this year, was a so-so affair. There weren’t too many outstanding skits. Many of the cosplays were great, but some of the performances were questionable; at something like 45 entries, it became an issue of quantity over quality.

I came back to the room at midnight and celebrated my birthday with Panda. Three shots and a Tokyo iced tea tossed me into unconsciousness.

Day 3 (Sunday)

I woke up, Sunday early morning (I had to use that pun!), with a slight hangover. That could’ve gone better. My friends were quick to point out it could’ve been worse. I prepped up (realizing and remembering that “L”-size in Japan is not “L”-size in America, despite it fitting perfectly anyway), and, meeting with a friend at 10 in the morning, attempted to head to the Fanimaid Café for brunch. Unfortunately, it was closed, so we went through the dealers’ hall. I decided I’d search for Manabi stuff — a search that expectedly came up empty-handed.

We split up after I saw a tweet from Matthew Miranda announcing that Momoi Quest 5 was to be at 11 — it was 10:45 when I saw that, so he went on ahead to check while another friend of mine on dealer’s staff told me to wait because she’d head out to buy a present for me — a 1/8th scale Puppy Fuuko Ibuki (Clannad) figure. I thanked her, and, having not recieved a text from my friend who had gone ahead, went to the Karaoke room.

Turns out Miranda’s tweet was an edited version of the tweet he sent the day before, so I tossed out a tweet myself, which he did reply to, rectifying the information. Going back up to my room to get my remaining glowsticks, I went to Momoi Quest 5 and distributed glowsticks to everyone, assuming that this would be her last performance and maybe the sixth stamp would be at the autograph session tomorrow. It really seemed that way, as she ended this particular live with LOVE.EXE, which I’d always thought opened or closed her concerts — and then she revealed that the final stamp would reside in Ballroom J, right before the Black and White Ball took over the venue.

After the concert, I purchased an sweatband from the Momoi goods table, then went to the Fanimaid Café. The moment I finished paying for the food, however, I realized that most of the maids were performing at the second Fanimaid★LIVE performance, so for the time being, the Fanimaid Café had little service; the maid who initially served me noted my Momoi shirt and talked to me about that for a bit before taking care of the prep for a party of 30-something (can’t remember the number, but it was 30-something, which blew my mind!) I finished my food quickly and left.

As I did on Saturday, I went up to my room to rest for a bit, have some more food (the portions served by the SJCC are frickin’ tiny for the price!), and nurse my hangover…I was completely knocked out for an hour or two. I passed by the Artist’s Alley for a bit to take a more thorough look at their offerings (and to say hi to Panda and Lisu — the former had told me that Momoi had passed by her booth to thank her for a Tokunaga** plush she gave her).

Passing by my car to retrieve my last two UOs, I went and got in line for the last event. Entering the ballroom, I saw a stage and no chairs: the perfect setup for a final live performance.

I took the five minutes of prep time I had to bug Tenton, asking him how to do Thunder Snake just in case any songs called for it.

I used up my final UOs on Wonder Momo-i, which happened to be her second song (of four) in this last live, not expecting LOVE.EXE to come up again — so when the UO portion of LOVE.EXE came up, my green LED sticks were completely eclipsed by the sea of orange that suddenly filled the stage.

On the flip side, because it was LOVE.EXE, that thundersnake practice was instantly put to good use!

After that, we deposited our stamp slips into the drawing box and got a bigger “Limited Edition” stamp card in return, filing back into Ballroom J to perform the drawing. I went up to the front to take video of all the winners.

The first twelve drawings were for the stamps. There were two sets of six unique stamps, so twelve winners were raffled off first. Then, four people were to be drawn to have cake with Momoi at the Fanimaid Café.

I was the first one chosen. With trembling hands, I screamed as I went up to the stage while the next three winners were chosen. That concluded the raffle — people asked if the box itself — a box decorated by Toshimichi Mori of Arc System Works (the person responsible for BlazBlue) could be raffled; unfortunately, it wasn’t allowed. Rome won one of the stamps, and offered it to me as a birthday present; I refused, because I had won the grand prize, but he refused my refusal and I sheepishly accepted.

Bumping into Priz for the first time on the way out of Ballroom J (and having a nice short conversation with him), us four winners were directed by Yang, the staff member in charge, to enter the elevator in the Hilton, which took us up to Floor 18, the highest floor. The elevator opened up into a small lobby with two couches and two double doors. We were told to have a seat and wait a moment; Yang went into the set of doors that was open. We sat down on the couches and proceeded to make small talk — mostly, what the hell just happened this is amazing etc.

Turns out Momoi was getting ready, so Yang told us that we were going to wait down by the maid café. While killing time with more small talk and checking Twitter, I found out that part of Momoi’s “prep” meant “posting updates to Twitter for those who couldn’t make it”, which was amusingly awesome. We also took a picture with the Momoists from the forums.

Momoi came shortly thereafter and we followed her into the Fanimaid Café. Since this an after-hours private event, the entire place was set aside for our group, and, unlike that unfortunate time earlier in the day, was fully staffed; we were greeted and seated. Given a choice of cakes (if I recall correctly, they were ordered from Satura), I jumped at caramel mousse.

I usually have a tendency to eat fast. Apparently, according to some people, I don’t even chew. For this moment, however, I paced myself, hoping to time myself to finish just as Momoi did, but as it turns out, Momoi didn’t eat too much of her plate (a fruit cup and and two chocolate-dipped strawberries). Turns out that one of the winners was a friend of a friend, and I’d bumped into him several times during the convention — he had known it was my birthday, and so while talking about how many times we’d come to Fanime, just before it hit my turn, he stopped me and told Momoi that it was my birthday, something I was hoping to keep hidden from her until the signing the next day. Cheers were made; the birthday song was sung; I was left speechless for a bit (repeatedly thinking oh my god you just had to come out and say it) as Momoi started talking about how American strawberries were huge compared to Japanese ones.

At this time, the maids had noticed that we had finished our cakes and brought out the entire gamut of games to play. Momoi was curious about Operation, but settled for a quicker game, first: Crocodile Doctor, which ended in three turns. Then, Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots, in which both players — Momoi and that aforementioned friend-of-friend — played just by mashing frantically on the buttons, not moving the ‘bots at all. Momoi won that.

Then there was Pop-Up Pirate. Truth be told, I’d known it existed in Japan, but not in America. For this, I’ll let the YouTube video show you what happened — some pretty tense matches were made!

The last game was a game I don’t remember the name of (and it’s not listed on their menu, either!), in which there was a bee (I think?) spinning around and four players had three honeycomb discs they needed to protect by hitting the bee up right before it hit the disc. Three games of that were played.

Then, the maids treated us to a performance; there were four or five acts, I can’t remember. Of particular note was Mail Me to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Momoi’s debut, performed by thirteen of the maids.

After the performance, we were supposedly in a bit of a hurry to leave (the convention center wanted to clean up the café area), but maid café head Jun took the time to present Momoi with two gifts: a bottle of Salmiakki Korsenkova (because she would visit Finland for Desucon two weeks later!) — and the Fanimaid Café sign, which was revealed to have been signed on the back by most of the maids. A couple of the maids that didn’t get to sign it before, as well as us, also ended up signing it before we gave it to Momoi, before we parted.

I was completely exhausted. Heading back up to the room, my roommates were thinking of cleaning up right then and there, before the swarms of Monday congoers rendered the elevators useless; one of them actually tried, and decided that it was already futile — many congoers had the same idea, so we called it quits; shortly thereafter, I went to sleep.

Day 4 (Monday)

I woke up early Monday morning to prep for the Momoi signing, which was to take place at 9. I had planned for her to sign the sketchbook that went with my Mutsuki costume, but on second thought (persuaded by a couple of people) I figured I should probably get a shikishi instead.

The problem: the dealers’ hall, the closest place the get a shikishi, would be open at 10. Also, the shikishi would be $5 – a premium slightly skin to the $4 bottled water problem I had on Day 0.

The solution: Deal with paying $5, and ask a friend of mine on Dealer’s Hall staff to do me a favor. By the time I got to the line, it was 9:20.

Momoi had tweeted that she was streaming the signing live from her iPhone. Amused by anything meta, I tuned in on my iPhone, which supported the playback of the stream. The sentiment was apparently shared by Momoi, as she laughed when I showed her what I’d been doing. I had her sign the shikishi — she had recognized me as “the birthday person” from the last night, and appropriately labelled it “2010.5.30” instead of the 31st, which was the real date. I also brought out the stamp from yesterday and had it made out to Mandi, who designed the stamps and cards for this year; this stamp I passed on to Paranda, who also had a couple of items signed for her. (Coincidentally, four days ago from this post would be her birthday, so I hope it got to her safe and sound in time!)

I waited around, hanging out with a couple of the Momoists (but being shy, I didn’t talk too much). At about 10:30, Momoi was finally done with the signing, and was heading back to her hotel room when Paranda asked her if she would take a picture with us, and she agreed!

I packed and loaded stuff up into my car until noon; at noon, I went back to the arcade to hang out with a couple of the Technika players who had come from out of town again, and we had lunch at Hydration.

Talking with people at the tables near the Marriott side of the convention center, we realized that it was 3, and that closing ceremonies had already wrapped up. Plans were made to have a post-con celebratory dinner, and the group split up at 4, to regroup back at 6 at Curry House, in Cupertino. (Coincidentally, what I had at Hydration was curry rice, among other things.) Opting for chicken katsu, one of our group pointed out, once again, the fact that yesterday was Panda’s and my birthday, and so on top of the rather filling curry dish, we were also treated to ice cream on the house.

Then we went home. Upon arriving home, I went straight to bed, having survived another Fanime.


By an amazing amount of luck and coincidence, this year’s Fanime completely eclipsed 2009 as the best Fanime I’ve been to. It wouldn’t have been a Fanime without good friends around, and so I’ve got a couple of shoutouts —

  • Thanks to Panda, first and foremost, for helping in making my costumes and for being a birthday buddy. Twin power~☆
  • Thanks to Tenton and catsspat for hosting the Momoists’ Call panel this year. Also, double thanks to Tenton for the aforementioned Thundersnake 101!
  • Thanks to Mandi and ochawan for working on this year’s call book — and happy birthday, Mandi!
  • Thanks to those who gave me presents — namely, Rome, Tina, and Skuld — despite my incessant whining about how I didn’t deserve presents
  • Thanks to the Fanime staff for coordinating the event! Special props to Yang and company for helping out with and coordinating Momoi Quest!
  • Thanks to the Fanimaids for delivering a wonderful evening with Momoi
  • Thanks to the Technika players — you know who you are! Special shoutout to the Claremont crew — we should hang out again sometime, somehow!
  • Thanks to all my roommates — I unabashedly admit to sharing a room with up to 13 other people this year, the way hotel rooms at anime conventions are supposed to be!!
  • Lastly, thank you, Momoi Halko, for making my 21st birthday very memorable. 来年も出会いましょう!

Speaking of Momoi stuff, I’m posting this as she’s in Las Vegas right now. To all the fans in Vegas and to Momoi herself, have fun!!

* Watch the end of that video. It’s so good.
** Tokunaga is the name of the doll that Anise Tatlin (from Tales of the Abyss) uses as a weapon. Anise is voiced by Momoi; in fact, Momoi cosplayed as Anise at Fanime ’09.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. 2010 June 20
    Chun permalink

    Hella intense Pirating there.

    Also good to know that Kevin was of good use to you; seems like he carried a lot of the conversation stuff at the Momoi game party. He’s been helping me in CS Club practice my verbals.

    Damn, that is a good drama OP.

  2. 2010 June 22
    Jared permalink

    I’m so jealous!! Even though I wanted (so badly) to eat/play games with Momoi, I was glad that the 4 people who won seemed dedicated fans.

    Nice pirating :) Glad to hear you had a good birthday, and here’s to hoping we get more opportunities to see Momoi. (you’ll have to teach the rest of us nubs the thundersnake!)

    • 2010 June 23

      I’m down for teaching otagei…from what limited knowledge I have ^^;

      Here’s hoping to next year!

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS