UshiCon 2002


Special thanks to The Golden Mouth
for getting us Press status for the con

UshiCon made its debut in Austin this past month. Being a first-year con, the numbers weren't huge, although they did end up larger than expected. Unfortunately, this rather overloaded the Four Seasons Hotel, which was definitely a bit too small to handle the peak crowds. It's pretty definite that the con will be held somewhere else next year, so there's not much point in talking in detail about the hotel itself. I will say that the hotel's layout added an interesting feel to the con. Between the number of wandering ADV voice actors and the hallway booths for groups like Studio Ironcat, it was pretty cozy. They were all quite friendly and willing to stop and talk.
They had 176 pre-registered, so they were only expecting around 600 people. However, they had 350 by Friday night, and by the time registration closed they had a total of 800 people. Some of them had even come from out of the country (Canada), which is a bit surprising for a first-year con. There were a lot of families there, kids included. Not a lot of little kids, but a fair amount of preteens and lots of teens with parents. There was a higher percentage of women there than I saw at Anime Fest 2001, and there seemed to be a very high percentage of cosplayers.
Unlike AnimeFest, there were no real extras for pre-registering. There were, however, some benefits to showing up early on the first day. A number of FLCL and I'm Gonna be an Angel posters were given out.

This time around I was far less interested in anime than I was with Anime Fest. Between my growing collection and the Anime Heretics Austin I've seen or have access to pretty much anything I'm interested in. That said, the anime selection here was pretty decent. There was a fair selection of recent stuff, including Read or Die, Fruits Basket and Love Hina Again, as well as some older titles like Cooking Master Boy. Thanks to ADVs participation, a couple of not-yet-released dubs were also shown. End of Evangalion was shown dubbed (US Manga has the rights, but I do believe ADV participated in the production, since it sounded like the ADV dub cast), as were a few episodes of the Excel Saga dub (more about it later). This was all very promising for next year's selection.

Also shown were some parody fandubs by No Lyfe Productions. One was of Panzer Dragoon (which they subtitled "Where CGI meets LSD"), and the other of Record of the Lodoss War TV (Lodoss: The Accursed Festival). These are definitely worth watching if you get a chance.
No Lyfe also did a panel on the fandub process. They're currently working on a new production, using Blue Seed. It's to be called Adjusters, and will be insurance adjusters vs. Satan. They're planning on premiering it at A-Kon, so if you're going try to catch it. They even did a little live demonstration of the fandub process, getting another Anime Heretic, Karsten, from the audience to dub a couple lines.
It's worth mentioning that they do their own music for the parodies. This includes some music available online at Look for "(These are the) Ending Credits", the end credit (obviously) music they used for the Panzer Dragoon parody.

The dealers' room at the hotel suffered from the size of the venue. It was a tiny little room, but had several good dealers, including a booth from Dragon's Lair, and it was packed most of the time. There was only one armory, but more can be expected if next year's dealers' room is larger. I don't know enough about anime merchandise myself to identify the great rares, but judging by overheard conversation there was some good stuff available. I did spot a number of import mangas that would be nice to have once I have a chance at reading kanji, including some NieA_7. There were also some good deals; one guy mentioned being able to buy a decent bokken for $10.

The art room wasn't all that big either. There were a couple of good pieces, and most of the bidding was for an Oh! My Goddess piece. This was a mirror with a very well done Belldandy painted on it, along with etched wings. (I hope to have a picture of this one up soon, as it was purchased by an Anime Heretic with lots of camera gear.)

I ended up missing the AMVs, but from what I heard there were some very good ones. These will probably show up again at A-Kon.
I also missed the cosplay. I had hoped to watch a tape of it (one of our members taped it), but was sick the night it was shown at the Anime Heretics meeting. I should be able to watch this soon, after which I'll update the report.

There were some other con events going on. A pretty packed dance, with some good DJs. A last-minute Shoujo Pajama Party turned out well attended as well. The Anime Match Game made an appearance as well, although it was unfortunately run opposite the fanfic panel, so I missed it
And what con would be complete with Hentai Night, Karaoke, and Shoujo Pajama Party?

There were a number of good panels at the con. Although some of them suffered from disorganization, all the ones I attended ended up quite interesting.
Some of that disorganization showed up in the fanfiction panel. One of the planned panelists hadn't shown up. I found this out in the hallway well before the panel, after some talk with the other panelists. They needed someone to fill in a slot, and after they found out that I wrote fanfic (even if it is Daria fanfic) and have seen Gunbuster they asked me to fill a slot. As a result, I didn't really get any notes from the panel. As one of the earlier panels on the first day, it didn't really get a big crowd. This also ties in with my only real complaint about the con, namely that there wasn't a fanfic contest.

The other disorganized panel was the Old School panel. This wasn't a problem, however, as there was a fair sized audience, and a couple of knowledgeable audience members took over.

The other panels, not all of which I was able to attend, included manga writing/drawing, cel painting, and a couple of good costuming panels. The panel lineup seemed pretty strong for a first-year con, so I can't wait to see how things go in a couple years.

There was also an industry panel by ADV. David Williams, his wife, and Matt Greenfield held the panel, with a number of ADV voice actors and actresses in attendance (including Amanda Winn Lee, who passed out NERV parking permit window decals).
I know some people online who are pretty pessimistic about some of their future releases, so I want to assure everyone that they are planning to release their entire back catalog on DVD. They aren't doing it by simple shovelwave, either. They're taking the time to check the sub translations, clean up video and audio as necessary, and add extras. The process will be slow, but certainly worth it. Their target is to get the full back-catalog on DVD by the end of the year, but that's probably a bit optimistic.
Speaking of extras, Mr. Williams talked a bit about his Jiggle Counter (currently on "Plastic Little"). Apparently when this was in testing, the only readily available footage for the test was from Princess 9...
Probably the other main focus of the panel was their upcoming Excel Saga release. They should be announcing the release date soon, and they were quite enthusiastic about the extras on the DVDs. They wouldn't talk much about them, however, except to confirm that there will be cultural notes (as was done with "NieA_7") on the disc. This is a series that definitely needs it.

After the ADV panel pretty much everyone there, including the voice actors, went over to the Excel Saga screening. There was some trouble getting it started, since the con equipment didn't like the DVD-Rs ADV had brought. Luckily they also had a few episodes on tape, so we got to watch episodes 4 and 5. This was the English dub version, and it was handled pretty well. The con equipment did not handle Jessica Cavello's Excel voice very well (and I am sure it was the equipment; they had similar issues on other showings in that room), but she was able to handle Excel's part. That said, although the dub was decent, I doubt it's going to do anything to convert anyone who normally watches subtitled.
Judging from audience reaction to various things in the show, I have to guess that most of them had never seen Excel Saga before. The reaction was quite positive, but the surprise showed at things like the opening and ending made it pretty clear this was a new thing to most. I would not be at all surprised if this turns out to be a big selling title for ADV.
Since we watched the tape, there are a couple of other promising notes I can give about the Excel Saga release. The opening and ending were not dubbed or changed. Sumiyoshi's silent comments were left untranslated on the tape, so it does not appear that they used any overlays or hard subs. Add in David William's mentions of extras (I wouldn't be surprised at a death or reset counter) and this should be a good release.

The other standout panel for me was the one conducted by Dr. Susan Napier, author of "Anime : From Akira to Princess Mononoke : Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation". I read the book recently, and it's quite interesting. I have to recommend it to anyone interested in Japanese culture as well as anime in general.

Well, hopefully my next report will be a bit more timely. Flu season will be over by the time A-Kon rolls around, so hopefully I won't wind up sick again. Some of my other projects should have also settled down by then, so look forward to it.
I should also be getting some pictures to add to the report eventually. I'll post an update when I do, of course.


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