Special thanks to The Golden Mouth
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.
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
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.
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
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
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).
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.
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.
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