Tuesday, 11 September 2007

ALcon 2007

Haha, I promised an extra long blog post when I returned from ALcon, so here it is. I believe this is going to be VERY long by the time I finish writing it, but hey. I’m actually on the train back home at the moment, but by the time this appears on the Internet I’ll have been home for quite a bit.

First off, I’ve gotta say, ALcon has been the most amazing experience of my life so far. It has been fantastic. I’ve had more fun and made more friends in such a short space of time than I ever have before, and leaving it actually makes me feel a little bit tearful. First off, I’m going to describe what we did and stuff. I’m sure something will follow after, but we’ll see how it goes.

Okay, so, me and Sophie are sat there Thursday afternoon, and it’s getting a little bit exciting now. She’s just got home from Sixth Form and we’re sat in my bedroom with a pile of suitcases. I’ve double-checked all the items inside against my packing list to make sure we’ve got everything with us. I’m so paranoid about forgetting things when I cosplay. If I forget even the tiniest thing, everything will be ruined, even if it’s a really small item like Android 18’s earrings that nobody would notice if they’re missing anyway, but the thing is I know they’re missing, and that would annoy me.

I actually got really annoyed with Sophie before we left. She INSISTED she had to take half a suitcase of manga with us, which only resulted in us carrying around extra weight that we really didn’t need, and it took up space we didn’t have either. I told her she wouldn’t have time to read them, and I WAS RIGHT! After we took about 40-50 manga she ended up reading about 5 of them. I took 2 and read neither of them, but I’m returning home with 3, one of which I’ve read now.

Okay, so we’re waiting for the train, and mum’s crying. Aww. Me and Sophie just can’t wait to get away. Anyway, train comes and me and Sophie get on. Mum’s like ‘let me get on with you and settle you in!’. Me and Sophie are just like ‘…no.’ Haha. So, we find our seats and that’s us sorted for three hours. I knew trains were fast, but I didn’t know they were THAT fast. We left Newton Abbot train station, and the next thing I know there’s all this water outside the window, and there’s me wondering where we are. We’re in Teignmouth already! We’ve only been on the train for about 2 minutes! It takes half an hour to drive there. Sophie then pointed out how far away we’re going if it takes 2 minutes to get to Teignmouth, but despite our speed it’s still going to be four hours before we’re in Leicester.

This is when the laptop comes out. I didn’t tell Dad I was taking it. I’d get another of his advisory lectures about keeping my valuables safe or even him telling me I shouldn’t take it. I spend the journey watching the Death Note mo vie, which was brilliant. It’s the second time I’d seen it, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m sure the other passengers on the train must have thought I was really weird. I can’t help but grin every time L does anything. He’s just so weird I want to grab hold of him and hug him. The guy in the movie has L’s character perfect. I couldn’t find someone who portrays L better than he does. I especially like the part in the movie where L meets Misa with his mask on and he’s telling her how much of a fan he is of her. So cute! Oh yeah, and then when he steals her phone and Light rings it. Always makes me laugh when L answers Misa’s phone. Anyway, off topic. We get off the train, we get on the next train from Birmingham to Leicester and watch the remainder of the Death Note movie, since I couldn’t watch it all from Newton Abbot since I think reading subtitles on the train for long periods of time was messing with my head. I didn’t like that train. The Virgin trains are nice, but the second one was run by another company, and it wasn’t as nice. It didn’t even have a place for me to plug my laptop in. Luckily enough, my battery was full of Virgin’s electricity, so it lasted J

Leicester train station arrives, we get off, find a taxi. Oh, the amount of near misses I had with my pinwheel for my Fujin costume. How it remained in one piece all the way there I’ll never know. I’m not going to explain the full story of my Fujin pinwheel over the weekend here. I’ll explain later in the post.

So yeah, taxi. We’re driving along through the streets of Leicester. The fare was £3 before we even went anywhere! Grr. So five minutes and five pounds later, we’re outside Bede Hall where we’re staying. I texted Mao and she came and found us, which was the first person I’d met on the internet who I met in real life. I’d like to thank Mao, actually. I think over the weekend me and Sophie had her running all over the place, so thank you.

Keys. We’re in our rooms. For the first night we stayed in the same block with Shadow Jam – another member of AnimeLeague who we were finally now meeting in real life. He went away for a bit, leaving behind on the kitchen table volume one of Ouran High School Host Club, which Sophie couldn’t do anything but read. I sat there watching the end of the Death Note movie. I didn’t watch the big climax on the train because I didn’t have time. I managed to stretch a 2 hour 20 minutes film to over four hours. Some skill, huh? I think that night we were so excited neither of us could sleep. I think it was gone 2am before we finally went to bed. Probably about 3 before we actually slept. I had my room immaculate Thursday night. My cosplay costumes were all hung on coat hangers and stuff like that.

Friday morning Shadow Jam says we needed to move to another block, since Mao said the night before this was just a temporary block for Thursday night. We needed to be ready to go at half nine. It was lucky that we were already awake, actually, because I’d set my alarm not to go off until 10 (I’m not normally that lazy, but we’d had a late night, okay?). So, we’re packing. We agreed beforehand we were going to get changed into normal clothes, go down to Sainsbury’s to get something to eat, then come back and change into our highly embarrassing cosplay costumes. In the end, we ended up getting into costume before Mao arrived and took some photos in the kitchen. However, Sophie, cosplaying as Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club, is a pretty normal costume. Although a little brightly coloured, it’s just a school uniform, so nothing too embarrassing to wear out. Me on the other hand, cosplaying as Princess Garnet from Final Fantasy 9, would be a tourist attraction if I went outside in that, so for the moment I put my ‘real’ clothes on over the top.

Oh yeah, and Sophie had a moth inside her pillow all night. She found it Friday morning and it flew out. After that she refused to go back into her room. And then there was a huge spider in my room, which I had to kill. Sophie took a photo of the remains inside my bin.

So, we’re done taking photos, and we’re waiting for Mao to come with the keys to our new rooms. We’re wondering around the dorm, we’re going outside onto the stairs, not at all realising that the doors lock when they close, and we’ve just left our keys in our rooms, so we’re locked out. I texted Mao the wonderful news that we were locked out. She was on her way anyway, but still. I felt so stupid. Ash came over and waited with Mao for us. He made me feel a little less stupid when he said he couldn’t get into his room at the London Expo though. Sophie waited in the lobby whilst I went over to the con building to pick up our new keys. I come back, we move, and now my room is a HUGE mess. Cosplay costumes and just about everything else was everywhere. I’m not normally an untidy person, it just kind of happened that way.

Midday comes, so me and Sophie are about to head over to the convention. Beforehand, we were standing on the balcony outside with a few people. I’m talking to one girl I’d just met chatting. Then she tells me her AnimeLeague username, and all of a sudden I know exactly who I was talking to! It was interesting that, suddenly knowing all about a person just from a nickname. That happened quite a bit over the weekend. It was quite strange.

We get our badges, we get FREE POCKY! BEST CON EVER ALREADY! A con wouldn’t be a con without pocky, would it? Friday was a bit slow to start, actually. It was a bit boring before the dealer’s room opened. We went to a few anime screenings. Chobits was the first. Okay, I’ve got the DVD, but I wanted to sit down and there was nothing else to do at the time. I had a few people taking pictures of me in my bright orange jumpsuit. There were quite a few Naruto cosplayers there. I think Naruto characters must have made up about 70% of the cosplays at ALcon. I know little to nothing about Naruto. I can’t see the fascination. What did make me laugh was Fallen Seraphim’s Itachi cosplay, with the sign on the back about lost brother Sasuke. :D

Haha, look how much I’ve written already, and I’m only on Friday.

Oh yeah, Hellsing anime screening. I’d never seen it before. Wasn’t very interested but just wanted to sit down. Anyway, there were some guys in the back passing comments on everything, and somehow managed to turn it into one of the funniest anime I’ve ever seen. The British accents in it really were appalling.

And then we had anime pictionary, which was good. I was really bad at guessing, but it all seemed so obvious after the answers were revealed (how could a boat and a circle in the sky NOT be Sailor Moon?). After that we had this game similar to charades where we had to act as an anime character and everyone else had to guess, but I sucked at that because I don’t actually know that many characters. Everyone was doing stuff from Bleach and Naruto, neither of which I know that well.

Friday got better later on. We went into the games room, in which I had my first ever go on a Wii, which was fun. I was really bad at first, but I picked it up quickly. I went on the SNES too. Later on was the opening ceremony, which was fun. All the ALcon staff introduced themselves, which was good. All the people we’d been talking to on the internet were there in the flesh. Every time they asked if anyone had any questions everyone asked a load of stupid questions. The most commonly recurring one was for the guys – do you like yaoi? That never stopped being funny. Friday night in the pub was the pirates vs. ninja party, but I was so tired I didn’t stay long. I didn’t wear my pirate costume in the end. There were some other brilliant pirate costumes there, and I didn’t want to wear my one that was knocked together in about 10 minutes. I was having fun dressed as Princess Garnet anyway.

So yeah, early night. There was a bit of a fuss about Sophie’s room. She’d been given the wrong keys or something, so she had to move rooms. I’d like to thank Mao again. I think we had her here, there and everywhere that night.

Saturday morning we were up earlier. There was a Sonic Adventure 2 : Battle tournament in the games room, but I was all out of practice, so I was out on the first round. It had been over a year since I last played it. Should have practiced a bit a home before I left! Ah well. Sophie spent most of her time and money in the dealer’s room on Saturday and Sunday, so I didn’t see much of her. I managed to drag Sophie to Akemi Solloway’s talks, which was fantastic. She was a Japanese woman from an old samurai family who’d come over to do talks on Japanese culture, and she was so interesting. It’s interesting all the things she said about Japan and how different it is. She taught us all how to bow properly and a little bit of Japanese etiquette, what happens in a tea ceremony, how to wear a kimono and how to tie a butterfly knot (although I’m going to have to look all that up again before I attempt any summoner Yuna or Kotoko cosplays). It was funny all the stuff she was saying about how different it is – the school system, trains and all sorts. After that we had the masquerade, which was good. I was strutting my stuff as Android 18 there. There was a brilliant Vegeta cosplayer there. Somebody behind me shouted out ‘VEGETA! WHAT DOES THE SCOUTER SAY ABOUT HIS POWER LEVEL?!?!?’. Obviously. I would have done it if they hadn’t got there sooner. The answer? ‘IT’S OVER NINE THOUSAAAAND!’ ‘WHAT?!? NINE THOUSAND?!?!?’ Ah, good times. I ended up not doing my skit. Neither of us could remember our lines and we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves, so it didn’t happen. Maybe next year. It was a really good skit, too.

After that there was the charity auction. The final lot was an original cel from Naruto. The bidding’s going up and up, and I hear Sophie’s voice come from behind me bidding entirely too much on it. Anyway, she ended up winning, and I think she regretted it. She could have spent that money in the dealer’s room. Now she’s not regretting it as much. Before she was thinking about the money, but she can get more money, but no more Naruto cels. They are so rare.

Before the pub quiz we sat down in the Artist’s Alley and I showed off how bad I am at drawing. I drew chibi pictures of Androids 16, 17 and 18. You’d have thought that I’d know what 18 wears by now, wouldn’t you? Yet I found myself looking at my own costume to remind myself. We had a nice chat there with a Reno from Advent Children cosplayer and someone from Bleach (don’t ask me who – I’m not a Bleach person).

Then there was the pub quiz, in which we formed the Full Metal Bakas team with some Full Metal Alchemist cosplayers and another guy who had no team. I never actually learnt the names of the two girls there, but they were cosplaying Edward Elric and Roy Mustang, so we just called them Ed and Roy. I showed off how much of a nerd I am by knowing what TARDIS stands for. I can’t believe I didn’t get that question about the film Labyrtinth. It’s one of my favourite films, but I just didn’t recognise the song names. It was so obvious afterwards though. Ed was more nerdy than me. They read out a chemical thing, and she was arguing with the announcer whether or not it was sulphuric acid. I got the Tenchi Muyo question right, there were a few Dragonball Z ones I got too. I got the one about HTML right (I’m doing a degree in computing, so it’d be embarrassing if I didn’t), plus a few more I can’t remember. We actually did really well on the quiz. We all thought we did really badly, but as they read out the order of the teams, we did a lot better than most of the others.

After that they had the J-Rock party. I didn’t stay too late for that, since I’m not really a J-Rock person, but we still had fun.

Sunday morning came, and with it the 5 minute cosplay. Sophie disappeared into the dealer’s room ONCE AGAIN, so I’m sorry to say that I have no video of our craptastic pokemon costumes and skit. It really was funny though. I was Ash Ketchum and made a hat and a pokeball, which I still have now. It consisted of a ball of bubble wrap covered in red fabric and some white insulation tape. It was so cool. After that I went to another of Akemi Solloway’s talks, we did some more gaming, I bought a manga in the dealer’s room (note to self – buy more volumes of The Devil Within when I get home!), a Death Note pencil case and an Ouran High School Host Club purse. Sophie bought quite a bit more than me! I spent £13.50, she spent upwards of £150. Seriously. Although she did buy a cute as hell pullips doll which is making me jealous standing on the desk next to me right now. I’m so buying a bjd when I get home. There were a few bjds going around the con, and they were all so beautiful. Especially the Sephiroth one. I just needed to hug it. They’re so much more amazing when you see them in the flesh. I’m buying one now! I need to make cosplay costumes for it!

Oh yeah, they wouldn’t let my pinwheel into the convention. After I spent so long too staring at the weapons regulations making sure it was safe, they still wouldn’t allow it. What a waste of time and effort. L Anyway, it’s broken now. It broke it on the train. *sniffles* Oh well. I HAVE ANOTHER ONE!

Then we all went over to the pub for the closing ceremony and hung with the Full Metal Bakas some more, which was good. They had a singer doing Final Fantasy and Naruto songs, which was enjoyable.

Then there was karaoke, and I can’t believe they actually made me sing. We all went up and did the Naruto theme tune. I didn’t know it, but I picked it up easily enough. After we all got bored of that we had a general party with anime songs. We all had a sing along to the old pokemon songs. I can’t believe I still know the words after seven years. I knew all the theme song words. Team Rocket used to be my favourite song though, and I couldn’t remember a lot of the words. I was rather shocked! We danced to One Winged Angel, we actually waltzed to Waltz For The Moon, which was fun. I stayed up dancing and playing with glow sticks while Sophie sat around with her doll. It’s normally the other way around at parties. Anyway, we had a fantastic time. All the Full Metal Bakas swapped email addresses, so we’re keeping in touch.

We then returned to my room and tidied the mess that I got my room into, cramming everything in that Sophie had bought. We’ve had some serious problems lugging that lot around onto the trains.

Now we’re up to Monday morning and are on the train home, just coming up to Exeter. I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff I’ve forgotten to write, but there were so many fantastic things that have gone on this weekend, I can’t remember them all!

So we’re returning home now, and I don’t want to think about unpacking again. I don’t wanna do it! I wanna go back to Leicester!

I’m sure there’s a load of stuff I’ve forgotten. Will post later about anything I’ve forgotten.

Plus I'm gonna upload photos too. I think Sophie's taken my USB stick to school, so I can't get them off my laptop at the moment.

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