Anime Matsuri Houston 2016

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by Veronica Sepulveda (@vRONIs)

I was fortunate to attend Anime Matsuri Houston for the first time and represent The Nerd Machine as press. My plan was to give a traditional recounting of a convention, i.e. a little cosplay documenting, some panel description, and offer some overall con feedback and comparison. There will be some of that below, but I also bared witness to a pretty spectacular thing.

Anime Matsuri celebrated its 8th year this year, and it has grown to be the 8th largest anime convention in North America! From what I witnessed, it is well on its way to grow larger. I myself am not well versed in the Anime world, so when I discovered I was fortunate enough to receive a press badge, I developed a game plan. Namely, I got an #AMSquad. (cough cough) That sounds more douchey “glamorous” than what it actually was. I basically asked 4 friends of mine, who happen to be Matsuri veterans if I could “stalk” them around the con. (hehe) They were nice enough to say yes.

(Will, his lovely wife Kelly, me, Gabby & her boo Alejandro)

(Will, his lovely wife Kelly, me, Gabby & her boo Alejandro)



I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Cons are only as good as the people you surround yourself with, and I was very lucky to have experienced my first Matsuri with these four. You may recognize Kelly and Will from KW Apothecary (they have more awesome scents on the way btw)! All four of them, but especially Kelly and Gabby are dedicated cosplayers (more photo proof to follow below)!

So what about sharing Matsuri with these four made it so special, you may ask? Well, their con experience this year was the epitome of a nerd response to when someone outside of the nerd community asks why we go to these types of events. Their experience showcased why we stand in lines, why we wake up at 3 am to don a costume, why we spend countless hours and funds on making said costume. Everything nerds hope for when they go to a con, mainly to make a connection with an artist or celebrity that had some impact on their childhood or life, is what happened to them. They’ve been to many cons; I have been to many cons. Their experience at Anime Matsuri Houston, is what I would compare to my personal experience at NerdHQ. For those of you lucky enough to know what that means, will know just how great that experience is and will also understand why I highly recommend attending Anime Matsuri. I plan to attend again, and further ingratiate myself in all the cultural intricacies that Matsuri showcases.

I had Gabby and Will write some highlight moments for them and these are a few…

In Gabby’s words:

  • Anime Matsuri guests are really different; They don’t charge for their autographs, and are in love with their fans. They are just like you! Seeing a professional voice actor (well known too) taking pictures with people, signing autographs, in a kigurumi onesie was perfection Yaaaaassssss.
  • J-FASHION SHOOOOOOOOOW! Everything about it. FIRE. SEXY CAR. HORSE. SPARKLERS. Everything was awesome! (More on this later)
  • Getting to cosplay with Kelly, and cosplaying something your childhood is AWESOME! Here’s why…
    a. It was my first really elaborate cosplay I ever made (Daenerys wasn’t this complex and technical). People thinking we were professional cosplayers because our hard work looked REALLY good. One of the Japanese fashion designers, Putumayo, said our cosplay looked lovely. KUDDOS FROM A DESIGNER!
    b. Connecting with people and being stopped by people who also share your love for something that was a big part of your childhood. Hearing things like “THIS IS MY CHILDHOOD OMG!”, “This has MADE MY DAY or YEAR”, seeing all the smiles, and people running over to take pictures was surreal. It’s about making people happy, seeing smiles, and making people’s day.
    c. Vic Mignogna (one of my idols) said I looked beautiful. Melt my heart and spread me on some toast. Best-moment-EVAH.
  • Speaking of Vic…Gabby wasn’t able to get an autograph ticket for Vic because they run out, but…But, I ran into him at the Hilton Americas hotel (next to the George R. Brown convention center) and instead of being like “oh no go away, I am done with the con today, not during my off time”, he was super nice, gave me a hug, and was a genuinely nice guy! He didn’t act bigger than himself or have handlers that made him seem off limits. I witnessed this, the hug was epic! Vic had no idea that they were doing the stupid ticket thing, and he told them “What are you doing? Just let the people come!” Everyone who didn’t get a ticket on Saturday came on Sunday, and he saw EVERYONE. It didn’t matter that he was supposed to be at the closing ceremony; he took the time to see everyone, take a picture, sign whatever, and for FREE. Voice actors didn’t charge a thing, which made them even more accessible to their fans and just as nerdy about what they do as the people standing in line. *Srsly, end Vic Word Vomit)

Meet one of my voice actor idols this weekend! Such an amazing guy! #vicmignogna #animematsuri2016

A photo posted by Gabrielle Young (@labriebelle) on



In Will’s words:

  • I’ve gone to Anime Matsuri a few years now and while I am a pretty avid anime fan, there’s a special place in my heart for classic Americana. It’s safe to say I was a little overjoyed when I found out that the Tremblay Brothers who created the Swat-Kats were going to be there. That’s only one thing that made this con special; The real reason I go to this con is it’s one of my wife’s favorites. She is a big a fan of anime and an avid cosplayer. I’ve got to say, seeing how people respond to Kelly’s Costumes is a highlight at these cons for me. One day I hope she gets the confidence to actually compete in the cosplay contest. She even got kudos from the designer of Putumayo, a Japanese Lolita fashion line. He even got a picture with her. FYI, Putumayo happens to be Kelly’s favorite Lolita brand. Yeah, she’s into Lolita as well… my life is expensive. hahaha nerd life!

kp

  • The main event for me was the Swat-Kats Panels. There was one on Saturday highlighting the original show (which I attended with Will) and another on Sunday giving a few insights on the upcoming revival of the show. Anyone who doesn’t know what the Swat-Kats is, you need to slap yourself with 30lb sea bass, then go look the show up on the inter-webs!

    The Tremblay brothers were not what I expected, but everything I could have wanted them to be as creators of a buddy cop/superhero show with jet plane flying cat people set to heavy metal guitar riffs. Yup, they looked like French Canadian Rock Stars. LOL! The panel was a lot of fun. I even got a few questions in. At the end of the panel the Tremblays invited everyone to come up and look at their original concept sketches. I geeked out pretty hard when I got my turn to look at them. Christian was really cool and I talked to him for quite awhile. I ran into him a few times walking around the con; we always made eye contact and nodded. As weird as that sounds, it’s a good indicator that he remembered me; that’s the kind of thing that makes a fan feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

SKPan
During the panel Sunday, they went over what the new show was going to be about. It will not be a reboot, but a continuation of the original series. That being said they are going to break free of the 22 minute wrap up and villain of the week for longer plots and deeper character development. The summary: Technology caught up with the Swat-Kats some time ago and made them obsolete. The criminal underworld gained the upper-hand against the enforcers; Swat-Kats were outmatched, went into retirement and watched as Megakat City fell apart. They don’t get back into the fray until a young female hacker breaks into Jake and Chance’s garage to find out they are Razor and T-bone (The Swat-Kats). The hacker basically helps Jake upgrade all the tech and joins the team. They also want to explore more of the villain’s stories and even have a link between some of the good and bad guys to muddy the waters.The Tremblays ran a successful Kickstarter campaign that got the fans excited and studios interested. Within the next few weeks they have several meetings with a “major studio” to pick up the new show. They also have an outline for a movie to introduce the new show. Fingers-crossed we get to see some fresh Swat-Kat action within the next two years.At the end of this panel they announced that during the autograph session later on they would have a drawing for a signed animation cell from the original show. Of course I had to partake! I had a quick talk with Lance Falk, one of the writers, about a character connection for the dynamic of the new team. He seemed to like the idea calling it a “natural connection”. I really hope to see in the new show! 😉

  • I won the Animation cell!!! The Tremblays brought it to me at the Hilton and both signed it. These guys are some of the most passionate show creators I’ve ever met. While the Tremblays and I were talking, the Vice President of Funimation, Ward Thomas strolls up with David Vincent and I introduce them to the Tremblays. WHAT IS HAPPENING? Let it be known that none of these people knew who I was. I don’t know if much will come of that particular introduction, but I felt pretty damn cool being in that situation. WHO WOULDN’T?! It was amazing witnessing all of this!

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After all of this epic nerd fan moments, there were other amazing aspects to the con. The J-Fashion Show: Princess was mind blowing! The show featured Altelier Boz, Angelic Pretty, Putumayo, Metamorphose, Triple Fortune & Victorian Maiden. The show theme was Princess and featured Maleficent/Princess Aurora, Disney’s latest live action-Lily James Cinderella, and my personal favorite, Tangled! The latter showed Victorian Maiden’s line walking to I See the Light, which was already my favorite line, but add the disnerd/Tangled factor, and my level of geeking out was out of control! I make no apologies! The show featured fireworks, confetti cannons, a horse drawn carriage, and of course, gorgeous fashion! Congrats to Anime Matsuri and team for pulling off the largest Japanese fashion show outside of Japan with 65 models and 6 brands! If you’re a fashion nerd, you need to go to this show! See a few items below.

fashion
OK nerds, so top 5 personal favorite cosplays of the con are as follows and in no particular order! Kelly & Gabby as the Goblin King and Sarah, Legolas, Left Shark Deadpool, Anastasia & The Hitachiin Twins & Kyoya from Ouran High School Host Club! Well done everyone!
cos1

cos2

A Special thanks to my friends and to the great folks of Anime Matsuri! Props to you for putting on a great con in the midst of construction and beautification of Houston’s GRB. Until next year!

Nerd On!
~R


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