My Experience at Tora-Con 2014!

So, Tora-con 2014…  Thank God I was able to get the weekend off this year.

As some of you may know, I’ve been a part of a Tora-con panel called The Ultimate Anime Trivia game for about three years now.  It started out as my brain child, but I used it as an excuse to drag my best friend from work…  Andrew… into the conventions with me back in 2012.  He’s an anime fan…  My equal, in terms of how much we’ve viewed…  But he’d always been hesitant to come.  I recruited him as my prize attendant, picked on him a bit, and now he loves the cons.

The following year, we dragged another friend from work…  Matt, AKA Derpy… out with us, although he could only appear on saturday.  But this year, not only were we all together for the event, but we were all in costume, and the trivia Game was looking to become the team game that it was meant to be.

After spending all year writing questions for both days, and Derpy springing for an expensive top-notch camera, we were all set to make history with our third year hosting the panel…  But then I got sick.  Yep, one week before tora-con, I got a cold, because Murphy is a punk ass bitch, and vacation always means ‘bring on the virus’ to Murphy.

With the help of Nyquil and Orange juice…  An unhealthy dose of both, mind you…  The last traces of my cold disappeared literally the day before the convention.  Here’s how it went.

Saturday:

We left the house at about 8:30, our costumes applied… Myself as Auron, Derpy as Kirito, and Andrew in a Pikachu bodysuit that he had only agreed to after copious amounts of alcohol…  And we carpooled to avoid the parking issues.  I had pre-registered, so I didn’t have to wait in line, but neither of my comrades had done so.  I initially planned to wait in line with them, as there was nothing else to do early in the morning, but a volunteer told me that since they were both panelists, they’d be able to jump the line anyway.  What luck!

We jumped the line, they got their badges, and with time on our side, we got right in line for the cosplay chess match, my second one and their first.  It was a very entertaining performance, with an actual rap battle as one of it’s battles, and…  I really freaking loved seeing Miss Frizzle as a character in the game.  I thought the way the story descended into chaos at the end was brilliant, with Yuno’s performance selling the whole thing.  There were a lot of really awesome moments, but if I’m being honest, I just really loved seeing Bumblebee get his neck broken by Soundwave.

After that, we went to a Eureka Seven showing, and then finally made it into the vendors’ area, where Andrew and I each grabbed a bunch of Pomegranate and Blueberry Aloe drinks…  I swear to God I freaking love those things…  and we each picked up a grab bag at the Hammergirl booth.

By the way, I’d just like to state for the record how much I appreciate their idea to install queue lines in front of all the major attractions.  Rampant cutting has always been a problem at this event, and those chains definitely did their trick.  a higher concentration of volunteers, who I also very much appreciate, also helped.  Seriously, when Brina Palencia came to Tora-con a few years back, I was the first person in line, after arriving eighty minutes early.  I was still the eighth person in the door that year, so yeah, a lot of freaking cutting.

After that…  Well, there wasn’t much to do.  Derpy had to temporarily disappear to catch a nap at home, and we went to the Frozen panel, which offered a really interesting perspective on a film that I really wasn’t a huge fan of.  Sorry, but I like Tangled better, and I’ll defend it to the death if I have to.  I got a picture of a girl in a really cool white-haired Anna costume, too.

There wasn’t much to do after that, so Andrew and I just attended an anime showing of Angel Beats and Gurren Lagann, when it suddenly dawned on me that I’d left the Free For All questions for our game at home!  We hurried out of there at the end of TTGL episode 3, called Derpy who was already on his way, and after he picked us up, we hurried back to my house to grab the questions.  We also grabbed some Burger King on the way back, and ate it at the Fireside lounge, while comparing Grab Bag hauls.

Anyway, as eight o’clock rolled around, I taunted a guy in a Batman costume about a bank robbery(I’d already made some comments to him earlier about it), and we did a little back-and-forth improv before I broke it up, laughing maniacally about my defeat of him in order to head off to The ultimate Anime Trivia game…  Which I had the wrong building for.  Oops.  We went to the correct building, up the stairs to a very small, remote room, late.  with very little time to set up, I was out of breath and unprepared to perform for our very small crowd.  I did a pitiful job as host for this game, and there were so few people that I had to call several people up to the front three or more times each.

There were a few deaf ladies there, and while I was scared that we wouldn’t be able to accommodate them, I was able to work with their interpreter through it.  Maybe next year I’ll figure out a way to utilize a projector, or something.  They won in a three way tie, and one of them picked up one of my two junk bags…  Basically grab bags full of prizes that had survive all three previous games…  And she seemed ecstatic with what was inside of it, so that made it worth it.

I honestly felt really bad after this game…  Not because I’d been stuck with a bad room and time slot, but because I hadn’t been a good enough host to make it work.  I actually drank after I got home, downing a few glasses of blackberry schnapps and a few bottle of beer before hitting the bed.  I normally wouldn’t tell anybody that, but I have to tell you that in order to tell you about the next morning.

Sunday:

I forgot about the time skip, so I was genuinely shocked when my friends came by at 8:30 AM…  I still thought it was 7:30…  And practically had to force me out of bed, hangover and all.  I got dressed back up in my costume, sans the troublesome belt, and skipped my shower in order to get to RIT in a respectable amount of time.

My hangover didn’t fade away until we were already in line for the first signing, and I sat there for an hour behind that glorious white chain, getting my senses back.  We were sitting near this really cool girl named Bray, so we just chatted with her and a few of the volunteers while we waited for the line to start moving.  We heard Tia Ballard was running late, which was fine, because I didn’t have anything for her to sign, and also that Josh Grelle cancelled, which was disappointing, since I wanted him to sign my copy of Mysterious Girlfriend X.  Oh, and I also started freaking out because I realized I didn’t have my Toracon badge with me, and even worse, I didn’t know where it was.  After about twenty minutes of letting me sweat over it, Andrew revealed that he’d picked it up on our way out of the house, and had been hiding it up until now.  That clever, clever bastard.  Such a wicked burn.

I honestly don’t know much about Lara Woodhull and Scott Freeman, but they signed my Yamada’s First time dvd cover, which was kind of cool.  In any case, with that signing over, we had to make sure to be where we needed to be in order to get a good place in line for the next signing.  They won’t let you line up for longer than an hour before the event, so we had the clever idea to start forming a line outside of the line…  A line to get in line, how hipster is that…  And people actually seemed to follow it up, even after we snuck Bray into the front of it with us.

We got in line and chatted about a lot of stuff…  I told everybody about an awesome Ebay seller called Youkos Japan…  Until finally, the VAs were ready for us.

I got Colleen Clinkenbeard to sign my Baccano and One Piece DVDs, and then I got Chuck Huber to sign one of my FMA DVD Guide books, right next to Brina Palencia’s Nina signature.  to which he melodramatically commented, “That’s so sad!”  Oh, I don’t know if anybody else noticed this, but Chuck Huber was just radiating with positive energy.  He loved being there, and you could tell he wasn’t faking it.  He was the polar opposite of the grumpy Johnny Yong Bosch that showed up back in ‘09.  Yes, I know, he apologized for it.

Alexis Tipton was running late, so we were allowed to wait for her.  It was worth the wait, because she signed my My Bride Is A Mermaid DVD, and at my request, she sang Sun’s sleeping song.  That was, hands down, my favorite moment at the entire convention, and I left with a huge smile on my face.

We bummed around the vendors area to kill some time, and I bought a K-on! figure while we were there.  We went to the artist’s alley to waste some time, but I didn’t buy anything, only having credit on me.  After all this, 3:00 came around, and it was finally time for The Ultimate Anime Trivia Game.

This time, we got there early.  This time, we got prepared.  This time, we had an awesome room.  this time, my friends helped me through my doubts and jitters, and helped me prepare my intro, after seeing me choke on it the previous day.  And this time…  We rocked the room.

It was at this time that I found out that the Trivia Game actually had a small collection of followers, who came to it every year, and it made my day almost as much as Alexis Tipton did.

We actually filmed this game, which went so much better than the one on Sunday.  We ran out of questions early, but I had planned for this,  I started calling audience members up to the front to ask some free-for-all questions to the crowd, with the promise of prizes to those that answered them.  They seemed to really enjoy this, and what’s even better, we left with only 17 of our 84 prizes remaining.

Overall, I had a very good experience at this con.  I’m already  playing with a few ideas for next year, one of them possibly being The ultimate Anime Trivia Game: Pokemon edition, and the other one being a live, hour long review of Angel Beats, a show I have about an hours worth to say about.  Until then, I give all my love and appreciation to those who attended our panel, we’ll have a video of the second one up as soon as we can, and I hope to see you all again next year.

My top ten favorite Tora-con moments.

10: Improved security in the lines
9: The Frozen Panel
8: Miss Frizzle in the Cosplay Chess match
7: Taunting Batman about a bank robbery
6: Seeing my friend get famous in a Pikachu costume
5: Chuck Huber’s sunny disposition
4: Rediscovering my love of Aloe drinks
3: Soundwave breaks Bumblebee’s neck
2: Finding out our panel has followers
1: Alexis Tipton sings the sleep song

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