Since this involves a major update and I've been very busy with work, apologies for the delay coming 3 months after the event. ^^;;
Despite the FanimeCon being outclassed by Animazement in the guest department this year, it was my fourth year in a row in attendance, having pre-registered last year. Although not as Evalicious as last year, this year was still pretty good enough Evangelion-wise that it's worth blogging about the update that resulted.
I skipped Day 0 (Thursday) because it remained to be seen if the linecon issues from last year had been resolved, but from Instagram it became clear that this had been addressed. After picking up my badge on Friday in just 5 minutes, I headed to Artist Alley. Now in all the years I have been attending cons it took a while for me to come around to the idea of patronizing artist alley because I had been so focused on the artwork I picked up being official or being created by someone in the anime industry. But after spending much time in Saboten Con's artist alley last year, albeit not picking up anything, I gave Fanime's this year a chance. Also, after seeing an Asuka and Eva-02 print on Instagram by Jimbobox (James Ghio) that I really liked, I was glad to see that he would be in artist alley so I made a beeline for his booth.
The print wasn't on Ghio's Deviantart but it was up for sale. I opted to not get any others although on second thought wish I had. Based on the design I also commissioned Ghio to do an Asuka sketch based on the promotional photos of the Alter figure of her in her track jacket and Nekomimi hat, only my second commission to date after obtaining the first at Big Wow Comicfest the week before (also of Asuka). I hadn't brought any shikishi with me so this would be done on sketch paper. After emailing Ghio the image, I headed for swap meet.
Following an hour wait in the growing darkness outside the City National Civic (previously the San Jose Civic Auditorium), swap meet's much smaller location for this year, I spent about two hours inside and made some good pickups plus some Ranma phone cards for a steal, Bleach shitajiki, and a Naruto art book (not pictured).
On Saturday I picked up my Asuka commission from Ghio. He had it out at his booth so it had gotten some interest. I like his interpretation of the source material.
Later in the day I learned that Masahiro Kanehara's Mazda RX-7 itasha was parked near McDonald's. I first became aware of this itasha just before the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in April, when I saw pics of Kanehara driving it in the parade. However I hadn't been able to attend the festival. I had seen the itasha on Friday night and was glad to finally be able to photograph it at my leisure.
On Sunday, all of Gainax, including Takami Akai and Noir, unexpectedly showed up again at the signing (originally just Hiroyuki Yamaga was listed). After having asked Akai to draw Lafiel from Crest of the Stars, this time I asked him to draw Asuka based on a Mana Kirishima sketch I had seen on Rubberslug. For reference I used my phone's lockscreen wallpaper, which was part of the K-Swiss collaboration.
This one took Akai about five minutes to do and he specifically asked for red to color Asuka's hair clips. While he was working on it, a couple people after me asked Yamaga to sketch Asuka which he did, albeit slowly. I had seen Yamaga's sketches on Rubberslug too before, so next time I'll ask him to sketch depending on the circumstances. Akai's piece is definitely one of the jewels of my Asuka gallery.
Monday was when my Eva purchases picked up:
Because of my gripe about Animazement's guests vs. Fanime's, I decided not preregister for 2015. Depending on my situation next year, I'll head to North Carolina or return to Fanime out of necessity.
2013 was a very good year for me both as a fan and collector. The museum experienced substantial growth, greatly facilitated by my meeting Yuko online. As a fan, I was able to accomplish two of my lifelong ambitions: meeting Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and Yuko Miyamura.
Briefly, here are the highlights in chronological order:
What would top such a great year would be a trip to Japan. Also in December, I booked a spot on Pacset Tours' Third Impact tour which will kick off next October. After years off procrastinating and making excuses about a Japan trip, I'm committed and couldn't think of a better way to do it.
September 2, Monday
There was an Eva photo op in the morning with the dub cast which I had been advised to get in line for at 9:30 and was thus the second person in line. Everyone but Spencer was there by 10:30 and he ended up being a half hour late, but it went quickly. It was $7 to get the photo printed out but the first person who did so managed to get his for free due to communication issues. Wasn't happy with my take so I was able to get a retake and get it signed, freeing up a signing spot for later. To fill in some time I hit up the Women in the Anime Industry panel.
Grant, Bailey, and Winn-Lee were supposed to be presenting but with Winn-Lee out and Bailey a no show it was just Grant and became a mix of Q&A about working in the industry and Eva.
Q: Who was the biggest celebrity that you've worked with.
A: The biggest anime celebrity was Carl Macek. I read an essay by Miyamura and met her about 5 1/2 years ago which I was very excited about and we became good friends.
Q: How do you feel about revisiting Asuka all these years later?
A: It's been interesting and doesn't seem that long ago. I feel that the character is a part of myself. As for the time has passed, it's been 14 years and tricky to get around the old vs. new Asuka since she's now an adult. (I was cringing at this since it crossed into 3.0 spoilerland.)
Q: What are the most interesting things in your collection?
A: I have: an Eva toaster from Akihabara, mini fridge, Eva-02 watch, 17" Asuka figures, custom plug suit I haven't worn in a while, custom bobble head, macrame Hello Kitty doll.
Q: In The Little Red Haired Girl you talk about your collection but didn't mention what your favorites are, what are they? (my question)
A: That was done around 2004.(the guy who owns the red Mustang with the Eva-02 license plate that appears at the end was at the con also). A Nerv keychain from Miyamura that yells Anta baka! The most expensive figures I have, the kubricks, an ultra poseable Eva-02, a big vinyl figure that I got in Australia.
Q: How do you feel about all the new merchandise that has been released over the years and with Rebuild? (my question)
A: I haven't been able to keep up with the new stuff.
Q: What is the the biggest misconception that you've come across about voice acting? (my question)
A: That we make a lot of money. I'm sure I spent many more times on Asuka stuff than I have playing the role.
Q: Have you kept on top of the Eva manga?
A: I have read the other manga. Both are separate story lines.
Following the panel I went to what was left of the Spencer and Swasey signing and had the former sign a shitajiki with all three of the pilots. He gave me the option of manning Shinji up or not and as I told him to do whatever he wanted, doodled glasses, a mustache, and beard. Had Grant sign two shitajiki at the following signing and Kevin helped me out by having her sign a third. After he pointed out that one of the badges was done by someone in artist alley, we tracked down the artist who had a single print left but I didn't care for it too much (it was the half Shinji/Eva-01). There was another one who did the full event badge design, the pilots in the classroom, that we were able to find although she was out of large prints and only had 5 x 7s left. I got her card as she was going to expand the scene to include Mari and Kaworu but it wouldn't be ready until Taiyou Con in January.
After this was my final panel of the con, US vs Japan. Grant, Spencer, and Miyamura discussed the differences between voice acting in both countries. The final con event was the Miyamura signing at 4. Again thanks to Kevin's help I was able to get the two shitajiki signed that Grant had earlier signed, and as the latter had added some comments in English, Miyamura added the equivalents in Japanese. The final thing I was able to get her to sign was the film cel holder for the UK special edition of Battle Royale, as her character in that film is on it.
I made it back to PHX on time but my flight to SFO was delayed, so I didn't get home until 12:30 AM, in bed by 1, and back to work the next day, arising just after 6. Was it all worth it? Hell yes!
Here is everything that I got signed. The only new things I picked up were the car decals, signed photos, Comic Anthology, and Marmalade Boy art book.
September 1, Sunday
I had time to kill before the first session of the Nerv Cafe at noon. Ran into Kevin and found that he had also opted for the Nerv Cafe, so we browsed the dealers. One was selling several Eva crane figures, but I held off on buying any after learning that it cost 100-200 Y for a try at winning them. We got in line for the first cafe session around 11:45 and had another wait before it got started around 12:15. The first session was moderately full and we sat a table with three other folks from the area. Mostly it was talking with a light snack of a slice of cake and some fruit. There were several Eva cosplayers but aside from bringing us the snacks and water, they didn't interact with the attendees much. At the end of the event they got on stage and posed for photos. As you can see below, the Rei cosplayer stayed in character the entire time. I had high hopes for the event but it wasn't worth it for $10 and I saw on the con forum that the second session was less well attended and more awkward. Although it was explained that the con was limited to serving the hotel's marked up food, I still couldn't recommend it.
I next hit up the second Spike Spencer signing at 1 but he was a no show. Next was the panel Putting Words in Asuka's Mouth - Writing for Dubs. The description had Greenfield, Grant, and Miyamura down but it was just Grant and Greenfield since the topic was dubs. I stuck around anyway and it was an interesting discussion.
After the panel I headed back to the dealer hall for the 3:00 signing with Miyamura, Swasey, and Spencer and discovered that a photo op with Miyamura had been squeezed in which could be had for $20. I had thought that she would be part of the Eva photo op on Monday morning but this would be of the dub cast only so I decided to spring for it today and take another one the next day when I would be wearing my third Asuka shirt, the one I wanted for the photo. It took three takes until I could get a photo with Miyamura that I liked as I was tensing up when the pictures were taken, but she was very cool about it.
Now because Spencer had flaked at his 1:00 signing, everyone who had wanted to see him then was in line at 3. I had him and Swasey sign a shikishi that I planned to have the rest of the Eva dub cast sign. As I had taken a photo with Miyamura that counted as a +1 item so I also had her sign a second shikishi for someone else who was helping get me Sumi Shimamoto's autograph from SacAnime, which was going on that same weekend. Me and Rich lined up again for a second attempt but were told when it got close to the hour that the line was being cut so we stepped out. However I found out after from Kevin that although the time was up, the last several people in line were allowed to get their items signed, so we missed our chance.
Grant and Greenfield were signing at 4:30, at the same time as Miyamura's Seiyu Class. I opted to get the signing in first and had her sign my multi-cast shikishi and the shitajiki and got Greenfield's sig on the former. Did not end up going to the Seiyu Class when Rich checked it out and reported that they were doing voice exercises. Next up was the second Eva panel at 6. There I found a guy with the biggest Eva dakimakura I've ever seen at over 4' long, although I doubt its authenticity. Here are my notes from the panel:
Tiffany Grant (TG), Spike Spencer (SS), Matt Greenfield (MG), John Swasey (JS), Yuko Miyamura (YM), Amanda Winn-Lee (AWL)
The panel began with playback of a video that Winn-Lee recorded to apologize for not attending, which is also on Saboten's Facebook page.
Q: What did you like the least about your character? (My question. Being unfamiliar with the dub I excluded Greenfield from this, but didn't know that he had done Hyuga and the Eva growls, so Grant called me out a little for this omission.)
TG: Asuka's not in the first 7 episodes.
SS: The screaming.
JS: The haircut.
YM: She's bad at cooking.
MG: Having something inside you.
Q: How did you get the role?
YM: I auditioned in 1994...(same story she told yesterday about casting)
JS: I had gained a reputation for being able to do different voices and was able to capture Gendo's voice.
SS: Amanda introduced me to anime and ADV. I had auditioned for the role 4 times.
TG: Matt did the Eva units and Hyuga.
MG: I did secondary characters as early on I had to fill in. We bounced around a lot with who to cast as who. Tiffany was typecast for Asuka and she spoke German.
Q: Pacific Rim vs. Eva?
MG: Eva beat it at the box office.
Q: What was the hardest do do in 2.0?
A (unsure who answered): Had to relearn the character as they're different.
Q: Do you keep mementos of the characters you've played?
TG: My Eva collection is mostly Asuka.
Js: Gendo underwear.
YM: I have this hat that Asuka wears in 3.0 (she was wearing it) and a Hello Kitty x Eva shirt I got from Tiffany.
At this point Spencer called Winn-Lee and got her on the line so she took some questions.
JS: I got into anime through AWL's husband.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Rei?
AWL: She never bothered to explain herself and just does whatever.
Q: A lot of VAs tend to keep the same range after they finish recording, does this happen to you?
AWL: I would get out of character when I leave the booth, snap out of the role ASAP.
Q: How do the clones know what happened to the prior versions of Rei?
AWL: Biological implementation.
My answer: There's no Misaka Network.
Q: What was going through your mind when you came up with baloney pony?
AWL: It was outtakes.
Q: What do you think of Asuka being hotter than Rei?
Back to general questions.
Q: Does Asuka really like Shinji?
TG: Are you stupid?
Q: What was your reaction when you heard about Rebuild?
MG: Anno getting paid.
SS and TG: Getting paid.
YM: A happy ending but it hasn't happened yet. I wasn't happy with the EoE ending. Shinji and Kaworu married.
Q: How often do you get approached about Battle Royale?
YM: Lots of people in Australia ask about it.
SS: I worked on it, did 3 characters (not true).
Q: How does it feel to do the Gendo pose?
JS: I love it for many reasons. You can't see his mouth, so it makes recording easy. He feels that everyone is a child and not up to him. Matt is like Gendo, he was committed to Eva.
Q: What was the funniest thing that happened while dubbing?
TG: The kissing scene between Shinji and Asuka. I nearly drowned myself by gargling and laughing at the same time.
MG: Around Episode 20 we recorded the Rei sex tape: 20 minutes of silence, then "Are you finished?"
SS: When Shinji does his thing in Asuka's hospital room, you can see the lower silhouette.
YM: The strangling scene (acted out with Grant).
Q: Do you have any ideas about 4.0?
Q: How do you feel about the new direction that the movies have taen?
TG: Not sure yet.
MG: Hard to say.
SS: I agree with them.
JS: Not our role to decide, we follow the creator's lead.
YM: I never knew how close Shinji and Kaworu were, didn't realize they were such good friends.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Asuka?
TG: She's not afraid to tell people what she thinks an is very confident.
Q: What are your thoughts about Anno?
TG: He's probably creepy.
MG: I met him once. Very. A lot of where Eva comes from is derived from Ultraman.
SS: I don't know.
YM: He's an otaku.
Q: How do you unwind?
TG: Thai or Japanese food.
MG: Not to go home and watch anime.
SS: Red wine, good food, hot sex with the fiancee.
JS: I'd like to do that with your fiancee.
YM: Asuka is really a part of my personality and it comes out into my personal life.
Q: Did you get the whole arc when you did the TV series?
MG: I told the actors what their characters thought they knew to make sure people were in the moment.
JS: It's not so important as we have to know what the Japanese did an almost doesn't matter what the story is. We listen to what they did and give it a full performance. You're not getting the whole gist of the story when recording. We will do what the director tells us.
Q: Did the series get emotionally scary for you?
TG: Several times.
MG: When Shinji falls on a naked Rei.
SS: Some scenes with Shinji when I initially got into the character, after a while I got used to it.
JS: Not so much, it's a very straight thing.
YM: When Asuka realized her mom was with her.
Q: How did you feel when Asuka was cut from the team?
TG: Disappointed. When she was cut it removed her reason for being.
Otaku Closet was right after the panel and recalling what had happened the prior night, me and Kevin postponed dinner until after we hit it up first. I came across a Rei swimsuit figure but hesitated to buy it for $15 right then. I decided to look around at everyone else and come back to offer $14 if it was still available. However when I returned there was a group of folks from the Eva panel at the seller and one of them got the figure. After dinner we walked through the closet again and I made another rare find, the Eva doujin compilation Comic Anthology 2 which came out in 1996. At the time it seemed semi-official as it mentioned Gainax on the publication page although the seller described it as a doujin, so I so picked it up for $3. I found out after checking E-Mono that it's legit.
August 31, Saturday
I had a 6:30 AM flight and tried to sleep early but the excitement didn't help so I ended up with about 4.5 hours of sleep when I got up at 4 AM. After a heavy breakfast I got to SFO after 5 and stayed awake the whole time, arriving at PHX around 8:30. From here I took a Supershuttle to the Renaissance Glendale and got there after 9. I got a text message from my roommates informing that they would be coming in a little later than their original ETA by 10 so I waited in the lobby and people watched the attendees and cosplayers arriving. After I stepped outside to talk to one of the valets about local places to eat, none other than Charles Barkley stepped out of the hotel and I was able to be photographed with him while he waited for his car to be brought around.
My roommates arrived around 11:30 and after getting our keys, I dropped my stuff off in the room and got my badge, an Eva design by Pixelduhst. However I had to exchange it for a VIP badge which had a Danganronpa design. As time was short and I wanted to be on time for the first signing at 1 (Amanda Winn-Lee, Spike Spencer, John Swasey), I had granola bars for lunch, the first of several such meals. Winn-Lee wasn't present and I didn't find out until after the signing that she had canceled. I also learned that for those unused to signing shikishi that smaller sized ones will probably work better they didn't fill them up the way a Japanese guest might, which has to do with writing vertically. I spotted Tiffany Grant at the signing although she wasn't signing yet and we talked about our respective Eva shirts.
As I had some time until the next signing at 3 (Grant and Matt Greenfield), I wound up at the ADR Direction and Production panel, which was by none other than Greenfield himself. I asked about the live action movie and what its status was. Greenfield explained that it had been greenlit and was going into production with a major Hollywood studio lining up a director. However the lawyers discovered that the rights weren't clear. Anno took them with him when he left Gainax and they're now owned by King Records.
At the Grant/Greenfield signing Grant brought a whole bunch of Eva stuff with her that she was selling and took 10 minutes to set it all up: DVDs, Newtype magazines, car decals, and even unused Platinum DVD boxes. There were a lot of people in line so I was late for the Miyamura panel, which was at the same time. I had Grant sign a poster that I was also going to have Miyamura cosign and told Greenfield that I wasn't sure how he would react to my movie question. He replied that he has gotten asked about it so many times and they were so close to getting it.
Miyamura's panel was her talking about specific aspects of Eva and not a back and forth Q&A as I had expected. Here are my notes:
After the panel ended the audience helped sing happy birthday for Miyamura's daughter, who came in carrying her son. Her husband did not attend the con.
My final panel of the day was the Eva cast group panel. Here are my notes:
Tiffany Grant (TG), Spike Spencer (SS), Matt Greenfield (MG), John Swasey (JS), Yuko Miyamura (YM)
Q: How did you feel when you heard about Rebuild? (my question)
TG/SS: It was new work and we would get paid.
Everyone else: Generally positive.
Q: Have you seen Pacific Rim?
A: No one has.
Q: What is your favorite line from the series?
TG: Are you stupid?
MG: Gendo - It's hot.
SS: Can't say, there are kids in the room (someone let their 2 year old run around in front and wouldn't keep him quiet so about half the time he was noisy).
JS: (does a Gendo impersonation) Mmmm.
Q: What was your favorite fight scene?
TG: Eva-02 vs. the Eva-05 series.
MG: Eva-02 vs. Gaghiel.
SS: Not sure but it might be in 2.22.
YM: The finale of Eva-01 and Eva-02 vs. Israfel.
Q: Who do you feel Shinji should end up with?
TG: I'd say Mari but I don't like her.
JS: Gendo (more of a non-answer).
Q: If you were in the same room with your character and giving them therapy, what would you do?
TG: Asuka is perfect.
SS: ...(couldn't get it) then bitch slap him.
JS: Ask Gendo what is wrong with you? He's a lost cause.
YM: Can't say anything due to 3.0.
Q: What attracted you to Asuka?
TG: Her personality, which I can relate to. Only knew about her after I was cast.
YM: Her positive attitude, looking forward to living life every day, can relate to the character.
Q: What scene made you go WTF?
TG: The last episode.
MG: The Sea of Dirac.
SS: Shinji in Asuka's hospital room.
YM: When Eva-02 was eaten.
Q: What don't you have in your collection that you wish you did?
TG: The full scale figures, although I have a lot of figures. I also have a fridge, toaster. Want to get more Hello Kitty stuff.
Q: Why is Asuka so competitive with Shinji?
TG: Her nature, she wants to be the best.
YM: I agree.
MG: She's afraid she couldn't beat Rei.
Q: Have you been to the Eva cafe in Japan?
YM: They have a Shinji cocktail which sucks.
Q: Was it hard for you to portray Shinji due to your personality?
SS: It's a role.
Q: Were there changes that you made to your character that stayed in?
SS: A lot.
TG: In Magma Diver.
MG: For Spike's role.
JS: When you get into a role you want to say in it. I try to stay in the role as much as possible as it's important to honor what Gendo's seiyu brought to the character.
YM: There were changes in the script due to localization. I did quite a lot of ad libbing, e.g. Asuka's last line in EoE.
MG: We really took advantage of the alternate universe (SS, TG, Winn-Lee), e.g. the riding his baloney pony line, which has been translated into French and German.
Q: Do you look into the symbolism of the series?
TG: When I was working on it not so much but more towards the end or after it finished.
MG: I knew the ending but had to make sure the actors didn't color their performances by knowing what was actually going on, so I told them what their character knew was going on. So they got a whole lot of BS.
YM: I didn't know as we didn't have the script. Anno would respond with rhetorical questions.
Q: How did you get to work on Rebuild?
MG: I offered to do it but had issues due to my position. I don't think it's the same Eva and it's good to have different people due to this change.
TG: The producer Mike (Mike McFarland) appreciated the idea that the previous actors had worked on it and had seen the original series.
SS: It was different due to the changes in technology. Both Mike and Matt want to do the best job possible.
JS: Working with both is great. Funi was very deliberate with casting. Some prior actors worked, some didn't. They respected Eva's roots.
MG: When we licensed it, Eva wasn't known. Mike inherited a juggernaut.
The final question was someone requesting that Grant do her get in the damn robot, Shinji! line.
The final signing of the day was after this panel and was supposed to be Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, and Miyamura. I found someone in line I had just met last week at Japan Expo, Kevin, who I had told about Saboten Con and he had booked last minute and flew out. It turned out that Willingham and Bailey didn't show so it was just Miyamura signing. On top of that, all of us VIP members discovered that one of our privileges was priority for signings, so we got to go first and were allowed to reenter the general line again. First I asked Miyamura to sign a shikishi and requested that she sign as Asuka so she added Anta Baka. Using the relining up method I was able to get my 2 posters signed. I would have kept doing this but no one else got in line after 45 minutes so the signing ended early. I also met this guy who flew in from Kansas, Rich, who is about the same age as me, and I think he was the one who mentioned evamonkey.com.
I had checked out the dealer's hall during the day and the Eva pickings were very slim, which was a surprise. The vendors really missed out by not stocking up as much as they could have. People even resorted to having this artwork by Pixelduhst (who designed the Eva classroom badge) and another Asuka/Rei print signed. I did run into Tatsu Hobby, who was at JX last week and who had supplied the Eva-05 LM HG model kit, the only piece of Eva merch I bought there, and the guy recognized me. Despite having packed a storage container in my luggage I was wary of picking up something like a model kit that could get damaged.
After dinner me and Kevin checked out the swap meet, AKA Otaku Closet, and discovered that I had missed the chance to get an unopened Platinum box for $4. I made the mistake of checking out Club Sabo, which was a Gainax-themed waitress cafe, although the only Eva cosplayer was a Rei. I only stayed for an hour before returning to my room as it had been a long day.
Normally I would be continuing my posting about Saboten Con, but this update is so big it deserves a blog post and honestly, is an excuse to hold off on Saboten updates. ^^;; In titling this post my intent is that this isn't the only large update this site undergoes.
This week I picked up a parcel from the post office from Japan. In it were the results from auctions won from Yahoo Japan Auctions (YJA) and an order from Surugaya. I found out that the USPS can also track international packages with a tracking number. Japan Post had not tracked this package once it got to the Osaka airport, so I thought it was still there all this time. The parcel was shipped out just under two weeks ago via SAL and this is a very good turnaround.
As to how I get items from Japan, I know someone who lives there who has helped me make two prior orders from the Eva-T store. This was the first time I had her help with with YJA and Surugaya. She won all the auctions so everything you see here is everything that I wanted to get. Everything below is preowned, so even with bank transfer fees (none of the YJA sellers used Paypal) and commissions to my contact, I came out ahead on prices. I was also under budget for everything with international shipping factored in. The Surugaya items were ordered directly from their website, which is slightly chapter than their Rakuten storefront. Going forward I may cut back on my orders from domestic retailers depending on what I'm getting.
Here's an overview of all the items:
Now for a breakdown per vendor.
Auction 1 - HMV promo shitajiki and 2.22 postcard:
Auction 2 - Cellu Club hand painted cel with IMA-EVA 03 as a bonus:
Auction 3 - 1112G shitajiki with two flyers for an exhibit in Sapporo which were wrapped around it:
Auction 4 - Six Lawson clear files:
Auction 5 - A 2.0 shitajiki and clear file:
Bonuses included by the seller of the above two auctions, two copies each of Eva Extra 06 and 07 and three copies of a chirashi for 2.0:
Surugaya - Four shitajikis, Symphony of Evangelion program and 2015: The Last Year of Ryohji Kaji:
Bonus items from Surugaya thrown in by my contact:, a mini keychain, soundbyte gashapon, and doujin uchiwa. I also received some origami and snacks (not shown).
Saboten Con is the largest anime convention in Arizona and is held in Phoenix on Labor Day weekend. Now the farthest I've been for a con is Sac-Anime and I have yet to go to Anime Expo or cross country. But this year, there was one guest whose attendance demanded that I go and that is Yuko Miyamura, the seiyu for my favorite anime character of all time, Asuka. A lot of the original dub cast was also there: Matt Greenfield (producer, director, ADR, Makoto Hyuga, the Evas), his wife Tiffany Grant (Asuka), Spike Spencer (Shinji), and John Swasey (Rebuild Gendo). Amanda Winn-Lee (Rei) was also to have come but cancelled the night before the con began due to having had back surgery the week before.
Miyamura currently lives in Australia and this wasn't her first American con, but it was her first one stateside in five years since she attended Kawaii Kon in Hawaii in 2008. Since then her only con appearances have been in Australia, primarily at SMASH! in Sydney. I was thinking that I'd have to travel to Australia to see her, but was saved by her announcement that she would be at Saboten Con. However shortly after I learned that Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, the character designer and mangaka for Eva, would be at the debut incarnation of Japan Expo USA the week before. I was torn between one or the other but in the end decided to attend both. It worked out better than I expected and was a very Evatastic two weeks.
This was the most planned out con I've attended so far. I set spending budgets for both Japan Expo and Sabo since I normally only go to one con a year, FanimeCon. I was able to get a room at the Sabo con hotel with three other roommates, which helped out quite a lot and included a VIP upgrade, which was very beneficial. Although it was a three day con, I brought a luggage I'd previously used for two week trips and packed around a plastic storage container in case I picked up any figures to prevent them from being crushed. I brought enough granola bars to feed myself through three days and packed a bunch of shikishi boards for signing in addition to two posters in a tube for Miyamur and and Grant to sign along with some shitajiki for ease of transportation. There were also a lot of panels that were Eva-related so I set up a matrix in Excel with the signing times so I wouldn't miss what I wanted to hit up.
Some time in early 1998 I picked up this laminated bootleg poster from Japan Video in San Francisco's Japantown. At the time I found the image quite striking, especially Asuka's tears and Rei leaning against an open entry plug. Eva-01 is derived from the scene after it consumes Zeruel. However I had not been been able to identify the entire image as I had never seen it before despite my extensive browsing of Eva imagery at the time on the web, back when I was building my Asuka picture shrine.
Recently I was checking out Surugaya-a-too's storefront and came across the doujin anthology Traitorous Angel. Using Google Images to check it out turns up this very illustration, which actually appears in Traitorous Angel 2. I guess whoever designed the poster felt that a white background wasn't enough. Mystery solved after 15 years.
Update: Thanks to my collecting buddy DrScorpio, the artist has been identified as Koh Kawarajima, a member of the doujin circle Henrenkai. Kawarajima is a duo, Kazuaki Kawashima and Hiroyuki Karashima. I actually have their Traumerei art book in which this illustration appears, but since I had gotten that a couple years before the poster, just hadn't made the connection.
Japan Expo is a large anime convention in France that has gone over the 200,000 attendee mark and which I have been curious about attending. Instead of having to travel to France though, which I would'n't mind, as I have a positive view of France, the con debuted in the US this year in the form of Japan Expo USA at the Santa Clara Convention Center from August 23-25, the weekend before Labor Day.
I had heard about it a few months earlier at FanimeCon but after checking it out wasn't sure if I would be attending. For one, I hadn't heard of any of the guests and at $50 for a 3 day ticket and $100 for a Premium, I would need some good reasons to shell out that much for a ticket, especially in the latter case. The tipping point came in July when the con announced that Yoshiyuki Sadamoto would be attending. Wow. For anyone who is an Eva fan, he is one of the two biggest names in the Eva pantheon, second only to Hideaki Anno. I held out for a little bit on spending that $100, but after discussing it with two acquaintances from FanimeCon who are also autograph and artwork collectors, I decided to take the plunge and spring for it. And was it worth it as the con utilized two means of getting autographs: first come first served and via a lottery system. This really favored the Premium memberships and made it more difficult for everyone else. Premiums got in at 8:30, a half hour before prereg at 9 and on-site attendees couldn't get in until 10, allowing them to line up sooner of the first come first served signings, which tended to be the initial ones if the guest had two in a day. For the drawing system, every other registration type could get one automated lottery draw per guest per day, while Premiums had additional autograph coupons to let them draw up to five times.
Originally Sadamoto was supposed to have been at JX for all three days but his schedule was cut back to Saturday and Sunday and he only had a single panel on Sunday, originally there was another one on Friday. My plan was to get as many other autographs as I could on Friday to free up space for him. Another change was that initially there was a limit of one autograph per person for the entire con, but due to the lower turnout, this was relaxed to one per day.
On Friday I recognized several of the Premium attendees as I had also seen them at FanimeCon before. A good number of us would be going for Sadamoto on Saturday so on that day I got up the earliest as he would be doing two signings, a first come first served and a lottery. I got down to the convention center at 7:30 and after obtaining a ticket, camped in line for a couple hours.
Girl band Deepagumi.inc started signing at 10 and as they had a lot of people waiting, their signing pushed Sadamoto back by about 15 minutes. His signings turned out to be the most restrictive: personalization required and no photos. Even VIP and press were told they couldn't film and the next day You Kikkawa, who was covering the con as a reporter, got told to move. Sadamoto is the only guest who doesn't have a likewise or representation of his work on the con website. It seems that JX kept him on a tight leash during the con and his interpreter, Emmanuel, in particular was very much the guard dog, which turned people off, although I didn't have issues with him. I tried to get an Asuka sketch by telling Sadamoto that Eva was my favorite series and Asuka was my favorite character, which didn't quite work, as I got an Eva-02 mini sketch instead. Hoever I can't complain, as other people ended up with King from Nadia. Other sketches were Pen-Pen and the other pilots. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I didn't get any photos of the Rei sketch, it being Rei being the likely reason. There was another Sadamoto signing at 3, which was draw only. It was more restrictive than the first one - no blank shikishi, thus only the two con shikishi or merchandise.
On Sunday I got down to the convention center at 8, which was my latest arrival time, but the heat was off on getting Sadamoto's autograph since most everyone had gotten it on Saturday and was back for seconds, although this one would be a draw. This was where having the autograph coupons helped out as I got a ticket with my first coupon but did hear of an instance where someone used up all five allowed coupons but didn't get a ticket at all. The signing was later at 12:30.
Sadamoto was late by half an hour due to an interview and again there were no shikishi at all, although I did ask first before pulling one out. So I had the con shikishi signed instead. At the Tatsuro Iwamoto signing I noticed that Sadamoto had sketched a mini Haruko on the FLCL con shikishi for him, which the latter had done before he started signing and set aside. When I congratulated Iwamoto on it, he replied that he was a fan. As I hadn't been able to get all five members of Gamushara Oendan on Friday, I rectified that by getting a second shikishi signed by them. They noticed my Eva shirt and when I revealed that my favorite character is Asuka, was congratulated by two of them.
The final event of the con that I attended was Sadamoto's panel. He was originally scheduled to have had 1 on Saturday as well but his original schedule was scaled back. No photo or video allowed for this panel, which was late by 15 minutes. In addition to Sadamoto and Emmanuel, Carl Horn appeared to provide commentary. It started out with a video compilation Sadamoto had put together of all the anime he had worked on from the beginning. Next was a brief Q&A. I was hesitant to ask a question but decided to do so and happened to be the last person who got to ask. I took notes on the Q&A. A couple as you can see are borderline spoiler.
Q: Why did you decide to make the manga different from the series?
A: The TV series wasn't the true ending. The manga was a way of thinking about Eva and a different line of thinking.
Q: What influenced you growing up in your art?
A: Tokusatsu was an influence. (missed some other things he mentioned)
Q: What is your favorite genre?
A: SF but not too far into the future.
Q: In 3.0 why is Asuka's eyepatch over her left eye and Ritsuko has a shorter haircut as she was one of the more feminine characters?
A: Didn't write anything down since I was shaking my head at this one, but IIRC the designs are what was asked for and he didn't give a concrete explanation.
Q: Favorite scene from Rebuild?
A: The end of 3.0 when the 3 are walking in the desert.
Q: Who was the most difficult to design and who was the easiest? (my question)
A: Mari was the hardest because he wants to show the difference between the current characters and the new ones but couldn't do this with Mari. Note: this was from Felipe Smith's liaison who said Emmanuel's translation was off. From what I wrote down: Mari was the hardest because he had to show the technological advances vs. being freer with the TV series. With Rebuild he had to conform with what was requested. Gendo was the easiest and Sadamoto even did the Gendo pose to emphasize.
We then saw that Sadamoto had started a large drawing in pencil that he started to fill in with marker and were told that this was the first time he had drawn in front of an audience. While he was drawing Emmanuel and Horn had a discussion about Gainax and Sadamoto's role as well as anime in general. The sketch, and it is a masterpiece of course, was Asuka perched on the hood of an AC Cobra with Eva-02 at the top left. When Emmanuel asked for guesses as to what the car was I correctly identified it as a Cobra and got some applause. Before Sadamoto finished Emmanuel pulled out a second sketch but didn't reveal it, asking the audience to guess element associated with the area that appeared in it. These turned out to be the Golden Gate Bridge, palm trees, the Winchester Mystery House, and a sea lion surrounding the 3 pilots, Nono from Diebuster, and Nadia. I was dreaming that the Asuka on Cobra sketch would be given to the guy who correctly identified the car, but both are probably back in France now. A month later, ANN published their interview with Sadamoto and included a photo of the Japan Expo USA sketch. I also found a photo of the sketch he worked on during the panel.
As for Eva merchandise, I only ended up getting an Eva-05 LM HG model kit from Tatsu Hobby, which was the best priced Eva item that I found. I opted to pass on the Complete Records Collections for 1.0 and 2.0 at the Kinokuniya stall due to their 50% markup and calculation that I could obtain them cheaper, as well as Sega bedsheet with Asuka on it as the Rei one was missing and both are cheaper on Amazon.
3.0 was screened at the inaugural Japan Film Festival of San Francisco, which began the same weekend as the J-Pop Summit. It was shown four times: the US premiere on July 27, then July 29, July 31, and the final screening on the Festival's last day, August 4. Originally I had planned to watch the debut screening for the bragging rights but underestimated the demand for 3.0 and it was sold out when I checked just after July 4. Since August 4 was the only other weekend showing, I opted for that instead.
This was the first Eva movie I have seen more than once. I first saw the subtitled camrip, which being a camrip, isn't that great in terms of quality to begin with and is quite jumpy. I then saw the Blu-ray rip. Thus each time I have seen 3.0, the quality of the versions I watched improved. The film was screened at the New People theater, which seats 143. There was a good turnout for the screening and the theater was about 90% full.
The audience was pretty good. Laughs largely came when Shinji's food in Nerv appeared and when some of Kaworu's lines were delivered, due to the possible overtones. Most people also stuck around through the ending song to see the trailer. When I first saw 3.0 I wasn't sure what to think since it was such a huge departure from the previous two films. However after having seen it a few months before and knowing what to expect helped and I noticed things the third time around that I previously had not. In my estimate the Funimation sub is pretty good, although I did notice one error, and I forget where, but "I" is missing from a sentence. One thing I did learn though, was that Rebuild, being a film series, was meant to be seen in a theater. I would love to see the final film as it is released in Japan, but we'll see.