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.