Nan Desu Kan 2011 recently happened here in Denver, and we here at The Gameslave attended to report on the convention. So here I give you my experiences with the biggest anime convention in the Rocky Mountain region.
We started things off by going to opening ceremonies. This actually really helped set the tone for the rest of convention. The energy that the convention directors exuded helped get everyone pumped for the weekend. We were introduced to the our guests which included Chris Cason, Clarine Harp, Jamie Marchi, Leah Clark, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Michael Sinterniklaas, Patrick Seitz, Stephanie Sheh, Todd Haberkorn, Tony Oliver, Vic Mignogna, Kevin McKeever, Steve Yun, and Tommy Yun. They all mentioned how excited they were (at least the ones that were in the room) to be at NDK this year. A few were even returning guests such as Patrick Seitz and Vic Mignogna, so we must be doing something right. The only thing that gave me pause was when the guests started to praise Casa Bonita. I have been there and I had to wonder if they actually ate the food they ordered, or just ate the unlimited sopaipillas and watched the cliff diving? Patrick did look good in the sombrero though.
Laws of Anime
The next panel we attended was the Laws of Anime. This panel was done by a host who goes by the name of Coya. She started by defining anime as having no respect for the laws of physics and nature. Next came the 10 Murphy’s Laws of Anime and she followed that by making it through about 30-40 of the 100 Laws of Anime during the panel time. She did a good job explaining the ones she hit and, when possible, used demonstrations and audience participation. In one example she had all the cat girls come down to help explain the Law of Feline Mutation. If you would like to read all 100 Laws of Anime you can find them here: http://www.cs.utah.edu/~duongsaa/more_htm/jk_100animeRules.htm.
A Geeks Guide to Social Interaction
This panel I felt could have used a different title. It really should have been “A Geek's Guide to Dating”. While most of the rules they set down can be used in normal day to day life, such as keeping up on day to day hygiene, it felt mostly focused on dating. A lot of things seemed to be focused on how to talk to the opposite sex instead of how to manage interacting in a normal social setting. Most of the things that were said seemed like common sense as well. The biggest point that was talked about and can be used in most situations is if you want to meet someone just walk up and introduce yourself. Don’t wait for them to come to you, as it may never happen. This panel, at least in my opinion, could have been much more interesting if the host had spoken more on her thesis that showed people who watch anime do better on tests. Perhaps we will see that panel another year.
The Venture Bros with Michael Sinterniklaas
So this panel did not have the best start, seeing as how Michael showed up 30 minutes late. I still blame Casa Bonita as he went to dinner there (god knows why). But he did make it up to us by running it the full hour that it was slated for. Micheal turned out to be very funny, but he was a bit scatter brained. In the middle of one story he would side track to something else, quite often his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) audition, before finally going back to the original story. He eventually told the whole story about how he become Leonardo on the series, just not all at once or in order. Turns out he was not even supposed to audition, but a friend convinced him by threats to go and try out. During the audition he tried for Leonardo (what he felt was his weakest role), Donatello (what he felt was his strongest), and Michelangelo (his ok but not great role). Go figure on the one he got huh? Overall it was really entertaining and he even did a Q&A with the audience. This included things such as “How did you get into voice acting?” all the way to “How is Dean (from Venture Bros) handling the breakup with Triana?” which was answered in character. The whole panel was a real joy to attend. It was hard to ignore the Grand Galactic Inquisitor in the audience though.
Evolution of Magical Girls
The panel that makes Ichigo (Bleach) a Magical Boy (we will get to that later). The hosts of this panel did their research, and showed how the definition of what a magical girl is changed over the years. Initially a magical girl (such as one found in Sally the Witch in 1963) would have magic and use it as they wish. They do not have to hide their powers and they can have always have them. This series was kind of like a Japanese version of Harry Potter (although it came much earlier). There were no transformations or having to save the world in this series. This did not come about until much later. Apparently the first series that had transformation with fan service was Cutie Honey. From there magical girl shows had much more of a coming of age theme to them. The girls still did not really have to save the world, but their powers did allow them to become older. This forced the girls to mature sooner then they may have normally had to, but they also had a good outlet for it. With Sailor Moon the magical girl series moved more to the definition we have today. She was not always aware of her powers and they were then granted to her by a third party. She has a secret identity she must maintain along with that of her team. And finally she must save the world, or have some other long term goal. Many series that we know as magical girl series follow this formula including Pretty Cure, Cardcaptor Sakura, and the dark Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
So this brings me back to the Ichigo thing. He did not really have any powers until they were awakened by Rukia. He has to keep the whole Soul Reaper thing a secret. He has friends to work with. And lastly he must save the world. So by this definition, he is a magical boy. I wonder what other male centric shows have this crossover? The panel overall was really fun to watch and only had one downside. Right behind us was a gentleman who thought he know more about the subject then the hosts did and argued with them if specific series had a magical girl or not.
Ah the AMV contest, a stable in the NDK diet. The first thing we find out is that regardless of how much testing you do there will always be technical issues. The first video refused to play properly and one in the action category got skipped. The quality in the videos was great though. You can really tell that people are really making use of the technology they have. Category X had a video that really stood out above all of the rest, which rightfully won 3 awards. In the action category they had two specific videos that were great. The winner in this category won by only 3 votes. Then Drama, which normally really drags, had some really great entries. It had 2 videos that won awards. After these came the category that I felt dragged, the Comedy category. In the past years this was where the best videos would be found. Now they seem to be really lacking and I could take or leave the winner. If you would like to see what the winning videos where check out our AMV Winners page.
Anime Dating Game
So this is the game show style panel that I attended this year. Invented by COO-Interactive Entertainment LLC, the Anime Dating Game takes 3 guys and 3 girls, separates them with a divider, and then each side needs to perform based on whatever our two hosts tell them. They did things such as the girls yelling Pokemon attacks with the guys acting them out. There were many other random acts that made it really fun to watch. Originally this was a 1 girl chooses from 3 guys or vice versa, but they wanted to include more people in the game, so they added the 2 additional people. By doing this they found out they were able to have more fun since they had more people and included more of the audience. If you are ever at a con that has the Anime Dating Game, I highly advise you go to it.
Gaming and How it Relates to Society Today
This panel was good, but had its problems. The person that hosted knew his stuff and was very informed on gaming as it pertains to the world at large. But the majority of the panel allowed input from an audience full of gamers. This means that it seemed to devolve into complaining about how our games are being treated. People complained about DRM, how the publishing companies are messing things up, to how free-to-play games are ruining things. When things were on subject it was nice. We tackled things such as what does it mean to be a “Gamer” in this day. Does playing any game make you a Gamer? Or does it take a larger dedication? If this panel had something to help direct the conversations a bit more I think it could have been much better.
The Hot Seat with Leah Clark and Todd Haberkorn
This was the funniest panel I attended all weekend, and that is all you get. Since it was 18+ no recording was permitted, and if I were to recount anything I may have to change the requirements to access the site. If you want to know what happens at this panel you will have to show up next year.
Boardgames are a great way to spend time with friends. But what are some new fun games to play? That was the main focus for this panel. The games they went over were Ghost Stories, 10 Days in Asia, Grimoire, Munchkin Fu (a hilarious game), Tichu, Tanto Cuore (a maid deck building game), Fairy Tale, and R-Eco. These games all either originated in Asia, or have Asian themes to them. They explained how each game worked, how hard it was to learn, and quite often focused on the art of the boards, cards, and other items (such as spell books in Grimoire). They also informed us that if you want to find a boardgame group you can go to boardgamegeek.com to find such groups.
Costumes continue to improve every year, and they keep getting more advanced. More people are starting to incorporate lights in their costumes. We are also seeing larger costumes, such as the Space Marine or the Pokemon at the costume contest. I also saw less repeats this year. I am not saying that there were not any repeats, but I did not see the same costume 12+ times. If you want to see more of what we did at NDK you can get a much better idea by checking out our NDK 2011 photos.
So that is my NDK in a very condensed nutshell. Can I truly reflect on what happened this year in a simple review? No, that is nearly impossible. I can tell you it was fun, I can tell you I had a blast. But to truly understand it you have to go. When you have so many devoted fans in one place there is a feeling that cannot be explained. There is an energy in the air that cannot be described, it has to be felt. Will I be at NDK 2012? You can bet on it. Do I hope to see you there? Sure I do, for what is a convention without fans to support it. So see you next year at NDK’s 16th convention.