I headed up to Sydney again on Friday to spend the weekend with my lovely girlfriend and attend an anime convention.
The bus arrived late yet again (Greyhound suck), which didn't put me in the best of moods. The bad mood evaporated as soon as Gill picked me up and together we battled the fierce city winds trying to freeze us before we could make it over to the sushi train. Dinner was nice, though it'd been a while since we last had sushi train so I left the more suspect looking dishes for the other patrons for a change (Eel Ship just looked wrong). We headed back to Gill's place after that as it was getting close to 10.
I assisted in a bit of amateur hairdressing that night, but I didn't quite get the curlers right and Gill had to straighten her hair the next morning.
We had to get up semi-early the next morning to ensure we got to SMASH! on time. After some wardrobe and hair changes, we were on our way and once there it turned out not pre-registering worked in our favour as we avoided the huge pre-reg queue, paid at the door and walked straight in.
To be honest, I wasn't expecting too much but everything looked pretty good as we walked in. It seemed set up kinda like a smaller scale Animania and although it was crowded, there was still plenty of room to get around. We wandered around vendors (bumping into some of Gill's students in the process) and had a look at the various vendors, pretty happy with the various things on offer (and laughing at the bootleg Nendoroids). We bumped into Franky on our travels and headed over to the game room to say hi to the rest of the guys (Noa had PM'd Gill saying he was attending) who were very busy playing Brawl. We left them after a short while, then indulged in some soggy takoyaki before settling in for the main event of the day, an interview and live dubbing performance from Japanese seiyuu Hidenobu Kiuchi.
It's pretty impressive for a small con to get an actual Japanese voice actor, but unfortunately the host was a dreadful interviewer who spent too much time talking about himself and then failed to ask concise, clear questions. I didn't know anything about Kiuchi before I went to SMASH! and I still don't know anything about him, aside from him seeming like a nice and funny guy. The live dubbing made up for the shoddy interview, it was a lot of fun.
Oh, he also wants us all to buy anime DVDs and not download anime. Kinda funny seeing as most of the anime he's had a major role in isn't available to buy here :P
We met back up with everyone at the games area and went over to Maccas for lunch, minus Noa who was still Brawling, but with the addition of Lindsay. Long lines were made short with a lot of wise-cracking, everyone was getting along really well and the good company was pretty much icing on what was proving to be a really enjoyable convention.
After lunch we all split up again and Gill stood in line with me for Kiuchi's autograph (I got him to sign a Darker Than Black booklet that came with the 1st OP single) and we did another round of the vendors before heading up to the artist's area. There was a lot of cool stuff on display and we had fun looking at all the various artist's work. Again this was something I hadn't seen at other cons, more artists getting to show off their stuff. Kidchan was kinda like the guest artist of honour and her stuff was all really nice (unfortunately her artbook was sold out before we got upstairs). Gill bought one of her prints and had it signed. I didn't get anything 'cause I'm a tight-ass :P
We must've missed the start of the cosplay, but didn't stick around watching it for too long because we ended up attending the trivia, forming a team with Noa, Franky and Jesus. The questions were a bit of a mixed bag, but there were a lot of gaming questions in there, so we ended up doing pretty well. We had to wait a while for the results and after missing the announcement of the winners, had to pull up one of the organisers to ask who had won.
Apparently we came equal second by a point (or some shit). I didn't feel we did that well, but everyone else believed we had won but that they had given the prize to another team so they wouldn't have to call out our name... Team Dickbutt. We did get a lot of answers right... shenanigans? I'm not sure.
Should I talk about the male karaoke sensation Barry Yellow? Probably not. He can really work a stage though.
Somehow Gill and I ended up participating in Kiuchi Trivia shortly after that. They just threw questions to the audience (mostly about Kiuchi-related anime characters) and even though I was just playing for the hell of it, somehow managed to tie for first place. Despite Gill's vocal protests, I just let the girl I tied with have the prize. It was a Prince of Tennis drama CD or something and I didn't really have any interest in it, nor would I have won a tie-breaker question if it had been about anything other than Darker Than Black or Hitman Reborn :P As a consolation, all the people that answered a question correctly got a Prince of Tennis trading card, which Kiuchi then signed. I had mine made out to Gill as I already had the signed booklet :P
We met up with everyone yet again, watched Barry receive his well deserved 1st place karaoke award and got our picture taken with him. We settled in for the band, but everything was running late and we were hungry and kinda left. I feel bad 'cause they were actually pretty good and no-one much seemed to hang around for their performance (including us).
Wandering was the theme of the day and we all wandered for quite a while before finding somewhere to eat. I can't remember the name of the place, but the food was pretty decent and the servings were large. Sometimes you didn't get what you ordered and sometimes the drinks came in bowls, but that just added to the enjoyment of the meal and extended the conversation. A good end to a good convention that wasn't just good because of the company, but because it was. Will be heading back next year if they have it.
Sunday was another early-ish morning, so we could go ice-skating. I had never been before and didn't really want to go, but just went to amuse Gill. Turned out to be more enjoyable than I expected and somehow I avoided falling over, although I still didn't really get the hang of the rhythm and leg movements. I could be persuaded to go again.
Lunch and shopping took place after that, but it all drew to a close too quickly as I had to leave in the early afternoon. As always, a great weekend together but it felt as though we hadn't spent much time together at all since we were with other people for most of Saturday and it feels like weeks since we last saw each other.
I'll be heading up there next weekend, just gotta keep myself distracted in the meantime :P