Hey everyone! Long time, no blog. I’ve been neck-deep in VOCALOID music and other duties this summer, but I’ve been set back by an unexpected fatal hard-drive crash. I hope this brief recap of my Anime Expo 2012 trip will be enough to prove I’m still alive!
First item on my little list here would be how blown-away I was by the fan-driven Mirai no Neiro panel this year (see last year’s article). I’ve been to every Mirai no Neiro at AX so far and I have to say that I wasn’t prepared for this year’s. I don’t mean to be too harsh, but it’s true that I sat down in my seat on the afternoon of Day 1 (the first half of the panel) preparing my friend next to me for a session of cheesy acting and niche music.
Curiously female and Filipino Len: “Aren’t we missing someone Rihn-chyan?”
Also Filipino, but graciously also female Rin: “We are! Where’s Meekoo-chyan?”
Both: “Let’s call her together!”
Well, a few minutes in to it they shut me up when I noticed the giant screen behind them suddenly contained a pro-quality Miku hologram, talking in her naturally robotic way (not the same Miku cosplayer they like to reuse in all their panels). Not only did they kindly subtitle her Japanese speech instead of trying to butcher up some English, the English phrases she did say were spoken slowly and as articulate as can be expected from Miku.
I would have been fine with a panel full of this, but then they surprised me again with an unadvertised mini-concert. I think I remember there were 4 songs, but the part that sold me wasn’t the concept of a Miku concert – I’ve seen that all before; I’ve to Sega’s as well as Vocalekt Visions’s own. The part that got me cheering and clapping was the last song where unexpectedly Kasane Teto and Utane Uta (Defoko) of the UTAU fandom shared as much screen time as Miku. THAT, ladies and gentlemen of the Vocal Synthesis Community, is fairness. I know Hentai would have killed someone to see Defoko live in concert, but these are the sacrifices we all must make. Maybe next year Hentai? Unfortunately, the panel ran a bit too long and had to wrap up quickly, but luckily they were given another time slot to work with.
Next on my list is the second half of Mirai no Neiro, which was honestly the only reason I had gone to the first. Just like last year, they invited a small group of popular Japanese VOCALOID producers to share all-new songs and videos. Those names included Vocaliod-P (1/6), Agoaniki-P (Double Lariat), Deadball-P (Japanese Ninja #1), and Dixie Flatline (Just Be Friends). Now normally, I wouldn’t be that happy to see Dixie Flatline, since many of my friends know that I disagree with his song “Just Be Friends” on a deep level, but after the panel I think he jumped up from my least favorite to being in my top 5 favorite VOCALOID producers. All the producers had fun stories to tell, but I think Dixie Flatline won the hearts of the crowd when he told his story of failing as a music producer in New York only to witness, years later, an entire concert-going crowd of Americans cheering and singing in Japanese with his original music at Mikunopolis last year. After the panel, all the producers gathered around outside the panel for over an hour signing autographs and taking pictures with dedicated fans. This particular fan got all of them of course.
Ladies and gentlemen of the English vocal synthesis world, you would be surprised if you ever met Dixie Flatline in person. He is a straight-forward, businessman who looks to be in his thirties, and I never expected his reaction to me saying that I was also a VOCALOID Producer. I think he made my Expo when he stopped signing my autograph and told me he was so glad there were producers in the West. He told me he’s always on the lookout for good Western-produced works, and he asked if I knew where he could find them (YouTube and VocaloidOtaku.net). When he wrote down my YouTube Channel, I think I died. Anyway…
On to the VOCALOID cosplay gathering. Aside from a distinct lack of Engloids (there were two Big Al’s), I was happy with the turn-out. Maybe 60 people showed up and we all had fun, especially with the all-KAITOs picture when an ice-cream vendor let us borrow his cart for the shots! Notable cosplays that got some attention this year were Internet Co.’s Lily, PowerFX’s Big Al (sleepysheep7 of VocaloidOtaku.net and I), AH Software’s Hiyama Kiyoteru, and SBS Artech’s SeeU. I love to see people paying attention to the lesser-known characters despite that people may not recognize them.
Here and there throughout my trip I ran into a few people who recognized my name and I signed a few autographs, but more importantly I would recognize the visiting producers from Mirai no Neiro and I was able to thank them on a personal level. I remember when I ran into Agoaniki-P again in the Exhibit Hall. He doesn’t really speak English, but with my basic Japanese I was able to get my point across and thank him. He had fun when I walked away singing Double Lariat.
Anime Expo is really a great place to go if you want to meet other VOCALOID fans (even a few who like Engloids!), and I’d recommend visiting your own local Anime convention or even Anime Expo 2013 if you get the chance! Just let me know if you’re going and we can all have a good time together trolling artist alley for not having any Engloid merchandise!