Day 2
7/4/1997  The Beginning
(as told by the UGAnime mascot, Oni-chan)

Day 2 began early (8 o'clock). Even though nothing was showing until noon, the opening ceremonies and the dealers' room opened at 10a.m.  After I got cleaned up, I went down to Carl's Jr. again and sampled their oishii breakfast menu.  Every item on it rocked!  After the heartburn went away and I was able to move again I went back to the hotel and got in line for the opening ceremonies (I figured that I would have three days to check out the dealers' room, but that this was a once a con thing).

Lining up out the door, and around the building.

 This is where the fun began.  The lines to everything big (like the opening ceremonies) went outside the hotel and wrapped around the parking garage behind it (and that was one big garage).  The motto for AX 97 soon became "Lines, lines, everywhere lines.  Blocking out the scenery and breaking my mind."

Thank Kami-sama above that the Hawaiian girl from last night's line let me cut into this one too.  I was eternally grateful.  Everybody waited and waited for the line to start moving, and it did, for a little while.  But then it stopped again.  I asked a Con-Runner what was going on.  He said that the first theater had already filled and that they were rushing to get the second theater a video feed to have a simulcast or something.  This sucked.  Not only was the smog actually visible today, but you could actually taste it in the air.  This really sucked.

Finally we began moving again.  At around 10:45a.m. we got a seat in the second theater room (By this time, people who had already gotten into the dealers' room were cutting in line with all of their goodies that they just bought.  Bad call number one for me that weekend).  Only an hour and ten minutes late, the opening ceremonies began^_^  First a bunch of SPJA dudes and dudettes came up and said how happy they were that we were all here and such, and how this was going to be the best AX ever!  Everybody cheered just to get the show rolling....They apparently didn't get the hint.  Some big guy got up and did a little dance for us (he was very nervous) behind the podium.  Our video-fed theater was laughing our butts off!  We were later told that they could hear us perfectly well in the main room (and even downstairs in the dealers' room^o^).

After awhile, they finished talking and introduced the opening animation for AX 97.  It was pretty funny.  The con mascot (a tubby kitten) gets kidnapped by some S&M babes who hold him for ransom.  But our heroes (some guy and girl) come along and break him out.  I wish that someone would have done that for me a loooooooong time ago.  

Finally the guests of honor were brought out.  

 First, Yasuhiro Imagawa (writer and director of Giant Robo) appeared.  He promised us that episode VII was finally complete and would be released in Japan by early 1998.

 Pic by Imagawa

 Then came Akira Kamiya (the voice of Shutaro Mendo and Ryo Saeba), who said a few words in the voices of his alter egos.  That guy cracked me up ^_^

 Then came Hiroaki Sato (the creator of Key: The Metal Idol).  He was cool, even though he was surprised how many fans Key already had in America.

Key sketch by Sato 

 After him came Pretty Sami, uh, I mean Chisa Yokoyama (who was also Ryoko in Nadesico).  Very funny in person as she acted like Sasami for a while.

 Miho Shimogasa was the next guest introduced (a key animator on Giant Robo and director of many things that are "Sailor").  She seemed shy, but soon opened up when she found out how popular her shows were over here.

 Shimogasa's charasSailor ........somebody

 Akihiko Yamashita was next (Chara designer and animation director of GR and Gundam ZZ).

 Yamashita's GR
Yamashita ON GR!

 After all the Giant Robo people had come out, the rest of the Anime world was introduced, starting with Kazuo Yamazaki (the director of Please Save My Earth and some Urusei Yatsura movies and TV episodes [though we still didn't find out what Lum the Forever was about!])

 And finally came out the man himself, Nobuteru Yuuki (The animation director of Lodoss War, Gunnm, and Five Star Stories.  He was also the character designer for Escaflowne and the X Movie.)

 Deedlit and that wolf chick in X

After the guests had been introduced they all gave a brief rundown of what they had done for the industry and what they were planning to do in the future.  Very cool.  Soon the opening ceremonies were over and the con could officially begin!

I went straight for the Focus Group with Imagawa, Yamashita, and Shimogasa. As was expected, it was mainly about Giant Robo (yes!!).  Once again we were promised that episode seven was indeed finished and would be released soon.  When asked why it took so long between many of the episodes and especially this one, Imagawa-sensei replied that this was a very special project to him and to a lot of GR fans.  He wanted to make sure that the ending was so good that people would just say "Wow!" after they saw it.  He didn't want to just throw something together just to get it over with.  This was his baby.  He would give it the best that he possibly could.

He then went on to tell us that half-way through the production of the Giant Robo series his father had passed away.  He took some time off for the funeral and then he began to think.  He thought about the bonds of father and child and how deep they actually went.  This time off helped him to bring more to the story of Giant Robo to make it more meaningful, touching, and much more powerful.  I stood up and said how sorry I was about his father and that he really must miss him due to the emotional trauma that our Experts must go through in their private journeys to understanding and acceptance.  He said that it was tough at first, but then he had to clear his head and go on, as do the characters in the OAVs.

 Giant Robo Fucus COLOR!

 Gomen!  I know that you can't see much, but trust me, it's the GR Panel talking about the last episode!

We were then told that the final episode would be an hour in length and would answer all of the questions that were offered in Operation Night Stood Still.  However, Imagawa was quick to respond that not every question in the Giant Robo Universe would be answered, giving the impression that time must actually continue after all is said and done, and that the world keeps turning no matter what happens to it.  This was coolness to the extreme!  I could hardly wait to find out why Dr. VonVogler would actually build the three Anti-Shizuma drives (to save man or to destroy him?)!  I was a happy lil' Oni.

Soon, however, the Focus was turned to Shimogasa's work on Sailor Moon and Cutey Honey Flash (I hate Moonies!  They ruined a great speech by a very cool guy.).

After that panel, I stuck around for the Yamazaki Forum.  This guy was great. He first told us that his message behind UY:4 Lum the Forever was for Lum fans to get out more and stop obsessing.  He then tried to explain as much as he could about his cryptic works to an audience of a different culture.  What a brave soul.  I think most of the con-goers came out even more confused.  Baka!  I always thought that his works were pretty straight forward, ya know?  Oh well, to each their own (brain capacity).

I was excited about seeing Neon Genesis Evangelion with a huge audience, so I went to the International "B" Room next.  But as soon as Shinji and Misato started to talk in horrendously bad English voices more than half of the packed auditorium got up and left after a loud, perfectly timed "groan" together.  This sucked worse than the lines!  I was soon happy again when I found out that the Akira Kamiya Panel was already in progress.  I squeezed into that room as fast as I could to listen to a master talk about the golden days of seiyuu.  Everybody laughed at his jokes even before translation because he acted everything out!  He even gave us what we wanted, and interview with both Mendo and Saeba.  Probably the best time that I had the whole weekend^_^

After Kamiya, I caught Giant Robo episode 6 (for the twentififth time!) in a crowded little theater on the second floor.  Everybody even shouted out the best line in the entire series at the same time, "What can I say? I'm just an Immortal kind of guy," in a bad French accent too!  These guys rocked, and I'm not easily impressed.

I had lost track of time by now and thought that it would be a good time for the great taste of Carl's Jr. again.  I ran down with a bunch of other con-goers and caught a quick bite to eat before the game show began at 5:00p.m.  Another taco-burger and JUMBO fries later I was off and running.  After I got out of the bathroom, I ran back to the room where they were just setting up for the game show.  It was well worth the bottle of Pepto I had to chug to get there in time.  They put a lot of time into that production, let me tell you.  Great computer graphics on monitors to show the progress of the contestants on their journey to Anime Hell made everybody in the room burst out laughing (not to mention the sounds that the buzzers made and the "right" and "wrong" response noises [such as Homer Simpson saying "Doh!" twenty times in a row, and Nadia screaming "Baka!" at least 15 times]).

 Dear God!  Don't let Nausicaä fall!  NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Great games like "Guess the Year the Anime Was Made" (they had to keep Nausicaä from the top of the mountain and each number of years off got her closer to the edge.  She eventually fell) were hilarious and taught each of us something special about ourselves.

Games like Eva or Evita in which contestants had to guess which story a hint fell into (Ex. "A woman with a mole." First response, "Evita." Wrong. Next response, "Eva." Wrong. Last response, "Both." Correct.), and Finish the Fan-Dub (with lines like "Damn it, Rick, quit talking about this stupid Protoculture stuff, or I'll have to stab you to death with my chin."  and "Turn him into a Robeast, a big one! And change him to blue, and give him lots of windows." "Well, sire. I can use my magic to make him big and change him from red to blue, but I don't do windows!"  everyone was falling on the floor with laughter.) were ingenius and funny.  Terry Bogard ended up winning by knowing every known fact about Anime that was ever known.  I don't know how he did it, but he answered everything right!  The question that the host was positive would stop Terry's winning streak only made him stronger.  He was asked "What was on C/FO tape #001?"  He got it.  "Gatchaman," he stated as matter of factly.  The entire room started cheering and wondering just how lonely this man really was.  What a great contest!

Many of us filed into the Pacific Ballroom "A" to witness the Studio Ghibli Forum (complete with slide show).  It was very well put together and it answered many burning questions about the Disney Takeover, uh, deal with the great studio.  We even got to see Bobby "C-Ko's" Miyazaki music videos during this time.  No matter how many times I see his Every Little Thing She Does is Magic set to Kiki, I get tears in my eyes *sniff*.  Fly, Kiki, fly!  Fly like the wind!

It was at this point that I found out that I missed the Chisa Forum and that she was leaving early the next day.  Bummer!  I would never meet Sasami now!  That sucked.

It was also at this time that I also realized that I had not been into the dealer's room even once that day!  That totally sucked!  I did buy some AX 97 and AX 96 shirts, but that hardly makes up for a day without the dealers' room.

Later I checked out the art rooms upstairs.  There were some pretty good pictures, but there was some stuff that turned my stomach too.  Pretty nausiating.  But what was worse was that some of the horrendous stuff actually had bids on them!  C'mon, people.  If you need to throw your money away that bad, just give it to me!  I swear, I'll use it for good, and not to buy a mallet or chainsaw (which reminded me to get rid of the Rossman's body before it started to stink).

After checking out the art rooms, I went back down stairs and found that the large theatre was playing Armitage III: Poly Matrix, so I watched the rest of it (it was about half over).  From what I saw, it was just the OAV series all rolled into one bundle of a movie with only one change, the ending (which was the best part of the original series).  Instead of finding out what happened months after the final fight between Ross and Armitage vs. the rest of Mars, we only see what happened in the hours after it.  Not very fulfilling.  The American voices were okay (Liz's Armitage was really good), but not as emotional as the Japanese seiyuu.  Oh well.  What ya gunna do?

Nothing good was showing for the rest of the night (midnight madness was canceled without even telling us what it was about), so I went up to my room and watched channel 13, AXTV.  Straight Japanese shows with no subtitles.  Cool!  I watched You're Under Arrest the TV show, Mars Successor Nadesico, and some Space Battle Athletes or something.  Then I caught a late dinner and then went to sleep.  A long day was behind me (only later did I find out that it was the Fourth of July), but another loooooooong day was coming up fast!

 Day 1: 7/3/1997 The Arrival
 Day 2: 7/4/1997 The Beginning
 Day 3: 7/5/1997 The Middle
 Day 4: 7/6/1997 The End
 Day 5: 7/7/1997 The Return

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Go on to the next day!
Go forward to Day 3

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