Not to start off with this old cliche, but how many times has this happened to you? You’re traversing the corridors of a hotel when you turn a corner and see a man wearing only dance pants and a very well-made Elmo mask, either practicing dance moves or having a seizure. I can use the word seizure, because I have a brain tumor. That’s our word.
As I sit here on a randomly snowy April morning listening to The Blues Brothers soundtrack, my mind drifts to the likes of The Nerima Daikon Brothers. Like Hideki and Ichiro trying to desperately save their precious daikon field by any means necessary, I’m reminded of two hardworking women scrambling to keep a huge anime convention together. Those two gracious ladies are Jeanie Rabatsky and Allison Milwid, since President/CEO Jim Gogol was rather sick during the pre-production portion of putting on Tekkoshocon X, which took place from March 21-25. A four-day con is a rare thing, but so wise it boggles the four brain cells I have left. The first night of the con was actually held at approximately 6 p.m. at the Hollywood Theatre in Dormont, PA. The genius of this, besides giving anime and manga fans an early start to collect their weekend passes, was to cut down on the lines for the following day, when hordes of preteens bombarded the hotel in which the convention was held. Atlas may have been able to shrug, but Jeanie and Allison had to wait until the con was over, packed up, and ready to go for the next one. Besides having to wrangle guests, volunteers, staff, and myself, they had their hands full. I must say, ladies, you did a hell of a job.
Milk. It does a body good. Unless you’re over 30, in which case you start having to card every attractive, approachable man, woman, or Totoro. Kids did not mature nearly as quickly as they do now. On the flip side, I think many a parent has grown less concerned about the welfare of their children. Blasé even. At the ripe old age of 15, I got to go to my first concert…accompanied by my mother. The attendants of Tekko were slightly different. Gaggles of middle and high school students were dropped off in droves by parents who buried their heads in the sand thinking, “It’s a cartoon convention…how much trouble could they get into?” One word: Hentai.
The guests this year were not disappointing in any way. Todd Haberkorn, who has worked on such greats as Sgt. Frog, D.Gray-Man, and Soul Eater, imparted his knowledge of the industry and where he sees it going. David J. Felding, currently living in Pittsburgh, voices many a video game character and is the original voice of Zordon from The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (Aiy Yai Yai, Yai Yai!), and Comedian Uncle Yo (ne’ Karl Custer) brought his original comedy stylings of nerdom comedy to Tekko once again. It’s difficult to pull off a Jedi, 200sided die, Otaku joke, but his timing is great, and he can do it with the flourish of a Dancing Elmo. Kevin McKeever, TV guru, brought his expertise about the industry and its direction, having worked in productions that vary from Jackass to Robotech. BTW, Kevin, if we could ever get Johnny Knoxville and Stevo-O into Mecha, I think we would get at least a 70% share. A late addition, Travis Willingham was a great panelist, bearing the brunt of many an educated and asinine question. As a consummate professional, he took each statement (not question) with a grain of salt. When it came to actual questions, he was very upfront, from the most benign inquisition to personal information about his home life and how he deals with a wife (Laura Bailey) who is not just a voice actor but also an avid gamer, which they both are. The obvious answer: two TVs.
From there you could attend many a panel. From the manga library and video game room, to A Complete History of Manga to Cute Japanese fashion, which leads us into the Cosplay Maquerade and Cosplay Fashion Show. The heart that these people put into their craft, from costume creation to choreography, is palpable.You can see the blood, sweat, and tears put into these costumes. Mostly because sewing is hard. Even though they may not be performing, so many people cosplay that it’s hard to tell where Death the Kid begins and Haruhi Suzumiya ends. BTW, if you aren’t getting a lot of these references, just email me and I can turn you on. To some good anime. You may not even be into anime or cosplay that much, but as one of the t-shirts say (and I may be paraphrasing), “Tekkoshocon: A Japanese Music Convention with an Anime Addiction.” With that, we must pause and reflect on the information imparted to you so far.
The second part of my con review will be all about the amazing bands that kicked so much a– that mine is now inverted. Those bands being Sound Witch and Exist+Trace. Do yourselves a favor and check them out. The next session with be personal interviews with the bands by yours truly.
‘Till then, check out the plethora of pics from Tekko X, and all the “free” anime on Netflix streaming. Netflix, I’ll be expecting a check very soon. Please, please, please! I promise to donate it all to the “Pay the J.C.’s Mortgage Foundation.” Thanks!