Connecticon this year was probably the best I've ever been to. Being only 40 minutes from me, it has always been the kind of convention that if it weren't so close, i probably wouldn't bother with it. But it was apparent this year that the convention has really come into its own.
One very interesting panel included Michele and Bill (voice actors well-known for their roles as Jessie and Brock in Pokemon) talking about their favorite anime and movie series. You'll see a tiny overview of that discussion in my interviews. Afterwards, they opened up the floor to allow the audience to join in what their favorite series were. I jotted a list down, enough to keep me in what looks to be quality anime fodder for some time now. The list includes:
The movie Five Centimeters Per Second
And the manga series Future Diary
My mission during the con was to find a copy of Heat Guy J, a cop buddy series with a sci fi twist created in 2003, and thankfully due to the eagle eye of my friend Dylan, I found all 26 episodes for $30, quite the deal! If any of you have ever seen Escaflowne, it's the same design team. Neo Tokyo has decided to build themselves their very own private eye android, whose construction is a combination of old-school steam power and high-tech gadgetry. Much like the antique look of the mecha in medieval Escaflowne, it incorporates the same mash-up of genres, but in the most intriguing way possible. I've just seen the first few episodes and it seems pretty solid. Of course, The Insatiable Critic will always give you the proper lowdown upon completion!
Another great panel I went to was on Hayao Miyazaki's films and the common themes that run through them. For those of you not anime-inclined, you probably know him because of Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle, both of which had a wide release in the U.S. I have just recently seen one of his great masterpieces called My Neighbor Totoro, which was created in the late 80s and I'm glad I saw it because it was discussed a great deal in the panel. It is such a sweet, simple story premise but it is far deeper than I expected it to be. Two young girls move into a new house with their father, an anthropologist, and discover several spirits that are living in and around the house. One of these spirits is Totoro, who I have been told makes an appearance in Toy Story 3. Maybe I'll actually have to bite the bullet and check it out. The two girls, Satsuki and Mei, try to make the best of their new home while their mother is in the hospital. Mei, who is about four, ends up meeting Totoro, a big, fluffy grey creature who is known to be the king of the forest. What happens after that is pure magic. What really struck me about the film is when Mei tells her sister and her father what she has seen, they don't pooh pooh her - they believe what she is saying and think it is wonderful she has had that experience. Seeing the adult world paying homage to the child's world did my heart good.
The movie explores an ever-constant message in Miyazaki's films of man's role in nature and the responsibility that goes with it, but it also explores the joy and strength of childhood imagination. It was so incredibly moving and delicately sad that I had tears in my eyes by the end of the film. It will make you believe in the goodness of the human spirit and take you on a spiritual journey without you having to leave your chair. That is the power of Miyazaki's films - they are not just animated eye candy, they are a voyage for the mind and the spirit. I can't say enough about it. Just go see it. And make sure you have tissues handy for the last incredibly touching sequence.
Also, I have a new love, and it's name is www.paul-reveres.com. I can't tell you how glad I was to run into this in the artist's alley in Connecticon. Hooray for twisted history!
Til next time, stay classy cyberpeeps!