This was an outstanding year for me. This is the first time the guest list impressed me, but it wasn't just that. A lot went right this year.
Our group was split between two cars. Myself, my boyfriend, and DJ were in my car, and Cody and his girlfriend Ary were in Cody's car. We left at about 9 AM and arrived in Chicago at about 1 PM. The drive was pretty stressful. There were a lot more semis on the road than in past years and it made driving pretty awful. The Chicago driving was actually the easiest for me since I expect heavy traffic. Once we got to the Doubletree I had the "fun" of discovering my debit card has a $500/day limit on it and getting it temporarily lifted had to happen. Not fun. Lots of stress getting into the con tbh. But from there everything improved.
I have a friend from Texas who went to ACen for the first time this year. She went out to a mall on Thursday and asked me to pick her up because the cab was crazy expensive, so I did and we chatted for a while in the car. It was my first time meeting her in person, so that was super cool. After that, our group went and picked up our Kalafina tickets (only myself, Korey, and DJ went though, the others didn't get tickets). After that, those of us who preregistered but didn't get badge mailing got our badges (thus everyone but DJ, since he had his mailed). DJ got kind of obnoxious about that, though. He kept going on and on about how awesome and worth it and blah it was to get it mailed and kept telling everyone else we should've. Okay, cool, DJ, but here's the thing: my dorm's mail room was awful so like hell if I was having my badge mailed to me in Bloomington, but if I wouldn't be around to get it I didn't want my badge mailed home either. Korey is my boyfriend, he'd be in the line to spend time with me anyway even if he had his badge mailed, so it would've been pointless for him to bother. Cody and Ary didn't realize they could afford to come until badge mailing was over. So dude shut up yes badge mailing is cool, I've done it before, but there are reasons why we didn't and the line wasn't even bad.
After that, we all went to dinner at Hofbrauhaus Chicago, which newly opened up since last year. The food and beer were both excellent and that made me a VERY happy Germanophile. When we got back, I got together with my Texan friend and she helped me trim a couple wigs' bangs and defrizz them, then I got Korey and DJ to come up and we played Munchkins with her and her girlfriend for a while. Always a good time. Once that was done we went back to our room, where Katie already was, and I let in our final roommate, Justin. He only stayed Thursday night, but he was super cool and it was nice to get to know him better. We talked a little on the ACen forums but he mostly got invited in because for a while I thought I was short on roommates and was desperately inviting people so I could afford to go. He was definitely fun to have around!
Woke up and put on my Rin Tohsaka costume, which sadly didn't get much attention. It was still a fun costume to do, though. We got in the standard dealer room line, and I fucked around in there for a while before going to Justin's doujin panel. He had some technical difficulties but overall did a good job. After that I did more dealer room wandering, then got in line for Yuu Asakawa's autograph. She was super happy to see I was getting something of Rider signed, and I got a picture with her. After that, I met up with my friend Katelyn that I met last year, and we went to try to go to Justin's visual novel panel but it was full, so we went to Helen McCarthy's panel on early Japanese clothes instead. PHENOMENAL. Helen McCarthy is amazing, meeting her was a dream come true for me, and quite frankly her panels alone made my con. Katelyn was also utterly taken with her because how can you not be?
I didn't do much else after that. I mostly hung out with Katelyn and miscellaneous people from my group until it was time for the Kalafina concert. I changed out of Rin and the whole room group went to the Expoteria for dinner, then we split apart so the Kalafina people could go.
OUR SEATS WERE SECOND ROW. It was incredible. The concert was just utterly mindblowing. I actually got choked up when they played Magia because it was just that powerful of a performance. For their major anime songs, they had the background screen playing clips from the show it was from. The end of Magia was matched up to Mami firing off her Tiro Finale and it was just the most perfect fucking thing omg. To The Beginning also had Fate/Zero stuff playing, mostly fight sequences that matched up perfectly. It was an incredible experience. Katie actually was waiting in the lobby to get a room key off one of us and heard some of it and regretted not getting a ticket. Katie is super frugal and it's rare for her to regret something like that, so that should tell you something.
After that, myself, Korey, Katie, and Ary went to Hardcore Synergy. It was okay but I wore out really fast. From there Katie and I went to Katelyn's yuri panels. They were both excellent and I'm actually on the team to help run them in the future. I more or less unofficially cohosted them, anyway haha. The second one ended at 3 AM, so by the time we got back to the Doubletree we just collapsed.
That morning I got up and headed straight to the Hyatt for panels. I got up too late for Gurren Lagann, but went to Helen McCarthy's "culture of kawaii" panel. Ace, of course. I got my copy of 500 Essential Anime signed. Before that, though, I ran into my dearest Dee and talked to her for a while. Once I was done seeing panels, I went back to the hotel room to change out of my Rarity cosplay because it was WAY too hot out, then to the dealer room for a bit, then back again for Yuu Asakawa's live dub panel. Which was SO. COOL. Seriously. She of course did a Q&A at the end, and I found out why she was so happy to sign my Fate/Stay Night DVD insert with Rider on it. Someone asked who her favorite character that she voiced was. Her answer was actually Rider! This woman has a crazy long list of credits, and out of all of them, my favorite was her favorite, too. The chances of that are crazy slim, whoa.
I pretty much raced from her panel back to the dealer room to line up for Kalafina's autograph. They had a concert ticket holders only autograph session the night before, but I skipped that because I REALLY wanted my Madoka set signed and they were only signing specifically Kalafina merchandise for that session. The line took forever because that previous line had gotten cut off and those people got priority, but I did get my autograph. After that, I spent most of the day hanging out with Korey, Katelyn, Katie, and DJ (and Cody and Ary some, too). We hung out in my room for a long time, and ordered our dinner from Giordano's. Heavenly. There were some Giordano's virgins among us, and they all fell in love.
Later that night we wandered to the Hyatt to do stuff. I was too worn out for the Soap Bubble, unfortunately, but Korey, Katie, Katelyn, and I played 7 Wonders in the tabletop room, which was a good time, even though it could've been better since I've never run a game of 7 Wonders before and it's a bit complicated to explain. After that...uh well. Korey and I sneaked back into the room. Because of reasons. And yes by reasons I mean sex. We stayed in after that because I was exhausted and checking out is always a pain.
Most eventful con Sunday ever. I didn't even bother to cosplay Applejack because I was exhausted, but still. I went to the figure collecting panel, which created a conundrum for me. I kind of want to apply to run a figure panel in the future because I think I could do it better, but the person who ran it this year had better credentials than me, and the connections to have figures donated for a giveaway. So I'm not sure if I should or not. I also went to Helen McCarthy's panel about how 3 individual Westerners had a strong influence in the formation of modern manga. Glorious. Incredible. And at this point Helen and I were chatting like good friends would, which is basically a dream I never imagined I'd ever realize.
From there my whole room group plus Katelyn went to the dealer room to walk around and do any final shopping. I was wearing my "kiss Merrill and trust demons" Dragon Age 2 shirt. An artist in the AA actually called out to me to compliment it and we ended up chatting. She was a huge Merrill fan, and super cute to boot. I grabbed her card to get her contact info because seriously, cute Merrill fans.
That pretty much sums up my con. I'm super proud of myself for my shopping, too. I feel like I spent my money better than ever this year. Here's what I got:
-GSC Rin Tohsaka yukata ver figure ($100)
-Dear Drops limited edition ($45)
-picked up my commission from last year of f!Hawke/Merrill ($40, but I paid $20 for it as a deposit last year so $60 total)
-Girls und Panzer Katuysha/Nonna doujin ($22)
-Fate/Zero Lancer/Saber doujin ($24)
-DJ Schwarzenegger CD from the Hardcore Synergy table ($20)
-Tanto Cuore playmat ($20)
-Megami April 2013 ($13, actually got this at Mitsuwa)
-Type Moon trading figure (got Saber) ($5)
-various Medaka Box blind box charms (got 2 Shiranui, Kikaijima, and Medaka, miscellaneous prices from $7-$12)
-I <3 Brown Eyed Girls pin ($5)
Not many impulse buys, more bigger stuff this year, etc. Good job, self!
I feel kind of bad, though. I didn't see much of Brooke and Holly, and actually kinda avoided them. Not because of either of them, though, but because Brooke's girlfriend was always around and I do NOT like her and wanted to interact with her as little as humanly possible. Urgh. But aside from that? Best ACen yet.