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AnimeLand Wasabi 2012 Review

What is wasabi? Well, the dictionary defines it as such:

wa-sa-bi noun – a condiment that is prepared from the ground thick pungent greenish root of an Asian herb (Wasabia japonica syn. Eutrema wasabi) of the mustard family and is similar in flavor and use to horseradish.

Gross, right? However, don’t let the name fool you at all. AnimeLand Wasabi is a kick-ass convention that happens yearly here in Colorado. Though small but steadily growing, this year marked ALW’s 5th year as a convention! Of course the fun doesn’t just happen in Denver, oh no no no! AnimeLand is the name of the organization and Wasabi is their convention in Colorado. Their other conventions are:
Makiba – Las Vegas, NV
TuCon – Tuscon, AZ
Otaku Mex – Albuquerque, NM
Remonedo – Bloomington, MN
So, if you are within that area, go check it out! But, this isn’t about the other ones. This is about…WASABI!

AnimeLand Wasabi or Wasabi Con as it’s often referred to, has been running strong for 5 years now. As of next year, Wasabi will be occupying a new hotel, much larger than the previous one, because of it’s steadily growing popularity and attendees. More space means more panels, more guests, more events, more fun! This year at Wasabi, a lot of different and awesome stuff went down. What separates Wasabi from most of the other conventions here in Colorado is it’s diverse set-up of events. All of which I will touch on individually…and not in a molester way, you sickos.

Panels are events that are set-up by volunteers within the anime/gaming community or with a special guest, like a production company representative(i.e. Funimation). This year, a lot of interesting panels were held. One in particular was the Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary panel. Now, everyone knows I am very picky about the anime I watch and Sailor Moon is no exception. However, the organizers of the panel were very knowledgeable, informative and super cool. Going so far as to give out prizes to all the fans, including giant, lightsaber-sized Pocky. Epic. A majority of the other events focus on analysis and debate, which brings to the table a whole different aspect to the anime genre rather than just watching it and getting all “SQUEEish”. One think I noticed, however, is that panels tend to run over their allotted time. This can be remedied by increasing the amount of staff members and keeping a close eye on all the times the panels start and finish. Not a hard task, but can be a tad bit frustrating. Just my opinion, though.

Events don’t happen very often, but this year was different. This year saw two of Koku Gamer’s own writers, who are close friends of mine IRL, tying the knot. The wedding was a a Final Fantasy-ish themed wedding, even going so far as the residing minister dressing up like Lord Braska(Yuna’s Dad, you fucking n00bs!)from Final Fantasy X. The ceremony was beautifully done, complete with Final Fantasy music and good friends and family. Oh, and before you ask…yes, I cried at the wedding. Fucking sue me. Anyway, here’s to the new Koku Couple! Congrats Jess and Don! Oh yeah, this picture was taken by my good friend, John-Michael O’Brien. You can check out his other work on his site, Camera Ninjas!

Technosabi is a rave that is performed yearly at Wasabi. Heading up the set is a plethora of local artists who know what the fuck they are doing. I may not know all of them, but I know a couple and they are masters of their craft. Megan “DeejayHK” Hunter is a very lovely and voluptuous woman, who is the current owner of Blackout Productions.

Her particular type of music she spins is “UK Hardcore”, which is an evolved form of Happy Hardcore that was prominent in the 90’s. Examples of this type can be found under the artists Hixxy, Gammer and Darren Styles. On a side note, I got to meet the lovely Miss Hunter(I call her Megantron) in person and I can honestly say I went from 6 to noon in a split second. Lol! The other DJ I am familiar with is Troy “DJloveless” Sipes. A very mellow and honest guy, I knew Troy from back in my Goth days…don’t judge me. Anyway, Master Loveless spins a large variety of music styles, most notably Electro, Dubstep, Hard Trance, Moombahcore, and Hardstyle. I know right? But don’t let his age fool you, this kid knows his stuff and I see him, as well as everyone else with Blackout becoming incredibly popular and internationally renowned! Good luck to all of you!!

Special Guests
Voice Actors/Actresses and Musicians are common at conventions. Some cons have recurring guests, some change it up every year. Wasabi had a great collection of guests this year and even though I didn’t get to meet all of them, I was priviledged to meet and hang out with some of them. Needless to say, I was scared shitless. It’s weird…I can easily talk to high-end publishers and developers like Capcom and Square-Enix, but when it comes to people who bring life to the game characters we fall in love with, I get terrified. Don’t know why, but it initially passed. So, who did I get to chill with? Well let’s see…LADIES FIRST!

Julie Rei Goldstein: A very sweet woman, with a heart pure as snow. Yes, that sounds like something out of an RPG(Final Fantasy VI to be exact), but she really was an awesome person. Julie has been voice acting since 2005 and some of her work includes Paradise Kiss, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha and Tweeny Witches. For games, she lent her voice in Magna Carta 2, Majin & The Forsaken Kingdom and recently, Ar Tonelico Qoga. Truly a goddess of talent, Julie excels at anything she puts her mind(and voice!)to and she is one of the kindest women you will ever meet. Love you Jules!

FUN FACT: Julie had never heard about the Mormon/Magnets meme until she met me. Well, guess who tried to get into the chat rooms at Mormon.org to inquire about the secret? Hehehehe…

Steve “Warky” Nunez: Warky is an incredibly talented musician who has been known to possess the unique skill of “playing by ear”. Basically, all he has to do is listen to the song, and then he can replicate it on his piano or keyboard. He is self-taught and his other unique trait is his ability to play piano sans thumbs! Yeah, beat that ToddInTheShadows! Anyway, Warky travels quite a bit around the US, so catching him is not that hard…just throw down some Gysahl Greens and your good to go! The first time I heard the Warkmeister play was before the wedding and he started off with the ending theme to Legend of Zelda: LTTP and beautifully merged into a Final Fantasy song. I think it’s safe to assume Master Yoda would say “Unbelievable talent, this man has. Hmm.” Warky has also produced music and worked on various games such as, Gun Loco(cancelled Square-Enix game), Skylantis, Destiny’s Tears and most recently, Return of the Guitar Lord. Truly a man of amazing talent! WARK!

Jan Scott-Frazier: Last, but certainly not least, is Jan. A total sweetie to talk too, Jan has been in the anime industry for about 14 years. Her talents include: cell painting, animating, backgrounds, camera work and directing. She also has translated manga, anime and video game as well as written a slew of magazine articles. In 2006, she produced an album called Voices for Peace as a charity benefit. Known for her brutal honesty, Jan’s skills can definitely separate the men from the boys when it comes to the anime business. But, I can promise you that she is very kind and professional and has no problems giving advice and constructive criticism where it is needed. For more information on her life, skills and everything else, simply check out her personal site.

Dealer’s Room
Most of the time, conventions aren’t about who’s coming or what’s going on. Nope. It’s all about the SWAG! Wasabi had an excellent turn out for their Dealer’s Room and I have to say…some of the girls running the booths were CUTE! Anyway, one booth in particular I absolutely loved was Rainy Day Anime.

They gave me a sweet and sexy deal on a kick-ass Mega Man X6 wallscroll! Super sweet indeed and they have some real good merchandise! So, if you have a second, go browse their selection and place an order on their site!

Wasabi Staff
Ah, yes…the people who make this all possible. To be honest, I have never got to hang out with a more fun and competent group of people. The Wasabi Staff know how to take care of their guests and their attendees. Andi, the lead lady in charge, knows how to handle her business and handle it well she does. She spent most of her time at the Registration desk, I thought she had a sleeping bag back behind the desk! Needless to say, she has a crack staff working for her that almost rivals my staff! Keyword: ALMOST. Lol! In any case, I was privileged and honored to be able to cover the convention and hang out with such admirable and awesome people! You all ROCK!

What? Thought it was over? Ha! What convention review would be complete without a few pictures of awesome video game cosplays? You shouldn’t doubt me, kids…or rather…never chance me. Enjoy!

Until next episode…

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