By James Robert Shaw (The Wind up Geek)
I must say this almost every year: I swear I need to find lodgings in or around the University of Victoria (UVic) campus when Tsukino-Con is on. Saturday was a late start for me (again) but this was due to more than the time of travel from where I reside to Gordon Head. There was an added case of business before pleasure. I think the two things I must look into next year are finding accommodation on the UVic campus and bringing along a laptop to type an article between panels.
A number of Saturday panels caught my eye. One was a drawing session and chat on the subject of Osamu Tezuka’s Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy) with Canadian Comic Hall of Fame artist Ken Steacy, the TeamFourStar Q/A with voice actor Takahata 101, Nanohabridged: Table Readings and Auditions Part 1, and the annual Tsukino-Con Swimsuit Showdown. Sadly, of these I only made it to two.
In hindsight, I would’ve included the Vikes Improv panel. I’ve heard they’re good but with years of watching improv on shows like Whose Line is it Anyways? (UK and American versions) and Canada’s own Don’t Lick the Pig, I was still suffering from improv burnout.
Nanohabriged seemed like a good opportunity to watch people experience acting for the first time. It also was a good reason to learn more about this project headed by UVic student Soren Childs. From the description:
Join the newest Abridged Anime Project and let everyone hear your voice. Panic Zone Productions is recruiting voice actors for ‘Nanohabridged’, an abridgment of the first Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha film. We are looking for all types of voices, whether you’re new to voice acting or a veteran performer, all you need to try out is a good, professional attitude.
I never heard of Panic Zone Productions but I was interested in their project. Having anime joke dubs in the here and now isn’t a bad thing. Anime fans love a good joke dub and it wouldn’t hurt for more people to know about Panic Zone Productions. Like their predecessor Seishun Shitemasu, a group out of San Diego in the 1990’s who cranked out some of the best joke dubs I have ever seen (I was fortunate enough to see one of their projects screened at Anime Expo 1995), perhaps they too can create projects to make people laugh for generations. Ranma 1/3: Notes from the Closet, Voltron: Hell Bent for Leather, and Robotech III: Not Necessarily the Sentinels is just some of Seishun Shitemasu’s work.
There were plenty of people who attended Panic Zone’s panel but few wanted to participate. They either lost the nerve to or the original intention was to spectate. Whatever reason it was, there was just enough persons for Childs to stop auditions and swap out roles among the actors. There were a few notables; Hilary Wheeler caused me to laugh out loud as she read the role of Fate and Jenny Auld, who played a very pompous Captain Lyndey. During the session, two people, Darryl Chase and a young woman named Kaybe, got the parts of Chrono and Arf.
Some of the humour of the show involved the subject of illegal narcotics but when you consider what some of Shitemasu’s jokes were about, this isn’t out of the norm. Usually, the point of funny comes from pushing the envelope.
Afterwards, I found myself hanging around the Tsukino snack table in the MacLaurin Building. Like the Epic Games table on Friday, here was another social hot spot. I spoke with staff, volunteers and con-goers alike, and bought raffle tickets to Tsukino’s prize draws of a PS4 Pro bundle and Brookside Cat Eat Headphones. At one point, while in the middle of all of this, Takahata 101 came up to one of the people I was conversing with. Now Takahata and I are not acquaintances, nor friends. I’m not even a fan of the man’s work but I find him naturally funny and in a move, he proved to me just how laid back and approachable he can be. He looked at me and simply said “Hey man, fist bump.” I don’t recall fist-bumping anyone before and if I’m correct, this was my first (I would later give one to Tsukino-Con staff member and professional photographer Don McCaskill on Sunday). Sometimes funny and strange things happen to me at cons. I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way.
After wandering around the con and the campus aimlessly for what was hours (but seemed like it was no time at all), the time had come to attend what was described to me as “just downright weird,” the annual Tsukino-Con Swimsuit Showdown. This was an 18 years plus event and I was soon to learn why. The event was held in the David Lam Auditorium in the McLaurin Building at 10:00pm. You are more likely to find people in bars drinking than attending a swimsuit competition. On stage were a number of contestants, some in swimsuits, others in costumes (Rey from Star Wars, and some form of Bugs Bunny in a tuxedo). There was a master of ceremonies and already a warm-up show of sword fighting (seemed more like a cross of fencing and bushido) was happening on stage.
The fan favourite I was told was the man who dressed as Wario (from Nintendo’s Super Mario series) every year. It was him, people said, was the game changer after the competitions were participated by women only.
Takahata 101 was in the front row to provide some celebrity status and comedy relief (sometimes at his own peril). There is little that I can say here of the event. There was some risqué moments like how far would a woman allow a mock Bugs Bunny to go to retrieve his carrot. There are also thoughts of Rey from that I’ll never wipe from my mind. Mix in a lot of swearing and Takahata101 motorboating mock Bugs and you can imagine what went on in the event.
I couldn’t stay for much of it. I still like to know who Kelly Clark is and why he’s big. The David Lam Auditorium was poorly ventilated that night (perhaps to keep warm the contestants in swimsuits) but this journalist was overheating. I wish I had more time on Saturday. Very little was explored and what I have written thus far is only scratching the surface. Sunday was going to prove equally as promising. Toru Furuya (of Mobile Suit Gundam and Kimagure Orange Road fame) was going to be on hand to sign autographs and take photos with fans. It was like being a member again in the Japanese Animation Club Victoria when I first saw a Kimagure Orange Road episode. Those were the days (late 80’s and the 1990’s) where anime felt truly epic to me.