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Day Zero, July 6, 2001 - Fugitive from the Door Police

I got up early to go to the Yu Watase panel, which I was sure was going to be absolutely packed. Brian needed to take his sister to register for the two days she would be attending so we split up and I went to go secure a place in line. I ran to get to the panel line only to run smack into the line for the Anime Music Video Contest later that night. I couldn’t miss that so I got in line hoping to still make the Watase panel. Brian and Katherine, his sister, showed up not long after and found me in line. Luckily, Brian saw a friend of his who had some extra tickets since they give out two per badge. So there was enough for the three of us so we went on to the Watase panel. I met up with Jesse and Freddy already in line for the panel and found they had not had the chance to get tickets for the AMV contest. Since they had held this place in line for me, I volunteered to go back and get them tickets. I sprinted back all the way around the Arena to where they were passing out tickets. Luckily, the line had thinned and I did not have to wait long to get two tickets. On the way back, I really did not want to go all the way around the Arena again. I saw a little walkway through the Arena Lobby that others were entering and passing through. So I followed. My luck ran out at that point.

I heard a loud voice yell, "Stop!!! You need to go around the Arena! Stay right where you are!" I turned and there was a huge guy in a suit pointing at me and most definitely addressing me. Why I got singled out, I have no idea but this was not good. I took off running as I was already halfway through the lobby and sure enough he yelled, "Hey! I told you to STOP!!!" Uh-huh, yeah right. Stop = Run like hell! I sprinted at breakneck speed zigzagging crazily around various attendees and taking every opportunity to cut around large groups and just stay out of this guy’s view as much as possible. When I got back to Jesse and Freddy, I hurriedly took off my glasses, dumped my backpack and borrowed Freddy's shirt, then I hid behind everyone. I lucked out again. He never did catch up to me. Suits are hard to run in, trust me.

The Watase panel was interesting and worth the time in my opinion. There were quite a few humorous moments, especially when she had questions for us. Most were directed towards cosplayers. One fellow dressed as Tamahome got the question, "Why does every Tamahome cosplayer dress in the season one outfit? He has more you know!" Unfortunately there were a few not-our-finest-hour moments as well. One girl took it upon herself that she had special privileges and approached the panel desk to give Ms. Watase a gift. There were a lot of half-groaning, half-booing sounds from the crowd as this was quite rude to just walk up to a GoH at their panel like that. One fangirl also remarked that Ayashi no Ceres reminded her a lot of her own life. So you're telling me that you turn into a violent heavenly maiden when angered, your family is trying to kill you, your grandfather shot your dad in front of you, your mom tried to stab you, you have a twin brother that stole your clothes and raped you in a past life, you're in love with an amnesiac, and you spurn a guy who cooks for you and protects your life with his own and fights with chopsticks? Man, I feel sorry for this girl.

I managed to get into the autograph session for Ms. Watase so I scrambled to the dealer's room to get something for her to sign. It wasn't quite the "Black Hole in Calcutta" but we were only a few people shy of it I think. I eventually settled on an Ayashi no Ceres artbook. I went back to the panel rooms and caught the tail end of the Noboru Ishiguro panel. Afterwards, Jesse (Who had also made it into the Watase panel) and I headed off to get our autographs. It was quite a wait as it took awhile to go through the folks who had won a sketch from her. After that, Jesse had found he won the drawing to get into Ishiguro's autograph session and although he had something for him to sign, he'd prefer to have something better. So I scampered off to find something in the dealer's room. I looked for something from Macross but I didn't come across anything good or anything that didn't have Mikimoto's name on it. I wasn't about to commit a faux paus like that. I had passed the time Jesse was going in so I wandered about the dealers' room for a bit. I was looking for Love Hina figurines and I went to the dealers booths where I had seen them a day before. Here was where my prudence backfired. They were sold out. Of course I have seen times when a dealer says they are sold out only to magically pull out reserve stocks of an item on the last day. I didn't want to take that chance this time. I found one guy who had individual figures of Su, Shinobu, and Motoko for sale. I found another guy who had one set left. Someone had bought it earlier but brought it back because there was one figure missing and two of another. I asked which one got doubled and which one was missing. To my pleasant surprise, it was Mutsumi that was doubled and Shinobu that was missing. To those of you who know me you know how much of a Mutsumi fan I am so I got the set. I rushed back to the other dealer and got Shinobu's figure separately. For the price of one complete set, I managed to get an extra Mutsumi out of the deal. Not bad in my book.

While running around the dealers' room, I ran into a few friends from UCLA that I had not seen since my departure. One was former roommate and artist of Graphite Stage, Lee Slone and former anime buff Andrew Liu. We got to chat briefly as they were here only for one day and I ribbed Lee a bit for not drawing any new comics since it was summer. Andrew suggested Lee put me in for a comic or two. I shuddered at the thought since Lee would probably put me in as a large-mouthed monster screaming at Lee and Henry to wash their dishes and take out the trash.

I linked up with Freddy at the end of the Tsukasa Kotobuki panel and from there we rendezvoused with Jesse after he came out of his autograph session. We took a breather at that point as Jesse and Freddy were going to go crash for a bit and I was going to the Oh! My Goddess movie premiere. I got another surprise when I met up with another old friend from UCLA, Robyn Mukai. I was not paying much attention at the time and had nearly walked by her until she called my name. To be honest I was surprised she recognized me as I don't think we knew each other that well in college. I killed some time catching up with her until I went to go see the movie and Jesse and Freddy accompanied her to brave the dealers' room.

Unfortunately, the movie was shown raw as they did not finish the subtitles in time. But a few folks involved in the production came out to talk about the movie and Kikuko Inoue came out to say a few words as well, to the delight of the fans. The place was packed and I was a bit disappointed that it was not held in the Terrace Theater, which had staggered seating. Although it was raw, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. If you read my commentary on Oh! My Goddess in the anime section of my website, you know it holds a special place in my heart. Guys like me can identify with Keiichi and it gives us hope where otherwise there would be none. The storyline was a little hard to follow but I got most of it with just some details missing here and there. The music was great, the animation quality was top notch was Oh! My Goddess! Need I say more?

After the movie, I rendezvoused with Brian and Katherine again and we went to grab a quick dinner. Afterwards, we went to wait to enter the Terrace Theater for the music video contest. On the way I ran into another old friend from the realm of Bruins, my old lab partner, Sze-May Tang. I hadn't seen her in quite awhile and she did not know I was going to be there so it was quite a surprise to meet up with her again. I didn't get to talk to her much as she was with her friends and her brother but I at least got to say good-bye.

The music video contest did not disappoint. Some of the best music videos I saw were on this night and the ideas, editing, and sheer quality was breathtaking. If I went on about them individually I would probably give myself carpal tunnel syndrome typing it all out. And this is getting long enough as it is. I've been able to find a few of the videos online and I am hoping more of them make it there. The winners of each category were decided by the decibels of the audiences applause. The unfortunate result of this was that I was hoarse by the end of the night. This would have repercussions much later.