Youmacon 2014 – A Journey
If you’re a lover of anime, gaming, or just Japanese culture, Youmacon is a great convention to huddle with your fellow nerds and enthuse about your passion. It’s also a fabulous way to obtain a waterfall of street passes for your 3DS. Youmacon has been a celebration of Japanese pop culture for the past 10 years now, with every intention to continue. As a first-timer to Youmacon, I was thoroughly impressed with how well put-together the events were, the amazing cosplayers, and how strangers warmly came together due to a shared love of anime. There was a gigantic dealers room with original art, comics, and anime collections that you could drown in. Also, the normalcy of watching someone in a Pikachu onesie strolling down the streets of downtown Detroit, or seeing Sailor Moon sipping Starbucks, or Master Chief using the people mover is not easily forgotten.
Welcome to the Journey
I went with my childhood friend, Allie, and my boyfriend, Steven, who were also Youmacon virgins.
DAY ONE, FRIDAY: TWO GIRLS, ONE CON
The reason for the distasteful subtitle is because Steven is an old man and has to work for a living, thus, leaving Allie and I to fend for ourselves in the anime-flooded streets of Detroit. I cosplayed as Alice Liddell from American McGee’s Alice, and Allie was her own original steam punk character, Raven Winchester. My cosplay was the standard blue dress and the combat boots, and Allie wore all black, with a black trenchcoat, red steam punk goggles, and her boyfriend’s size 13 boots. She had to wear very thick socks… It was near-freezing rain that morning, so the roads weren’t particularly easy to see, and going somewhere completely new when you aren’t very familiar with the area, can be frustrating. It also did not help that there was tons of construction going on. And what really did not help was utilizing the virus that is Apple maps. “We need to turn right here,” Allie was being my Na’vi, trying to be helpful.
“Wait, this lane says TO CANADA ONLY!” I was white-knuckling my Hello Kitty steering wheel. We had missed the Renaissance Center by one turn, and I was now driving up to Canadian border patrol with a stupid grin pasted to face, quietly asking if we could be turned around. The answer was a strong no. On the positive side, we had a nice conversation with the border patrolman about where we work, we live, why we were in Detroit, etc. all the while getting my car searched for drugs and examining Allie’s 50 cent cosplay weapons. Luckily, they were kind enough to let us turn back around (we weren’t the only cosplayers that accidentally took the Canadian exit, and I was also the second Alice the officer had seen that day). We finally found a parking structure and began our adventure.
And so it begins…
Youmacon is actually in two separate buildings. The Renaissance Center (Ren Cen for short) and the Cobo Center (which Steven insisted calling the Hobo Center all weekend). Walking between the two would estimate about a mile, but considering the amount of walking that would already be required during the con, it would be a hassle. Especially with the weather being so frigid. So, we made our way to the people mover, which would transport us around and above Detroit for a small fee of 75 cents.
We would eventually acquire people mover passes to enable us to switch between buildings like Gene Simmons switched between groupies. On our way to the Cobo Center, however, we got a little distracted. First of all, I just had to showcase this pink car for breast cancer awareness.
And then we saw the fantastic cosplay that would set the tone for the several more amazing cosplays:
But we couldn’t continue to screw around, we needed to get to the Cobo Center to pick up our badges, THEN we could diddle-daddle the rest of the day. Our plan of action was to get in line, get our badges, then go explore. Unfortunately the exploring was postponed… for three hours. The pre-registered people, and people who needed to register on-site were sandwiched all into one line until reaching a room where the freaks and geeks were separated by registration type. If you don’t believe me when I say it took nearly three hours, then look at this shit:
The long wait did allow some time to observe, take pictures, and socialize though. Deadpool even took a quick selfie with me. After we got to the end of the line, Allie and I decided to check out the dealers room. I thought that after standing for hours, walking would help ease the pain, but I was wrong. Allie swirled over the merchandise booths like a nerdy vulture and I sat against the wall because I felt like I had been run over by the infernal train.
After my butt went numb from sitting on the cold tile floor, I got up and continued to take pictures.
Even though “Snorlaxing” (I can make up words if I want to!) on the carpet felt wonderful, we suddenly remembered, “hey, we have stomachs!” The Cobo Center is notorious for over-pricing their food (we’re talking $10 for a burger and fries) so we took the people mover back to the Ren Cen, where there was a haven of fast food joints.
Allie can eat whatever the hell she wants, but I’m a vegetarian with a dairy allergy, so when I saw Burger King, McDonald’s, etc., my little veggie heart crumbled. But Allie found a place with vegetable wraps, so I nibbled on one of those while Allie enjoyed her Mickey D’s.
Even though it was only around 5:30, we were pooped and decided to head back home. Saturday would have a lot more in store for us.
DAY TWO, SATURDAY: NERDS… NERDS, EVERYWHERE
Saturday was the sweet, sugary center of a delicious weekend. We didn’t end up at the Canadian border (because Steven drove us), and the weather was clear. Since the rain had cleared up, Allie and I decided to add more to our cosplays. We went through three cans of black hairspray to turn my Candy Cane red hair into Gothic black, and Allie added… an accessory to hers…
The amount of cosplayers was massive. I was in heaven seeing all of the great craftsmanship, especially when I ran into people from the same game as me. A young woman came up behind me and said, “The Red Queen is coming.” My first instinct was to run, of course, but when she walked up, I resisted the urge to stab her with the Vorpal Blade and politely asked to take a picture with her. She was snooty and ruthless the whole time. It was magical.
There were so many great cosplays, Steven was feeling a little under-dressed, but that didn’t stop him from admiring.
After pestering the public for hours, we met up with our friend Kyle (who I hadn’t seen in over a year), who was waiting for us in line to see the Team Four Star panel. If you don’t know who Team Four Star is, you’re missing out on some great comedy. They are professional voice actors
and writers that give their own spin on great animes, such as Dragon Ball Z (they call it Dragon Ball Z Abridged), by dubbing over it with their own voices. They maintain the story but create their own witty dialogue, sound effects, and music. They were hilarious, answered as many questions as they could, and they even gave us a preview of the next episode of their Van Helsing Abridged. If you’re interested in learning more about them, here’s their website: http://teamfourstar.com/.
After that, we rushed to the Ren Cen to get in line for the panel that Allie and I had been fangirling over all weekend: the Five Nights at Freddy’s panel. It was supposed to be a discussion of strategy, game theories, and the fandom itself. It was literally a slide show presentation, with audience participation. Like a business meeting.
Words cannot express how excited I was (that’s why I’m totally writing about it) to be in a room
with a group of people that love the game as much as I do. Listening to other people’s opinions on the origins of our loveable animatronic friends, the “Bite of ’87” theories, and what they thought the next game would reveal, was one of the best bonding experiences I’ve had with a group of strangers in a long time. I actually recently reviewed the sequel, Five Nights at Freddy’s 2!
And that’s what was so beautiful about Youmacon. The feeling of belonging and acceptance, sharing passions and dreams with each other. Kind of like being in a bible study with your church, but way more awesome.
Unfortunately, the panel didn’t last from 12 am to 6am, so by the time we got back home, it was 3 am.
DAY THREE, SUNDAY: YOU CAN’T GO TO A CON WITHOUT GOING BROKE
Sunday was very brief because the festivities ended at 6:00pm, but that didn’t stop us from raiding the dealers’ room and snapping pictures. There were art booths with beautiful painting, graphic novels, buttons, and much more. There were plushes, figurines, cosplay dresses, and furry accessories galore. It was like a mall but for stuff that’s actually cool.
We finished off with a Q & A with David Eddings, the voice of Claptrap from the Borderlands series.
After him, there wasn’t anything left for us to do, so we packed up our findings and left. On the way home, we started discussing next year’s Youmacon, which isn’t silly to do (a year will go by fast, right?)
Even though the first part of our trip was a little frustrating, we surrounded ourselves with good people, spent time with our friends, and gave our 3DS’s multiple irreversible diseases. Youmacon, hands down, is one of the best damn cons out there. Aside from the Comic Con in San Diego that I went to in 2008. I walked past Seth Green and he nodded at me. That was rad.
I’m going to go watch Sailor Moon now. Thanks for taking a journey with me.
If you’re interested in learning more about Youmacon, or want to see more pictures of the cosplays, they have a website right here: http://www.youmacon.com/
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