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Youmacon 2014 – A Journey

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

master chief youmacon 2014

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.

In case you were wondering, no, she hasn't licked any frogs lately.

In case you were wondering, no, she hasn’t licked any frogs lately.

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 people moverCenter (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.

Totally keeping in Alice's character.

Totally keeping in Alice’s character.

And then we saw the fantastic cosplay that would set the tone for the several more amazing cosplays:

It was actually this Zelda who told us to invest in people mover passes. She's so helpful.

It was actually this Zelda who told us to invest in people mover passes. She’s so helpful.

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:

Okay, maybe it doesn't look like a whole lot but that line looped around FOUR times.

Okay, maybe it doesn’t look like a whole lot but that line looped around FOUR times.

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.

Massive amount of nerds going broke

Massive amount of nerds going broke

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The character “No-Face” from the classic Hayao Miyazaki film, “Spirited Away,” taking pictures.

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The Media and Archimedes from Team Fortress 2.

Um. Piano players?

Um. I’m not sure. But they looked cool.

Aquaman!

Aquaman!

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Captain Jack Sparrow. I’m sure you’ve heard of him.

Then Allie picked up the hint that I was tired so we lounged on the carpet in the hallway.

Then Allie picked up the hint that I was tired so we lounged on the carpet in the hallway.

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There’s vegetables in there… probably.

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

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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…

youmacon 2014 377

She actually performed a helicopter with it for a few people. Sometimes when you’re special you just need to show it off.

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.

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There were so many great cosplays, Steven was feeling a little under-dressed, but that didn’t stop him from admiring.

youmacon 2014 - steven

Pokemugshot

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Ugh this happens every weekend!

youmacon 2014 - guy

The Spy from Team Fortress 2

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The Catbus from Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Tortorro”

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YouTuber cosplay… This is Yogscast. Guess I’ll go as Pewdiepie next year!

ghostrider youmacon 2014

GHOST RIDER! Minus Nic Cage.

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Gir from Invader Zim wins all the cuteness points.

ghostbusters youmacon 2014

Who ya gonna call?

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Deep down, we all want to cuddle with Gandalf.

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Separated at birth.

I almost adopted this girl. Foxy the Pirate from Five Night's at Freddy's.

I almost adopted this girl. Foxy the Pirate from Five Night’s at Freddy’s.

I wasn't ready for Freddy.

I wasn’t ready for Freddy.

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link zelda youmacon 2014

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Frank West and Chuck Greene from the Dead Rising series. Yes I fangirled. Shut up.

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Grandma!

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I shoved Queen Elsa aide just to get a shot of my childhood hero, the stunning Lara Croft

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Steven caught cheating on me with Grandma.

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Red Link playing the ocarina for everyone.

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THE THINGS I DO FOR LOVE!

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Obviously, Deadpool took a Spider-man costume and is up to no good.

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My future wedding dress.

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Link kicking ass and defending the bathrooms.

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Crocodile from One Piece.

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Gunserker from Borderlands 2.

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Handsome Jack, also from Borderlands 2.

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

Kyle cosplayed as Longshot from the Avatar: The Last Airbender series.

Kyle cosplayed as Longshot from the Avatar: The Last Airbender series.

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

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I’m not joking, there was a slideshow.

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.

Detroit is actually beautiful at 3 am.

Detroit is actually beautiful at 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.

Awesomeness.

Awesomeness.

Kiki's Delievery Service.

Kiki’s Delievery Service.

The Prince of all Saiyans... Vegeta.

The Prince of all Saiyans… Vegeta.

youmacon 2014 410

Sanji of One Piece.

I had been searching for Dante from Devil May Cry all weekend, so when I finally found him I freaked out. He actually started back away from me.

I had been searching for Dante from Devil May Cry all weekend, so when I finally found him I freaked out. He actually started back away from me.

alice mcgee youmacon 2014

Steven attempting to play the ocarina he bought, while Allie and I cringed.

Steven attempting to play the ocarina he bought, while Allie and I cringed.

FREE SWAG

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A kick ass Alice shirt.

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Mass Effect as a 2D sidescroller = awesome.

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Buttons from left to right: N7 (duh), Garrus Vakarian, Attack on Titan, and a Pokeball (duh).

AND A PIPLUP!

AND A PIPLUP!

We finished off with a Q & A with David Eddings, the voice of Claptrap from the Borderlands series.
He signed our claptrap for us!!!

He signed our claptrap for us!!!

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.

I have motivation now.

Now that I have motivation…

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/

Written by Sarus Vakarian

Sarus is an alien princess training under the best of the MemeLords in a town that is South of Southern Canada. She hates Mass Effect, Invader Zim, Tomb Raider, South Park, and heavy metal. Sarus currently has two Hellhounds under her care. She thoroughly enjoys harassing Butch Hartman on Twitter, and occasionally sits and drinks alcohol on the Girls Got Game Twitch streams with NerdyFriend.
Feel free to add her on Steam under the name: Commander Lara, and on Xbox Live: Not Lara.
Twitter and Instagram: Sarusvakarian

 
 

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2 Comments

  1. Awesome article!! That looked like a blast! I wish they had something similar here in Des Moines..

     

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