Just to warn folks: I am not a yaoi fan. A lot of my friends are. And I like a lot of the same series that yaoi fans like. But I'm generally not big on slashing characters if they aren't portrayed as being openly gay in the manga/anime itself. Keep that in mind when reading my perspective on things.
That said, I do accept that slash happens, and particularly at Yaoicon. So, the stuff under the cut-tag is going to talk about things related to the whole yaoi genre. If you don't like yaoi, or don't know what it is and are easily disturbed by references to homosexuality, you may want to stop reading here.
(Yes, I know that it seems odd that an avowed non-yaoi fan would go to Yaoicon. Last year I went because a lot of friends of mine from out of town came to the con, so I went mainly to hang out with them. This year I went because last year I found out that it is a really nice con to go to, for the programming, for the small-con atmosphere, and because all of the fans are very respectful of each other and each other's kinks. Even if the kink is that they aren't into kinks. Oh, and because more friends of mine from out of town came to the con, since those who went last year reported that it was so cool.)
Random Weird Moment:
Sitting on the landing of the stairs into the main con area making up lyrics in Japanese about baklava to the tune of "Sanpo" from Totoro with Eric and Sandy. It says something when even the other fans start edging to the other side of the corridor when passing by. I will have to remember to post the lyrics that we made up sometime.
(Why in Japanese? Hard to say. We were tired and punchy and maybe a little bored. Besides, the song was originally in Japanese, so why not?)
I loved the programming. There were several very interesting, intelligent discussions. The con this year was a lot bigger than last year, and had a much more diverse population. I think in part because there were so many more people, and in part because everyone's interests were noticeably more different than last year, I found it a lot harder to just randomly strike up conversations with people. I think this is very sad, since this was one of the big things I enjoyed about last year's con. Selfishly, I hope that the con doesn't grow too much, and isn't too successful, since I really liked the small con atmosphere of the first year. And it seemed to me that the screaming fangirl population was a little higher than last year. But that might just be me.
The dealer's room had very little of interest to me this year. I bought the Initial D Battle Stage Eurobeat CD. And I bought a whole bunch of boards from Abel. Both of these were partly done because I want to vote with my dollars. I like Abel and want his company to do well, and I want the Japanese rights holders to see fan interest generated by Battle Stage in the hope that they will get around to animating Fourth Stage. But other than monitarily expressing my support, I didn't buy anything at the con. There seemed to be fewer doujinshi than last year, and almost none in genres that I collect in. This surprised me, since the genres I collect in aren't that rare.
I dunno... I don't like the layout of this hotel as much. I think it's because the con is stuck down in the basement where there is no natural light to be had. Maybe it's just that I didn't really like the parking situation that much.
Other than the parking, the location has a couple of really nice points to it. The primary ones being that just around the corner from the hotel is a wonderful Greek restaurant, located directly next door to a wonderful Chinese restaurant. I ate well this con. I can tell I'm not as young as I used to be, since recently eating regularly and well is standing out in my mind as much as the main events at the cons. Scarfing down fast food while running off to stand in a line just does not cut it any more.
The quality level of the videos in the AMV contest have risen measurably since last year. But it is still very obvious that the creators who enter this contest are either creators who are just starting out and haven't really polished their skills in the craft yet, or are not comfortable with the theme of the con, and so produce videos that -- while entertaining -- are also somewhat awkward and crude. But I was pleased to see the improvement over last year, and I have high hopes for this contest in several years, when the creators have matured more artistically.
A couple of down sides to this contest: Every other video was a Gravitation vid. I don't mind Gravitation, but with that many videos of the same series, one tends to get a lot burnt out on it.
And then there's the one with the corn. But this is a public forum, and I really do not want people hunting me down and hurting me when next summer, they are unable to look at the fresh, tasty summer corn on the cob and not associate it with unpleasant images. Heck, I don't want to think of that video when summer rolls around next year, since fresh corn on the cob is one of the great joys of summer in my mind. We will now leave the thoughts of corn, and move on.
Yaoicon is about the only anime convention where I expect to attend more than one panel for the entire con. Which rather surprises me, since (as I've said) I'm not a yaoi fan. But YC manages to have a broad enough programming base that there are still things of interest for me. Lots of things of interest. I wish the other cons would take a cue from Yaoicon and expand their programming to include things other than industry and GOH pannels.
First panel I went to was a YYH discussion. Last year me and some friends went to sit and snicker and see how fast the conversation would make me twitch. Last year, we ended up starting up the discussion for the panel (heck, for a while we were most of the panel!), so it ended up being a lot of fun. This year I walked in with the assumption that it was going to be about the same -- and was rather daunted to walk into a discussion of "Hiei: seme or uke?" We decided to stick around and see where things went, and I was glad that we did. The discussion went all over the board, and included a lot of really thoughtful character and plot analysis pulling off of a variety of examples from the series. Ah. Now this is how I like to dissect a series! ^_^ We also got treated to some awfully cute stories about the five year old daughter of one of the people attending the discussion.
Following that panel, there was a demonstration on how to wear kimono. It was nifty, it was cool. I got to seem some really lovely kimonos dyed using some really fascinating techniques. This is, sadly, about all I remember from this panel.
Later, there was a discussion on fanfiction and US copyright laws. In many ways this was the high point of the convention for me, since I picked up so much useful information. Always, always, always put disclaimers in your fanfics. Never, never, ever do real person fics, and especially not real person slashfics. The potential for unpleasant and highly damaging legal trouble is just too high. I found out about the Plagiarism Police Patrol. (Yeah, I know. I'm out of it. In my defense, I only read known quantities in fanfic, so I tend to be in a very isolated group.) And I got introduced to the idea of historical person slash. ("Oh, George. Take out those wooden teeth before you kiss me again." "You're no fun, Tom!") There was a lot of other really cool stuff discussed in this panel, but I don't remember it any more.
The "Surviving Comiket" and "Surviving Tokyo" pannels sort of lumped together in my mind. I was largely there for the nostalgia value (if one can be nostalgic for an event one has never been to) and to see if I could pick up any new info. I did pick up the nifty piece of advice of, when going to Comiket, buy your return ticket on your way in so that you can avoid the lines at the ticket machines when you (and the thousands of other fans) are leaving.
That's about all I remember from the panels.
So in conclusion, yet Yaoicon manages to be the con that I had the most fun at this year. It has cool panels, a relative minimum of annoying fanboys (and fangirls), I get to hang out with my friends, and it's just generally cool. Next year, I will remember to not buy lots and lots of food in the expectation that there will be time to sit around at home and hang out. And I still have baklava in my 'fridge. Scary.