Last weekend was the 2nd year for the Queen City Anime Convention in Charlotte, NC. The convention was held at the Hilton Charlotte University Place. There were multiple panel rooms, main event room, dealer room, game room, and a great outdoor area. This convention was one of the smallest I have attended, but still offered multiple panels and main event entertainment. There were plenty of water stations and the amount of people roaming the halls never felt overcrowded. The dealer room was surprisingly full of vendors and artists offering a wide assortment of merchandise. I enjoyed seeing many creative cosplayer costumes throughout the convention weekend. One of my personal favorites was a female cosplaying Veronica from Fire Emblem: Heroes, a mobile Fire Emblem game. I mentioned the game in one of my first posts on this blog due to its Gacha mechanic.
I attended a few panels including one hosted by my friend on Japanese baseball. Dan's panel content was interesting and information. The panel covered the history of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), star players that came to the United States, stadium information, and other informative facts. It was a great introduction to the Japanese national sport. Dan and I attempted to play a few video games in the game room on Saturday, but most of the popular console games were always full. They did not have any arcade games to try like some other conventions offer. I managed to check out part of a rap concert on Saturday in the main events room. While I was surprised by how few people attended the performance, I thought the gentleman did well.
My panel on traveling to Japan was on Sunday. I created a 40 minute presentation that is geared toward individuals who would like to plan a trip or visit Japan for the first time. Most of the information I cover is from previous posts and the other pages on this website. There were around 30 people in attendance for the panel. I was pleased with the great questions and engagement from the audience. I hope to have the opportunity to present again next year.
I have recently seen a number of limited release anime films, including the premiere for Attack on Titan, at the Regal Stonecrest Theater in Charlotte, NC. This week, the theater is showing a movie for one of my favorite shows, Cowboy Bebop. The main reason for my increased interest in attending such events is because I have been able to find out about them. Here are a couple of ways for you to see if a theater in your town or city is hosting a special showing.
Funimation Email List
One of the largest distributors of anime shows and movies in the United States is Funimation. Creating an account on the company's website will ensure you receive notifications about upcoming events. I received multiple email blasts about the Attack on Titan release and links to purchase tickets near my zip code. Currently, my favorite shows and related movies are distributed by Funimation.
Another avenue to get information on upcoming releases is Fathom Events. The company hosts special screenings of anime films and other limited release movies across all genres. One event they have partnered with in 2017 and 2018 is the Studio Ghibli Fest. This year, you can see nine Studio Ghibli films throughout the year at select theaters in both subtitled and dubbed. I recommend signing up for their newsletter or checking their website monthly for announcements.
If you mainly want to follow Studio Ghibli film releases, GKIDS is the company that handles their distribution in the United States. They also distribute other animated films throughout the year. There is a opportunity on their website to sign up for a email newsletter as well.
Last weekend, I had a couple of friends over for a Japan themed evening of presentations, movies, food, and fun. We kicked off the evening with beverage and snack sampling from my trip to the Super G Mart. The seaweed snacks were a huge hit along with the sweet potato curls. I introduced the group to the Ramune drink and showed them how to pop the marble down. The Ramune flavored gummy candy were also very good and a nice addition to trying the carbonated drink. Some of my friends enjoyed the gummy over the actual drink due to the sweetness levels. We also tried some alcoholic beverages including Asahi, Sapporo, and a cucumber flavored sake.
After trying many different foods and drinks, I offered a sneak preview of my travel and culture tips for visiting Japan. It was also the first time I was able to wear my full kimono attire. While it was a little too hot to be in a full kimono, it was fun to wear for my friends. I am presenting again during a panel at the Queen City Anime Convention on August 26th at 2 p.m.
We capped the evening by watching the 2001 remastered version of Akira. Originally released in 1988, Akira is known as a groundbreaking movie that pushed anime into a new frontier. I refer to it as the starting point of modern day anime. It is an intensive psychological thriller and an anime masterpiece. The movie is not for the faint of heart, but certainly one to add to your watch list.
I am excited to announce my attendance and confirmation for hosting a panel at the Queen City Anime Convention this year. The convention runs from August 23-26, 2018 at the Hilton University Place. My panel will take place on Sunday, August 26th at 2 p.m. You can pre-register for the convention on their website before August 1. This event is a great opportunity to experience an anime convention for the first time. I am excited for the cosplay contest, video game room, and other panel presentations. Send me an email if you would like to meetup over the weekend or plan to stop by the panel.
As you walk through Akihabara and other parts of Tokyo, you may see females in maid or other costumes advertising one of maid cafes. These cafes offer a unique opportunity for tourists to indulge in a different part of Japanese culture. While there has been some controversy over them, maid cafes are a safe and enjoyable experience. There are a few ground rules and tips you should know before visiting a maid cafe in Japan.
Where to Find a Maid Cafe
You can find maid cafes scattered all around Akihabara. Just by walking the main and side streets you may stumble upon a few. You may see advertisements or even an employee of a maid cafe inviting people to come inside.
The Master, Princess, and Maid Theme
When you enter a maid cafe, you will become known as a Master (male customer) or Princess (female customer). The main goal of a maid is to ensure you have a pleasant experience. You will either be paired with a maid or can sometimes choose one.
Rules of Behavior
There are strict rules in place to ensure the safety and respect of the employees. You are not allowed to have physical contact or ask for personal information. As seen in the picture below, cafes may have other rules such as purchase minimums, limitations on photography, and time limits.
Food and Drink Offerings
One of the fun parts of visiting a maid cafe is the interesting food art and drinks served. You can order dishes that are formed in a fun image or object. Japan is known for creative culinary presentations. Even drink offerings can be colorful and interesting. For example, a cappuccino may have a cute image on the top. Ordering a set, or packaged option, will usually save you money rather than ordering each item separately.
Beside serving food and drinks, maid cafes offer various entertainment options. During your stay, you may have the option to play a game or take a photo with a maid. Other forms of entertainment may include a maid singing a song, doing a skit, or other interactions with customers.
Cover Charges and Wait Times
Maid cafes can be expensive. You should expect a cover charge in addition to food, drink, and other purchases. Even when purchasing a set, you can easily spend $25 to $30 for a short stay. Another issue is the chance of a wait list to be seated. Like many restaurants and bars in Japan, maid cafes have limited seating. Be mindful of a long wait during peak hours.
For more information on @home cafe, visit their website here.
@home cafe Akihabara Cafe inside Don Quixote 5F