Daicon Day 1: A Full Account

Here I am about 325 kilometres from home, freeloading at Kurogane’s house with Darkmirage for 3 days. The trip here was a comedy of errors, the first of which started from my laughable attempt at saving money on air tickets. We chose to fly rather than take a coach, which on paper was a great idea, saving about 10 dollars and 5 hours worth of travel. On paper. That alone might have been fine, had I not checked off the button that said "No check-in luggage", which shaved 10 dollars off each ticket. I was like, "Yeah we don’t need checkin luggage, we’re only off for 3 days and we’re real men who pack well."

Turns out that with laptops, camera equipment and sleeping bags, the amount of available space was so little that after packing in a pair of shorts, a couple of boxers and 2 shirts, I could barely close my bag. We decided that forgo towels, toiletries and other stuff that we thought we could get cheap when we arrived at Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. We did manage to buy what we needed, along with stuff we really didn’t need as well, resulting in total spending of about 90 Ringgit, which is significantly far more than what we would’ve paid for if we brought our luggage. To make matters worse, since we don’t have a suitcase, we can’t buy stuff back easily. Not like there’s anything to buy though.

So after we arrived at the airport, we saw what appeared to be a really rundown and crappy terminal. After about 20 minutes of looking for the correct KLIA-transit train which would’ve taken us to the Cyberjaya, the location of Daicon, we realised we were at the wrong terminal. Malaysia had suddenly decide to throw together some building spare parts and construct a Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) and we were a 20 minutes shuttle bus ride away from the real airport. Finding the correct bus took awhile as the airport staff fail at giving directions and there were totally no signs to be found. Hell, we saw a lot of fellow confused tourists wandering around the bus terminal. DM had a hunch and sat down somewhere, claiming that he knew the bus would arrive. It actually did, about 10 metres in front of him. At the real airport, which was slightly better but still woefully short on signs, we managed to figure out where the train platform was and hopped on the train (23 minutes of waiting time though).

Our original plan was to stop at the Cyberjaya station, purchase our supplies as stated above and take a cab to Kurogane’s house. But we were foiled when it turned out that there were absolutely no shops or malls within a 5 Km radius of the station. In fact, the whole station was a nice standalone in the middle of barren land. Later, our Malaysian blogger friends informed that it was the result of a fucked up city planning which resulted in half-hearted attempts at creating a modern city from scratch. They apparently neglected to build the actual city after laying down the main train infrastructure.

The one good segment of the trip was the taxi ride, where you had to buy a taxi ticket after specifying to the counter your destination. This prevents the drivers from conning you. Our total costs for the trip from the airport to Kuro’s house was 1.5 RM for the shuttle, 6.2 RM for the train and 11 RM for the taxi (for both of us). It’s very cheap compared to the likes of Japan, where you have to pay 4-5 times that just to leave the airport.

Along the way we were heartened to see a supermarket, Domino’s pizza and other eateries but the driver just continued on his way. Apparently that mini mall was pretty far away from our destination. Imagine a 15 minute taxi ride where you see nothing but barren land and highways. We soon arrived at the Multimedia University, Kurogane’s school and also location for Daicon and adjacent to that were the Cyberia (lol Siberia) condominums where he lived. It’s just 10 minute walk away from the venue!

His house had 2 kittens, which were rather hyperactive and were constantly playfighting, switching their battleground to either my sleeping bag or DM’s. As cute as that sounds, it was a hindrance to sleep! The cuter one also raped a large moth and scattered the pieces onto DM’s sleeping bag, on top of sharpening their claws on the fabric. Despite that, we still like cats.


"DESTROY!!"

The next day, Saturday, was the real start of the show. Kurogane was busy as the press director, so we made our own way down to the grand hall. Took us about 1 hour, as the place didn’t really have any signs or maps and buildings all looked the same and were unlabelled.

The crowd turnout wasn’t as high as I thought it would be, with only about 40 cosplayers throughout the day. I thought it was because of the Cosfest held in Singapore. The chairman of the anime club organising Daicon, Silencers, who frequently comments on this blog, attributed it to the same reason. Butfrom our informants over in Singapore, they claimed that it was the most empty Cosfest they have ever seen in their lives and that both organising commitees were  blaming the other for it. I think it’s mainly due to bad publicity on Cosfest’s part, nobody even knew it was occuring since they switched the dates on purpose to coincide with Daicon, and they were too stuck up to do any publicity about it. Then again, it could be due to the H1N1 flu "epidemic". Or just a general loss in interest of cosplay in general, because as fancy as cosplayers make it sound, it’ s just a bunch of kids in costumes. For Daicon, the rather out of the way location was a turn-off to many Malaysians as well.

KKnM had a booth there, and queues were as long as popular doujin stalls at Comikket. I’ve never figured out why KKnM was so popular in Malaysia, you guys do realise you can order them online either from them or from Japan for about the same price? The best part was that some Singaporeans lined up as well, just for fun. I suppose the side activities like the Moe Janken, where you could win prizes if you statistically improbably defeated a shit load of opponents in Janken.

Valiant Ho from Anime Figurines Network had a rather nice exhibition on figures, which were arranged somewhat in chronological order, so it was nostalgic to see many of the figures I once owned being displayed. It has led me to realise that I actually have quite a high turn over rate of figures, buying and selling many. I’m wondering if Valiant himself was one of the guys who bought from my cheap Bazaars, since I don’t keep customer records. Unlikely though.

WolfX, another commenter here and someone who has purchased stuff from me online, had a very impressive Macross booth. It’s like, I only have one of these, the SV-51 Ivanov version, but the guy and his friends combined to display like, the whole 1/60 collection, each of which is like 200-300 dollars.

We also attended a press conference, which was largely ignored by bloggers, so only real media were there. We had free food.

Press-director-san had his handphone ringing in the middle of it, no thanks to a certain Owen S.

The other booths weren’t much to my fancy so I didn’t really stop by or photograph them. On the plus side, I finally met up with Owen S, and Faye. For you Owen S fanboys (Ok I jest, there are no such persons), it might come as a shock to you because I am revealing that Owen S has really gay hair and having him sitting adjacent to me confuses my senses because my peripheral vision sees a girl. Faye, who isn’t really a blogger, particularly likes Darkmirage’s blog and was very eager to meet him. DM’s usual tsundereness for his fans might have been a terrifying ordeal for her. Despite that, I think Faye was a nice, smart and cute girl who unfortunately surfs 4chan, so you Malaysian otakus should go chase her down or something. We also met Jimone and Danie, the former got in the first question at the Chihara Minori Q and A session.

Speaking of the Q and A session, I think fans who can’t understand Japanese are always at the short end of the stick. Of all the various such sessions I’ve attended involving various celebrities or staffers, not one of the interpreters did a good job. They always summarised 10 sentence answers into 1 phrase and sometimes even warped meanings and nuances. Of them all, I have to say that the Daicon guy who did the interpretation was probably the worst one I’ve seen. His biggest problem is that he was not professional enough to have a note pad and pen ready, so when Minori gave a long answer, he promptly forgets what was said at the front. DM joked that he wasn’t a Japanese-English translator, but rather a Japanese-Menglish one. It was hilarious to see him get sentences grammatically correct at first, then hastily switch it to some warped form of Malaysian-brand English for no apparent reason. An example was his translation of the question "What kickstarted your voice acting career?" into the Menglish "What kickstarted your voice actress?"

Sadly, as with all Q and A sessions, fan ask dumb questions that have answers you can read about in magazines or online. It is my opinion that instead of wasting time on dumb questions, fans should instead ask her to perform voices from various roles. She did a Chiaki line at the end, which drew great applause. 10 Japanese fans actually travelled all the way from Risingsunland to Malaysia, as can be seen from the picture below. They really are hardcore.

That said, I found Chihara Minori to be much prettier than in the photos taken professionally which make her look 40 years old. The final question belonged to this deranged 15 year old Malaysian girl, who spent about 3 minutes introducing herself (as if we care), and trying to steal the interpreter’s job by translating her own question, badly. With her gusto, we all thought she would be really fluent, but she used words like "Bo-i-su Akkutingu" (voice acting), which was hilarious. The interpreter didn’t even bother with the answer to the question though, so non-Japanese-interpreting folks were left disappointed. I heard from Kurogane that there was problems but he did not elaborate, so maybe the interpreter was just a emergency standin?

I’m off for the 2nd day now, it’ll be 10 songs from Chihara Minori today.

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