NDK2002 Trip Report

Unlike previous trip reports, I have not kept a running journal during the weekend of Nan Desu Kon 2002. I had neither the energy nor the time, the latter mostly because we weren’t staying at the con hotel this year, so when we were “home” it was because we were too tired to do more con. Which also means too tired to write, in my case.

Last week was not a good week for me in general, due to health issues (kidney stones again, as it turns out.) So between that and the fact that we’d just gotten home from WorldCon 2 weeks earlier, there was a lot of thought toward not going. In retrospect I’m glad we went.

For me, anime cons are two things: a shopping trip (dealer’s room. Whee!) and a way to see lots of anime I haven’t seen before without having to buy it. (video room. Whee!) NDK2002 succeeded at both.

Friday, impressions and recollections
The big thing that stands out in my memory about friday is the complete clusterfuck at registration. Something has GOT to be done about registration at NDK2002, because as it is they’ve taken out all the advantages of prereg.

On the face of it, the registration table setup seemed reasonable - divide the area in half for prereg and non-prereg, divide people up by alphabetic group. Pretty standard stuff. Two things killed them, as far as I can see. First, the vast majority of people registering (on Friday at least, heaven knows I didn’t go back to check other days) were prereged, but the concom had chosen to put the majority of the volunteer power on the registration side. Even had this not been the case, the inefficiency of the prereg checkin process would still be a problem. Badges were all pre-printed, requiring one linear search per customer through the bins to find them. Each customer *also* had to be looked up on the registration lists (another linear search), then issued their badge, then given their packet. Many volunteers appeared to be standing around within the registration table wondering what to do.

To fix this, they need to do some basic things. The biggest is computerize the checkin process as Expo does. Print a barcode on your prereg confirmation. You bring the card, they scan the code, it calls you up on the master list, checks you in, prints your badge, you’re handed your badge, badge holder, pre-made up package, and you’re on your way. For those who are pre-registered but do not have their prereg cards with them, they probably should just go through the regular line.

The regular line basically has a sheet you fill out with the information that goes in the database. You fill it out while standing in line. The data is entered into the database. You pay. Your badge is printed, you are handed your badge, your badge holder, and your pre-made package of stuff, and off you go. Sure it takes longer, but that’s why prereg is cheaper - to encourage people to do this stuff ahead of time (and float the concom a loan for free).

I would also (in an ideal world at least) allow prereg with a credit card online up to and during the actual event. (even that late, give ‘em a dollar off or something - the idea is to have them do the data entry on the database instead of a volunteer doing it). When the credit card is confirmed, the web page issues you a prereg card with the barcode right on it, you print it out (or write down the number) and head to the checkin.

To do all this you’d need a few computers (nothing too flashy or powerful, any powerbook with a PCMCIA slot (or built in ethernet, or 802.11 if you really want to get flashy) could do this) and a network and a database server. The user interface for the con workers could be entirely web based, so your workers can even bring their own laptops if they prefer, and it’d be OS agnostic. The server could be any pentium class PC running linux and Apache and msql or some such (I’d lean toward one of the linux distributions with DB2 or Oracle bundled with it, personally, but lots of people feel that the free SQLs are worth using) and some networking hardware and a badge printer. You could even forgo the badge printer in favor of simple color printed badges and conventional badge holders, or have the badges made up in advance and simply stick the name block to them.

Anyway. We did eventually get registered, although apparently our prereg info got lost from the system completely so after an hour in the registration line, we had to turn around and spend another 10 minutes in the newbie line. *grumble*.

After that, of course, we hit the dealer’s room. I got a nice cel of Rally Vincent from Gunsmith Cats from Kurt (Anime Assylum), a sharp object, some giant pockey (Japanese junk food) and so on.

And after that we hit the video room. First up was “Mini Goddesses” - a whole series based on the super-deformed images from Ah My Goddess, apparently. (it’s all new animation, mostly CG, so no cels. It’s a fun series, very silly. One of the main characters is a rat.

After that, we went to dinner.

This con has always had a dearth of interesting places to eat - last year we were limited to fast food and the hotel restaurant. This year saw the addition of Q-Dobo. Q-Dobo is a burrito place, very much in the vein of Chipotle’, although while the burritos are smaller they are more interesting flavors. I had a roasted chicken burrito that was fantastic.

On returning, we went back to the video room and took in Helsing - a vampire series that was interesting enough that I bought a copy of the first two DVDs in the series, and Saber Marionettes J Again, which while humorous just didn’t have the strength of characters of the original Saber Marionettes J.

Saturday

On Saturday there was a line at the dealer’s room, so we only went in briefly. I bought the Helsing DVDs as well as a DVD of Appleseed and one of Dominion Tank Police. All Masumune Shirow, All the time. After that and a quick turn through the art show - which had nothing at all I wanted - the art wasn’t very good, and none of the figures were for sale - it was time for more video.

We took in All Purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku Nuku - which was entertaining, but very light and silly, followed by the videos for the music video contest. As usual the funny ones were the best - my vote was for one video called “Here’s to you, Misato”. It was done to the remake of the Simon and Garfunkle song Mrs. Robinson - a remake I’m not fond of - and it was made from Evangelion - which is an anime I actively despise. The fact that I found the video SO amusing despite all this earned my vote.

After the videos was the minimal Japanese panel. Basically we spent an hour finding out what a few phrases common in Anime mean, as well as getting some cultural references. It was actually surprisingly useful.

After that, it was back to the video rooms for His and Her Circumstances - which was entertaining, something I’ll probably have to buy and watch at some point, and the Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust movie, which was superb.

And on Sunday, we left, after a stop off to Cost Plus and Pizzeria Uno. Denver is fun. :)

All told a quiet con for us, although as I said earlier the con has grown VERY rapidly, but it was a *fun* con. Relaxing, and we took in a lot of new video to be interested in and watch. I’m not sure cel collecting has a huge future, since most of the series’ and movies we saw were CG (and the CG has gotten good enough that it doesn’t matter anymore) but that’s ok, I wasn’t buying them as an investment. I buy cels because they please me. Anyway, good con, modulo the screwups at the beginning, much better organized than last year, and *huge* by Denver con standards.

See you next year.