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Sakura-Con 2016 March 31, 2016

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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Last year I made a promise to myself, to change, to do things differently, to experience new things, after a stagnation in my life. I knew that if I was to grow as a person both physically and emotionally, that I should learn to start doing things on my own. This led me to decide to go on a solo trip to Seattle for Sakura-Con, which I’ve heard and seen good things about it. Going to a place I’ve never been to, I’ve never gone traveling on my own on this scale. This was going to be a test on multiple levels to see for myself if I can make this trip a success. From my experience of previous trips with friends to other anime conventions, that had its ups and downs, I wanted to try and avoid the negatives that can come from group trips to truly enjoy the experience.

It all started when I happened to catch word of the start of the Sakura-Con housing reservations. It was early November 2015 that I reserved a room for the dates shown below. I knew that this was the first step in making my trip a reality, as getting rooms for convention can get tricky if you don’t jump on it the first day. Upon reserving my hotel room, I was not completely certain about making the trip yet. It was only on the last day of November that I made my decision final to go with my registration to Sakura-Con right before the price increase. Now things were slowly locking into place. The last main thing I needed to take care of was the transportation. With help from Expedia I was able to secure a round trip flight between my home of San Francisco and Seattle, WA for a little under $200. This was around mid January when plane ticket prices seemed to be the lowest for my destination. I also looked into also using public transportation to get from the airport to Downtown Seattle. Luckily there is a train called the Link Light Rail that can get me from the airport to Seattle in about 40 minutes for $3 each way. With these reservations and plans in place, I had myself locked in for a trip of the year.

The hardest part of doing all of this though was not the planning, nor the costs. It was the fact that the partial reason I was taking a solo trip to Seattle was because of my experiences with previous group trips with friends. Ordinarily, trips with others should make for a better, enjoyable trip with the added benefit of splitting costs. The enjoyable part though will only work if all of the people involved in the trip are invested and interested in the journey and destination. Countless times have I invited people on my trips to just become either uninterested or just tired of the trip. I end up feeling bad and/or having to babysit them throughout the rest of the trip. It doesn’t help that since I’m focused on photography, I move around to place to place in a snap, and having people following me around basically puts a leash on myself. I feel constrained when that happens which affects everyone else. It’s not that I dislike having people with me on trips, it just depends on the trip itself. I probably wouldn’t mind as much if it wasn’t a trip to an anime convention. Why am I obsessed with photographing anime conventions? That can probably be connected to my old mentor Danny Choo, who used to blog much more about his life in Japan. I was inspired to share my own experiences via photos that I now try to do the same, at least with anime conventions and such. To get back on topic, the reason why my group trip experiences made this a hard decision to make, was because my friends and I have been discussing a road trip up to Seattle for quite some time. As none of us have gone up there, it would of been a new experience for all of us. Right before telling them about my trip few days before leaving, I had that almost sick feeling like I was backstabbing them. I knew it would of been worse if I didn’t tell them at all, so I mustered up the courage to let them know as causally as possible, with the previous experiences and truth in mind. They seemed to take the news well, not reacting negatively as I thought might happen. I’m still up for a road trip with them, but probably not for an anime convention anyways. I still feel bad writing this part, but it’s for the best for all of us I think. Change comes with consequences, both good and bad, and I intend to tip the scales to the good side for the future.

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Before I begin my day to day journal-like entries of my Seattle/Sakura-Con trip, if you’d like to just check out my photos of my travels, which are in (for the most part) chronological order, please check out my Flickr album Seattle / Sakura-Con 2016.


Day 0 –  Thursday, March 24

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Waking up suddenly to multiple alarm clocks at around 6AM, I got out of bed, took a shower, and called my mom afterwards to wake her up since she was going to be my ride to the airport. I did my final checks of my list of what to pack and left home just after 8AM. Riding through rush hour traffic, I got to the airport around 8:45AM. As it was my first time flying on my own, I was left to figure out what to do next. I knew that I probably wouldn’t get away with my luggage being carry-on to Seattle, so I went to the self-help kiosk to get it tagged for check-in for $25. After sending it away from the check-in counter, it was to the security checkpoint to get screened. While the line looked a bit long, I got through the line and security in about 15 minutes. Afterwards I went directly to my gate where I had about an hour until boarding. While waiting, I saw some people that I suspected was also going to Sakura-con, more so confirmed when I overheard them talking about “con and panels”. I didn’t enter their conversation, but I wanted to at least introduce myself as another fellow con goer. After that opportunity passed, I figured that I’d pass time by playing on my 3DS, also wondering if that would signal that I’m a Sakura-con person to anyone else waiting for our flight.

At around 10AM I got up and into line for boarding, and got into the plane and seat at about 10:20AM. Our flight was scheduled to leave approximately 10:40AM, but it was running late for reasons. We left the terminal around 11AM and got airborne 10 minutes later. On the plane, I sat between two people; a man on my left who had aisle seat and a girl on my right who had window seat. Throughout the entire flight the girl was playing Fire Emblem Fates, and I got a little intimidated to bring out my own 3DS in the beginning, I guess because I didn’t want her to think I was copying her? Dunno. Even now as I’m writing this I can’t describe why I felt like hiding my 3DS for a bit. I know it’s stupid, I’m just shy lets just leave it at that. During midflight, we got out snack and drink which translates to a Asian-style snack mix and canned juice. The snack mix was a mixed bag, meaning that for the most part I didn’t really like it, I’d prefer the standard peanuts. The juice was way too sugary, and I wished I asked for just water. This was when I realized that I should of ate more at home than just a yogurt, as I had a small headache that comes from me not eating enough earlier in the day. Right before takeoff and after, I had a anime OST on my iPod that I wanted to play at that moment of full acceleration and liftoff. I’ve had it planned ever since I first heard it from the anime Aldnoah.Zero S2 Ep. 1, when the Deucalion launches from under the sea to space. I wanted to experience flight again partially for the feeling I felt during that scene, and adding appropriate music did the trick. I just wish that I had the window seat, especially because during the landing in Seattle, we flew directly over the Space Needle which would of been awesome if I had the chance to record that. Didn’t want to reach over and ask the passenger for the opportunity as I thought it would have intruded on her space. After landing though, while waiting for the people ahead to get off the plane, the girl next to me called out to another friend of her’s (I presume) and heard her mention the word “con”. I decided to take that opportunity to ask if she was going to Sakura-Con, and it turns out she was. She was actually one of the artists of the artist alley and we exchanged business cards before leaving the plane.

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My first task to do was to pick up my luggage from the baggage claim. I was worried that I’d get lost in a new airport, but signs led the way easily to where my bag was. I also knew that I needed to eat to prevent the worsening of my headache, so I grabbed a breakfast sandwich and a water bottle and ate before proceeding to the Link Light Rail. Getting to the train took a bit of a walk outside, which was colder than SF has been recently, so the air was chill but refreshing. Signs once again pointed myself in the right direction and before I knew it I was at the station. Buying myself a $3 one way ticket towards Downtown Seattle and seating myself, I prepared to view the scenery of a whole new city. Basically it was lots of trees, far away snow covered mountains, and tunnels that both a train and bus can use. At one stop along the way though, a random fare checker came on board to check everyone. I’m used to this at home as we have it every so often. What scared me was that I couldn’t find my ticket for a moment while he was checking the other people. Luckily I had just dropped onto my seat and presented it just in time when he came to me. After a 40 minutes ride, I arrived at Westlake Station. Surfacing in Seattle for the first time, I strangely felt as if I was home. The area felt like a mix of cities I’ve been to before: San Francisco for the cold and coastal areas, Los Angeles for the big buildings, and San Jose for how everything seemed close by. Basically all the good things of each city put together for a anime convention.

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I headed to my hotel which was about two blocks away, The Paramount Hotel. I was expecting the registration desk to be busy, but there was almost no one around to my surprise. Check-In was quick with no problems, and with my room key in hand I went up to the 9th floor to settle in for a bit before heading to the convention center to pick up my badge.

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Since nothing was really happening at the con on Day 0, I wanted to take at least some time to explore the area since I figured I would be focusing on the con when it started tomorrow. I walked down Pine St towards the fish market, after checking out Westlake Center, and just explored the random paths that I found. I generally knew what was around the area based on my map research on Google, so I didn’t fear getting lost.

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I made it to the Seattle Aquarium which had a bunch of construction going on around it, but following a parallel street got me to Waterfront Park where there was the Seattle Great Wheel, a Ferris wheel on the pier. I took a few photos while looking at the cityscape, and saw some stairs leading back up to downtown to another street.

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The stairs brought me to Union St, where after a short walk found myself a Target. I went inside to check it out to find other con goers shopping as well, and I figured I’d do a little grocery shopping myself as I had a refrigerator in my room. I ended up only getting a few things, like waters and snacks, and would of gotten more food if I had a microwave, which I didn’t have. On the way back to my hotel, I stopped by a McDonald’s to get a burger and fries, and with that added to my Target bag I had a full bag of food stuff for my room.

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As my headache from earlier was still faintly but continuously there, I was afraid at one point that I might get sick, because of also the cold winds that I was walking through the entire time outside. I knew that food and sleep was the best medicine for me, so I returned to my hotel for the night at around 6pm, sounds early but I knew I needed rest from the flight and headache for the start of the con tomorrow. As I had the room to myself, I took advantage and decided to take a good long hot bath before going to sleep, something that I can’t really do at home. It was to help ease my headache and allow me to feel more sleepy. It definitely was a pleasant time to just relax and not have to think about much. Went to sleep at around 1am as that is around the time I usually start to sleep at home.

Day 1 – Friday, March 25

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I wanted to take a quick tour of the convention center before the Opening Ceremony Ceremony at 10am, so I got to the con before then. Entering through the doors on 8th and Pike St, the first floor of the convention center looked like it was part of a mall. Looking straight ahead you can see a series of escalators going many floors up, and at the top you can see the Sakura-Con banner with the sun shining right behind it. These escalators take you to Levels 2, 3 and 4 of the convention center, the 4th floor being where most of the main events and halls were. Levels 2 and 3 had smaller rooms that had some con operations rooms, panel rooms, Cosplay Repair Station, Karaoke, etc. The 4th floor contained the main stage and Dealers Hall/Artist Alley, as well as several panel rooms. There was also a multitude of areas for cosplayers on this floor, mainly out on the Outdoor Plaza, South Galleria, and in front of the entrance of the Dealer’s Hall. That being said, there was plenty of areas for cosplayers and photographers outside and inside the con. So many staircases, little secluded areas, on all floors. This amazed me a lot as I’m used to being at anime conventions where most casual cosplay photography took place in the middle of crowds, but here at Sakura-Con if you wanted to find a good area for photo taking, whether it be in a natural environment or urban setting without others around, this is the con for you. While being outside though, there was a noticeable amount of smokers/vape users, and as I don’t smoke I tended to have to limit my breathing directly around those people.

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Moving on to the final floor of the con is the 6th Level. The escalators near the main stage takes you directly to the 6th Level, but there was other escalators to the left of the info booth that let you pass through the 5th Level (closed to the con/business offices I think) to the 6th. I though at first that the 5th was closed off to the public for staff only, similar to how at Anime Expo, the highest floor visible from the main lobby is for staff and guests of honor only. On the 6th Level was the main panel room, as well as the gaming rooms, AMV Theater, Sakuradome, and anime viewing rooms. What surprised me at first about the Console Gaming room, was that there was no CRT TVs in sight. I’m used to seeing a mix of old and new TVs at other gaming rooms at other conventions, but I found out that Sakura-Con has a separate room for retro gaming that uses only CRT TVs.

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While doing all the touring, I kept tab over the line for the main stage where the Opening Ceremonies was going to be held. At first I didn’t see much of a line, but that was because I was looking at the wrong line. The line I thought was for the ceremony was actually for buying Sakura-Con merchandise. The real line for the event was in the neighboring room that was labeled the autograph room, but a small sign that I didn’t notice before indicated that it was also used for line formation for events using the main stage. By the time I got into line it was already pretty long, but I knew the main stage room was large so there was no real concern of where I was going to sit. I also had my DSLR equipped with its 18-135mm lens, so I had the zoom power if needed. As we entered the room, the first thing you notice is the many screens, two on each side of the stage, and three for the back so that everyone can see. I was situated on the right viewing a screen that looked to be of LED lights put close together. It didn’t look too great, so I had to either focus on looking at the actual stage, or at a projector screen if I didn’t want to see pixels in the video.

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Opening Ceremonies started late, but it ended on time. The ceremony opened with taiko drumming, followed by a quick AMV made for the event, then some words from the Con-chair (I think). After that there was more music played by traditional instruments, both old and new. It ended after that, which was good because like I said they were able to end on time. At other cons I’ve attended, they also introduce the guests of honor which takes most of the time, which they didn’t do here. Most of the guests at this year’s Sakura-Con were industry based, and none of them to me were “die to see” material. Not saying that they weren’t important, just not on my plan to see if I had other things to go to.

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Back on the 4th Level across the Skybridge over Pike St was the Dealer’s Hall/Artist Alley. It had it’s usual assortment of anime goods booths, as well as some industry ones and local business ones. One booth that had my attention was the Pink Gorilla booth, a well-known retro and imported video game retailer, located right near the front of the hall. I heard about it from a friend back home and so I decided to check it out for both our sakes. Pink Gorilla’s actual store was not that far, a short 10 minute or so train ride away. Originally I was planning to check it out when I had time, but since they had come to Sakura-Con, I thought the booth was good enough instead of traveling out of con to go to the actual store. Because I’ve been to so many Dealer’s Halls at other anime conventions, I didn’t take photos of it too much, nothing too interesting from what I’ve seen. I will say that it was of decent size, but smaller than that of FanimeCon’s due to the fact that Sakura-Con uses the same space for both a Dealer’s Hall and Artist Alley.

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Near the South Galleria of 4th Level of the convention center was a couple of places to get food. One was a cofffee place, and the one next to it was a Subway. Originally when I did research at home of the area using Google maps, I saw the Subway that is located in front of the convention center on the street. I did not know that there was another one located right in the heart of the convention as well. That made it very convenient for me on a few occasions throughout the convention days, as I have a Subway gift card I got as a birthday present from a relative. As I couldn’t eat meat on Friday due to reasons, I ordered a tuna sub which was better than I expected. The line at Subway was always busy, but this branch had many workers, each focusing on a part of the sandwich making process. I never had to wait too long for mine to be made, so I give them a solid A for timeliness and effort.

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Knew I’d see one of these flying over a con one of these days.

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During Day 1, I was struggling to get into the flow of cosplay photography again, and so when I took a break at my hotel in the middle of the day, I wrote about how I felt in this regard on my Facebook. Here’s a copy and paste version:

“Taking a short break from the con, so far Sakura-Con seems very nice: Lots of space because there’s 6 floors of the convention center, which also feels like a mall with the variety of food choices (Subway brunch). There’s also spaces right outside perfect for cosplay photography. The downsides to this though is that everything is spread out more than I’m used to. While it doesn’t take long to get from point A to point B, I act on visual instinct which means that photo OPs for me happen on sight, versus planned/scheduled which I assume there are photographers who already has a lineup of cosplayers to take photos of.

Another thing I’ve noticed about my recent habit of cosplay photography is that I’m not as eager to take photos of cosplayers as I used to, probably because I’ve taken many of that character before, or because I’ve been desensitized to seeing so much cosplay that I don’t deem it as interesting as it really is. I need to break through this so that I can really show how Sakura-Con is overall, as my style of photography is all about the overall approach. I want to present the con so that viewers looking at my album of photos will feel like they were there. I take photos not only of cosplayers and events, but also of the venue itself and how it works with the event.This post is much longer than I thought it would be, so I think it’s time I left my laptop to get back to the con. Luckily it’s only a 2 min walk back to it so taking breaks doesn’t feel like I have to dedicate so much time to it (for traveling between hotel and con).”
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As I wasn’t having too much luck with finding good photo opportunities, I decided to go look for a place for dinner. Westlake center had a food court so I decided to find something there. I got myself some shrimp teriyaki, and a chocolate chip cookie from Mrs. Fields for dessert to enjoy back at the hotel.

I went back to the con afterwards for the Awesome Anime Openings panel at 7pm because I wanted to see some “awesome” anime OPs, for ones I’ve never seen or ones I’m hoping will be included in it to see others’ reaction to them. It was pretty entertaining to watch random anime OPs, old and new, weird and epic, all part of the J-pop culture in their own ways. It was unfortunate that the panel ended early due to technical difficulties. After the panel I wandered around the con a bit more to see what it was like at night, but didn’t stay long and returned back to my hotel for the night at around 8:30pm.

Day 2 – Saturday, March 26

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I was lazy to get up out of bed, so I didn’t get to the con until around 10AM. For brunch I got a breakfast sandwich at Subway, which wasn’t as good as I hoped but it would do. Today I was committed to taking more photos with more quality. Quantity and quality is my policy.

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At around 1:30PM I went to where the Sword Art Online Movie Special Event was being held. At first I thought there wasn’t much of a line, until I turned the corner and found a mass amount of people waiting around. Sakura-Con has a policy posted that lines are not to be formed 30 minutes before, but obviously people did anyways. We didn’t get into the panel room until almost 2:30PM (Panel scheduled to start at 2PM), and at first based on how many people were in line still I was slightly concerned that maybe the room would fill up before we had a chance to get in, but there was still lots of empty chairs upon entering. We received a exclusive mini poster of the movie key visual showing Kirito and Asuna in their new clothing design. We also got a ticket which was for raffle prizes to be held later during the event. The event revealed new character designs and plot details for the movie, as well as having a live drawing by the series artist abec. At the end a raffle was held for various items such as microfiber towels, wall scrolls, actual scripts used for specific episodes, etc. On a couple of occasions, I was extremely close to winning. As you can see my number was 7289973; the first time it got close was when the number 7289975 was called, the second was when number 7289972 was called. Each time a ticket number was called, slowly reading it out to the audience, many of us in the crowds sighed in disappointment when they got a number that didn’t match. Imagine my reaction when twice it got down to the last digit. So close, just a couple numbers off.

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After the event I headed to my room real quick to drop off the poster and promptly headed back to con for more photo ops.

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I’m honored to be one of the first to take some cosplay photos of the new design of Kirito and Asuna for the new Sword Art Online Movie, premiering next year.

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After seeing that things were calming down at con, I decided it would be a good time to head out to buy some more souvenirs and dinner. I was about to take my usual route on 8th Ave under the conference center, but a split second after thought told me that I should take a new route to see what’s on those streets on the way to Westlake Center. That decision ended up becoming a mistake once I reached Pike St. and 7th Ave. Two guys were apparently trying to promote their music saying that they were raising money for kids or something. The first thing one of them asked me was my name which I gave. At the time I didn’t think much about it, but when it came to the time they were asking for money for their music CD, I wanted to decline. That was when the guy said that he couldn’t let me just walk because he already “autographed” the CD for me. I never asked for the CD, nor did I think he was going to ask for money because of how fast he approached me. I realized this was a trap for idiots like myself who now felt like I was obligated to give money for a service that can be barely called so. At first I thought I could get away with giving a dollar, but he guilt tripped me into giving $15 by saying that he needs money to make even with the costs of making the CDs, which I bet don’t cost as much as they imply. After the money was given, I walked away toward my destination, which I wished I took my usual route as there’s not many people on there usually. I guess the reason why I didn’t just walk or run away the moment he asked for money was because I didn’t want to make a scene in public. I didn’t want them to call me out on something that I consider a scam. At that time and even now, I have a bitter taste in my mouth and a churning in my stomach from the experience. As bad as it was, I wasn’t going to let it ruin a pretty good day, considering it a learning experience for the future. Normally anyways I ignore people who are giving things away or trying to talk to you while walking, but like I said this guy was out of my sight until it was too late to move out of the way. I did lose $15, but I also told myself that it could of been worse and lost more, and that I can get back that $15 relatively easy back at home. It seemed that these guys were having a streak coning others, as I saw that holding a large wad of cash as I was leaving the scene.

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Learnt a valuable lesson: Watch my surroundings more and ignore street peddlers.

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After buying a few more souvenirs for family, I got some dinner at the upstairs food plaza again, this time trying the Cheesesteak place by getting an Original Cheesesteak and Garlic Fries. I got it to go, as well as a Peanut smoothie from a smoothie place. I brought it back to my hotel room for me to enjoy in peace after what had happened in the streets before.

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I started pre-packing my bags for the journey home the next day. I wasn’t going to sleep early though, as I planned to go to the Kinaiver Premiere, Trigger studio’s newest anime, at 2:30AM. Why it is so early in the morning? I don’t know. (Maybe to coincide with the preview screening at the United Cinema Toyosu happening on the same day in Japan?) While I was waiting to return to the con, I wrote Day 2’s events, still fresh in the mind before heading back to the convention center.

Day 3 – Sunday, March 27
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Directly continuing from Day 2, I got back to the convention center at around 1AM. Security for the con was now screening for badges at the front door which was nice so that we don’t get random others coming in as well. Of course there was a lot less people roaming around but it was still lively enough that it didn’t feel like a empty con. I headed to the top floor of the con where the Kinaiver premiere was going to take place later, but to kill time before then I hung out in the console gaming room and played some good old Super Smash Bros. Brawl, by myself and 1 on 1 with others who wanted to join. As 2PM approached, I wanted to start leaving for lining up for the premiere, but as I was playing with others using borrowed con controllers/game, I stuck to playing until it was a good time to do so. When it became time to call it quits, it was after I had lost my only 1 v 1 match, and I didn’t want them to think I was leaving just because I lost, so I did let them know I was waiting for a 2:30AM premiere.

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There was a fairly long line that formed from the viewing room, which definitely wasn’t there an hour ago. Staff handed out posters of the anime which was a nice bonus I was not expecting. Upon entering the viewing room, I found some empty seats really close to the front, which got me second row first seat. I was surprised that I was able to get a seat this close to the screen, but the downside was that the screen was off center which made me turn my head to the right a bit uncomfortably. When the premiere started, it was initially clear that watching was going to be more of a chore, as the subtitles were all the way on the bottom, obstructed by the first row people. I wasn’t the only one who was having this issue, as I guess enough people complained for the staff to re-size the screen so that everyone had a better chance to see them. After the technical difficulties, we finally got to watch without interruptions.

The Kinaiver premiere was alright. It definitely had telltale signs of Trigger production. I won’t spoil too much about it since it’s not out yet at this moment, but basically its a strange turn of events that involves our main group of characters. Most of the details about what’s going on behind the scenes are vague, but I know that it will grow and develop like how Kill La Kill did. Each character’s unique with their own personality and secrets, which will play a role with how they’ll interact with one another throughout the series. That’s all I’ll say about what the anime is about, but you can get a synopsis from MyAnimeList if you want to learn a bit more about it. As for whether I will be watching the rest of the series, I plan to since I already watched the first two episodes, might as well. Do I think that the anime will be good? So far I think it will be average, but that’s based solely on my impression from the premiere.

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I got back to my hotel room for my final night in Seattle. I went to sleep around 4AM, with alarms to wake me up at around 8AM. Didn’t really get out of bed until almost 9AM, but it didn’t take me long to get ready to leave the room for good and check out of the hotel. My main agenda for this final day at con was to do last minute shopping in the Dealers Hall, as well as to take final photos with my DSLR before packing it away for the trip home.

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At around 1:30pm I got lunch at Subway for the 3rd time, before leaving Sakura-Con close to 2pm for a ride back to the airport via Link Light Rail.

While going through airport security, one of the TSA agents noticed that I had a shirt on with an anime character when I had to take off my sweater for screening. He asked me what anime it was from and I told him it was an original character. The shirt that I wore (which I’m still wearing now) is of Mirai Suenaga in her retrograde suit with the Japanese reading “Support Japan!!” for when Japan dealt with the Tohoku Earthquake back in 2011. He continued to talk to me even though it was time for me to go through the screener, so I didn’t really know what he was saying past that point. It was nice to randomly find (I assume) an anime fan in the middle of a security checkpoint in an airport, though the saying “There’s a time and place for everything” kind of made me rush through there as I didn’t want to bring attention to myself.

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After gathering all my stuff together, I made my way to my gate which was a bit of a walk away. It was about 3:15pm when I found myself a seat at the gate. I figured that boarding would be around 4pm with my flight scheduled to leave at 4:50pm. While waiting, I figured that even if I left the con at 3pm, I probably still would of made it on time. Confirming my thoughts was the fact that my plane arrived at the gate slightly late, so I didn’t board until close to 5pm. I could of stayed at the con at least one more hour and would have not had to wait or have been late for my plane. The main reason why I planned to arrive at the airport like I did was because of precaution, you never know if it would take long to get through security as I heard that sometimes the lines can get long with wait times up to an hour. Since I haven’t been flying for several years, I guess the checkpoints have become more streamlined as I haven’t had to wait more than 15 minutes to get through the line and screening process.

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As I was boarding the plane, stop and going through the center aisle, I happened to recognize someone. As I got closer I realized that it was San Francisco mayor Ed Lee. I couldn’t believe the coincidence that he happened to be flying on the same plane as me. There was a point where I stopped right in front of him, where I could of said something to him. However I could tell he was not alone, and that he probably also wanted to keep a low profile as mayor of one of the most iconic cities on the west coast, let alone the world. I ended up passing him by, not uttering a word for both of our sakes. I didn’t take a photo either as I didn’t want any issues arising from it. I did wonder what would of happened if I just greeted him, but I didn’t want to chance screwing up the trip just as it was ending. I believe he was in Seattle that weekend because a Democratic caucus was being held there, and he was just heading home.

For my flight home I had the window seat, so I took full advantage to take photos/videos of the outside and in front of me. When I think about it, my fascination of flying in hindsight is a little childlike. I have the need for speed, and the feeling of being off the ground. I guess it’s partially tied to my love of anime as well, and my recent liking of the mecha genre and flying in one of them. While I like flying in planes, the longer the flight the worse it will get so relatively short flights (3 hours or less) I think are the most ideal for me. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be able to handle longer flights, it would just be more uncomfortable, especially if the destination I’m flying to is in a different time zone.

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I can see my house from here!

Landing in SFO at approximately 7pm, I called my family who was to pick me up to let them know where I was at. When they were at the airport, apparently they said they couldn’t find me, and low and behold it turns out I came out to the departures area and not the arrivals area. An easy mistake to make, since I didn’t check in my luggage this time, I ended up not going to the baggage claim area which was right next to the doors to the arrivals area. I quickly found my way one floor down just in time to catch my ride out of the airport. We went out for dinner at a local ramen restaurant in my area before heading home. I gave my souvenir gifts to my family, watched some ERASED with them before calling it for the night at midnight. This pretty much ends the events of my Seattle/Sakura-Con trip.

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This was a fantastic, amazing trip for me in my opinion. Sure, there were little incidents here and there, but they did not detract from the whole experience of the trip. The main thing that made this trip a success was that everything went according to plan, and that I learned from my experience traveling. Will I make the trip again? Probably. Will I try traveling with friends in the future? It’s a possibility that I can probably make work as there are enough other things to see and do besides the con to keep them interested and busy. Will this lead to new travels to new places? You know it, just don’t know where and when it will be.

Throughout the trip and even now, the whole experience felt like a dream. One moment I’m in my room back home doing my usual things, the next I’m in a new place I’ve only simulated in my mind many times in preparation for the place I was actually at. Coming back home and revisiting these memories, I know that they’re real, but fleeting at the same. That’s why I’ve been furiously recording every single thought that comes to me that I’d like to share. It’s both for you as the reader to visualize my travels, and for me to never forget the feelings and experience I felt. I remember as the days before the trip loomed by, I sometimes felt hesitant and scared for what might happen on the trip. The feeling of uncertainty creeped on me as thoughts of delays, getting lost, missing flights etc., built up in my mind. Even through all that, I knew that I wanted to go, and that these were nothing more than fears from not knowing what was out there in the world. To conquer these, the only way was to dive right in, and figure it out along the way. With careful planning and common sense, everything fell into place, which has boosted my confidence in trying even more new things in the future.

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