Friday, 11 September 2015

BLOG -- Fan Expo Canada 2015

I know it's been a few days since Fan Expo ended... but I had to recuperate before blogging! Hahaha, I am getting older after all... *sigh*

Anywho, I had a really fun time at Fan Expo. It was pretty much more of the same fun stuffs -- shopping for awesome things, seeing cool cosplay, and attending neat panels. A couple of the panels were very unique this year -- at least I've never seen them offered before. 

This year, I had the rare luxury of NOT needing an autograph from anybody! Woot! That meant I had more time to do other things. And I think it showed, since I left the convention earlier than previous years for each day (well, either it was because I didn't have autographs to get or because I just wanted to rush home to play Final Fantasy XIV... ^^''). Or... maybe I'm becoming more efficient in executing my battle plan of wandering around the place. Or maybe it's because I'm getting tired faster, hahaha... *sigh* In any case, I still felt I had a complete convention experience.

Just like last year, Fan Expo was split between the North and South building -- the North building having some dealers (mainly from the Sci-Fi and Horror aspect), being the place for autographs and for celebrity Q&A sessions; the South building having the rest of the dealers, the Artists Alley, the gaming / entertainment area, and smaller panels.

Just to warn you (as I always do): this blog will be quite long. I'll be covering each day of Fan Expo Canada -- what I did, what panels I attended, and any thoughts. That's four days' worth of blogging. I've lumped all my pics of cosplayers into one section. If you want to see just that, search for "Photos of Cosplayers". For the section of what I've bought, search for "My Convention Purchases". :)

The Little Details
Dates of Fan Expo Canada: September 3 - September 6, 2015
Location: Metro Convention Centre (Toronto, Ontario)
Ticket Price Total: $178.50 (Premium admission; Deluxe 4-day admission was $125)

Time Attended: 2:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Funny coincidence is just like last year, I wasn't feeling so well this day and was thinking about skipping it again (I must be cursed! Arg). But around Noon I was like, 'Screw it, let's just try going anyway today' and made the hour commute down to the Metro Convention Centre. 

Since I had Premium admission, I was able to go through a special entrance that kinda avoided the regular lines. I must say that the convention organizers did a great job of it this time, since I did not experience much of any lining up just to get into the convention, like I've had in previous years. They do need to fix something, though, and I will mention it later in this blog.

Also, as a Premium attendee, I was able get into Fan Expo at 2 PM, whereas Fan Expo opened at 4 PM for regular attendees.
My Premium admission swag. 
The Star Wars lunchbox wasn't given out until Friday, 
to line up with the September 4th "Force Friday" thing.

Since I had absolutely no panels to attend today, I spent all my time roaming through Artists Alley and the South Dealers room. To sum it up briefly, I spent all the money I gave myself for today, took several pictures of cool cosplay, and gave my arm bruises from lugging all my purchases back home. The upside is that I did almost all of my shopping that day so less lugging around tons of purchases for the other days, yay!!

Misc. Photos for Thursday
Some Lego thing from HALO.

Lego C-3PO.

Lego R2-D2.

A history of a bunch of Lego Star Wars mini-figures through the years.

Some kind of promotional setup for the H8ful Eight movie. 
They were serving some shaved ice.

The shaved ice. They called it "Blood & Snow". It tasted like chicken, mmm...
Haha, just kidding. It tasted like strawberry.

The costs and schedules for the celebrity photo ops.
Some of the prices are really up there!

Time Attended: 9:15 AM - 6:15 PM
I thought I was running a bit late, but to my surprise the convention didn't open until 9:30-ish today. I guess some of the vendors or somebody was running late. As soon as the convention opened, I went to the South building and waited for my next panel to start. One thing I have to say: I completely forgot that panel rooms are super-air-conditioned so I was freezing in there.

Scary Stories -- 11:45 AM
This panel had six guests read scary stories. The first guest was Kane Hodder. He was actually supposed to read an excerpt from his autobiography Unmasked, but he didn't know about it and didn't bring the book, so the host suggested they have a brief Q&A session about Kane's book. 

In short, it was really interesting when Kane talked about his career as a stuntman, and how it's not very easy to have a career as a stuntman without connections. He also mentioned briefly being bullied while growing up, and how some readers were able to talk about their bullying experiences for the first time after reading his book. He seemed like a very humble and straightforward kind of person. It was really interesting.

For the rest of the panel, some of the stories read were scary while some weren't. The most memorable story for me was read by Sam Sutherland. He read a scary story that he wrote when he was in Grade 3. It -- was -- soooo -- funny! He brought the story with his Grade 3 illustrations and he made side comments every now and then. It was very, very enjoyable.

Another story I really enjoyed was read by Elma Begovic. And again, the story was written by her. It was an alternate version to the story of Bloody Mary. I thought she really captured a creepy-ish atmosphere with her story.

Another interesting story was read Melia McClure. She read "The Candle", a short story in the book "Every House is Haunted" by Ian Rogers. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before she could finish it, but what she read of it was very riveting. Maybe I'll have to pick up the book one day and finish reading the story myself.


With about an hour to spare before the next panel, I browsed through the Artists Alley again, buying a few more things I missed on Thursday.

I guess I should say that while waiting for my panels to start, I didn't play on my 3DS like in past years. Most of the days I didn't even bring it. Instead, I was reading the Vampire Academy novels. I don't know why, but I feel embarrassed admitting this. Anyway, moving on...

Ask the Embalmer -- 2:30 PM
Although we never got to ask the embalmer any questions (because we ran out of time), the panel was very interesting and informative. It was really neat to look at Death from an embalmer's perspective. 

The host (AKA the embalmer) started off by going through the history of embalming. I don't remember much of it... but I do remember it being interesting. One thing I remember is that the term "living room" used to be called a "parlour". However, after "parlour" started being associated with "funeral parlour", "parlour" was changed to "living room". 

After the history lesson, the host went right into the process of embalming -- explaining exactly what he did. He also talked about how bodies would be handled slightly differently depending on the body's state before death (did the body die of any illnesses that could affect the skin colour? Did the body die naturally or via an accident?) and after death (has the body been autopsied?).

He also mentioned a couple horrific embalming situations if the embalmer wasn't careful. One example was pumping fluid into the head at the wrong pressure could make the eyes pop out.

Another thing he mentioned was placing a lot of focus on the hands and face since those are the parts most funeral attendees touch. 

I really wish he had more time to talk about the embalming process. I wanted to know more, hahaha.

Anime According to AMVs -- 4:00 PM
I had no idea what this panel would be about besides being related to AMVs. The structure went like this: 

1. An AMV would be shown featuring a specific anime.
2. An audience member who has never seen that anime would then volunteer to summarize / describe the anime based off what was shown in the AMV.
3. An audience member who has seen the anime would then volunteer to summarize / describe what the anime is really about.

It was a pretty entertaining experience. Most of the anime series we went through I've never watched (including series like Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kill La Kill, Attack on Titan, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), but I never volunteered to give any summaries. Here's an example of one AMV we watched:

AMV from Spice and Wolf. I've never seen the series.

Summary from somebody who HASN'T watched the series: It's obviously about a zoologist who has been exploring the different sounds of animals, and he still after all these years, has not figured out what does the fox say. So he traps a random hybrid human fox, for his experiment to see what sound she could produce, and wow -- was he floored with her wide vocabulary.

Summary from somebody who HAS watched the series: The series is about a merchant. He's called Spice, because he made a fortune from selling a bunch of pepper. He meets this fox-spirit-lady, who controls the harvest. She makes these really rich, abundant harvests, but everybody hates her because every so often she has to make a poor harvest to replenish the soil. So he kinda takes her on as some kind of fugitive.

For anybody who wants to double-check, here's another summary of Spice and Wolf.

Calling All Ghost Hunters -- 5:15 PM
Well, I was curious about this panel... but in the end, I was largely disappointed in it. The panel host kept referring back to her experiences at the Lizzie Borden House. She did say a couple interesting things but unfortunately I don't remember what they are since all I remember is her talking about the Lizzie Borden House.

The most interesting thing about the panel was when the audience members got a chance to share their ghostly experiences.

Misc. Photos for Friday
If this sign was displayed in previous years, I never saw it. Thankfully, 
I have been asking cosplayers if I could take a picture.

The Playstation area where you could try out Project Morpheus, 
PS4's virtual reality device. I didn't try it out since you had to 
register online somewhere for a spot.

A Playstation wall where you could write whatever. I wanted 
to check this on the last day of the convention but I forgot.

Some statues from Witcher 3.

Time Attended: 9:45 AM - 5:30 PM
Not too much happened in the morning for me. I visited one of my friends who was working at one of the booths. Then I was back in the South building, waiting for the next panel, my nose in my book, hahaha. 

I gotta mention that the Saturday morning crowd was much less crowded than in previous years. That was good for me, but it made me wonder where everybody went.

Casual Taxidermy -- 11:45 AM

An article about using mice to decorate the home.

When I saw this in the Fan Expo schedule, I went 'What the heck??'. It was a really neat panel. The host talked briefly about the history of taxidermy and then about her focus, which was anthropomorphic taxidermy (note: there are squeamish pics in that link!). Basically, anthropomorphic taxidermy is the stuffing of a dead creature that then gets posed unnaturally and can be placed in an unnatural environment. Pretty much, being creative. 

I have a lot of respect for the host since she gets her specimen (that are already dead) from a zoologist, and she sends the insides back (for feeding) so nothing is wasted. 

One funny historical thing the host shared was the "doofy lion" story. I don't remember the exact details, but this king was given a lion as a gift. The king loved the lion so much that when the lion died, the king wanted him stuffed. So the king send the skin and bones to a taxidermist. Only problem was the taxidermist didn't know what a lion looked like, so he used a lion crest as a reference. The lion... didn't turn out so well...

I personally don't know if I'd be able to do taxidermy since it seems to require lots of careful handling (which I suck at sometimes), but the end product seems pretty cool.

Example of anthropomorphic taxidermy, created by the host.

Side-view of the "doofy lion". It looks okay here, but...

Front-view of the "doofy lion". Awwww, hahaha.... >.> 
It makes me feel a bit sorry for that king...

Casual Taxidermy Live Demonstration -- 2:00 PM
When the Casual Taxidermy host mentioned doing a live demonstration later in the day, I had to check it out. I was very curious about the process in action -- and I was wondering if I'd be able to take it, since, well, taxidermy involves skinning the animal... i.e. removing the skin from the flesh...

To sum things up, my mouth was kinda hanging open during the whole skinning process, and my brain completely stopped functioning... I think that's a sign that doing casual taxidermy myself would not be a good idea, hahahaha.

End product of the live demonstration. 
Sorry if this makes you squeamish!

Horror Debate: Should Zombies Have Rights? -- 3:45 PM

Panelists. The three on the left were pro zombie rights.

So this was sort of an interesting debate. There were two moderators on the floor while three panelists were pro zombie rights, and the other two were against zombie rights. Sometimes the moderators would bring up issues and sometimes the audience would bring up issues / questions. 

My couple beefs / issues with this whole debate was that the side for pro zombie rights were mainly representing  George Romero zombies, and not the other types of zombies. My other beef / issue was that on the side of against zombie rights, one was representing the Umbrella corporation. I guess to me, one side representing George Romero zombies while another side representing the Umbrella corporation just seems too specific for a real open debate to come through.

One very interesting issue brought up was along the lines of: "Since you (zombies) are fighting for your rights to be treated as a human being, would that mean your debts would carry over as well (such as paying a mortgage, loans, etc.)?" Hmmm! What do you think? :)

Misc. Photos for Saturday
Some bike thing from Star Wars. You could donate 
$5 to get a picture taken while "riding" it.

Something else from Star Wars.

Lego Avengers!

This is the issue that needs to get fixed. When going from the 
South building to the North building, there is this really awful bottleneck / traffic. 
The person in front is actually stopping the crowd, for whatever reasons.

Time Attended: 9:45 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday was more or less a sitting day as I sat throughout most of it, just waiting for panels to start.
Today I dressed up a little: I wore fake glasses. I don't normally wear glasses so that was a new experience for me. It was... interesting.

Me with my fake glasses. I am only showing
this because the picture is so fuzzy.

One kinda funny thing is that I never intended to go to the Walking Dead panel. I was simply checking out the room for Gillian Anderson's Q&A session. As soon as I got down there, though, the volunteers were saying "This way to the Walking Dead panel". I then thought, 'Why not?' 

Celebrity Panel: Cast of the Walking Dead -- 11:00 AM

Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Lennie James.

In short, this was a funny Q&A session. Sometimes the host would bring up topics and questions, but most of the time the audience members asked questions. One unfortunate thing was many of the answers to questions like, "What were your favourite moments?" or "What scenes would you say brought the most character development to your character?", were responses referring to the upcoming season (Season 6). They didn't spoil anything, but they would say along the lines of "It's coming up!"

A couple neat things I learned about each cast member ('cuz I knew nothing about them before this session):

Chandler Riggs: He plays video games! One of the games he plays is Destiny.

Norman Reedus: He claims he doesn't eat much. He also seems to like using his star power for charity-like things, which I think is cool. 

Lennie James: He did some voice-acting for Destiny. When the host asked him about that, it was a very amusing response. 

I was really glad that many of the questions didn't spoil Season 5 (since I haven't watched it).

And now, one amusing paraphrased conversation bit:

Host: Tell us about Fear The Walking Dead, and how canon it is to The Walking Dead series.

Reedus: What does "canon" mean?

Host: *explains what canon means*

Reedus: I'm learning new terminology everyday at the convention. Just yesterday I learned what "fap" means.

Celebrity Q&A with Gillian Anderson -- 2:00 PM

Gillian Anderson!

I enjoyed the Q&A session with her last time at Fan Expo, and this one was no different. I sensed more confidence in her responses this time around, but still with a lot of honesty and modesty, which I like. Whenever anybody asked her about how she felt about being Scully -- a strong female character, Gillian would clarify that Scully was not her creation and that she was fortunate to play the role of a strong female character.

One amusing tidbit:

Question person: Do you think Stella and Scully would make good partners?

Scully: Well, I think... you know, somebody asked me that at another Comic Con, about whether they would hang out. And I thought that maybe Stella would have a few things to teach Scully about drinking. And, um... partners... as in life partners? Or... as working partners?

Question person: Either one you want.

Scully: They actually might make good life partners. I hadn't thought about that before. I want to see somebody doing an After Dark sketch of Scully (kissing? **can't hear this word properly**) Stella...

You can listen to that tidbit in full here

With 15 minutes remaining, Gillian started an auction for a cap with three signatures, one of the signatures being her own. The money raised would go to charity. 

When the bid reached $500, Gillian said something along the lines of, "Time to add Scully DNA!". Then she took the cap (it was hanging on a coat hangar) and put it on her head. Then she started to put the cap between her armpits, then lightly rubbing it over her body. She even sat on it lightly! I don't know why, but I find those actions really cute. I guess -- I kinda can't imagine many celebrities actually doing that, being so playful like that, so I like it. I think it adds a little something to her character. 

The end bid for the cap was $1,000.

Gillian Anderson auctioning off the hat.

Awesomecore AMVs hosted by Vlad G. Pohnert & Todd Serge -- 4:00 PM
Soo... I kinda regret attending this as my last panel for Fan Expo. I was entertained for the most part... but I also felt like my brain was melting. Basically awesomecore AMVs are AMVs that are so terrible that they're awesome. I guess it just didn't match my kind of humour. Poor me... hahaha.

Misc. Photos for Sunday
Blast-a-Trooper for Charity.

Umm... bad guys from Star Wars, I imagine... 
In case you can't tell, I still haven't fully watched the Star Wars movies... >.>'''.

Overall Thoughts
Fan Expo Canada 2015 was really fun. It's too bad I missed some panels I wanted to check out, but I did enjoy most of what I attended. Next year I really want to attend a Sketch Duel, and another AMV thing. I really want to watch AMVs that blow me away with awe or excitement or... something (that does not melt my brain, hahaha)! For cosplay this year, I still saw a lot of Attack on Titan characters. Also this time I think there were a lot more Harley Quinns. And of course, I saw a lot of variety, which I enjoyed. There were some cosplay I never really thought would be done, so I was very happy. 

If I have time... I really would like to try cosplaying again myself. There are sooo many characters I wanna do, lol.

 The trek out of the convention (look at the bottleneck at the back! Lol).

Photos of Cosplayers
As mentioned earlier, here are some photos of cosplayers:

Sailor Mercury from Sailor Moon

Dark versions of Sailor Mercury and Sailor Moon from Sailor Moon? I'm not sure 
if dark versions actually exist in the series, so I thought it was 
an interesting take on the characters.

Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon.

Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy / Super Smash Bros.Wii U / 3DS.

Pit from Kid Icarus / Super Smash Bros. series.

NPC from Pokemon.

Scyther from Pokemon.

Harley Quinn and... another version of her? Not really sure 
who the character in purple is.

Black Widow from Avengers.

Poison Ivy and The Riddler.

Somebody (little help?)... and Wolverine from X-Men.

Jubilee from X-Men. 

Azula, Katara, Toph, and... don't remember... from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Helena from Orphan Black. Woot! I was wondering 
if I would see any Orphan Black cosplay.

Cosima and Felix from Orphan Black.

Cloud and Aerith from Final Fantasy VII.

Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Junko from Danganronpa.

Characters from Star Wars?

Ice King from Adventure Time and Hermione from Harry Potter.

Momoko from Wedding Peach. I was "chasing" after her from the 
South Building to the North Building, 'cuz I really wanted to take a picture. 
She was like 10 people in front of me, and the crowd was pretty tight.

A Ghostbuster.

A character from Dark Souls.

I have no idea what this is. I just thought the armor was neat.

Sun Wukong / Monkey King. I'm not sure if this is an original version 
or if it's referenced off some existing material.

Hatsune Miku in her "Love is War" outfit. I would like to 
cosplay as that particular outfit one day, haha.


A Titan in a maid costume (from Attack on Titan).

San from Mononoke Hime.

Sauron from Lord of the Rings.

Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2.

Furiosa and Nux from Mad Max: Fury Road.

Yukari from Persona 3. 
She was super-excited when I asked for a picture.

Raidou Kuzunoha from Devil Summoner!
I also had to "chase" him down. At first, I wasn't completely sure. He was about 5 people in front of me on a slightly crowded sidewalk. All I saw was the cape, the hat, and the sword. I was thinking, 'Is he really Raidou? I have to see the front to be sure...'. It took me two long blocks to catch up to him and when I finally got a chance to look at his front, the cape was covering it! Lol. So I asked him straight if he was from Devil Summoner. When he said "yes", I got excited and asked to take a picture. When he took out the Jack Frost plushie, I squeed "I have that plushie, too!". Lol, didn't mean to go off on a story here. I think Devil Summoner cosplay is very rare these days, and, well... I've always thought Raidou Kuzunoha was a hot character, hahaha. <3

Me (with my face greyed out) and Baymax!!! I was so shy taking his arm, 
even though I only felt cardboard underneath the fabric.

Side-view of Baymax. I wanna give him a hug!

A short clip of Baymax walking. Oh my -- sooo adorable!! 
I think the weird high-pitched sounds were me squealing. Sorry about that x.x''

Cosplay I wanted to take a pic of, but missed my chance
-Fix-it Felix from Wreck-it Ralph 
-The character that says "Praise the sun!" from Dark Souls (I was wondering when somebody would cosplay as that, lol)

My Convention Purchases
Well, I stuck to same $800 budget as last year, and it was a good amount. I stayed under which was the most important thing, lol.

So I'm saying this again, but when buying fan stuff, I often have this frame of mind:

1. Does the art style align with my tastes?
2. Does this work express the kind of fandom that expresses me? (like, if I saw a poster of Zuko and Katara holding hands and gently smiling, I might get it, because it expresses how I feel about their relationship -- a sense of deep understanding for each other)
3. Is this a piece of work that will evoke something in me every time I see it?

This year, it was a bit varied on what I bought. I mean, I even delved into the Dealers room and got something (that doesn't happen too often). One sorta surprising thing for me was that I didn't buy any buttons this year.

I guess for what I've bought that I haven't yet watched / experienced the series for, I'll note it like this: (*)

Here is what I bought (if anybody could help me fill in the blanks, it'd be greatly appreciated!):

Professor Layton random mini-figure, Harry Potter tie, 
Jack Frost and Alice figures from Shin Megami Tensei (SMT).
I love Jack Frost and Alice! 

Double ocarina, ocarina box, instructional booklet, 
music booklets for songs from Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy series, Ghibli films.
Hopefully I'll find the time to learn the double ocarina 
(and that I won't need Vol. 1 instructional booklet...!) 

Sailor Moon x somebody from Puella Magi Madoka Magica(*)
Elsa from Frozen; Sailor Saturn from Sailor Moon. 

Kaze Couture artbook; somebody from Puella Magi Madoka Magica(*)
Princess Tutu charm; Kaze-hime artbook.

One of my favourite pages from the Kaze-hime artbook.

One of my favourite pages from the Kaze Couture artbook.

Jake from Adventure time; Artemis from Sailor Moon.

T-shirt and tote bag from Dark Souls.

A sea dragon (original artwork).

Posters from Shilin Huang. 

Shilin Huang's manga Carciphona Vol. 4; necklaces inspired from her manga series.
I haven't yet read her series, but I wanted to make sure 
I had every available volume before starting.

Some business cards.

Some more business cards.

 Business card for Shilin Huang + her booth-mate Zinganza. 

So, to calculate the "damage" to my wallet:
  Miscellaneous gifts (not shown above): $80
  Figures (Jack Frost + Alice from SMT): $35
  Mini-figure (Professor Layton): $6
  Tie (Harry Potter): $15
  Plushies (Jake, Artemis): $20
  Double Ocarina + ocarina box & music booklets: $180
  Posters (Sailor Moon x Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Elsa, Sailor Saturn): $30
  Poster (Puella Magi Madoka Magica): $10
  Poster (original -- sea dragon): $20
  Posters (by Shilin Huang): $30 
  Artbook (Kaze-hime, Kaze Couture): $50
  Charm (Princess Tutu): $10
  T-shirt & tote bag (Dark Souls): $30
  Manga & necklaces (by Shilin Huang): $40

Total "Damage" This Year: $556.00

Total "Damage" Last Year: $673.00

Well, thanks for reading (if you made it this far)! If you have any questions about anything I experienced at Fan Expo Canada, or just comments and questions on anything, feel free to comment!

This week's Sunday blog will either be on something brief and easy (like about my current vacation) or I will skip it, since this blog is so long. It will depend on how I feel that Sunday.

Thank you again and have a great rest of the week! :)

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