Naka-Kon Trip Report Day 2+3: Ups And Downs

Hey again, everyone, Raitzeno here with the rest of my Naka-Kon report, such as it is. Normally I stay a lot longer and take a lot more pictures, but my time at the con got cut a bit short this year due to some unforeseen issues.

Saturday is normally the big, exciting day at Naka-Kon, and for most people, this one was no different. Cosplay contests, video game tournaments, and a boatload of panels on everything and everything related to anime and Japan.

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Eric Roth answering a question about how he got started in the music industry. His (paraphrased) pro-tip: Luck brings opportunity, but you always have to be ready to pounce on it.

As for me, I started Saturday with the Final Fantasy music panel, held by the conductor of the Final Fantasy concert on Sunday. It’s usually either Distant Worlds or New World, both Final Fantasy-centric concerts. The original Distant Worlds concert uses a full orchestra, conducted by the renowned Arnie Roth, and often features the legendary Nobuo Uematsu himself. The more recent New World concerts are a more intimate chamber music production, conducted by Arnie’s son, Eric Roth, who is a well-respected member of the music industry in his own right.

However, starting this year, Eric is bringing the brand-new Open World concert series, and his panel this year was entirely Q&A with the fans. People asked all sorts of questions about music, video games, and video game music, and I think everyone involved had a blast. Eric is a very entertaining and passionate speaker, which makes sense given that he started in showbiz.

After that, I joined Protonstorm for his first panel of the day: Anime of the Present and Future. We discussed currently airing anime and upcoming shows, all to a completely full room. After some initial shuffling of electronics, we got our microphones working and the recording equipment set up; Proton will have the full recording of the panel in his upcoming article about all three of his panels that day, so look forward to that.

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The room was filled to capacity within the first few minutes, with even more people standing at the back.

We started with a quick electronic poll to see how many of the attendees were watching each show, which was surprisingly unsurprising; the shows leading the charge were the ones we were already intending to talk about. Next we discussed the primary official sources for streaming anime. After discussing things like That Time I Reincarnated As A Slime and Kaguya: Love Is War, we moved on to the real fun stuff: a mini preview of our big hype shows for the Spring season. What really struck me was the crowd’s reaction to the upcoming Fruits Basket remake, a full adaptation of the now-complete manga. Part of it was surprise that not nearly as many people knew about it already as I had expected, but the sheer joy in most of the reactions was just adorable - the entire room lit up with surprised gasps and cheers! We pretty much rode on that excitement all the way to the end of the panel, and it was a great time for everyone.

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Unfortunately, tragedy struck after that. Now, some of you may have read my Cooking With Raitzeno article series, and I’d like to note that nothing I have made has actually made me sick, ever. But it turns out there’s a place with worse cooking than me, and having forgotten my lesson since the last time I’d eaten there a few years ago, I went to Denny’s for breakfast before I came to the con. I’m not sure if it was the food or something in the water, but it gave me some serious stomach trouble later in the day. I managed to make it through the panel, but I escaped in an awful hurry afterward, was stuck in the bathroom for a long while after that, and then blitzed home as fast as I could get there and spent most of the rest of Saturday locked in the bathroom. Not a great rest of the day!

Thankfully, everything was cleared up by Sunday, which is great because even though it’s usually the chillest day of the con, it’s probably my favorite most years. See, for me, the highlight of Naka-Kon is usually the video game music concert on Sunday morning.

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This year’s new concert, Open World, featured music from all sorts of video game franchises - everything from Mario Kart to Metal Gear Solid to Sonic the Hedgehog to Halo. (Yes, that’s all four major console makers represented, though there were many other songs from games on all of those consoles.) I personally didn’t recognize a lot of the songs this time, being from genres of games I don’t usually play, but apparently they’re taking suggestions on Facebook for what the fans want to hear at upcoming Open World concerts. Neat! For me, the big highlights this time were the Ballad of the Wind Fish from Link’s Awakening and the Lavender Town theme from Gen-1 Pokemon.

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Eric Roth addresses the audience during the Open World concert.

After the concert, I checked out the vendor hall with Protonstorm, and we caught up with one of the JET panelists from Friday afterward to chat for a while, then headed on home. Now, normally I take a whole lot of cosplay photos, but that’s usually primarily on Saturday. Between the panel and the minor food poisoning, that got cut drastically short, so my cosplay photo album for this year is pretty small. Nonetheless, here it is!

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