Early September is one of my favorite times of the year. For me, it rings in the beginning of the autumn season, cozy sweater weather, and going back to school, although I’m too old for this last September favorite. It also means that I get to attend one of my favorite anime conventions: Nan Desu Kan or NDK.
This year was my eighth year attending an anime convention and my fourth year attending NDK, which is the largest anime con in the Rocky Mountain region. I was lucky to be in the area last year to attend NDK and wrote about it on Women Write About Comics.
It was a whirlwind con for me last year, filled with running from panel to panel and trying to guess the costumes of as many cosplayers as I could. I took it a little easier this year and only attended a couple of main events, but even so, I really enjoyed the con overall.
On Friday night, I went to NDK’s first ever Hatsune Miku concert presented by AniMiku Productions, the VOCALOID live concert animation software that has hosted Miku concerts all across the U.S. for quite a few years now. Hatsune Miku (初音ミク) is the first ever VOCALOID or singing synthesizer program developed by Crypton Future Media. Her voice was provided by the Japanese actress Saki Fujita (藤田 咲), and she is depicted as a young girl with blue pigtails.
Miku first broke into mainstream U.S. media in 2014, when she opened for Lady Gaga’s ArtRave: The Artpop Ball tour and appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman. Her hit single “World is Mine,” which was written and released by the J-pop band Supercell in 2009, is probably one of her most recognizable songs.
The concert shown at NDK this year was the same concert played at Tora-Con 2015. My favorite featured VOCALOID was Sakine Meiko who sang “Panda Hero,” “Masked bitcH,” “Mozaik Role,” and “Setsuna Trip.”
First thing Saturday morning, my friends and I went to the Dealer’s Room, Artists Alley, and the new so-called Industry Row. Artists Alley was especially larger this year, since the con moved from the Marriott in the Denver Tech Center to the Sheraton downtown.
There were so many great artists there, including Stephanie Kao who does the cover art for the con, but unfortunately, I did not buy much this year, mainly because I’m trying to save money lately. I did end up getting a cute little Sailor Moon Crystal figure, and one of my friends bought the Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind two volume box set of the manga. It was beautiful, and I’m going to have to borrow it from him sometime.
My friends and I also attended the NDK 2015 AMV Contest on Saturday. AMV stands for anime music video. It is a video usually made by fans who take a song—anything from an American pop song to classical music—and cut clips from an anime or from various anime and compile a video that goes along with the song.
When I first started watching anime as an undergrad, I did not really enjoy AMVs. I remember attending an AMV show at my first anime con and not really getting it. Now, I can appreciate the time it takes to make an AMV, and I really enjoy seeing some of my favorite anime reinterpreted by other fans. AMVs also give you a chance to see clips from anime that you might not have heard of before. For instance, “Scrumtrulescent Smorgasbord” by Kisanzi, which won Best Fun/Upbeat AMV, featured Gourmet Girl Graffiti, an anime all about great food that I definitely need to start watching.
Sadly, I missed out on going to the Costume and Cosplay Contest, which featured a halftime fashion show with h.NAOTO, a Japanese avant-garde fashion designer who I saw at a previous anime con. Instead, I fought zombies in the interactive panel Dead Town: The Interactive Zombie Survival Experience. The panel is a cooperative experience in which all attendees must work together to survive and outmaneuver the computer program Modular Adventure System (MAS). Even though the panel had a rough start, the group surprisingly survived with only one or two casualties. The panel is put on by COO-Interactive Entertainment.
— Rine Karr /'rin kär/ (@by_rine_chan) September 6, 2015
I also went to the Charity Auction, which was a great way to end the convention. Every year, NDK sponsors a local charity, and all proceeds collected during the Charity Auction go to that charity. This year, NDK sponsored the Denver Dumb Friends League. I’m pretty sure that this year’s auction broke last year’s record, because when I left around six o’clock in the evening, they had made at least $10,000.
During quiet moments throughout the con, my friends and I also tried playing some Weiß Schwarz, a trading card game by Bushiroad that features anime characters from a variety of different shows. It was the first time any of us played, so it was mostly a learning experience. We each had a different deck featuring various anime, including Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Bakemonogatari, Kill la Kill, and Persona 4. The game doesn’t seem to be very popular yet, because there were times when had a crowd of onlookers who were curious about the mechanics of the game. I’m not much of a card game player myself, but I did start to really enjoy playing as I learned the rules. There’s something fun about fighting my opponent with the characters from one of my favorite anime: Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
Finally, in case you haven’t heard, it was announced at the Aniplex Industry panel early in the day Saturday that Persona 3 The Movie: No. 3, Falling Down will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S. on January 20, 2016.
I think I'm feeling some post-con burn out today. I feel a mix of sadness, tiredness, and the desire to just curl up with a good book or watch some anime. My creative force is a little dried up, and I am dreading returning to work and the so-called real world tomorrow. I had so much fun sharing one of my many interests with other fans, many of whom are way more knowledgable of anime than I am! Thank you #NDK2015! It was a lot of fun! (Artwork by @zetallis)
So, did you attend NDK this year? What did you enjoy about it? What kinds of experiences (i.e. cosplay, panels, video rooms, dealers room, etc.) are important to you when you attend cons? Sound off in the comments!
The featured image included with this article is from the NDK 2015 Program Guide cover art by Stephanie Kao.
Rine Karr is an Anime Writer at Girls in Capes. She’s a writer and aspiring novelist by moonlight and a copyeditor by daylight. Rine loves good food, travel, and lots of fiction, especially novels, anime, manga, video games, and films. She’s also the Chief Copyeditor and an occasional contributor at Women Write About Comics.