T-MODE 2008

It's been a week since T-MODE 2008 and as I reminisce I can't help but feel a bit nostalgic, especially when I read through people's reviews and browse through all the pics. T-MODE 2008, the Anime and Gaming Convention, is not what you'd be used to if you normally go to big cons that average about 15,000 attendees. If anything, I would say there couldn't have been more than a hundred people there, and I could go as far to say I don't think I saw more than 2 dozen different people. This was my first year at T-MODE and it almost went below my radar. Since it was happening around my area, I figured I should check it out. And I'm glad I did. T-MODE proves that big things come in small packages - many small packages. T-MODE has all the elements that make up a con, but in miniatures -- anime video screening rooms, cosplay, main events, guests, music, panels, merchant's hall, artist alley, and video game room. But there's one thing T-MODE brings that no other con I've been to has, but I'll save that tidbit till later. For now, onward we go.

What definitely stood out the most from T-MODE's programming line-up was its wide array of j-music artists. The J-pop group Love etc. was first to take the stage on Friday. Tsubasa on vocals and Yasuyo on the keyboard were joined by Danny Zanker on Bass and Yutaka on Drums. The music of Love etc. combines a nice blend of classical music and J-pop to create a soft yet exciting experience. I've gotta say my favorite part was watching Yasuyo playing the keyboard. She had an incredible energy that made you appreciate her natural talent. Very fluid with incredible changes of tempo and surprising melodic ups and downs, Love etc.'s concert kicked of the con with a bang. The rush didn't stop there as Love etc. (who will also be performing at New York Anime Festival this month) was immediately followed by Sakura Madams (minus their keyboard player who was unable to make it). Sakura Madams brought the smooth back into jazz and punches it up with rock and pop. I guess it also doesn't hurt to have a rocking female saxophonist in your group. [Geist] ends the night the way it should be -- with hard-core j-rock visual kei. As someone who is a big fan of [Geist], their set list served as the perfect introduction for those new to the band. They also performed awesome covers of MUCC and Girugamesh. And if you can accomplish that, that should give you a pretty good indication on their music.

Saturday brought Gelatine and Thee 50's High Teens concerts (as well as D-chan and Monster Madhouse, which I couldn't attend). You don't know Japanese horror-comical-freak core rock music till you experience Gelatine. Intense, weird (in a good way), and insane, Gelatine tears apart any rules they may be and goes all out. Wearing a diaper on stage, Seiko's performance is sick and totally awesome. Gelatine brings metal to a whole other level. But T-MODE doesn't stop there, Thee 50's High Teens brings a unique blend of 60s garage and 70s punk rock and are definitely rocking the vampire theme. With costumes to match and the keyboard player and drummer both designated as screamers, Thee 50's High Teens deliver a totally different experience.

Every single musical act lit up the stage and with small audience numbers (sometimes as small as 3 and as many as 15), it brought a personalized experience. Few things can beat a live concert performed just for you. While I enjoyed the musical scene wholeheartedly, I hope the guests felt welcomed and appreciated. There's only so much cheering a small crowd can exude.

There was a nice selection of cosplayers. Yes there your usual Final Fantasy, Bleach, and Naruto, but I was happy to see other series being portrayed. There was Naked Snake with Skull Face camouflage from Metal Gear Solid and LeLouch from Code Geass. And of course, I can't forget my two new friends Samantha as Integra from Hellsing and DeAnna as Anthy from Utena. I cosplayed as Yuki Cross from Vampire Knight. I think it was after the Sakura Madams concert that I officially met DeAnna and before we knew it we were whisked off and nudged to enter the Hall Costume/Cosplay Contest (judged by cosplay experts YuffieBunny, Natalie Smith, and Fire Lily). While we were both hesitant, we entered. Later, I was surprisingly informed that I had won honorable mention! Exciting!

I attended a few panels, all of which were entertaining. I especially enjoyed the panel which ranked the Top 50 Anime Heroines hosted by Nick Ferris, Vice Chair of Programming at Katsucon. It was an interesting line-up that included Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell, Sai from Princess Mononoke, and Sakura from Card Captor Sakura. I was proud to see one of my all-time favorite characters Ayumu Kasuga, better known as Osaka from Azumanga Daioh. It's nice to see that Osaka is appreciated as the special heroine that she is. The clip presented made the moment much more enjoyable...you know, the one where everyone is at Chiyo's beach house and Osaka decides to wake up Yukari with a pan, and instead gets a knife. Ahhh...good stuff. I was also able to catch some anime - Aquarion and Xenosaga have always been on my to-watch list.

I should mention that I was one of 16 VIP Otaku Passport Holders, in addition to Samantha and DeAnna. This meant that we had extra perks and in essence this made all the difference between a mediocre con and a con I would remember forever. Not only did we get a special bag, badge, the no-lines privilege and access to the closed sound checks, we also got special VIP panels with the guests AND an exclusive VIP Brunch that would start a new tradition. The VIP panels were very intimate which made it that much more enjoyable. Guest + 3 otaku = an experience you can't duplicate. We had VIP panels with Stephanie Sheh and one with Johnny Yong Bosch and another with Kevin McKeever (YAY, Robotech). It was like having a one-on-one interview.

The VIP Brunch was also another memorable aspect of T-MODE. To give you a taste of the crazy fun we had, we randomly started a contest of manliness. See who can keep their arm and one finger up the longest. Johnny watched on as Stephanie, some T-MODE staff, the band members of Geist, Nick Ferris and his wife Tegan, Samantha, DeAnna, myself, and one other Otaku Passport holder took part in this colossal event. One by one, the arms went down until 45 minutes in, those remaining (including myself and about 6 others) decided to call a truce. Sai (photo on the right taken by Samantha), drummer from [Geist] kept on and was claimed the winner. All in all, super fun.

I had mentioned that there was one thing that T-MODE brought that I haven't experienced in any other con -- and that is a close and intimate experience. I've never been to a concert with only a few people in an audience. I've never been to a dealer's room where I didn't have to squeeze my way through. I've never had the chance to bump into a guest in the hallway several times a day and have that friendly "hey" returned back. And (often) I've never been able to meet such great people and make solid friendships that went past the occasional "hey, how's it going?" In fact I must thank T-MODE for introducing me to Samantha and DeAnna - we found out how many of the same interests we had AND that we've probably bumped into each other at least a dozen times in past cons. This alone makes me hope that T-MODE will be coming back next year.

Check out more of my T-MODE pics here. Also, definitely check out DeAnna's blog, Cloudy Revelations, for her detailed T-MODE coverage that also chronicles my "fateful" meeting of Samantha and DeAnna.

For other coverage and pics:
Photoninja T-MODE Concert Coverage
Photoninja T-MODE Cosplay Coverage
Beware of Ninja


Ayu said...

Whoa, Sabira! You're con report is so professional and awesome, mine can not compete! Awesome descriptions of the concerts (I fail at trying to describe those). Yay for T-Mode, the jewel of my con crown for 2008 made extra special by you and Samantha!


~ D

P.S.: Totally unrelated but, I've been reading your lists of favorites in the side columns of your blog... I see now why we're friends. You are only the 4th person I know of including myself that likes Vicious from Cowboy Bebop. To make it even sweeter, your the first girl I've met with that attribute! ^_^

Sabira said...

Thanks DeAnna...it's funny because when I was reading your con report, I was thinking I need to write more like that. LOL!

And, I agree, especially after the dinner we had with Samantha, I was beginning to see why we seemed to click almost instantaneously. And another agreement, I don't meet many girls that share the same interests.

Nick Ferris said...

Dang, I miss T-MODE so much already. I really hope it comes back for another year!