contacts | forum
m i s c . a r t i c l e

01. Otafest 2005 Article
02. Otafest 2005 Pics
03. Otafest 2004 Pics
04. Otafest 2003 Pics
05. Sephonie Gallery
06. Synopsis

Otafest 2005 Article

Hi Folks!

Please find following, my con report. I wanted to just attach a word document, but I'm technologically impaired, and can't figure it out, so I'm afraid I'm just going to have to copy/paste it all in here.

Hope ya'll enjoy! My apologies for the length. It's over 7000 words...


Thursday (Paper cuts! PAPER CUTS!!!)

Our story begins on a dark, dank and dreary night... actually, the Thursday night exec meeting was very pretty! Well, campus was anyway. The trees and grass were all green, the flowers were triumphantly blooming, and there was a nice summer breeze to take the edge off of the sun in the cerulean sky dotted with perfect little white clouds.

As with all Otafest exec meetings, this one began with screams and cries of confusion and mutiny. I was freaking out about the AMV contest, poor Peter was on his fourth consecutive night without sleep, Vicky was trying desperately to ensure me that the prize situation would be just fine and Binh and Jon were trying to hammer out the last minute name tag details. On top of all this, volunteers were starting to filter in to help make guidebooks. The guidebook itself was very pretty looking, and Peter did a fine job considering that it was a one-man operation, and the fact that he was organizing volunteers at the same time. Unfortunately, there were some errors, the most alarming to me of which was that Debbie & Gareth weren't listed on the credits page... >_<

Anyway, after making our brave and courageous volunteers wait for a full hour instead of the usual half an hour of disorganized executive screaming to end, we headed to the clubs area to start making guidebooks. In previous years, this took hours! But somehow, although we have almost double the guidebooks this year over the previous, we managed to finish in just a couple hours. That's right - the *sun* was still up when we had finished. Paul and Justin put out some fine music from their laptops, and with our small army of volunteers, we managed to assembly-line the books like no-one's business. Binh & Jon went to get pop and cookies for everyone. A big thank you to Harry for bringing the second stapler, and much thanks to the volunteers - Janet-stapler-queen, Susan-Q-tip, Robert, Mi Rae, Liz-Binh-tried-his-hardest-to-keep-me-away-from-all-this-but-somehow-there-is-a-manacle-ball-and-chain-around-my-ankle-anyway-RX7-girl and there were at least 5 more but I don't know their names, so I can't give a shoutout. ;_;

Friday (Steph develops muscles)

Friday began at around 2 o'clock (for me anyway), when I found Susan and Robert at the Science Theatres, and then Vicky came by. I'd just finished securing a mat for the Battle Action Live RPG event, so that folks don't crack their skulls on the floor, and discovered that no one was going to be using ST140 or ST148 besides us, so we could set up in there if we wanted. We headed over to the ballroom where we had a confused but polite encounter with a religious group who didn't realize that we were using the ballroom, and after that, Vicky and Robert started marking off the areas for the vendors. At around this time, Mi Rae and her tall, lanky guy friend with the mop of hair arrived and that's when I decided that I could use help setting up the science theatres. So, it's back to ST with Susan and there we find Paul and Gareth with much stuff in their cars. Well, not as much stuff as I had in my van, what with the curtains and the t-shirts and the lanyards, but still more stuff than should be reasonably stuffed into a passenger vehicle.

At around this time, scores and scores of volunteers started rolling in, and we sent them over to the ballroom to help move tables, which had also started to arrive. Heh, I make it sound like, magically, everything arrived at the same time, but rest assured, this was not the case. There was much, "go help move tables in the ballroom!" "we just came back from the ballroom, there are no tables!" "what?! Where are the tables?!" type of screaming. A big apology to Debbie, who's head I bit off over the phone when she called during a... stressful time.

Gareth and Paul demonstrated their manly lifting abilities, grabbing heavy-ass curtains from my car and we started setting them up in the cosplay rooms. Michelle, Susan, Ayla and a dozen other tiny Asian women proved that they could lift just as much.  That was when it was discovered that we got the actual room, and the overflow/livefeed room mixed up. >_< That was not cool. But at least Gareth seemed to really like the ribbons! He even went out to get a tri-fold so that we could display them and folks could see what they were competing to win! Number cards were made for the cosplayers by these two volunteers with really pretty hand writing, and that's when all the people in the ballroom came back over to ST, because the tables were pretty much setup and now they were going to help me move tables and chairs out of the special events rooms. In no time flat, and because of Susan's excellent organizational-skillz, that was done!

Justin showed up with the sign posts and all the DVDs around now, and then the vendors started showing up. And they showed up EVERYWHERE! It appears that no one knows how to get to the Machall loading bay, so we ended up sending volunteers to the four corners of the campus to load merchandise into trolleys and hand-bomb them over to the ballroom. I sat in the truck that the folks from Wizards came in (my god! Their windshield! Sooo maaany buuuuugs!) and took them on a nice tour around campus, pass the children's hospital until we got them in the right place.

Then, we got a big surprise... Ken came back from China early!! And between Ken and Vicky, and this volunteer army that really should be dead tired by now but somehow, wasn't, we managed to move and setup the C&L folks, who came with a massive, massive, MASSIVE black CAGE, into which they would let shoppers in.

I've run back and forth between the science theatres and the ballroom about 5 times each way now, and my sides are really starting to cramp. On my way back, I notice a gentleman and a lady waiting by a classroom. It's Andy and his wife from QuickDraw Animation! And he's been waiting for me for 20 minutes! AAAH!! A big thank you to Mike for taking care of Andy in my absence! I give security a shout, and eventually, they are allowed into their room.

It was about 8 o'clock now, and Jon phones me and tells me to get pizza for the volunteers, so I must leave the campus for an hour, as the only pizza place I know how to get to is Pizza Hut, which is kinda far away. I come back with far too, too much pizza, and then I try to get people fed. But these people! They are workaholics! And they keep working until Pizza is cold. Poor Mike was doing sidewalk art, and then it started to drizzle a little bit, and I'm still not sure if he actually ate or not.

After the eating, Jon says that our actual command center is free now, so we really should move everything over to Social Sciences and we do so

Vicky informs us that we're still waiting for a couple more vans of stuff from a vendor, and that Sakura Media still hasn't shown up at around 11 o'clock at night. She didn't seem too alarmed, and I guess this means that they will show up in the morning. She also has a couple boxes of really BIG and WONDERFUL and MASSIVE prizes for me, and I should have given her a hug because I wanted to break down in tears when I saw all these prizes, but I don't think she would have appreciated my stink. Debbie, Susan, and a guy who goes to the DOA every week who's name I forget (Shane? Kyle? Shyle?) and myself start organizing the prizes and Susan becomes Martha Stewart and starts wrapping up all the different packages with cellophane. We give Debbie and Shane-Kyle-Shyle a hard time because they must've failed kindergarten and can't cut straight to save their life. The vendors were sooo generous this year! And Vicky says there's probably going to be even more prizes tomorrow! I hope they have lotsa lotsa sales! We leave a healthy amount of prizes for the Prize Ninja to do his thing, and then, also decide to give him a couple dozen pocky boxes, so he can be the Pocky Ninja too.

It's around 1 am now, and for some reason, there are still volunteers around lifting things... O_o;;; we tells folks to GO HOME! Leave! Come back tomorrow!! And take pizza with you! And then it's time to talk to the nice campus security folks into locking up for us and letting us all go home. Debbie gives my poor exhausted brother Allan a ride home, while I take Susan and Robert home.

Jon-the-chairman is staying over at our house tonight, because he lives in the far south. We have a good talk about the festival that leaves both of us fearing for our futures and then it's time to sleep because...

Saturday (... why.... is the registration line... empty?)

... it all starts again in two hours! I wake up, take a shower (because we all know that there are four things that absolutely must be done at a con: Eat! Sleep! Drink! Shower!), load up Kirby into Vaughn (our van), and drive off to pick up Rosanna, a volunteer who lives in the MIDDLE of NOWHERE with BUNNIES in a GIANT GRASSY FIELD. Of course, I end up completely missing my turn (twice), and end up outside the city and in the neighboring community of Chestermere, but eventually, I show up and Rose and I race like the wind, (or more accurately, like dangerous road hazards) back to Otafest!

We get there at a little before 7, and Paul's already been waiting since before 6. He starts printing out the signs which we attach to the signposts and then Susan, Gareth and myself start putting them between the vendor-ballroom and science theatres. On the way to the ballroom, that's when I realize that we're sharing the weekend with a wedding, and a volleyball tournament. Wheee! The normals are going to love this! I kinda feel sorry for the bride, because there's no way she'll be the most elaborately dressed person on campus.

Sakura Media shows up a little after this, and, as with all vendors, he has no idea how to get to the ballroom, and the radios are going crazy with folks telling volunteers to run to him and hand-bomb stuff back to the ballroom. I give another nice tour of the University of Calgary campus and direct him over there, and then our final vendor is starting to setup. Unfortunately, because he has so much stuff, we have to close off the ballroom so he can get it all ready and we can't let the volunteers and staff do their shopping at 9:30 like we promised...

Tyler walked in about now having just driven over from Sask, and a massive weight is lifted from my shoulders upon seeing him and he gets a big hug.

Meanwhile, the lineup had begun to form at the registration desk. Unfortunately, this lineup is in the wrong spot. So we get on the mike and ask everyone to please dance five steps forward, so some folks actually do dance, and then everything is alright again.

9:50 rolls around, and the butterflies are really starting to do fancy tricks in my stomach. Deciding we can wait no longer, we open the flood gates and start taking registration.

Within an hour, we manage to clear the line of about two hundred people. I'm starting to really worry here, and visions of doom and red numbers start dancing in my vision.... Omgwtfbbq!!! Where is everyone?! How could they not come?! We have so much stuff to show them this year!!

Our opening ceremonies, are very, very sad, because there is no one there to hear them. Tyler dispenses hilarious advice, and I tell them all of the changes in the guidebook, and advertise about our special guests, but, very few people are here to hear it...

The vendors send word that they are now finally ready, and because the desk isn't so busy that we can't handle it with just 2-3 staff, we release everyone to do their volunteer/staff shopping....

And then, the second wave of people hits.

And it hit us hard.

And I realize, "aaah, so that's why, when we say, 'registration isn't until 10 o'clock', we probably shouldn't open until 10 o'clock..."

Liz-really-I'm-not-a-volunteer-I'm-just-going-out-with-one-of-the-execs-but-daaaaamn-you-look-busy-so-I'm-going-to-help-you-RX7-girl, leaps to the rescue, and we frantically try to cycle as many people through as possible. And for the next two hours, we are swamped, and I apologize if you had to wait a hideous amount of time in line to get in.

Our staff and volunteers return to us from the shopping, and seeing our predicament, leap to our rescue! A big, big, big, big thank you to you ALL! Especially to the AV volunteers who most definitely were not scheduled to do this, but who saw our plight and came to help before their shift started!

Shortly there after, my special guests start to arrive, and I must leave the registration desk. First, it's Daina Anton and Jonathan Love from Voice Spot Communications!! I introduce them to Tyler, we set them up in their classroom, and then I frantically try to go and find folks. A combination of ill factors have worked against us - the fact that vendors opened late, that not all the information that should have been in the guidebook made it in, and the fact that folks couldn't hear me when I was on the mike earlier, made me realize that next year, I had to make a lot of changes. Luckily though, quite a few folks had heard about our special guest previously, and we had about half a room of the best kind of attendee - the enthusiastic kind! A big thank you for Daina and Jonathan-I-have-voiced-over-460-characters for their understanding, and for the people who came to see them.  I heard you all had a marvelous time!!

Meanwhile, Anime Jeopardy and Anime Feud were running into some technical difficulties, and they also started about an hour late. This actually worked in their favor, and the gameshow room was roaring with laughter all afternoon morning! A big thank you to Rory, Jaime and Aaron for all your hard work!

Skull Rabbit and her troop of Papapara dancers began next, and Debbie tells me that the demo was very mesmerizing, and when you folks were teaching how to parapara to the song 'ike ike', members of the audience got to join in too!

The modeling panel and the Iaido panel started simultaneously, and as always, Val put on a very informative lecture. Amongst others, he brought with him Misato, Priss, a Macross ship, and some EVAs, and I'm sure everyone would agree with me when I say that the models were *impressive*.

The most popular educational panel this year had to be the Iaido panel with Dave Rothnow. There was standing room only in the room, with over 50 people, as Dave first gave a lecture about the sword, and then showed several of the iaido katas. He also proceeded to clean the floor with his hamaka, as many iaido positions involve kneeling on the floor. The room was deathly silent with awe and respect and every sword strike could be heard. The cleaning ceremony he gave afterwards was very intriguing.

Afterwards, Anime Name That Tune began, with Debbie giving the ultimate pocky prize to Team Konoha!

As a side note, at about this time, 3:00, we ran out of guidebooks. >_<

While all of this was happening, the vendor's room was being *swamped*. Vicky tells me that it was four solid hours of non-stop, wall-of-flesh, and at least one vendor went up to her and said, "thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!!! Here! Have more prizes! Have more prizes!!!" A big thanks to Ken for bringing his hardworking staff pizza when they couldn't make it to the command center.

A big thanks also has to go out to Chris in the command center, who made sure nothing got stolen or taken away, and who somehow knew exactly where everything is/was! You certainly made my life a lot easier! Also another big thanks out to Peter, who managed to pick The Best Volunteers Evah! And who kept everyone entertained with his Fists of Thunder Kungfu-parody film that he made back in highschool. Next year, we show EVERYONE! 

Gareth and his Cosplay group of Rosanna, Susan, Tian and Nicole-we-stole-you-back-from-AV-hawhawhawhawhaw, were busy organizing the cosplayers. This year, we had just over 100 cosplayers competing (don't quote me, but I think the final number was 103). A big thank you to the judges, Amy & Jimmy & Tara for all of their help!! I hope everyone enjoyed the green room, and I hear that Rose did a beautiful job firing-it-up! My god, was I surprised when everyone started chanting in unison at the awards ceremonies. You guys brought a tear to my eye!!

While waiting for cosplay to start, we tried to keep the crowd entertained by advertising about other cosplay related events that were taking place on the Sunday - the Mr & Miss Otafest contest, and Costheatre: Battle Action Live RPG, as developed by Shinji of the Gamer's Guild - GDR ! To demonstrate how BALRPG worked, Kirby (right back atcha!) dished out some sweet attack moves (he waved his arms around confusedly) and left me as a beaten pulp on the floor. Many thanks for everyone's applause, and we apologize for the delay we caused in the technical judging that was happening in the other room at the same time.

We had a lot of suggestions for Cosplay this year that we had from last year, so this year, we gave you guys the over flow/live feed room, so that folks who were participating in cosplay, could also watch the show! I hope everyone enjoy that this year. It was beautiful when folks who had just finished their skit in the other room, walked back into this one, and then everyone in the theatre clapped for them again. We were so loud, the other room thought that we had a 2 minute delay in the live feed.

A big thank you has to go out to Gareth, I-am-a-Gundam. Your ability to keep the audience pysched is truly incredible, and I can only hope to ever emulate a quarter of your skillz.

Special thanks to Mark for hosting the event, and who suffered from being stabbed/beatened/losing his soul! Talk about abused!

We had a number of really good skits this year, and here are the winners!

Third Place Group: Bratja
Second Place Group: Team Spartikiss
First Place Group: Poking Pocky

Third Place Artistic: Drake Tsui - Uchiha Sasuke - Naruto
Second Place Artistic: Erika Sorensen - Chii - Chobits
First Place Artistic: Aaron Agatha - Spike - Cowboy Bebop

Third Place Technical: Hannah MacDonald - Sesshomaru - Inu Yasha
Second Place Technical: Kathleen McDonald - Marie Antoinette - Rose of Versailles
First Place Technical: Nicole (I'm sorry I kept messing up your last name) Letersky - Myoubi - Alichino

Best in Show: Kelta Cusask - Gato - Chrono Trigger

I wish I could have seen everyone's skits, but halfway into the contest, I got called out, because the Japanese Consolate, Kaoru-san and Maiko-san had arrived! No less than 4 people grabbed me while I was running to them to tell me about them, and a big thank you to Tyler for giving them a tour of the grounds. I think we might have managed to impressive them by a little bit. ^_~

After this, I was at the registration desk, directing folks who were still coming in and greedily taking their money! Cosplay broke at around 5:30 or so for the judging and when everyone came out, we tried to tell them that the vendors were closing in about 30 mins, so hopefully, folks got to do some last minute shopping.

After cosplay was announced, the last event of the day was What is Anime, and we managed to educate half a dozen people or so.

By 9 or 10 or so, you would have caught sight of a group of staff and volunteers, exhausted, at the registration desk, plotting and scheming for next year already.  The only things left in the night were the showing rooms, still being diligently staffed by the AV volunteers, slaving feverishly into the night.

A big round of applause to our AV staff, who did an excellent job, and who really don't get enough recognition for their hard work at all, and to Justin who ran all the tapes up to the Film Board, and made all the signposts with Debbie and Shawn and Paul, and then again to Paul and Scott for organizing all of the AV volunteers. Many thanks to Guy for being our head security guy, whenever we could find you!

At around 12:00, I drove home Anna and Alice, two volunteers who were out faaaaar later than their families wanted them to be, and who managed to make me feel really, really *really* old while we were driving (Junior High? Dude, that was almost a decade ago...)

I got home and crawled into bed around 2:00 or so. There was no fearing for my future tonight, as Jon and Allan were already crashed.

Sunday (Vote # 2! Vote # 2!)

I slept til 6! It felt marvelous! Hightailing it back to the con, I stupidly thought that, since we are traditionally slower on the Sunday as compared Saturday, I'd have a chance to breath and shop! This was not the case. Once again, Paul was there bright and early and the two of us spent the morning loading the curtains back into my van, because another group had use of the giant theatre that morning. The other big change had to do with the movement of the Command Centre. We got booted from the social sciences room and into ST147. This was not fun as many folks had started nesting in social sciences and there were a *lot* of things to move...

Susan and Robert were there nice and early too, and I felt a tremendous sense of relief upon seeing them, because these siblings should be crowned King and Queen Volunteer for all the work they pulled at Otafest. Susan tried to get me to eat something and I managed a slice of banana bread from the food court, but it didn't want to sit right. We went over to the vendors and got some feedback from Ken and Vicky, who seemed, for the most part, pleased. Oh, Wendy, I wish you were here to see it all, but our vendor-relations girl had to go to Japan for school! You did such a good job!  There were some issues about placements in the room that will definitely have to be worked out for next year, but most everyone was so happy! I managed to talk to Annette from Yukino's, and she seemed pretty happy over all. She was sitting right under the air conditioner though, so I hope she feels alright afterwards. I finally managed to do my shopping (Utena manga for Nor! Yes, that's right, Nor, if you're reading this somehow, know that you have Utena manga on the way), from her and from Wizards, who were starting to drastically cut their prices.

At 10 o'clock, I got back to the science theatres... and realize that no one has setup the registration desk yet. O_o;;;

How could this happen?! Where did everyone go?! bbq!

In 10 minutes, we manage to setup and serve the small lineup. My apologies to you folks. Mike has photocopied some of the schedules that we can use in place of the guidebook, and we tape them up around the registration desk. Next year, we really need to wheel one of those moving chalkboards in so that we can have a big one that people can actually see…

Anime Feud is still experiencing technical difficulties, and they can't get started at their 10 am time. This is a good thing, because for the amount of work that these gentlemen put in, and the amount of people that were here at 10am, it would have been a travesty. They move back to 12:00, which causes the Japanese Language panel to have to be squished in with the Japanese History/Culture panel at 2:00. Now poor Debbie's History/Culture panel is that one that gets shafted, but I hope she forgives me. She did my language panel for me, and the feedback that I'm getting is really good, so kudos, Debbie! You did a great job!

The SCA start showing up at around 10:30, and I start worrying because I *really* shouldn't have put them to start at 11:00. They end up starting at 11:30 instead, and they draw a good size crowd, although they would have done better had I started them later (and which I most definitely will next year). They do a heavy fighting and rapier fighting demonstration, and I hear that it was very successful!

Steve showed up early for the Go panel, and that's a good thing. Several folks show up early to play the game with him, and when his panel starts, we get a good size crowd too! More than we made handouts for! The go room stays open so that people can play, and I thank the Calgary Go club for staying and playing games with the people for the next few hours.

This was our first year for Otafest Idol, which started at 11:00 and ran til 1:00. I need to remember to give Idol a bigger room because this one was *packed*. My panel of Judges consisted of Nancy - who takes peforming arts/singing courses from the university. You all know her as the one with the naturally cool hair. She spent all of the previous night standing next to a fire pit, so she couldn't do a demonstration song at the end, which is too much of a pity, because she's a *great* singer. Debbie was also a judge, since she was the one who planned and organized the entire thing, and of course, Gareth, who is very good at connecting to the fans and the audience, was also a judge. There were around 20 different competitors, and the judges were not only looking at technical singing skill, but also charisma, and performance. A big, big thank you to everyone who came out! We were evil and told folks we wouldn’t announce the winners until the awards ceremony (which was a good thing, because it took Debbie a good hour to total the scores).

Quickdraw was back on the second day, and this time, they had a lecture. Unfortunately, there was some more miscommunication there, and the lecture didn't begun until 2 o'clock, when there was also the Go club, the Language panel AND the AMV contest showing at the same time. To those who sat in on the lecture though, they got to see some of the short shows that were made by attendees at the festival (obey me! I am a riceball!), as well as Mr. Reaper's Really Bad Morning, an 18 minute animation production, 10 years in the making, that showed some really *fantastic* styles (what are the four signs of the apocalypse? Death! Plague! Famine! Taxes!)

The anime music video contest was held in ST 145, and next year, we really need to move it to one of the large science theatres. My apologies to the folks who had to be turned away from the door, but we were really breaking fire regulations. This year, we had 40 different entries from all over, including France, Germany, Australia, Chile, and, of course, right here in town! Of the entries, 3 were rated 18A, so we had to clear the room at the end of the contest to show these exhibition entries. Every entry drew thunderous applause, but the audience seemed to really like 'Vash's Porn' in particular. I wonder why... ^_~

I personally had one heck of a time compiling all of the judge's results, because they were so different and diverse, but in the end, results were as follows:

Honorable Mentions: The story of Ranma & Akane's Relationship (Ranma 1/2), Naruto Fight Club (Naruto), Into the Sky (Porco Rosso)

Third Place: Existence: Love & Hate (Naruto)
Second Place: Into the Fire (Kenshin)
First Place: I'm too Sexy (Full Metal Alchemist)

Myself in particular, I really enjoyed: into the fire, Das Omen, Truly, Mikago vs StarFox, Stand your Ground, Moonlight Shadow, Brothers, and Classic Fight and I just wanted to mention these.

Artist's Alley was really busy during the Saturday and the Sunday. I poked my head in a couple of times and I swear every time I did, there was a lineup at the "be drawn" lines. I tried to get one done for myself, but unfortunately, duties kept calling me away and I couldn't wait in line, folks were so popular. Maybe if I asked really nicely during volunteer appreciation day... ^_~ Oh, this reminds me. Anna! You left your drawing in my van! They'll belong to me if you don't pick it up! Haw haw haw!

It's about 3:00 now, and this brings me to, bar none, the most popular guests of Otafest: Anime Improv with the 404s.  I did a great, great, injustice to them this year by not granting them the use of a giant theatre (I'm sorry! I lost the room-booking fight! The bruises on my arms will heal, but the bruises in my soul never will!), and their room was full half an hour before the show even began. >_< And with every laugh, everyone in the hallway wished they could be in that room, and it pained me that I couldn't let them in (myself being one of them). This was the first time in 4 Animethons and 3 Otafests that I missed their show and I feel so empty inside... ;_; Someone! Please tell me the highlights! Did someone really ask, "what is a glomp??" How were scenes from a hat?? Anyone? Please?

Joanne from the Calgary Nikkei center showed up at around 4:00 to help Debbie with the How to Wear a Kimono panel. We sort of surprised her because she didn't know that she was going to be speaking to an audience, she thought she was only dressing someone up. For 0% forewarning, she did a wonderful job, and Jen, our beautiful model, became even more beautiful in half an hour. While Jen was being dressed, Debbie educated the audience about the finer points of Kimono-wearing-culture, and what she witnessed from the year she spent living in Japan.

It's getting to about 5:00 now, and hallways are starting to feel a little emptier now, but still fuller than last year, and with good reason! That's because folks were waiting for the Awards Ceremony to start, and for Costheatre: Battle Action Live RPG to start! We get a couple of runners coming over from the ballroom, and they advertise that some of the vendors are starting to pack up now, so there's some last minute flurrying of activities to scoop up some last minute deals.

Before I start talking about the events that happened later on Sunday, I need to talk about Otafest Survivor and the Mr. & Miss Otafest.

Mr & Miss Otafest was our attempt to encourage cosplaying on the Sunday, as we got feedback last year from the vendors that they liked the dressing up, because people get excited when they see cosplayers, and when they are excited, they are more likely to buy things. =P

To participate, all folks needed was a lanyard from which to hang their number, and then folks ran around trying to solicit votes. I want to give a big thank you to all of my Miss/Mr Otafest volunteers who were running around like chickens with their head cut off, trying to solicit votes, and eventually even taking sheets of paper with them to collect votes. In the beginning, voting was very slow, and we were just setting up and because of the confusion, we didn't take down registration numbers of voters to keep track of them - it didn't seem necessary.

This was a mistake.

Because after #2, Legato starting carrying around a big "Vote # 2!" sign, the contestants started to get really into it, and the votes started to pour in. And by then, it was too late to start with the registration numbers. It didn't help that some voters didn't realize they could vote once for Mr and once for Miss, so when they came back to vote again, it looked like they were double voting. Next year, we will most definitely remember to keep track of them to prevent double voting.

By the mid afternoon, things really started to get rolling, and there were cries of "vote for me! Vote for me!" and generally created a wonderful atmosphere of fun and activity. It brought a tear to my eye.

I want to point out some of the rather alarming behaviour that people pointed out to me, and I'd really like to ask people not to do that next year, because it could get us into a lot of serious trouble.

1) Do NOT harass people by cornering them and demanding that they vote for you. We share the University space with many other groups (this year alone, a volleyball tournament, a wedding, and a church group), and if you catch a "normal" on a bad day, one complaint to the right ears could shut down Otafest.

2) Do NOT bribe people with promises of certain favors. Again, that could shut us down if even one person is offended.

3) Do NOT try to get people to change their votes at the registration line / get people to vote twice. We won't get in trouble, but it seriously undermines the contest and leaves everyone with a bitter taste in their mouths. I'm glad I only had to speak with one person about this, and they stopped doing this immediately thereafter, for which I am also thankful.

I only heard isolated incidents of this happening, and I'm glad that it was the exception more than the norm. I want to give a big big big thank you to all of the cosplayers for making the Mr. and Miss Otafest event such a success.

Some of the positive things that I noticed:

1) Legato's 'Vote # 2' sign, first thing in the morning, made my really happy

2) Gareth's I-am-a-Gundam had a 3 hour handicap because he was stuck in Idol all day and couldn't go around getting votes, but still managed to be # 3

3) Kirby getting 20 votes in 10 minutes after he decided to participate while he was trying to sell landyards and t-shirts. Poor Allan lost use of his knees after being inside Kirby all day. He's happy he got so much loving hugs though. He's not as happy with the girl who kept poking him with the wallscroll and then who hit him directly over the head. >_< Dude, he might *look* like an indestructible pink ball, but he's actually very fragile!

Otafest Survivor was also a new activity this year - an activity that encouraged folks to go to as many events as they could, and collect answer and stickers. Not as many people were up for the challenge as I had hoped, and perhaps I made it a little too challenging, but to the two folks who did - my hats off to you, and I hope you enjoyed your prizes!

The awards ceremony began at 5:30, but the room was already full at 5:25, so I tried to keep folks entertained with copies of Vash's Porn while the team frantically did some last minute setting up. I wonder if I need to move this to a bigger room next year, but I kinda liked the cozy feeling, and I didn't hear about anyone who *wanted* to see the show and didn't.

First, Rose fired up the crowd with the "fire it up! Fire it up!" speech. As this was the first time I had witnessed it, I was left rather stunned. Then, we did a recap of the Cosplay winners, and folks clapped and cheered when winners stood up. Next, I showed the first place winner AMV, to much delighted laughter and applause.

Next, the winners of the Otafest Idol were declared by the judges, who gave a little bit of an explanation for their choices. They received their ribbons, certificates, and prizes from the Prize Ninja (except that we forgot to give out the ribbons, and folks had to come back for them). The winners were:

Third Place: Carmen Lam, Janet Lau, Sophia Nguyen, Melinda Yeoh
Second Place: Melinda Garland
First Place: Dani Atkinson

As Dani won first place for Idol, and we all got to hear her rendition. :

Next, I declared the Ultimate Otafest Survivor! Originally, the first person to complete the challenge was going to be the ultimate survivor, and then everyone else who participated would draw for prizes, but as there were only two participants, Rick Bobeau got all three of the draw prizes, and Eryn Dearden was declared our Ultimate Otafest Survivor, by handing in her sheet at 2:45 pm on Sunday!

Then came the event that everyone was waiting for: Our Mr. and Miss Otafest.

The race was very close on the girl's side:

Third place with 47 votes, #64, Nirvana Koreh as Freya from Chobits

Second place with 64 votes, #50, Nicole Letersky as Myoubi from Alchino

Our first ever, Miss Otafest 2005, with 67 votes, #55, Nathalya Lu as The Pocky Box

The race was a little more defined on the boy's side:

Third place with 57 votes, #79, Gareth as I Am A Gundam

Second place with 60 votes, #2, Nathan Sebastian as Legato from Trigun

And our first ever, Mr Otafest 2005, with 92 votes, #22, Drake Tsui as Uchiha Sasuke from Naruto.

In retrospect, Mr & Miss Otafest really should have taken a picture together and shared a victory dance, but this didn't happen, because, well frankly, I dropped the ball. >_<. And I'm not sure if the Pocky Box could have danced anyway... (pictures Sasuke hugging a giant pocky box while they shuffling along to the theme song from Slam Dunk or something)

It was about 6:00 now, and most folks were starting to clear up. The vendor room put the call out for every able bodied volunteer still at the con to please come and help them move, and that's where almost everyone went. This left myself, Susan and Mike to clean up the special events and artist alley rooms, and move the tables back, which Was Not Fun At All. >_< I want to give a big shout of thanks to the 404s again, Mark, Chris and Karl, who totally pitched in and helped us clean. I am forever in your debt, and I'm so sorry that we had to make our guests clean with us.

The con was starting to wind down now, and the only things left were the showing rooms, and of course, Costheatre: Battle Action Live RPG!

As an explanation, Costheatre is something that Otafest wants to use to highlight a different organization every year. For it's first year, Costheatre highlighted the Gamer's Guilde GDR, which recently split from the Gamer's Guilde club at the University of Calgary. Shinji, of GG-GDR, created Battle Action Live RPG. In this game, four teams of four entered a tournament to decide who was the ultimate Battle Action Live RPG Champions. Each person had 25 life points (this was too much and we modified it to become 15 points instead). Each person would chose someone on the opposite team they wanted to 'attack', and they would show off a move. Any move. Audience applause denoted how much the attack was worth, on a scale of 1 to 5. Myself, Susan, Paul and Rory served as the judges who gauged how loud the cheering was.

The participants were *brilliant*. The attacks were *hilarious*. Some of the attacks I still remember are:

"I attack you with my Nice Guy Pose!!"

"I attack you with the full body shimmy!"

"I attack you with my low bit-rate strikes!"

"Gao Gao Gao Gao Gao!"

"Dead Aeris Ultimate Un-heal attack!"

"Get him, Inu Yasha!"

"Summon Fangirls!!" (The fangirls got confused and started glomping the summoner instead of the person she wanted them to attack).

Ryu and Random Martial Artists also pulled off *actual* punchs and kicks, which generated some very loud "oooh!" and "aaaah!" from the audience.

As with all first year events, BALRPG had a couple of not-so-cool things happen too. A giant boomerang taller than I was *almost* took off the head of the opponent when a leather strap snapped. Thank god she ducked. Next year, I'm going to have to have liability waiver forms. >_< One or two of the attacks were also of questionable... tastefulness.

My favorite death scene had to be Aeris's. Her untimely death from FF7 was reenacted in slow motion, with a teammate in Sephiroph's role stabbing her in the back.

The most beautiful occurrence of Otafest 2005 happened at this event too. At the end of the first battle, when the winning team took to the field for their victory pose, the audience spontaneously broke out in the FF game's victory pose background music "Da da da da, da da, du-da dah!" I've never felt such a moment of pure kinship with perfect strangers before.

To everyone who was in that room, thank you. You guys didn't just bring a tear to my eye. I was bawling joyously in the bathroom. 

The Battle Action Live RPG Champions this year were Robert McDonald (Gai from Naruto), Eryn Dearden (Misuzu from Air), Graeme Dearden (Random Martial Artist) and Lance Buan (Ryu from Street Fighter).

After the end of BALRPG, the last thing left to clean was the registration desk, the BALRPG room, and the command center. Everyone is exhausted, but somehow, it all manages to get done. Thanks to Aaron, Shawn and Jaime who wheeled all of the food we collected for the foodbank to the DOA club room.

We take a final group picture at around 11:00, and I drive Rose and Anna home (missing Rose's stop once again). Then it's off to BPs for dinner, and then I drive Rory, Susan and Robert home.

We talk about how the festival went, and I want to thank the executive staff - Chairman Jon, Internal/Treasurer Binh, the external folks - Ken, Stephanie, Elise, Wendy, Vicky, the Internal Folks - Tyler, Aaron, Gareth, Debbie, the AV folks - Justin, Paul, the Web folks - Scott, Chris, the Art folks - Shari, Mike, the Guidebook/Volunteer guy - Peter

We also have to thank the volunteers, all 78 of you, the special guests, and the folks from the media (we made Saturday’s Calgary Herald! Woohoo!).

Together, we managed to entertain 3000 people altogether!

I manage to crawl into bed at around 3:00 am, and the ultimate curse is laid upon me:

I can't sleep because I'm too busy thinking about Otafest 2006.


Jenny Chan
Otafest 2005 - Special Events Coordinator
Otafest 2005 - Special Events Coordinator