It's mid-fall time again. In my world, that means a lot of things are coming up: my niece's birthday (don't really know what to get her this year, as I don't really know any films on DVD or Blu-Ray that I could pick up for her); my own birthday (already have a couple games and another DVD box set on my birthday list this year); Thanksgiving and Black Friday; and Christmas. Meanwhile, in terms of anime, mid-fall means my final convention of the year, Anime USA, which I attended this past weekend.

The first big thing that was noticeable when it came to this year's Anime USA was the layout of the convention floor. This year, day one was taking place when one conference was coming to an end, while a major conference on refrigerated foods was going to start the the following day. As such, not only did Anime USA had to move some of their rooms (i.e. AMV Room, Main Events, Badge Pick-Up) to different locations this year, but also, the convention would be losing some of their rooms on Saturday (mostly pop-up rooms that were set up for Friday) and Sunday (most of the rooms on the mezzanine level). However, most of the convention this year was being held in the Exhibition Level, and most of the rooms that were taken up by the refrigerated foods conference on Sunday were basically video rooms. As such (along with me usually only going on Friday and Saturday anyways), the only main hinderance was simply having to wander the hotel on Friday to get this year’s floor layout.

The first main thing that opened up at the convention was Artist's Alley. In terms of what was being offered, I did up a few things there. First up, one dealer was offering handmade plushies pf Ditto from Pokemon, with me picking up one of the "shiny" variety. Also, one artist was offering attendees t-shirts of the artwork that was being sold at Anime USA. While there was cute designs featuring Lucina and Zero Suit Samus, I eventually went and ordered one featuring Jigglypuff. There’s one last thing I picked up at the Artist's Alley, but I’ll get to that later, as it pertains to one of the panels that I attended over the weekend.

After checking out the Artist's Alley, my next stop was the Dealers' Room. While it was still small compared to Katsucon and Otakon, this year was another one of those years where the offerings were actually pretty decent, with a good chunk of money being spent there. To begin with, there’s the Blu-Ray purchases: not only did the Dealers' Room had the main title that I was looking for this weekend, Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic (what’s not to love about Shino and Karen), but I was also able to find the Ultimate Edition of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya as well. Meanwhile, I also increased my collection of Hatsune Miku Nendoroids with a couple of the Co-De figures and the 2015 Racing Miku figure (one goal: try to find a new display place for not only those figures, but also my growing collection of Good Smile Company produced Nintendo/video game figures). As for remaining purchases, the rest consisted of a Power Rangers morpher (I've been interested in it for some time, but wanted to find one at a decent price), a Love Live pin, and some Japanese sweets.

In terms of panels, Anime USA had quite a number of them this year that helped me burn off some time in between the events that I planned to attend this weekend. A good chunk of the panels that I attended were involved discussions on various American titles from back when I was in school. The line-up included a discussion of the works of director Don Bluth (the one animation director you don't want to subjugate young children to), a panel on the Disney series Gargoyles, and an updated version of the Top 10 Transformers episodes panel from MagFest (with the half of the list now comprising of episodes from Beast Wars). Meanwhile, when it comes to anime-related panels, I did check out one that discusses the best and worst parents in anime (I feel the choices for best parent and worst parent are very obvious to most anime fans, with the worst one being an anagram for Ignore A Kid).

Then, there's the usual chaos that is Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos. After missing last year's convention due to panel submission problems, Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos returns to Anime USA this year for another round of weirdness that you come to expect in Japanese PV’s. With Anime USA once again taking place around Halloween, the panel had a Halloween theme to it, with the line-up including a Halloween-themed video by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (aka the singer of Pon Pon Pon), the PV for the end theme to Nyanpire, and something that will definitely be in a number of viewers’ nightmares: a chocolate version of Shigeru Matsuzaki (of Katamari Damacy and Nerima Daikon Brothers fame). Tying in with the panel, the guys running also tend to have a table at Artist Alley at the cons that I usually go to. With the 2016 election coming up, their table included a couple of prints that are "election propaganda" based on two of the mainstays of the Awesome Bad panels, Daigo Stardust and Fish Fight. After learning that these prints were available, I eventually picked them up at the Artist Alley on Saturday.

Finally, I probably can't do an Anime USA report without mentioning the one thing originally got me to check out this convention in the first place: the AMV’s. After successfully making the finals last year, I sent the three videos that I completed in between last year’s Anime USA and this year's con into this year's contest. While I was kinda expecting a certain video to make it in, I was surprised to see all three of them make it in. As such, a good chunk of the con was spent checking out the later half of each AMV Contest showing to see how the audience reacts to my videos.

The one that I expected to make it into the finals was my Anime Expo entry. After being surprising pleased with that video making it into the finals at Anime Expo, I sent it to a couple of other major AMV Contests, with it having a great turnout, as it was named "Totes Adobrz" at Anime Weekend Atlanta (BTW, I also sent the other two Anime USA entries here as well) and made the finals at Youmacon (I won’t know the results until November). Also entered was my Otakon entry, and given the reaction to a certain moment at the Contest screenings (not to mention its screening at the Otakon overflow), I decided it would be a wise idea to upload the "con version" onto Youtube afterwards.

Rounding out my entries was the video that I made between the Anime Expo and Otakon videos. It's a short video set to the "final minute" music from Splatoon that’s intended to capture the feel of the video game (in particular, the frantic squirt gun battles that you come to expect in the game’s multiplayer mode). Attending the screenings, I was happy to see that it got a positive reaction from some of the members of the audience (including one of the judges of the contest), because while I tend to see most of my AMV's as more of "hidden gems" (heck, I usually consider myself lucky to even make the finals sometimes, given the competition that I’m up against), I do feel that this video is somewhat underrated and deserves a little more love. You can view the video here.

As for the other entries, there’s a mix of videos from Otakon (including the Scott Sterling video and the Gurren Lagann/Hamilton video) and the other two cons that I consider to be the "Triple Crown" of AMV Contests, Anime Expo (in particular, an interesting Parasyte video that features the main characters as Professor Quirrel and Voldemort from A Very Potter Musical) and Anime Weekend Atlanta (while I went with my entry in this category, it’s hard for me to predict a winner in Romance/Sentimental due to, along with the video that My Love Story video that won this category at Anime Expo and Otakon, the other two "AWA Expo winners" in this category). Also, I checked out the 18+ Contest this year, and while the main highlight was a Nisekoi video set to the Natalie Portman rap by The Lonely Island, the main video that got me interested in checking out this contest was a parody of the Monogatari Series AMV "Into the Labyrinth" that’s all about being ecchi with various boob and panty shots.

Additional notes:

-There's nothing really much to say in terms of cosplay, with me taking a few photos while I was at the con and posting them here.

-At the Video Game Room, I finally found time to play the Super Table Flip arcade game, with me interested in playing it again to see the other scenarios that the game has to offer. Also, one of arcade machines actually had the Donkey Kong arcade hack Donkey Kong II: Jumpman Returns up and running.

-Next year's Anime USA is going to be interesting in that it it’s going to be taking a couple weeks before Christmas instead of the usual autumn date. Among some of the things that I’m thinking about in terms of next year’s Anime USA include the AMV Contest (be it the fact that those entering AWA Pro/Masters may not be reluctant about sending videos to this con next year or the idea for an Xmas-themed AMV that I have in my head), the panels (from Christmas-themed panels to one idea of a video that may be shown at Awesome Bad Japanese Music Videos if they do show up next year), and the possibility of having three months in a row where I'm attending a convention (that con and the 2018 MagFest and Katsucon).

With the 2016 con season over with for me, my main focus is now towards the holidays, immediately followed by my first con of 2017, MagFest.