If this report feels somewhat of a rush, it's most likely because I want to get this done before MAGFest, and with time being limited (and Christmas time being among the busiest times in my workplace), I may not be as thorough as other reports.

With it being fall in the DC area, that means that for a anime con-goer like me, it's time for Anime USA. This year, however, is a little bit different. Due to what I feel is the result of scheduling conflicts around the usual periods, this year's Anime USA took place in December this year, with the convention's theme this year being, quite naturally, Christmas. Before you ask: this is a one time thing, with Anime USA being back to its October/November schedule next year.

Quite honestly, I see the December con date to be a double-edged sword. On the negative side, while I usually don't spend much at Anime USA, having three cons taking back in back-to-back months is going to be killer for my wallet, and that's not taking into account Black Friday. Making matters worse for me was the fact that the month before, I went down to Florida to assist my parents in checking up my grandparents' old home in preparation for a possible sale of the place, and on the last day in Florida, I went to Disney World to check out Disney Springs and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (definitely worth checking out IMO, given the entertainment taking place at the event, free food and other treats being offered, and lines for the rides not being too bad for most of them). As such, my wallet was already taking a lot of beating, with me having to take some money out of my savings to ensure I have some cash for this convention.

On the other hand, having a convention around Christmas time actually makes things interesting when you're taking cosplay photos. To begin with, a number of cosplayers would take advantage of that to do cosplay that's more related to the season, be it stuff that actually does appear in various titles (i.e. some winter/Christmas Love Live costumes based on outfits that appear in the rhythm game for mobile devices; Kanna's Little Match Girl outfit and Tohru's New Year's Eve outfit from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid) or some original attire (i.e. holiday themed Gundam and Zaku units). Also, on Saturday, the DC area got the first snow of the season, with the hotel getting around 2.4 inches of snow (don't worry; it was too warm for it to stick on the roads, although I did leave an hour earlier than I planned to stay on Saturday due to concerns of the roads freezing). As such, the dropping snow helped create a unique type of atmosphere when it came to outdoor cosplay photo shoots this year.

As for the snow, that was the least of my issues, as things were somewhat chaotic for me on Friday. First, my pen exploded in my pocket in the morning, and as such, my right pants pocket was covered with ink, with it also getting onto my leg (with me not noticing it until I got home that night) and my camera (thankfully, it didn't do any real damage to it). Of course, after one the pens that I bought after this broke the following day (thankfully, it was just the cartridge slipping out of a small hole in my pocket, with no additional ink spillage), I basically moved my pen to the left pocket for the rest of the con. Later that afternoon, the handle to the tote bag that I usually carried with me to this con and MAGFest broke after years of usage (I've been using it since I got it at MAGFest 8 in 2010). As such, I ended up buying a messenger bag to replace it when it became apparent that I couldn't just do a makeshift fix and find a replacement bag when I got home.

Then came the mess that happened that night. Just before 8:00 PM, a pipe broke in the restaurant area, causing the fire alarm to go off. While it did get turned off after about fifteen seconds, evacuation was still going on. However, word eventually spread that this was a false alarm. As such, the convention suffered a big case of conflicting staff member orders, with one member saying that we still need to leave the hotel, and another saying that you can return to what you were doing. If things weren't bad enough: this event had to happen during one of my main highlights of the weekend, the AMV Contest.

As for the AMV Contest itself, it was interesting. In terms of my entries, I gave my Otakon entry one last run before retiring it from competition at this con, with it making the finals (more on that later). I also entered a new video that I made in about a week as a way of having something fresh in the contest (it was always my plan to make this video at a later time, but after my original plans fell through, it ended up getting pushed forward due to the video's short length). Contest wise, it didn't make the finals (which I can understand, given the videos that it would have gone up against). However, it did get shown during the AMV Showcase Friday afternoon, thus ensuring my desire of having this video premiere at Anime USA. Since I also entered it into one of Katsucon's AMV contests, I'm holding off posting the link to the video on my blog until then. However, I do have it up on my Youtube page in case you're curious. A little hint to what my video is about: St. Olaf.

Meanwhile, there were some other things of interest with the contest this year. To begin with, following in the footsteps of other cons, Anime USA introduced a live-action category this year with some interesting results: while the winner of the category was something you'd expect to win (a light-hearted Marvel Studios video), the runner-up wasn't the one that I expected (a DC Comics movies/DBZ mashup) but rather a sentimental video using the Korean film Castaway On the Moon. Second, it turned out two of the videos that were in the main contest were pulled from the main contest come Saturday due to content and were subsequently added to the 18+ Contest that night. The one that was a big shock in terms of being pulled was the ?WWJD? video due to the fact that not only did that video play at Otakon without any controversy, but also the fact that I saw it as the favorite in both the comedy and Best In Show categories (heck, I voted for that video over my entry at the Friday showing). As for how it affected my video, well I kinda expected that it would eventually win runner-up in the Comedy category (along with WWJD, I also expected a Yuri on Ice video set to ?Talk Dirty to Me? to be the favorite in the category. However, I didn't expect the video to be runner-up in Best in Show as well.

Getting to other parts of the convention, Friday morning was actually a period to get a lot of stuff done before things really pick up. Badge pick-up when I arrived at 9:00 AM was a simple walk in, show your ID and pre-reg information, and get your badge. Meanwhile, this year, Anime USA had their merchandise table outside of the Dealers' Room this year. As such, I was able to pick up Silver Membership items (t-shirt, shot glass, and pin) once the people running the table got the list of those people who had Silver/Sponsor Memberships. Finally, the video game room opened at 10:00AM this year on Friday, thus giving me a chance to check out some of the Japanese music arcade machines before most attendees even arrived at the con.

Meanwhile, the Dealers Room was definitely one not one of their stronger ones this year, as there was only really one place selling DVD's (and even then, they didn't have the main show that I was looking for, Chargeman Ken) and no real dealer selling more recent manga volumes (which disappoint me as I held back buying volume 4 of KinIro Mosaic at a comic book shop the Wednesday before the con in hopes of buying it at the con). Other than that, I still managed to pick up at least one anime Blu-ray and some figures (mostly Funko Pops, as I've really gotten into them since Force Friday 2017).

However, the main highlight of the Dealers' Room this year was that the UFO Catcher machines from Otakon have also made an appearance at Anime USA. This time around, I realized I had better luck with a machine that offered smaller prizes (in particular, smaller plushies) than the machines that I played at Otakon, and after figuring out the strategy to win them, I managed to snag a couple of plushies during the weekend. If I do see them again at the 2017 cons, I really hope for some variety in terms of prizes (i.e different plushies will be offered at Otakon), as I would definitely want to play these machines again.

As for panels, most of the ones that I attended consisted of one of three things. The first, naturally, is about AMV's. The second theme was weird Japanese TV commercials, with the main ones that come to mind consisting of those feature either the White Family (a recurring series of commercials for Softbank telecommunications which are best known for the father figure being a dog), Segata Sanshiro (the over-the-top spokesman for the Sega Saturn), and the dark lord that is the Tarako Kewpie doll (and before you ask, Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos didn't have a panel at Anime USA this year, but they will have one at MAGfest instead). Speaking of MAGFest (in particular, how the event is video game themed), rounding out the types of panels that I attended at Anime USA this year involves various video game blunders, be it systems that bombed or weren't very successful in the market or some of worst video game controllers ever produced.

As the 2017 convention season coming to an end (only for the 2018 season to start in a couple of weeks), the following is my current plans for 2018:

-MAGFest: As usual, I've pre-registered for the con, and with the schedule already out (although there may be changes in the next couple of weeks), I'm already making plans for what events I plan to do at the con (with Thursday being tricky due to both me possibly not checking out the Marketplace until after 3:00PM if it opens up late again due to Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos and wanting to find time to eat at a nearby BBQ restaurant that night for dinner).

-Katsucon: Just pre-regged for the con a few days ago, and have sent my latest AMV as an entry for the Saturday Morning AMV Contest (as that one does have a category for Trailers/TV Intros).

-Otakon: At long last, hotel booking has finally started for the convention, and I've booked a room at the Renaissance, given how satisfied I was with it this year. However, I have some concern in terms of staying there this year, as the hotel didn't have double-bedded rooms to offer this year, and I want to ensure that my roommate and I have our own beds (be it an eventual double-bedded room or having to get a roll-away bed as well).

-Anime USA: This really depends on when my older brother is going to throw my niece's birthday, as while her birthday isn't until the week after the convention next year, they do sometime throw the party for the family the week before.

As usual, here's my cosplay photos from the convention to round out my report.