Daigaku Z: Under The Weather

Daigaku Z:

Daigaku Z is a weekly column describing Z’s journey to learn the Japanese language while at the University of Pittsburgh. She impressed the East Asian Language and Literature department with her first-year performance, but she stumbled over the summer semester’s Accelerated Program course. Still, she is nothing if not persistent, and now she faces the second year of the program once more. This is (the continuation of) her story.

Illness is something that every college student has to deal with at some point. It can be extremely scary to be sick and away from home for the first time. In my case, however, it’s repeatedly been noted that this isn’t my first rodeo, so you’d think I’d be able to handle it better. As you have no doubt guessed, however, that hasn’t been the case this past week.

The reason that fall is the worst season for getting sick, oddly enough, is primarily related to school. After the summer vacations and travels, a lot of people from a lot of different places are all congregating in a small area. Immunities gained are not universal. That little cold that someone picked up on the flight back from home can do a real number on people. It’s con plague on an academically large scale.

There’s also the fact that, as the summer season ends and autumn begins, temperatures vary wildly on a day-to-day basis. The mornings are chilly and damp, but bringing a jacket or dressing warmly are bad ideas because the sun heats the day up back to uncomfortable levels by noon. It’s hard to gauge effectively because the weather can be very volatile, even without rain or wind factored into the mix. And so, people get sicker faster.

So it’s probably for the best that we’re about to learn all of the vocabulary and grammar needed to explain exactly where it hurts.

We’re Back! Blurricon, Anime USA, and Miku on the Late Show!

The crew is back! With the season three opener of Otaku Drive Time, they discuss their recent experiences at Blurricon 2 and Anime USA 2014. They wrap the show up talking about Hatsune Miku’s appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Tricon Review

On 22 March 2014 the Pittsburgh IPMS held their annual model competition, Tricon. At first glance at the name long time convention goers would question the “con” nomenclature used for nothing more than a competition, but as defined by Meriam-Webster as “a large meeting of people who come to a place for usually several days to talk about their shared work or other interests or to make decisions as a group.” This of course defines Tricon.

What brought me to the event were the hopes of seeing anime based models. This fell flat. The competition had a single Gundam, an Age-1 from Gundam Age.

The event was held at AW Beattie Center in Allison Park Pennsylvania and ran for one day. It was held in a single large classroom/meeting room of the facility. This room was split in half, with one half being the competition and the other being a vendor’s area. The event hosted a number of raffles, some free, some pay.

The event did something that I had not seen done at a model convention before, they had folding tables that were either about 4 foot tall or had very unique leg extenders on them. This raising of the kits on display eliminated the typical back and neck ache incurred with looking down at tables holding the kits. For anyone who has gone to an convention art show, general craft show, or other event displayed on traditional height 6 foot folding tables can completely understand how significant and positive this is.

The competition itself was very enjoyable to look at. The kits entered were incredibly done. The competition was “open judging” which is interesting as the judging of the kits were done based on their individual merit. Each kit had the potential of winning a bronze, silver, or gold medal and there were many of each medal in each of the eleven classes. The classes for the competition were:

  • SCI-FI
  • AUTOMOTIVE
  • FIGURES
  • REAL SPACE
  • SHIPS
  • DIORAMA
  • AIRCRAFT
  • MILITARY VEHICLES
  • MISCELLANEOUS*
  • RAILROAD*
  • DIORAMA*

The price for this convention was incredibly reasonable; $10 for an Adult to enter the competition with up to 3 kits, $1 for each additional kit, juniors were $4 with unlimited model entries, and it was $3 to walk in the door and look around, and vendors were $25 a 6′ table. The club also had food available for incredibly reasonable prices.

It was incredibly nice to see the junior category, and even nicer to see the winners of medals called up during the awards ceremony to receive their prize. This actually added to the atmosphere of the event. I looked at the actions taken with the juniors as a good way to include younger modelers and encourage them to participate in this and other events. Thus, the hobby will continue on and the event will survive and thrive in this digital age.

This brings about the short comings of this event. First, the website was lacking useful information. The link to the “For Contest Rules, directions to the show, and FAQ, download the contest flier,” links to a one sheet PDF that is very well laid out, but only shows most of the categories, prices, and an address to the event. I discovered the Miscellaneous, Railroad, and Diorama categories at the event. Also there were a significant number of “Sponsored Awards” that were not listed completely and were discovered at the event. As an outsider to the organization and the model competition scene this lack of rules made it impossible for me to give more specific details about the event. I was told the organization advertised with Facebook, fliered local hobby shops, and a comic/gaming store, as someone who does not frequent the comic/gaming store that they fliered at, and only visit the local hobby shops when I need something, I did not encounter advertisements for the event. If I did not know a member of the Three Rivers IPMS club, I would not have known when and where the event was.

The following is both a positive and a negative; the event is a dealer’s room and the competition. For a casual fan or someone not interested in competing this event is great as they can walk in, look around, and leave. For the price it is perfect! Now, as a negative, for the competitors, they are stuck in the room all day with little to do other than shop, make small talk with other modelers, wait for the frequent raffles, and the end of event award ceremony.

In conclusion I will say that this event, for the price of being a walk in attendee is a good bargain. You see numerous high quality art pieces and can meet the artist and learn from them, if they are willing to share. As a competitor the price seems reasonable to me, especially as this is probably the only game (there is a competition that is automobile kits only) in town and open judging makes it possible to win something. The vendor’s table prices, for any sort of convention, were insanely low priced. While the attendance and market is small, the price makes it very easy for any vendor of model kits, supplies, and related items to turn a profit for the event. I would love to see more publicity to the general public in other locations that allow fliering and maybe other activities at the event, but that is me. I was told by a source that the organization does not want the event to grow beyond its current scope, list of activities, or length. The reality is that everyone there was having a good time and the atmosphere showed.

A Look at Setsucon 2014

Every year in January, a small fan run anime convention known as Setsucon takes place in central Pennsylvania. Setsucon is run by the Penn State Anime Organization which is a part of Penn State University. Coming off of the winter holidays, vacation time for most people is very scarce this early in the year. For those people, being able to attend an event that does not require a full vacation day for Friday (or having to take Thursday off as a travel day) is really important. Herein lies both a great strength and downfall of this wonderful show: it is two days. For those with weekdays to spare, the smaller two day event can be a slightly less desirable destination than the larger Ohayocon in Ohio, which usually occurs on the same weekend. While it is a significant drive from State College, PA to Columbus, OH (about 6 hours), the larger three day event siphons away some potential attendees from western Pennsylvania, which is about midway between the two.
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