Review: Youmacon 2012

Since 2005, I have been going to Youmacon, an Anime Con in Detroit, Michigan.  Youmacon is one of the largest fan gatherings in Detroit, with bands, voice actors, artists, and so much more.  It’s a place for cosplayers, gamers, and shoppers to gather.  Some of the guests are even connected to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which makes this one of my favorite events in Michigan.  This year’s convention had a handful of amazing people, so I’d like to share my review of Youmacon 2012.

This year was a bit exciting for me, as they were bringing in some great guests that I hadn’t seen much of in a while.  One of their guests was Scott McNeil.  Scott was Bonesteel in Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.  I saw him many times before at conventions about five years ago.  Since most of the events he visits are not in areas I travel to, it was great to get a chance to see him again.  He’s a great guy and is one of the main reasons I wanted to make sure I was back in Michigan for Youmacon this year.

We got to Youmacon on Thursday, which is when people can pick up their badges or just enjoy a free day at the convention.  For me, it’s when I pick up my schedule and find out what I want to do for the weekend.  However, when we went to get our programs, they did not have any and told us that they would be available on Friday.  We decided to use this time to go around and see friends.  We found two very close friends in the register line and hung out with them for a while.  As we had no program, we did not stay late that night.  Instead, we went off to see the movie “Wreck-It Ralph.”

On Friday morning, I got the schedule from the internet.  I had a morning appointment, so I did not get to Youmacon until the afternoon.  That was okay, as the opening ceremonies always start in the afternoon, but I usually like to get there early for parking and hanging out.  Once we got there, the usual parking garage was full and we had to park in a new area.  When we got inside, we found out that the programs still weren’t available.  So, using the mobile web app, we found out when the opening ceremonies were and went for that.

I was really impressed with Opening this year, as it did open on time.  A lot of great guests were there.  We sat near the front of the stage and got to hear each of the guests say their hellos.  There was even a musical number, since Crows and his buddy made a theme song for Youmacon.  It was a lot of great laughs with a cool group of people.  Right after Opening, we raced to Maid Cafe, where we got to sit and talk to many of the guests as we enjoyed desserts and tea.  Sitting at our table was Scott McNeal, which was very awesome, as Miki go to share her artwork and I got to catch up with my old friend.

Our next stop was Scott’s panel.  The worst thing about this was that it was our first time having to go to the other building, Cobo Hall.  This is a few blocks away from the Renaissance Center, also known as the Ren Cen, which is where most of the events we attend are held.  It’s also the main hotel and place where Youmacon has been held for the last 2 years.  This was our first time with a second building, so we had to learn our way around and get used to things being spaced out as much as they are.

Now, there are two ways to get to the Cobo building: walk or take Detroit’s only public train, the People Mover.  The People Mover goes only one way, in a circle.  So, even though the Ren Cen is very close, we would have to take the full circle to get back to it (make yourself comfy for the ride).  The other option is walking, which is not something I really like to do for a few reasons.  1) It’s Detroit... sorry, I know this city and don’t like how things can turn out.  2) It’s cold, and my arm is still affected by cold temperature.  It’s not as bad as it used to be, but RSD doesn’t like cold at all and it lets me know.  So, we took the People Mover.  It wasn’t not too bad, 50 cents one-way.  However, when it spit us out in front of Cobo Hall, there were no large maps showing the Youmacon layout.  There were no panel lists.  The signage this year was horrible.  I finally found the Cobo map on the wall and realized that the convention stuff was all the way on the other side of the building.  After a bit of searching, we found Scott’s panel.

Scott amused the crowd for the full hour as he talked about many of the different animes he’s worked on.  I sat in the front row and enjoyed the whole panel.  Scott’s an amusing guy with a lot of adventures to share from his work in video games, anime, and so much more.  He’s a great actor who’s brought a lot of characters to life.  Here is the video of Scott’s panel.

After Scott’s panel, we went back to the Ren Cen, checking again to try to get programs.  It turns out that the programs had arrived, but they were already out.  Because I didn’t like having to use the mobile app to view the schedule, I decided that the last thing to do for the evening was attend a concert.  At World Steam Expo back in May, I had learned of “Steam Powered Giraffe.”  Well, now they were here at Youmacon, and I knew that their show was something not to miss.  So, Miki and I went down and watched the concert, which was simply amazing.

After the concert, we met up with some friends in the lobby and hung out for a bit.  I knew that Michael Sinterniklaas was flying in late that night.  I wanted to make sure that he arrived safely before heading home, so we waited with my friends Crittle and Slash as long as we could, just hanging out and goofing around on our computers.  However, when I realized that it was getting very late and I needed some sleep, we said goodnight and headed home.  When we were driving away, though, Miki noticed Michael getting out of a car, so I pulled over and said a brief hello.

On Saturday morning, I made the choice to head straight to the convention and not watch the new episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles till later, knowing that both my DVR and iTunes would have it for me.  Miki and I got an early start in heading to the convention, but it wasn’t early enough, as we missed one of our panels.  Several of the first panels we wanted to attend were all in one room at the Ren Cen, with Tom Wayland and James Carter Cathcart.  Tom was the voice of JammerHead in the Fast Forward season of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, and James was the voice of Raz in the “Turtles in Space” episodes.

When Miki and I got to the event, James’s concert was just ending where he was doing songs with Tom.  However, Tom’s panels were just beginning, starting with a panel of bloopers and outtakes.  We got to hear a lot about the actors messing up.  In the next panel, they did some dubbing of Pokémon.  Our friends Eclipse and Iruka were already there in the front row, so we sat directly behind them.  Tom showed a really funny video on “The Basics of Post-Apocalyptic Survival,” which he and his family filmed for Otakon.  It was a lot of fun seeing his kids running around killing zombies.  After that, he talked about bloopers and working in the industry.  We have that part on video here.

During this time, a lot of our friends there at Youmacon joined us for the panels.  It was a nice social hang out, but, directly after the panel, we all needed to go in different directions.  Some had to go to CVS, which was located inside the Ren Cen, while others needed to do costume changes, and I needed to go get the weekend pass for the People Mover.  At this time, I was finally able to pick up a program as I passed through registration to get my pass.  While buying my pass, I saw a Leonardo cosplayer on the floor below us from a balcony.  I got the cosplayer’s attention and took a picture of them from above.  We noticed that they were heading up to the floor we were on, so we went over and got some photos with the Leonardo.  After that, we met up with our friends over at CVS and headed to Cobo Hall.

Once we got to Cobo Hall, we found our next panel room, which was all the way on the far side of the building, in the back corner.  It was a bit of a walk.  We got there early and started to set up our cameras.  We were there because Michael was going to be a guest on that panel.  To our surprise, however, other guests that we wanted to see started to show up, including one that I did not know was going to attend at all: Carrie, a voice actress I’ve known for a few years now.  It was great to see my friends, but Michael hadn’t been aware of how to get to the panel.  Someone had directed him to the wrong location, so he was 45 minutes late to the panel.  This panel was for video game voice actors, which had other great people like Brad Swaile and Scott McNeal.  Here’s a video of this panel.

After that was Caitlin Glass’s panel about getting into voice acting.  Tom Wayland was supposed to be on the panel with her, but he ended up not being able to make it.  So, Michael joined her on this panel to make up for being very late to the previous one.

Next, we ran upstairs to see the Steam Powered Giraffe panel.  The audience area was full and we sat near the back, but we really enjoyed they show.  Right after that, we had to run to find a photo shoot that Slash was going to be in with her good friend Jamie.  What Slash did not know was that Jamie was going to propose to her during this photo shoot, and we did not want to miss it.  However, with wrong information, no real signs, and no one answering their phones, we were late and just missed it.  We did get to see the video of how things went down and we’re really happy for them.

Since we were done with the panels we wanted to visit and the events at Cobo Hall were done for the day, we went over to the Ren Cen, as Miki and I wanted to take part in an autograph session for Steam Powered Giraffe.  With a long autograph line, we waited an hour and a half, only for it to be cut.  It would've been nice if they had sent someone out to cap the line when it got too long instead of having everyone wait.  For the rest of that evening, we hung out with our friends in the lobby, talking, sharing videos, and taking pictures.

Sunday morning was a bit rough.  We wanted to attend an early morning panel in Cobo Hall.  However, the People Mover does not run on Sunday mornings.  So, after a difficult night of sleep, we had to walk in the cold to Cobo Hall.  It wasn’t a good start for my arm on the last day of the convention.  I was tired and starting to lose my voice.  We got to the panel room expecting to see Michael, but he didn’t show up.  Once Carrie arrived for her panel in the next room over, she explained to us that Michael was told by a guest relations person that he did not have to come to this panel.  So, most of us who were in line to see him just went over to Carrie’s panel.

After this, I was tired and did not feel like racing over to the Ren Cen for the next panel that I wanted to attend.  Instead, we decided to go over to the dealers’ room, where I went around to see friends.  Normally, I try to hit the dealers’ room at a convention more than once because I know the vendors, but with the layout encompassing two buildings, I was barely able to visit this one in Cobo Hall.  I got to see my friends from Palladium RPG Books, as their table was not far from the entrance.  I did not know most of the other dealers there.  We learned that Steam Powered Giraffe was doing an autograph session there in the dealers’ room, so we headed to their area and got in line early so we wouldn’t miss out on this one.  It was nice talking to them and getting our CDs signed.

Next, I was off to the final two panels of the convention, the first being “So I Get Paid to Say This,” which is a panel full of voice actors.  They bring in all the voice guests for a two-hour long panel with them talking about the work they do and answering questions.  This is one of my favorite events of Youmacon, and I go to it every year.  I sat down and enjoyed the panel.  Here is the footage for everyone who’s interested.

The convention was almost over, with only one panel left: Closing.  This had to be the longest closing panel I’ve ever sat through that was enjoyable from start to finish.  Each of the guests that were still in the building got to say their goodbyes, the staff got to tell us about the success of their departments, and there was even a wedding on stage!  This closing was a total blast and I am glad I was there for it.

Overall, I loved Youmacon once again.  Yes, there were some problems, like getting used to the layout of the new building, going back and forth between the two buildings, and the programs not being available on time.  Some of these were growing pains, while others were due to outside sources not finishing their jobs on time, but the convention itself was just as fun as it always is.  I loved the staff, guests, and activities, and highly recommend this event to anyone who can make it to Detroit, Michigan, for an awesome Anime Convention.

Did you go to Youmacon?  What are your thoughts on this event?  Please share reviews, comments and questions below.

Edited by : Art

Entertainment Earth