Review: Youmacon 2015

Halloween weekend has always been one of my favorite weekends of the year.  Growing up, it was for the Holiday.  I loved dressing up in costumes, seeing other people in costumes and the free candy.  I enjoyed the events and just getting to be out in public with the costumes my dad made.  In 2004 I thought that was all going to change for me, as I got hurt at work on October 26th only to find that wearing costumes was a no go.  That was one of the worse Halloweens of my life, as I realized just what I lost from my injury.  In 2005, I had no time to think about Halloween as I was in Vegas on Halloween and when I got back from Vegas, my friend Morgan asked me if I was going to his convention. Youmacon.  It was the first year of Youmacon, and after that Youmacon normally falls on Halloween.  Originally just another con, it’s grown into so much more.  As I once again look forward to Halloween every year.  Here is my review of Youmacon 2015.

This is the 11th year of Youmacon.  The panels, the guests, the staff, the attendees have all grown yet remained the same through the years.  They are way more than just a convention to me, this is the only convention where I see them as my con family.   I know Con mom, who helps take care of the guests and staff.  I hang out with the con chair through the year as one of my good friends, who has been there for me in good and bad times.  I know more people here, than I would at a family reunion.  As the feeling of excitement feels the air.  I do not go to Youmacon in hopes of going to panels anymore, I go for the people behind these panels and concerts.  I go to support my friends, my convention family.  Each year this made more and more clear to me.

This year was slightly different for me as I brought one of my friends from Toronto with me.  I’m going to call her Moon, as she is a fan of Sailor Moon.  This is the first time that one of my friends from the Toronto conventions did travel out for Youmacon, as I’ve been asking them to come for years.  Moon and I were staying my home and traveling in everyday.  I warned her before she came, that my place is a bit of a mess as we’ve not really settled in since losing the family home.  Moon has never been to Detroit before, so this was new for her.  The worse part for her, was the lack of a cell phone.  Next time I get a friend from another country, I may recommend picking up one of the to go phones, where you get minutes just to check in with each other if we get split up, to make it a little easier for everyone.

Thursday of Youmacon was meet up day.  I met up with Moon up at the hotel Lobby in the Ren Cen.  We went down to Pot Belly’s, a really good sandwich place for dinner.  After eating, I started to head around just to find friend.  Explaining that Thursday is just hang out day, checking in with everyone.  It did not take me long to find people I was looking for.  Doug, a good friend since 2004 who does photographs for the conventions, and has that as his own business.  Really skilled and great guy.  Greg, works press relations, photos and videos for the convention.  Does a lot of stuff right at Main Events, always busy but always a pleasure to see.  Ruth, not only a good friend who works Youmacon Fan Art Theater, she’s also a fellow TMNT fan who may be joining me for some Cowabunga Corner Reviews in the near future.  The list can keep going on, though the one that surprised me the most at this meet up was Cherise.

I’ve known Cherise for a few years now, through both Youmacon and Midwest Media Expo.  She’s one of the ladies that makes sure I’m doing good through the entire weekend.  Checking on me, hanging out with me and always a thrill to be around.  I know which room to find her at most of the time, so it was a surprise to see her down on the main floor, though when she found me she told me I had to come to the normal room that she worked as she had a surprise for me.  I told her, I’d be around as soon as I could.  Saying hi to people first.

After saying our hellos I went up to visit Cherise and some of my other friends.  To my surprise she had made me a Raphael doll!  It’s so cute!  I want to get a belt for him.  He’s hand made and is just an astonishing surprise.  I gave my Raph many hugs.  Hits arm bands, knee pad and mask can all come off.  Though his eyes come off with his mask, when that happens and people ask me where his eyes are.  I say they’re closed, he’s taking a nap.  I had Raphael with me most of the weekend, and am very happy to show him to everyone.  Thanks Cherise!

After hanging out with Cherise, I found what room to go meet up with my friends Jamie and Slash.  We went to their room and got to visit for a little bit.  Jamie had her service dog with her, Thor.  Thor is an amazing dog, who helps take care of Jamie and knows how to pull off some great cosplay.  Though I am the one who encourages bad behavior as Thor just loves me.  We goofed off visiting.  Slash is from Sweden and shared some treats with us, and had some surprises for me.  As she brought me a 4Kids TMNT book about Donatello and the first DVD of the Nickelodeon series, both from Sweden.  Adding to my collection of overseas TMNT items.  I love them both!  The book is just so cool to flip through!  Thanks Slash!

Moon and I hung out for awhile that night before heading back and getting some sleep.  We got a little bit later of a start than I wanted too on Friday, though Moon was getting her cosplay for the day together.  And I needed to stop at the store and pick up some new pants.  Once we got to the convention it was about finding parking, getting our badges and going to opening.  Sadly I was late to Opening, so I did not get to see all of the Guests that were there.  After Opening I went to Maid Cafe, these are two things I do on Friday of every Youmacon.

At Maid Cafe I got some tea and New York Cheese Cake.  I got to talk with Steam Powered Giraffe, and went over saying hi to Brad Swaile.  Though to my surprise, a face that I talk to at EVERY maid cafe was NOT there.  When I inquired about her, I heard she was not brought in as a guest this year.  A big shock to my system, as she was a guest since year one.  This is her first Youmacon she missed.  The guest I speak of is Caitlin Glass.  A voice actress from Texas who’s worked on a lot of my favorite animes.  I also bring her a Candy bar for Halloween.  I do not know the reason for her missing this year, though I do want to do a shout out to Caitlin that she was missed.  I hope all is doing well.

After Maid Cafe Moon and I went over to the Cobo Center for some panels that were going that weekend.  The first panel was okay, it was voice actors saying different characters lines in other character voices.  I got a few laughs at that panel.  In between panels we went to the dealer room.  At the dealer room I found and said hi to Art-Toons.  They introduced me to a Turtle fan who was wandering around there, and I talked to a few other Turtle fans.  Before Moon and I went back for the panel we wanted to see.  To our surprise the guest was a no show. 

Now I can not blame the guest for this, as I will be the first to admit that the Youmacon Schedule was not well done this year.  The program itself, was full of typos, a hard to follow schedule, and was poorly put together.  I am normally proud of the Youmacon program.  As they get good print, carry neat themes over and have a good easy to follow schedule inside.  I did enjoy the art on the cover, which is the only really nice thing I can say about this program.  I do hope that they get back on the ball of having nice schedules for the Youmacons in the years to come.  We sat in the room where the guest was scheduled to be, with a few other people for a half hour before staff came in and said that the guest would not be making it. 

After that we headed back to the Ren Cen.  I always use the People Mover going back and forth to the Ren Cen and Cobo.  While I’ve grown up around Detroit my entire life, I do not really like being downtown.  I’d rather keep to inside buildings than walk the streets.  Also with my RSD, it’s just safer to not be outside because of gusts of wind and cold.  Though this time on our way to the People Mover something bad happened for me.  To get on the People Mover, first we go through the little turn gates then we have to walk through some doors to the area where it picks us up.  Well I was walking through the doors, the people mover was not there and it was not over crowded.  So there was no reason to be in a rush, and I am trying to take it easy to not encourage attacks from my RSD.  As I walked through the door though, some girl behind me said “Hurry up” and jabbed me in my spine!  It was an open hand strike, as I felt her fingers hit me.  I don’t know if she meant to do as hard as she did, but it hurt me. 

I turned and watched her walk over to the backside laughing with a friend as she came in.  I could not just let that happen and not say anything.  So I went to her and I said “Excuse me, though there was no reason for that.”  She didn’t seem to care that I was upset.  “You just hurt me, I have a wire in my spine!” And that’s when the shock went on her face.  As she replied “I didn’t know”  and I’m like “Exactly, you don’t know about the people around you, it’s best not to touch people like that when you don’t know them.”   Sadly for me, even with getting to say something to this girl.  Which is all I wanted to do, it did not make things better for me as now the RSD was reminded that I am not a healthy person and the pain started to creep in for the weekend.  You never know what’s wrong with the people around you, and how one thing you do towards someone can really hurt them.  So be careful around strangers and never strike someone for no reason at all.   Convention staffers who heard of this event later said that if they witnessed this, meant to be painful or not.  She would’ve lost her badge to the convention for striking a fellow attendee. 

We hung out with a lot of good friends getting to see Cherise and some other good people.  I wanted to just take it easy till it was time for the Secret Show.  Around 12am we headed down for the Secret show, which was a lot of fun.  Random Gibberish played with some of the other guests from John st Jon, Brad Swaile, and Karen Strange.  My favorite songs goes to Karen Strange for her “Still the Duke” song that was first shown at Midwest Media Expo this year and to Random Gibberish song “Saturday” performed by John St. Jon.  After the show we headed back to my place for the night.  Two days done, two more to go.

Secret Show Video - while we give samples of their music we do not give full songs.  Please pick up their albums and support the band if you want to hear the full songs!  Find their album by clicking here

Saturday we got to the convention in time for Brad Swaile panel.  I really enjoyed this as Brad always has fun costumes for Halloween and is a great guy.  While up there he tried to do a normal Q&A with the fans, but it really turned big time into his history of animes he’s done.  A lot of Gundam.  I enjoyed all the talk about Ranma ½, as that is one of my favorite animes.  I did give him Halloween candy during his panel. 

Afterwards though we had to race back to the Ren Cen as the concerts were going to start.  My mom and dad were coming in to see Steam Powered Giraffe.  We got to the Maine Events room just as my parents did.  We were able to get Front row seats, and I set up my cameras for Karen Strange’s show.  I know that the Steam Powered Giraffe do ask that people put away their devices, even though it’s not against the rules to record.  Since they do show that is what they want, I put my cameras away out of respect..

For the concerts.  I really enjoyed Karen’s work again.  She sings from the heart with a lot of emotion in her songs.  I love it that she sings Pokemon and I find her personality is just so fun and exciting that she pulls people into the show even if they don’t know her music.  The middle act, for my family and I was a bit disappointing.  The music was too loud, could not understand the lyrics and all the songs sounded the same to me.  I do not truly know this band, though from this appearance I did not find a reason to learn more about them.  Then came on the Steam Powered Giraffe, which is the main act.  I truly enjoyed their show this year, as they had some new music.  While I enjoy the new, I also love the old.  Which had me most excited during their finale song for the night as I could sing along.

Biggest problem with concerts and sitting front row with me is the beat of the base.  If I can feel the music in the floor, which I could.  My RSD does not like that either.  During the middle act, I had an attack from my RSD.  This is one I felt, which was hurting me as I stayed through most of all three shows.  Only leaving once during the middle act to use the restroom and get a drink.  Also to be able to see if you could hear these guys better from the back of the room.  While I was hurting, this was a normal attack, not one so bad I couldn’t walk.  After the show, we said hi to the band members there out in the hall, both Karen Strange and Steam Powered Giraffe, then I went up to visit Cherise and her crew for the night.

I knew because I was in pain, that I could not take the People Mover back to Cobo.  I grounded myself to just hanging out with my Con Family.  Moon wanted to go to the “Voice Actor After Dark” panel.  I told her to go without me, as I was grounded for the night.  I know she was disappointed, though I was too as I normally enjoy that panel.  If the panel was still in the Ren Cen, which is where they use to hold it.  I would’ve went.  Though during these pain attacks, it’s not a good idea to get on rides like trains, cars or any type of public transportation.  The bumps hurt me, and there’s no clue if it’s going to be a crowded ride or not.  And with the girl hitting me in the spine down there on Friday.  I was not going to chance it.  Moon headed down and got to meet up with Slash and Jamie.   I stayed put, which worked well for me.  As I got to talk to many good friends and enjoy some snacks with a great view out over Detroit.  It wasn’t my worst pain attack, so I could still enjoy Halloween a bit.

After Moon returned we hung out a bit more with friends before calling it a night.  I was thrilled to head home for bed, but surprised when Moon said she had a 10:30am panel she wanted to get back for.  My head started working on how I was going to watch TMNT at 11am, as it was a new episode.  The following morning we got to the convention center on time, I walked her to her panel and I got a hold of Jamie and Slash.  Jamie gave me permission to come up and crash their hotel room to watch Turtles.  I so was so happy that I still got to watch the show, even though I was not home.  Good episode, enjoyed Raphael meeting his match.  Will do review when get caught up on TMNT episode reviews.

After Turtles I went down stairs and met up with Moon.  We went over to the artist alley and dealer room.  I did not have much time there, and spend this time finding my friends to say hello.  One of the people I talked to the most there was Kooky, it was great getting to catch up and talk to her.  As we haven’t seen each other most of the year.  Someone else I found and hung out with was the Weird Reviewer.  He got some great photos through the convention, and we got to talk for awhile.  Always a pleasure to see him.

After leaving there I realized I wasn’t feeling the best.  So on the way to main events for “So I get paid to say this” panel, I stopped in and got a few drinks.  Then we got good seats and enjoyed a fun panel with a lot of the voice actors who came to the convention.  Some of which I didn’t even know which voices they did, till listening to this panel.  I was surprised, and honored to get to see them in panel.  After the panel, we hung around for Closing.

Now normally I love closing panel at Youmacon.  Each guest gets to go up and say their closing lines.  We had fun things like the first introduction to “This is Youmacon” video was done closing at the Youmacon it was filmed at.  I’ve watched a wedding during closing before.  And we’ve even had musical acts.  One of the fun things they do at the end is the Youma Conga, as the ending of the panel.  I always enjoy this.  Though this year I was disappointed with their thing for closing.  As they turned it into the Charity auction.

I am in no way saying that I am against Charity, as I’ve donated to many different causes through my life and still do.  Though at the end of a convention, a lot of us do not have funds to donate for the cause.  As we’re drained by artist alley, dealer room and buying food.  Each guest that came on stage to say their goodbye was asked to try and sell something to the crowd.  It took away from the feeling of the Good bye and made it feel more like a sales panel.  The charity auction dragged out and for me drained the normal fun that I enjoy from closing.  I have gone to many charity auctions at conventions before, usually held on Saturday so people still have money and know what they’re walking into before they get there.  I do believe that the Charity does have a place at closing, which is sharing how great we did with raising money and how much better we can do next year.  That helps promote it and builds up hype, this was done really well at a convention I went to years ago in Chicago.  The closing was not about the Charity auction, but it had an honorable mention and brought tears to the crowds eyes on how great everyone did.  That would’ve been a lot better, than what happened.

Though closing was not my cup of tea, it was good to see everyone.  It is always bittersweet to go to closing as Youmacon is such a great event to be at.  This was the end of a great weekend.

I stayed Sunday night for an after party with friends.  Enjoyed getting to hang around and talk to everyone before they had to leave.  There was one thing that happened that night, that just shows how much the Youmacon staff care compared to other conventions.  I had a major RSD pain attack, my body seized up, I couldn’t keep myself sitting up as I kept sliding out of my eat.  I couldn’t close my hand as it was swollen and in a lot of pain.  Though the Youmacon staff, my friends… my con family… were right by my side.  They got me a hot drink, wrapped a warm blanket around me and would help keeping me seated in my chair.  They showed me funny videos to try and distract me from my pain and truly were there for me.  This convention is made of big hearts, wonderful people and some of the best friends I could ask for.  I do love my con family at Youmacon and plan to keep going every year. 

Thanks everyone who was there for me Sunday night at Youma!!  Sorry to put so many through that scare, but I can’t be more Thankful for how wonderful you all are!  Big shouts to Mama, Greg, Doug, Ruth, Eileen, Cherise, Kooky, Karen, Brad, Sara, Moon, and too many others to count!  Looking forward to seeing everyone at Midwest Media Expo 2016!

I highly recommend Youmacon.  Every year something great happens.  Every year a  different department has it’s rough times and someone else steps up to help showing the teamwork and community that happens through Youmacon.  No one is truly alone working Youmacon, because everyone has each other’s back.  This convention is made of heart and brings fun to the table.  Youmacon 2016 is the first weekend of November next year.  If you’ve not been, please do join the fun and see why this convention means so much to me and my friends.

Have you been to Youmacon 2015?  Which events did you attend?  Did you make any new friends?  Please share your reviews, comments and questions below!

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