By Assia Angelini
Today brought with it Entertainment Stew’s second day at Holiday Matsuri Con! With our press passes in hand, we got right into the swing of things when we arrived at the convention this morning. The World Center Marriott was already bustling with even more people than the day before, all decked out in their holiday best. After a quick foray into the game room, we headed to our first panel of the day, the Voice Actor Panel.
Dozens of con-goers lined up eagerly outside the main event hall to see some of their favorite voice actors. This year’s HolMat was graced by Zach Callison, Jen Cohn, Todd Haberkorn, Jennifer Hale, Brittney Karbowski, Lucie Pohl, Nathan Sharp, and Keith Silverstein. While the Voice Actor Panel began with the routine collecting of questions from the audience, it certainly did not end that way. The panel took an interesting turn when Todd Haberkorn leapt off the stage, grabbed a mic from one of the hosts, and proceeded to steal the show. Haberkorn’s easy charm and quick wit immediately gave the event a new, vibrant energy. The audience and his fellow cast members responded well to his teasing interviews and humorously delivered questions.
Haberkorn was definitely in his element as a performer, and the other voice actors played off each other well, building off each other’s energy to deliver tongue-in-cheek remarks and earnest responses. The entire exchange was incredibly entertaining to watch and gave each voice actor a chance to shine. With questions ranging from first jobs and industry tips to overwatch shippings and dream anime, the panel covered a wide range of topics in an interesting and engaging manner. It was delightful to listen to Cohn gush about her son’s fishing trip, Callison describe his first acting job, and Hale dish out impassioned and unfiltered life advice.
We went from one whirlwind to another with our next event, Retro City Warfare’s Season’s Beating 2. What Season’s Beatings 2 lacked in plot, they made up for with exciting and dramatic performance combat. Featuring characters from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as well as a few wildcards like Red Hood and Bucky Barnes, the actors showed off their athletic skills as they battled each other on stage and off. The whole show felt very much like watching a backyard wrestling match for all the good and bad that entails. It was easy to get into the stunts and begin cheering for your favorite character to win.
However, what frequently brought me out of the experience were the oddly placed moments of sexism in otherwise impressive matches. While most were the ignorable microaggressions frequent in everyday life they, unfortunately, culminated in the worst way in the finale match. Women had been fighting in mixed matches with men the entire time, however, one of the actors felt the need to celebrate hitting a woman in particular. Despite an excellent, match-winning performance Camilla was violently dragged offstage by her hair by one of her opponents in an inappropriately ambiguous ending to the entire show. This made it hard to enjoy the parts I did find entertaining and retrospectively soured the whole experience.
Our last event of the day was Animystery and Co.’s Holiday Murder Mishap. Animystery and Co. were also present at last year’s HolMat with a My Hero Academia themed murder mystery. This year they used the popular game Danganronpa as a backdrop to their multiverse murder mystery. This year’s Hope’s Peak High School class featured characters from a variety of games and animes such as Ryuji Sakamoto from Persona 5, Monika from Doki Doki Literature Club, and Haruhi Fujioka from Ouran High School Host Club. Interspersed between the performance were periods of audience interaction where the actors came down to interact with guests in character under the guise of looking for a way out, searching for clues, and other methods of investigation. It was interesting to see how the different characters interacted with each other and how well incorporated Danganronpa’s game mechanics were into the play. The ending was decided by audience vote as they cast their ballots on who the true culprit was. It was a narrow win by two votes, but luckily it was a happy ending for all involved.
Thus closes day two of Entertainment Stew’s Holiday Matsuri escapades. Tomorrow, Sunday will be the con’s finale. As always, we look forward to what the next day has in store.