Unlike Califur, A-Kon was a very busy con. No time to sit down and draw a report about it, so I'm doing a text report instead. Also unlike Califur, I didn't have Tweedledee and Tweedledum with me. It's much easier to enjoy a con when I don't have to listen to constant complaining.
In general: I spent a bunch of money in the Dealer's Room and Komik Market (their equivalent of Artist's Alley at a furry con). I watched their music video contest and a bunch of new anime releases. I attended a couple panels on webcomics and Radio Comix's panel. I stopped by the Radio Comix table and chatted briefly with Elin Winkler. I made an offhand remark about how at least they didn't have problems with their printer breaking down when they needed it the most and she proceeded to tell me that Brenner's presses have indeed broken down when they were under a tight deadline getting comics to Diamond. The worst was when Brenner accidentally ran out of newsprint. (How the hell does a printing company run out of paper?)
Porn for Women: the Year of Yaoi. Yaoi, explicit prettyboy gay romance, has been a growing niche for several years, with most of the growth occuring with female readers. (Radio Comics has a yaoi title, and Elin has some great stories about all the fourteen-year-old girls who try to buy it.) This year it seemed to really explode. Any dealer who had a box of yaoi comics or doujinshi also had a big sign advertising the fact, and it seemed to be selling, too. There would be a crowd of guys around one group of boxes, and a matching crowd of women around the yaoi boxes. There were also a lot of "I (heart) YAOI" shirts wandering around, mostly on women.
Porn for Bunnies: from time to time I forget how bad the real hentai anime is and sample it, only to discover that it is still just as ploddingly obsessive as last time. It's usually not very well drawn (one suspects that they don't get the top animators on hentai projects) and the so-called stories mostly get as far as "hey look, we're showing (insert fetish here)". Adult doujinshi are better: not much different from fanzines, they can be made by a single person cheaply, and there are some really good artists. But for anime, the genre which I seem to be gravitating to more and more when I want something sexy is one that I don't know the name of, although I bet that there is a name for it in the industry. It's somewhere between romantic comedy and sex comedy: boy(s) and girl(s) have to get along somehow, even though they don't like each other (or maybe they do), and along the way a series of mildly naughty humorous situations occur, along with a healthy dose of cheesecake. The key element is that it's fun, and funny, with the promise of an emotional payoff as well in some series. I don't see why these elements couldn't be combined with a more explicit storyline, but as far as I know it doesn't happen, although Mouse (see below) is leaning hard on the line.
A good example of this unnamed genre, leaning more toward the romantic comedy side, is Please Twins, by the same people who made Please Teacher. (I bought the first disc of both series.) An example which leans more toward the sex comedy side, which is epitomized by the "hapless boy is pursued mercilessly by beautiful girls" theme, is Mouse. (Mouse is really over the top; it's hard to watch it without frequently saying "I can't believe they just did that!" It really wouldn't take many changes to make Mouse explicit, and it would still be fun and funny.) One which balances the two is a very recent series, Mahou Sensei Negima (Magical Teacher Negima). Only the manga is officially available in the US, from Del Rey, and the title is just Negima. However, Anime Council has done some great, pro-quality fansubs of the anime which are available via BitTorrent from their website. I also picked up a couple discs of Maburaho, which seems to lean toward the sex comedy side again.
Other notes: you've all heard tight clothes described as "painted on", right? At A-Kon, among all the costumes, I saw possibly the tightest outfit that I've ever seen: a red lame' minidress. It wasn't so much painted as heat-shrunk on, but the lady wearing it made it work. I have no idea how she got into it, though — I don't remember seeing a zipper in the back!