First off it's best to note the guests that were in attendance at the convention. Kanon (from An Cafe) and Mr.Sakurai (a fellow journalist and lover of japanese pop culture) were making the trip to Jersey bringing with them a love of Lolita and Jrock to the event. Also the h.Naoto spin off brand Sixh was there, selling tons of clothes and even having their own fashion show. But the one I was the most excited for? Yu Kimura. You might know this adorable idol from Kera Magazine and I'll be honest that she's my favorite model and one of my lolita inspirations. With that in mind I just had to go to Anime Next!
My first stop at the con was going to Kanon and Sakurai's panel. Though I had been to one of their panels before at Otakon of last year, this was a treat to get to hear them speak again. I asked them if they were wearing Alice and the Pirates that day to which I got a very enthusiastic yes! The rest of the questions were about Kanon's An Cafe work and some cosplay related questions. Though these were really things of my interest it was neat to hear them speak about anything.
Then came time for the Tea Party. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to go since usually I'm a bit more into going to fandom events at conventions then more fashion events, but I changed my mind when I started to follow the crowd of frilly girls into a supposed "secret area". We continued to walk down the Double Tree Hotel's hallway and noticed further and further that we weren't going to any normal location. Turns out we were going to the Presidential Suite of the hotel which has always been a dream of mine to go into!
Inside a whole party was set up for us with tons of sweets and varieties of tea. The best part was seeing them being put out for us by Kanon and Mr.Sakurai himself. We entered into the tiny kitchen of the suite and there you could see Kanon preparing the treats onto plates for us and sort of just hanging out when finished. For me this was the best treat of all, getting to see a fashion celebrity that I admired just relaxing with us and being a normal person when he would be thought of to be otherwise.
Then we were told to enter the social area of the suite. Unfortunately it seemed the hosts weren't expecting that many people to come to the party so not everyone had a chair, but Kanon tried his best to make up for it by carrying chairs to the rest of us who didn't have one. I can't exactly put into words who cool it was to have Kanon personally bring you a chair, it's one of those moments that'll stick with me for a long time. Next Mr.Sakurai asked us what we do in terms of our Lolita lifestyles which was really neat to speak of with him. I sort of wished there had been a few less people or enough space for us to even more intimately speak with him on such things but the amount of interaction we got was amazing and more then I ever would have thought possible.We then proceeded to take lots of pictures and even had a special appearance by Yu Kimura herself, who was completely decked out in Angelic Pretty's French Cafe. I even got a special picture with Mr.Sakurai and Kanon by myself!
Later on in the day I got to meet Yu Kimura again. I did get two pictures with her but they are on my friends camera and hopefully I can post them here soon since they are pictures I'll treasure forever. Ms.Kimura is beyond the sweetest girl I've met. I told her how much she means to me as a Lolita and how I only came to the convention to see her, which then she replied with the biggest smile and a big hug! I even got her CD which is adorable and I definitely recommend getting. I also was lucky enough to see her mini concert during The Masquerade and she did a great job.
Overall Anime Next was a great experience and if they get more cool guests like this next year I'll totally go again for sure. One more thing to note, I decided right after the convention to send a thank you tweet to Ms.Kimura. I just so happened luckily enough to get a response:
Dreams really do come true sometimes~!