Venue / Random Shots
Because it turned into a gigantic wall of text, I decided to put each of our impressions inside spoiler tags. Make sure to open them to see the entire post!
Located inside the San Jose Convention Center in the sunny state of California, the first thing that shocked me was just how pretty the area directly surrounding the convention center was. With a park literally across the street and the roads lined with trees and cool artwork from local high school kids, it felt almost surreal just how beautiful it all was. Throw in how there’s a ton of places to grab food literally a block away and a cool lightrail that runs straight through everything, and it feels like whoever designed this place put in some real thought. (For those of you who aren’t familiar, other places like the LACC in downtown Los Angeles where Anime-Expo is held is definitely not as pretty.)
Compared to other conventions out there, I must say that Fanime has quite the charm to it. It’s bigger than smaller cons like ALA but doesn’t reach quite the proportions that Anime-Expo hits. Which actually isn’t a bad thing since this allows it to occupy a nice middle ground where you don’t completely lose the friendly atmosphere of a smaller con while still having fairly large dealer hall and artist alley. That said, I was a little disappointed that as big as it was, Fanime didn’t have as many industry or high profile guests of honor that I thought it would.
And by that, I’m referring to selection of panels that were available. For those out of the loop, panels are scheduled events that go on during the convention to fill up the time you don’t want to spend either in the Dealer’s Hall, Artist Alley, or Gaming Auditorium. Now for someone coming from huge conventions like Anime-Expo, you normally expect to see panels about certain companies or shows held by the company or studio that works on them. What came as a surprise to me (after being enlightened by Zanibas and Xumbra) was how many fan panels there were! While I personally don’t see the charm in hosting a panel about a specific show, it occurred to me after I got home that for someone who’s really enthusiastic about a certain series and is trying expose it to as many people as possible, hosting a panel where you could try to convert people into watchers sounds pretty fun.
Besides that, I must say that the overall feel I got from Fanime was pretty fantastic. The atmosphere was usually pretty relaxed and unlike other cons where I have the urge to smack annoying people in the face, everyone was for the most part were polite and courteous. Something that I thought was especially cool was Fanime’s use of “Rovers”. While I don’t think they’re considered staff, they were people who were walking around the con to provide information / support for anyone who needed help. The coolest part, even though I didn’t utilize it, was any attendee had the ability to text a certain number to get a Rover to come to them!
All in all, I must say that I was pretty impressed with Fanime as a whole. Sure I may have been a little disappointed with certain parts of it but the things that it did definitely made up for it. TL;dr: In the end, I’m really happy that I was able to attend and enjoy Fanime. It’s held in an awesome location with very helpful staff and it does a great job at holding its own when compared to different conventions. I hope I can attend next year! 😀
- Giant Jenga was hilarious lol.
- I can’t stress this enough — the ability to get decent food within walking distance was a god send.
- Also, discounted parking just for attending was awesome.
- I didn’t meet any RandomC-ers except for Zanibas, Xumbra, and Zani’s friend Alan :/
- I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this.
- I also couldn’t meet the artist who drew this but it’s awesome<3.
- This and this were made because I needed to keep the layout proportional *_*
- Surprisingly, I didn’t buy much stuff. The things I did purchase were all gifts :/
I’ll keep this as short as I can, but instead of focusing on a general overview, I’m going to address some specifics that Takaii didn’t address above. Let’s begin!
As many regulars to FanimeCon know, the staff really pushed the time limit on starting things up this year. Registration didn’t open until very well into the year, guests of honor were announced very late into the game, and the pocket guide for planning out events was released the day before pre-registration. That’s cutting it close, but that’s only the regular attendee side. Artist Alley registration was heavily frowned upon for being very disorganized amidst the implementation of their new screening phase–many an email that should’ve been sent was not, and opening registration for artists was done very late in the game, enough to cause much discomfort. Honestly, I felt like this year was going to be the worst of my three years in attendance, considering how late everything was being setup. However, upon finally arriving, things are better than expected.
As many a Fanime attendee can attest to, one does not easily escape LineCon. I’m speaking of course about the ridiculous lines that plague larger-scale conventions, all for high-profile events that many people want a piece of. For pre-registration alone, two years ago there was a blackout of disastrous proportions and delays, and the year before was plagued with room hopping everywhere for too many hours. This year however, saw much improvement.
Thanks to the construction at the San Jose Convention Center finally finishing this year, the convention was able to finally hold registration queues in one giant building. No more waiting in the hot sun, traveling from outside to inside, from room to room. On top of that, with pre-registration on Thursday opening up 3 hours earlier than usual, my company of friends were able to get their badge before lunch! While we were pleasantly astonished, at the same time it was a letdown, considering how many people in line (including myself) that brought a lawn chair and several snacks and games in preparation for what was supposed to be a 7+ hour wait. Finishing before lunch though was great, but honestly there was not much to do but wait for the swap meet that was happening later that day.
However, this is truly where LineCon showed up. I consider myself a regular attendee for swap meet–it has great prices for slightly used items–but this year, I was like ‘nope’. As an unforeseen consequence of opening pre-registration early and getting people their badges in 10 minutes or less, the line for swap meet was HUGE. With that many people in line, it would be impossible to let the entire line in at once, which is exactly what happened. Even at 11:00, there were still people having to wait outside just so others could leave the building and make room. The wait was also exaggerated by being late in allowing swap dealers to enter, which was a pain. LineCon madness also wrought havoc on the first day of Dealer’s Hall, where the line snaked through the entire main hall of the convention center–a huge logistical disaster waiting to happen. In fact, when the doors did open for Dealers Hall, the ‘line’ at the end, some 100+ people long, got cut off by the crowds simply swarming at the entrance (in their defense, the swarm most likely had no idea there was a line). Although everyone was eventually able to fit in, it did not make a good impression on logistical organization.
The Guests of Honor
However, that’s where most of my typical worries melted away. Other than having to walk a block or two to get to the panel rooms in a separate hotel away from the convention, all other logistics flowed very well. Speaking of panels, the Guest of Honors this year, though few, had some interesting insights to present themselves. I’ll specifically talk about two today: J. Michael Tatum and Hiroyuki Kanbe, English VA and Director of Oreimo respectively.
I was surprised actually how much I enjoyed attending J. Michael Tatum’s panels. I was initially interested due to his enormous fanbase (his most popular roles are Sebastian from Black Butler and Okabe from Steins;Gate) and his decade-long career in voice acting, but his personality and wisdom concerning the industry was a pleasure to hear. If you guys ever get to attend one of Mr. Tatum’s 18+ panels, I highly recommend attending it. The man is a master of the stage and would make a remarkable stand-up comedian. However, if you’re also interested in the new paradigm of anime dubs involving adaptive writing, I also highly recommend listening onto his more professional panels. You may gain more respect for dubs (at least from Funimation) thanks to him, especially as he elucidates the amazingly hard process of dubbing a show–pleasing both original fans and those diving head-first into the English dub is tough, and writing dialogue that’s engaging, true to the text, and can fit the mouthing of the characters is a tough job that I respect more. Overall, a great person who I suggest both dub and sub fans to check out.
As for the second guest of honor, you guys know how I feel. Having gone through that weird three-episode ending of Oreimo, I obviously had some questions for Kanbe, and as press, I looked for the answers! I attended his Q&A panel and was the first person to ask a question. It basically went something like…
There was understandably a lot of material cut from the light novels, which disappointed many fans. If there was anything from the light novels that you wish could’ve been adapted given more screentime, what would they be and why?
However, the answer I received (via translator) wasn’t of any substance, instead opting to say something along the lines of…
We as adaptors have to choose the essential parts from the light novel to adapt without losing the core meaning of the piece.
It was at that point that I knew returning back to the mic (it was an open Q&A) would be futile–every other question about Oreimo that suggested eliciting self-criticism was dodged around with general, useless answers. I don’t necessarily blame Kanbe for not approaching these questions head-on, since it is his only work as a director so far. However, the Q&A session was not entirely wasted. Here are some interesting tidbits from the session.
- I found it hilarious that so many people wanted to ask Kanbe about GAINAX and Trigger, which he had no participation with at all. To be fair, there was a ‘What is Trigger?’ panel happening around the same time, but there are signs outside saying what events are going on in what room at what time.
- On being asked what he felt was adapted best from the light novel to anime adaption, Kanbe plainly said, “Kuroneko….’s littlest sister.” So not even the older middle sister, but the little sister who has like, less than 10 lines.
- His favorite genres to work with are more realistic ones, such as action and drama. On the flipside, he said he would struggle with something like a slice-of-life comedy.
- He quickly dropped a hint that he’s working as director on a project that’s supposed to air in October. I wonder what that is…
- When asked to describe how the staff felt about the source material and the incestual themes, the basic gist of his answer was that the staff was definitely a little weirded out by how things panned out.
- His most definitive statement though was definitely this last tidbit: that Japanimation as we know it is dying, and that he is unsure if it’ll survive into the future. He states that with less people willing to go through the effort of becoming a key animator, the workforce is definitely dwindling for anime companies. It’s not just the pay he says, but also the fact that it has become a less glamorous and attractive profession in the anime industry as compared to other professions (apparently voice acting). He also attributes this result as giving rise to the exportation of work to South Korea, both for key animators and in-betweening. He finally stated that while popularity of anime overseas does not correlate to saving the industry, he does hope that the international intention will draw talent to Japan, if fans are willing to do so.
I touched on this briefly above, but the convention really is nice with the construction finally finished. The new terraced area next to the new buildings proved very effective in positioning for cosplay meetups. The plaza itself looks very new and pleasing to the eye, though the centerpiece of art reminds me of Flandre Scarlet for some reason. The building itself has a great balcony to take some aerial shots of the plaza, and was definitely big enough to hold both the nightmare that is registration and artist’s alley. Although not as big as the tent of South Hall last year, there was still plenty of space for everyone to move through. More cramped, yes, but nothing that a con-goer shouldn’t be able to handle.
As always, San Jose is a pretty place to take pictures. There are so many hotels nearby at reasonable prices, tons of food if you just bother to look around, and many places for cosplay shoots to happen. The park is always a favorite, and for those looking for a more stately atmosphere, the nearby church makes for a great backdrop. If you’re looking for a place to relax, you only need walk a few blocks away from the convention and suddenly be immersed in quiet and loneliness. Since the con does occur during Memorial Day weekend, there’s none of the bustle of nearby mega-buildings, as well as the traffic that comes with it. Plus, the weather was amazing this year–never got too hot, but never a cloud in the sky either.
Hello Cosplayers! If you happen to see your face up here, please comment below with your cosplay pages so we can properly thank you here! As for cosplay observations in general, here’s some of what we observed:
- The biggest anime cosplays were Shingeki no Kyojin and Kill la Kill. The former was definitely dominated by brown jackets, with less focus on titans unlike last year. The latter was 85% Ryuuko cosplays, 4% Mako, 4% Nonon, 4% Nudist Beach, and the rest delegated to every other character. Yes, these percents are just estimates.
- Big jumps in RWBY cosplays this year, especially in portraying Ruby.
- The biggest game cosplay hands down belongs to LoL once again, but DOTA2 is getting some more popularity, though nowhere close.
- 5000% increase in kigurumis worn in public. This personally astounds me–so many people happen to just like walking around in pajamas. They’re cute, but they’re still sleepwear.
- Vocaloid cosplay seems to be slightly down this year, perhaps along with Touhou. As a side note, Touhou fan art has definitely plummeted this year at Artist’s Alley.
- Homestuck continues to be a significant presence at the convention, where the most popular getup is the signature horns.
- A large increase this year in a ‘red scarf + black sailorfuku’ cosplay combination. I personally am unsure if this is a cosplay of Ayano from Kagerou Days or is another anime character.
- Currently identified are: Eunyeah (78,79,80) and Cat Pate (55,56).
The Panels and Events
- Yaoi “Strip” Bingo–wasn’t as great as two years ago, but still worthwhile in attending. See men strip and sexually caress one another while squealing fangirls and fanboys throw their money and squeal! Also protip: drop change on the floor and you might get lucky with one of the stripped guys bending down very low to pick it up.
- Awesomely Bad J-Music Videos–though veterans may get bored of the repetition from year to year, newcomers should definitely see this panel. You’ll laugh your socks off when you see what kinds of outrageous videos happen to make it on music television.
- Swimsuit Competition–I didn’t personally attend this one, but it sounded well-done and there’s apparently a pole for both men and women to use. If you’re into this thing, go for it!
- Cosplay Masquerade–although I’m a firm believer that they should split the performances from the ‘show cosplays’, this event is exciting to watch for the groups that choreograph well. There was an awesome crossplay, a ‘Sailor Moon Burlesque’ act, Maji 2000% cosplayers synchronized and dancing like the real deal, and then a really great Epic Rap Battles of Anime featuring Edward from FMA and Eren from SnK. On top of that, performances during intermission were amazing, with the Elements of Wushu doing an amazing sword-type performance themed around SnK! It was so intense, there were little girls slitting each other’s throats (I’m not even exaggerating). Granted, there are some really bad performance to go with it (skits that aren’t comedy can end really badly), but overall it was a worthwhile experience!
- Maid Cafe: if you’re willing to dish out five dollars for a slice of carrot cake, you and your friends can enjoy the great company of the best maids that Northern California has to offer. Ever since they moved their venue to something more classy, the place has been getting better! They even have a queueing system where you can leave your name and the cafe will text your number when it’s your time to be in the front of the line! However, with organizational issues and logistical issues concerning their maids, they still have a long ways to go in improving. If you have time to kill and want to relax with a maid and maybe play some games with them, come here!
Overall, both of us had a lot of fun and would definitely call this con a keeper. However, as a word of warning to the con organizers themselves–although things turned out alright this year, they cannot keep making these novice mistakes that can be avoided with proper planning. If they can address the logistical issues though, this could easily become the best mid-sized con on the West Coast. I’ll definitely be attending again next year–RandomC, let’s meetup sometime and go to a Maid Cafe! I wouldn’t mind talking anime amongst our readers while a maid sits with us, no sir.