My Own Little Hedgehog’s Dilemma
‘You have two hours for the final…and…BEGIN!’. With these words, I started my Biology II final on the last day of my stay in Iowa City. Now, rewind time two to three weeks before any finals even started…
It was around the end of April, near the beginning of May when I decided to check up on information regarding Fanimecon 2006. Initially, I had thought I missed the early registration and uncertain of whether I would even make it back from school to attend the convention. When I found out I did not miss early registeration my dilemma was realized: should I do early registration or consider not going due to how unsettle I would be right when I get back home? I thought about it for a bit and decided to see what happens when I get home. So I put that thought over my shoulders and began studying for my classes. Now fastfoward time two or three weeks to when I was taking my Biology II final…
‘Five more minutes. Please finish up and bring your ID to your TA’. I stood up, handed in my exam, and left the room.
Back home in California, half of my time was spent outside in the sun and half of the time inside. It was during my time inside where I did my investigation on Fanimecon and the different events taking place. After a bit more searching, I got in contact with a staff member working at Fanimecon who told me a few more things which convinced me to go. It was funny because I decided on going only three days before the start of the event. Anyways, with that decided, I reached into my pocket for whatever money I had left ($60) and pulled out my debit card to withdraw $80 of my $100 I had. I remember going to Fanimecon 2004 and having at least $400 after the badge fee. This year, I had less than $150 and I am without a badge. Luckily, my dad told me he was going to give me $50 on that day for whatever. In addition, there was a bucket full of coins so I took advantage of that as well. The question of taking pictures also came up but soon solved when my dad allowed me to use his $1000 camera. With that, I was able to take a bunch of great pictures which I will show later on. The night before the convention was nerve wreaking and I was supposed to wake up at 7:00AM and get there at 8:00AM. So I told myself to get at least 6 hours of sleep. However, It turned out I got about only three.
Friday: Day One at Fanimecon
At 7:10AM, I was rudely woken up by my cell phone alarm. After I few moans and groans, I got dressed and packed my camera into my bag along with a few bottles of water. Water and food was apparently really expensive at this convention so I took the necessary precautions and brought own. At around 7:30AM, my dad came back and told me to hurry because he had to get to work soon (my car was back in Iowa). So without a minute to waste, I hopped into the car and we were off. On the way, my dad gave me the money he promised and told me to get something to eat outside. I arrived in San Jose and the convention center at around 8:30AM.
Helping Out For the Better Good
Inside the lobby, there were two lines: one for the pre-registered and one for the not. So there I stood in the line for the not and waited for almost an hour. For some reason, the line went slower than I had anticipated. But maybe it was because of my excitement. After I purchased a badge for only Friday, I took one last glace at the registration booth and went inside. But to my surprise *drum roll*… nothing was happening. No dealer room, no e-gaming room, no nothing! I ran to the counter and picked up a schedule and saw that everything except for video rooms were closed until noon or 2:00PM. Now, what on earth am I going to do for 4-5 hours before everything was opened? A few nights before Fanimecon, I was told that volunteers were needed and that people who helped for 5 hours were refunded their badge money. Since I had nothing to do for hours and figured I needed a bit more money for this event, I headed towards the volunteer room on the third floor of the Marriot where I signed up and picked up my volunteer badge. With my trusty pink sheet of paper to give to the staff in charge, I headed towards Video Room 1 for whatever awaited me for 5 none stop hours.
It was now almost 10:45AM and my job was to stand outside the door checking other people’s badge. Sounds fun doesn’t it? Well, as it turned out, Video Room 1 was the panel room where guest speakers came. The first guest speaker was Asami who turned out to be the voice actress of Chizuko in Mahoromatic! I had the pleasure of serving her water and listening to her impersonations of various Anime characters. Basically all morning was a blast and even the executive producer of Gainax came to speak during a Q/A. Before I knew it, it was 3:15PM and my 5 hours of service was done. I headed back to the Staff room and was told I had to come back on Monday to receive my money back. The thought of coming back for $25 is not even worth the gas money so I made a proposition to the head staff: instead of me coming back for my money, why don’t I just come back on Saturday and pay no entrance fee? He accepted. Whether I had planned it or not, I was coming back the next day for free!
Registration early in the morning. What a line.
With my badge and volunteer stuff, I was off.
See this room? Pretty boring no? It was all mine to look at for 5 hours.
Oh my God! It’s Asami and some Gainax representatives!
Exploration and the Cost of Hunger
Now with both the dealers and e-gaming room opened, I was ready to make my move. It was a tough choice but hell, I’m here for the Anime and off to the dealers room I went. The room was bigger than I had anticipated and there were dozens of dealers. And even though I was tempted to buy everything, I knew I only had $175 in my pocket. Sounds like a lot of money, but if you’ve been to an Anime convention before, you know that that amount is insignificant. A lot of the things at Anime conventions are extremely overpriced. For example, DVDs were $20 and Manga was about $8 each. I was convinced that buying DVDs and Manga was not a good idea. Soon did I realize how much I contradict myself. As I walked around the huge room, I took pictures of many cosplayers and some ‘interesting’ things being sold. In addition to dealers, there were also various company booths such as ‘Red vs Blue’, ‘Gaia’, ‘International Group Inc.’, ‘Janime’ (which is a new Anime magazine coming out), and many more. For about 2 hours, I walked around taking pictures and shifting through some of the merchandise until hunger struck me. First thing that came up in my head was ‘uh…oh’ followed by my worried fingers running through the wad of cash in my pocket. As I approached the food stand, nothing I saw was a surprise. With that said, I bought some Nachos, sat down to cool my head, and headed into the E-gaming room (Hooray!)
Look how pretty…
Manga Manga everywhere…but not a single to buy.
Look at all the good stuff there is..
Anime cels anyone? But make sure your wallet isn’t beat up.
I wish I could have spun that wheel. I had to buy something though…
Dinner time! Let’s see what’s on the menu…
$2 for milk? Those cows must be from a royal blood line…
Hahahah…*punches stomach*… you stop growling at me.
Yeah….no. But I couldn’t just starve.
Quarters of Fun at E-Gaming
The E-gaming area was also extremely huge with more room than anyone can possibily want. Even with the arcades, PCs, and consoles hooked up to about 30+ TV sets, there was still about 2/3 of empty space. They had every game you can possibily think of from GGXX to DDR to Megaman on the PS2. There was even a Naruto fighting which was quite popular among the Naruto fans. From about 6:00PM to 8:00PM, I camped out around the consoles and arcades and played both free games and arcade games. The one game which I really looked forward to playing was Marvel vs Capcom 2. Fortunately, they had it with new buttons and a huge screen. I felt like I was in heaven all except the people there were really good. So what basically happened was I spent $10 getting my ass whooped and vice-versa to everyone else. Also, I played Halo on the console against this little kid and man… it was not pretty. I almost made him cry so I decided to ‘lose’ to him because I’m just that nice of a guy..^__^..that and I’m also probably 8+ years older than him. Anywho, little did I know I was going to get some deals that happen only so rarely.
Smash Bros: Melee anyone?
Not too big of an arcade place but had all the right games.
Halo…*cracks knuckles*…maybe not today.
Me on the right with the 16 game winning streak and still going…
A picture after I lost my 17 game winning streak to the guy on the left..lol……bastard.
Cheap as Toilet Paper?
It was around 9:00PM when I noticed some activities going on around the empty space in the room. I decided to check out what all the comotion was about. If I had only read the schedule I would have realized it was a swap meet! Of all the things one can hope for, swap meet is one of them. Basically, Anime fans or just people with Anime or Manga bring their own stuff to sell. Unlike dealers, the price of items are low. Just how low you ask? How about 3 Manga for $5? Or how about DVDs for $5 each? No joke. This was what I was waiting for. As an Ebay obessionist ( I know it’s not a word), I am shocked with some cheap things I found. In the end, I bought 16 Manga for $27 and 19 DVDs for $80 to a total of $107! A little crazy I know but for all the stuff I got, it was worth it. By 10:30PM, I felt the fatigue kicking in and realized that I have not sat down for more than 14 hours so I decided to call it a day. My ride came at around 11:00PM and with even better prospects for the day to come, I left for home.
3 Manga for $5? Wait a minute? Whaaa?!?!?
$5 a DVD? Am I in a dream?
Here was all the stuff I bought…
Evangelion vols 1-6 for $10… nice deal.
Steam Detectives vols 1-6 and Nausicaa vols 1-4 for $17….heh.
Stellvia vols 1-8 with all the stuffings for $40.
Whatever else I got. All these DVDs cost me $40. The guy gave me Scrapped Princess and Saiyuki for free after negotiations.
There is Always Another Day…Seriously
Lying in bed the same night (actually now 2:00AM), I realized I isolated myself to only the dealer’s room and the E-gaming room. So tomorrow I was determined to dedicate myself in finding all the free stuff like posters and postcards and look into other events that I have been missing. With that, I dozed off and slept like I was in a coma.
It was pretty late at night. Sheeps are jumping over everyones’ head by now.
Saturday: Day Two at Fanimecon
At 10:30AM, my cell phone alarm once again screamed through my ears as I slowly crawled out and got dressed, half ready for the day to come. Today was somewhat of a better day because for one, I got about 8 hours of sleep. In addition to that, I was also going to be able to get a badge for free because of the volunteer hours I did. After a quick breakfast, I was on my way again and arrived at around 12:00PM where things were just getting underway.
The Mission Impossible!
As mentioned, Friday night was Swap Meet night and I picked up a load of things for an unbelievable discount. However, I took a gamble with 2 DVDs I bought. They were Koi Kaze vols 2 and 3. The guy didn’t have vol 1 so this mission (should I choose to accept), will be to look for Koi Kaze vol 1 in the DEALERS room for a cheap price. See why the mission that was so impossible? Anyways to start off, there were not too many DVD dealers to begin with. I saw maybe about 4 or 5 major DVD sellers if that. Sadly, only one of those booth had Koi Kaze vol 1 for an amazing price of…$25? I gave the guy a look and moved on with my search. About another 30 minutes, I was about to give up until I caught the color of the DVD case that looked smiliar to Koi Kaze from the corner of my eye at a $10 DVD table. I spun around and picked it up. What did you know… it was Koi Kaze vol 1, the only vol there was in that box of random DVDs!
Mission Status: Success
My precious…*hugs DVD*
Be Proud of Freeloading
After this, I thought it would be a good idea to look for some free stuff while I am here since I did pay $25 for a badge the day before. As I walked around, I snapped a few more pictures here and there. In the end, I did grab a few free postcards and posters and even a little fan for my cooling pleasures. Nearing 3:00PM, I decided to call being at the dealers room off and began exploring other sections that I missed. The first stop I made was to the Karaoke room.
Freeloading never felt any better especially when it comes to Anime.
‘American Idol’ Meets Anime Fans
The Karaoke room was a big room composed of a stage platform and a few hundred chairs. When I was nearing the entrance, I knew they were already starting as I heard voices coming through. To be honest, this was probably one of the worst part of the convention so far. You might be thinking ‘There must have been cute Japanese vocalist up there performing with speaker sounds crescendoing along the walls and flashing lights’. Now, try to imagine American Idol tryouts and there you go. There were a lot of mediocre voices, some decent voices, and few good sounding voices. But then again, people were there just having fun and despite the agony of hearing some of the off tempo notes, I still ended up enjoying and clapping along to a song or two. By now, it was about 5:30PM and hunger was creeping up on me again. However, I was prepared.
All it Takes is a Brain and $5
After learning my lesson the hard way on Friday about the expenses of food, I bought food at a Burger King before I went to the convention. The fries were cold and so was my Whopper. But at least my wallet was happy for the time being and so was I. I swallowed my last piece of cold meat and bun and headed in the direction of the fashion show.
Lady in Red….and White…and Green
The fashion show was spectacular with people dressed up in enough colors and variety to make even the most conceited looking peacocks jealous. For about an hour, people walked along the stage and showed off their thing. I don’t know what real fashion shows look like but this was pretty interesting to see happen. Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures.
Video Rooms and Beyond…
As I left the fashion show room, Akira was just beginning to show in Video Room 2 so I decided to just watch the movie for the time being and see if there was another Swap Meet at 9:00PM. Suprisingly, there were quite a number of people watching too since I assumed every Anime fan had seen it at one time or another. But when I began to watch, I found myself drawn to finish watching it even though I’ve seen it before. I didn’t think too much of the movie when I watched it 6 years ago. I guess maybe nostalgia was a factor.
Before the movie finished, I realized it was 9:00Pm so I rushed back to see if Swap Meet was going on again. As it turned out, Swap Meet was only Thursday and Friday. With the dissapointing news, I headed back to the arcades to finish off my night at around 10:00PM
Lastly, cosplay pictures!!
I hope those swords weren’t too sharp.
Question: Guy or Girl? Answer: We will never know.
Bat boy…errr…make it girl..
I actually have no idea who she is supposed to be. Still great cosplayer nevertheless.
Here we have a picture of the mascot of Janime, a new Anime magazine coming out in Japan. I approve!
So cute… and I’m a guy saying this. *Slaps self in the face*..
In case anyone is wondering what that says: ‘ Will hack for beer: fear 807′…lol
Pocky never looked any better…
Funny little Excel Saga cosplayer. Poor Menchi...*eats a Menchi dog*...Grade A.
Vash on the left looks like he stuck his head out during the plane ride to Fanimecon.
At this rate, Kingdom Hearts will be the new Anime with fans like these.
Captain Planet! He’s Our Hero!…
Afterthoughts and Prospects for Next Year
While I did enjoy this year’s Fanimecon, there were a few things missing and problems I felt I should point out. First of all, there were no Anime companies representing themselves this year. I remember Fanimecon 2004 had Central Park Media, FUNImation, and ADV handing out posters and doing raffles and taking comments from Anime fan. As Anime is becoming increasingly popular in America, one would imagine the companies licensing those Anime would do what they can to promote them and reach out to people who are interested but just need a push in the right direction. My hopes for next year would be for more Anime company representatives to be present and promote their products. When I think about it, there was a booth handing out America movie posters such as ‘Silent Hill’ and ‘Da Vinci Code’. Not saying was not a considerate thing to do but this is an Anime convention. So where are the Anime representatives? We have representatives promoting Hollywood movies but not Anime? Kind of pathetic if you think about it. Beside the lack of Anime company reps was also the lack of organization which I noticed.
When I was a volunteer on Friday, I remember the first hour or two going really smoothly with not too many problems at hand. However, things started to change as the day progressed starting with the cancelation of the band ‘Up Hold’ due to problems with their equipment. So I ended up just sitting in the empty room for about 30 minutes doing nothing. As if things can not get any worse, another band called ‘Goofy Style’ came in with only ONE person waiting to meet them. How sad was it to see the number of band members out number the number of fans? They were shortly excused and so I sat there for another hour chatting with a tech staff member. He told me a few things about how corrupted some of the staff members were and how some just sign up for staff in order to get in for free were they never take care of the responsiblities given to them. Also, the dealers room was supposed to be opened at noon but got held back to 2:00PM and Saturday when I came back, no one had any information on the Swap Meet.. Not even the information booth! It was pretty suprising but I am not trying to point fingers here and but the blame on anyone. I’m more of just trying to see what can be done to make things go as smoothly as possible to accommodate the people coming since they are paying a lot of money for this once in a year event. On the contrary, all of the staffs I met and talked to displayed a sense of duty and responsibility. For example, the tech staff of Video Room one told me how he worked from 8:00AM to 9:00PM none stop helping set up equipments. Also, the person in charge of the volunteer room was extremely courteous towards me as I see him go back and forth trying to organize everything. As of now, I am thinking of either applying for staff next year or a media reporter for animesou.com. Only time will tell I guess. With that said, there is also a few things I want to comment about the Anime fans at the convention.
When you go to an event as big as Fanimecon where over 10,000 people show up, you expect a little bit of diversity in the types of cosplayers you would see. For the most part, I saw One Piece, FMA, Trigun, and a lot of Naruto cosplayers. So where was the Gankutsou cosplayer? The Stellvia cosplayer? The Infinite Ryvius cosplayer? Of course I’m not saying the only cosplayers I saw was One Piece and Naruto. I’m trying to say why can’t one of those Naruto cosplayers decide to cosplay as something else and something different that can make another wonder who he is supposed to be? What I like doing most is seeing cosplayers which I have no idea who they are then asking them which character they are supposed to be. When you can be unique and make someone wonder about your identity, you are successful in making yourself ‘original’ and unique. But people can dress up whatever way they want because obviously they have a passion for whatever it may be. But don’t forget you are an Anime fan. If you choose to isolate yourself to a single Anime then where is the diversity? The meaning of Anime should not hold in one show. So even though Naruto might be your favorite show, cosplaying as something new and unique to diversify Anime can be benefical to future fans. I may sound ignorant saying all of this because I myself have never cosplayed so I don’t know the mind set of a cosplayer. But as a Anime fan, I feel like I can relate to this subject and talk about it. Last but not least, I want to talk about the Anime they showed in the screening room.
This year, half of the Anime that was shown was licensed and half fansubs. I didn’t have a problem with that. However, I wish they would have squeezed Monster or Gankutsou in the fansub screening part. I was extremely happy to see a Honey and Clover marathon. You have no idea how much deciding to show that made my day. All in all, I was pleased with what they decided to screen this year. I just hope next year those Anime which deserves attention would get some. For example Princess Tutu, Junkers Come Here, The Cat Returns, Voices of a Distant Star, The Promised Place Beyond the Cloud, and even She and Her Cat. These last three works mentioned are all by Makoto Shinkai who is working his way up in the food chain in the Anime industry. I wanted to take this time to acknowledge his success and works up to now.
Overall though, I had a great time. I met some people which I knew in high school and some other interesting people to talk to. So yeah, I would say Fanimecon 2006 was a huge success besides the little minor things that happened. I looked forward to next year where I hope to see even more Anime fans turn out. Next time if you know of an Anime con coming up, be sure to check it out if not the the merchandise then for the experience of just being there. It’s a feeling you don’t feel anywhere else. Till next year~