The Start of it All
It is that time of the year again where one of the nation’s biggest Anime convention goes to San Jose, California. This year’s Fanime is bigger than ever with more than 11,000 counted people pouring through the San Jose convention center doors, ready to hit one of the many offered events. But before we move into the specificities of the convention, certain questions have come up from people, one of which is of interest: what makes Fanime so different than other conventions?
As the name indicates, Fanime is a convention for the people, by the people where fans who go and enjoy the convention find some value and appreciation for the hard working staffs who make Fanime possible as well as the convention in general. Through this, they come back the next year ‘to serve’ and not ‘ be served’. It is a progressive cycle created by none other than us. This year, I had a chance to experience Fanime not as just an attendee, but also as a person working ‘behind the scenes’ with other staffers who make this convention possible. A special section will be dedicated to my reflections regarding this later on. So without further delay, here is Fanime 2007.
Every year, there is an opening ceremony kick off to welcome people as well as to introduce them to a few of the higher staffers who work extra hard to help make Fanime possible.
These people all look very eager to get the party rolling as they wait patiently for our hard working Fanime staffers to make their appearance.
The Dealers Room
This year, over 50 dealers made their appearances at Fanime, many of whom traveled across the country just to be here with us. You want something, they just about have it; from DVDs to PVCs to art books to even import games, thousands of people visit this room, Exhibit Hall #2, in search of that little special something they have wanted for a long time. As one takes his first few steps into this massive room of joy and experience euphoria, you have to wonder about one question: has your wallet run away yet? Regardless of such trivial matter which does not apply to me (as my wallet has always been strangely inhabited with killer butterflies), just walking around, looking through the variety of goods is enough. If anywhere, the dealers room is where the Anime collectors should be. Be sure to check it out if you have not when Fanime 2008 swings around in only 360 days…
For art book collectors and enthusiasts, this booth was the place to be.
And for those who are into pencil boards and figures, look no more.
Here we have import games. Guess some of us want to get caught up with the times with games only only in Japan so far.
Look at all the PVCs. So many to buy, so little money to spend.
E-Gaming and Arcades
‘FINISH HIM!’… well kind of. While Mortal Combat might not be part of any of the arcade games this year (even though it will remain in our hearts), there were many other popular games that made their show in Exhibit Hall #3 such as Initial D: 3, Guilty Gear, Melty Blood, Capcom vs. SNK 2 and many more. The arcades turned out to be fun for many as people slapped down their quarters waiting to get revenge on that someone who beat them 5 times in a row… you know you are one of them so do not even deny it. And if you need a little exercise, dance your night away with DDR or give your arm a little work out with Beatmania. Whether you want to challenge a friend or whether you are just waiting for the next event to take place, the arcades offer all the excitement with each quarter you toss down.
Racing anyone? Think you can take the challenge?
Here are some fighting games ranging from Guilty Gear to Melty Blood. Better start practicing because these people look serious.
For those games that can not be played in the arcades, e-gaming takes over bringing you popular games such as Smash Bros: Melee, Halo 2, Guitar Heroes, and Naruto. Dozens of people gather over one television set at times as they watch and wait in line to show off their skills. At night, e-gaming held hot-blooded tournaments for a variety of games that was sure to make your heart rumble. Aside from the actual physical interaction with a controller, a table off the side projected a variety of saved/recorded games beaten in record times and/or beaten with great skills. From being amazed by someone who beat Metroid in 24 minutes and collecting only 18% of the items to having fun in a very inexpensive way, the e-gaming area was a haven for those who’s luck ran out in the arcades (not to mention the quarters they have) as well as a place to sit down to relax and watch a few good childhood games played. So if you did not do so hot this year in your game, better start practicing for next year!
I think I see a few people studying the moves of some people playing.
The Swap Meet
With things that you buy and no longer care for, the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s’ becomes validated in a less ‘trash’ sense at the Fanime swap meet which took place in Exhibit Hall #3 Thursday and Friday nights. This year, 40 plus swap meet sellers looped this exhibit hall in what turned out to be a massive fest of haggling and trading among Anime fans as they try and get rid of or gain something rare. The key word I want to stress on is ‘haggling’. Yes, like any swap meet (a.k.a. flea market), you are allowed to make offers and receive counter-offers and so forth, which is one of the more interesting part of this whole meeting. It is one thing to straight up buy something at retail price, but it is another when you knock the price down by 50% if not more with your sweet talk. I mean, who can go wrong with buying the set of Cowboy Bebop DVDs for $24? Exactly. With the size of Fanime growing and the sheer number of people visiting and buying, you can not help to wonder what treasure you will find in the future swap meets. Next year, make sure to pay a visit to this event. You will not regret it.
It looks messy but you never know what you may find in all of this. Look! I see Megami!
Yes, even assassins show up to sell their stuff at the swap meet.
Many people go to the swap meet. Look at all these sellers, people just like us with something unique to offer.
Yes, we all know the saying ‘ You can do it!’ from the movie Waterboy. But when it comes to Fanime, every artist hopes they ‘can do it’ as individuals showed off his works of art composed of Anime characters from a variety of series or even original art works in Exhibition Hall #1. If there is a talent one thinks he has, the artist alley is the place to be. Besides, all it really takes is a pencil and a strong passion and you are on your way. I must say I was impressed with some of the art works I saw and I wish the best of luck to the people who participated in artist alley. If this is your dream, passion, or gift, the artist alley in Fanime will help you chase after it.
Here is some original artworks by our very talent fans.
And another example of the talents these young people have to offer.
Hungry? Let’s go grab a bite to eat! I have an idea, how about the maid caf?�! This year Fanime introduced the maid caf?� on the second floor near the entrance of the Marriott. In case people are not familiar with the maid caf?� in Fanime, it is pretty straight forward: you are lined up, you are seated by maids, and you are served by the maids your order of food. Then afterwards, you can take a picture with your guest maids if you choose. Hopefully Fanime will bring this back as many people seemed to have enjoyed this experience.
People sitting down for a nice lunch at the maid cafe.
These maids were the stars of the stage at the maid cafe. We hope to see your work next year!
Guests of Honor
There were many guests of honor this year and I want to personally thank them for coming from where ever they are from be it Japan or another state to take their time off and make their presence at Fanime this year. It was unfortunate that I was unable to attend any of the panels or interviews as things came up, but I just want to say that Fanime is the place for you and I hope to see you again in the near future.
Anime Distributors and Others
From licensing Anime of what people love, to supporting Anime clubs and beyond, FUNImation, ADV, and Media Blasters are back this year introducing people to what they have to offer. Whether it is the newly licensed Anime, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi by ADV or Solty Rei and Mushishi by FUNImation, these Anime companies work hard to introduce us to what we want and help further expand the fandom of Anime. I am glad they came back from their absences in 2006 and I hope they will continue to bring us what we love by making their appearances next year with something new to talk about out.
Look at these happy people from FUNimation ready to introduce one of the many Anime they have to offer.
Aside from Anime companies, the people who created, the popular game, Gaia online, showed up. This year Gaia had a huge space as well as an autograph session in the gaming room, Exhibit Hall #3, where fans of Gaia gathered together through arrangements with their respective clan and took group photos. If you are a fan of Gaia, be sure to check them out next time they swing by.
Looks like the Gaia is giving away prizes to lucky wheel spinners.
The autograph session of Gaia seems like a hit!
Black and White Ball
One of the newer events this year is the black and white ball where people hit the dance floor to show off their fancy footwork. Whether it is disco or techno, this semi-formal dance event gave people the opportunity to ‘let loose’ from the hectic day while having fun dancing with the person next to him. Like any other dance (yes, I remember high school from a while ago still), there were chairs and drinks with snacks provided in case people overexerted themselves a little. After a quick rest, it’s back to dancing the night away! A very unique event which would definitely draw more people in the future… that is… if they can dance the dance.
The night is young so dance your hearts out!
Do not fear, Simon did not go and crash this annual Karaoke competition where contestants made their way up stage one by one to sing their favorite Anime song. From Kotoko to Dragon Ball Z, these eager singers nervously stood on stage and gave it their all to the audience. This event was not characterized with how well one can sing but more so on whether one is brave enough to face the challenge regardless of what people think so long as the person enjoyed doing it. Throughout the dozens of contestants who went up, there were moments of awe and moments of laugher. But whatever the reactions were, appreciation for these brave people was felt as they went up on stage to sing for the crowd of faces. And in the end of the competition, the winner received the chance to open up the ceremony of Masquerade with a song of her choice.
One of our brave contestants singing a Rozen Maiden song.
MusicFest took place throughout the week of the convention with many artists making their appearances from ZZ to MECHANiCAL PANDA. Stepping into a concert hall was a first for me as I experienced the chest vibrating, ear ringing (which eventually felt like someone poured lava down my ear), and ground shaking affects which stuck with me well after the concerts ended. Overall though, MusicFest was a big success this year as I watched the many people jump up and down, screaming with excitement. I must admit it takes a little getting used to, but for a newbie first time attendee it was still very enjoyable as I got caught ‘ in the moment’ a few times myself.
Here are some members of MECHANiCAL PANDA. Great performance!
Stage Zero and The Live Auction
Stage Zero is back for a second time this year along with AMVs, Music Videos, and even a live auction event. The money from this live auction, as well as the silent auction, goes on to support cancer research. The items ranged from a Digi-Carat box with the DVDs signed by none other than Sanada-san and a Murder Princess autographed board with a custom drawing signed by Sekihiko Inui. From $3 to over $1,000, the live auction was nothing short of exhilaration.
Here is a fun little AMV event for people to jump up and start singing to the music
Here we have up for bid… a hat!
Anime Screening Rooms and Others
As always, Fanime put up a great deal of effort to provide a well rounded selection of programs for the people ranging from Anime such as Bokura Ga Ita to Code Geass and onto the more mature themed genres such as Yuri and Hentai. Whether you want to check out what is new this season (or last) or are plagued with insomnia, the screening rooms is a great place to assuage your mind, giving your hours of entertainment throughout the night.
Down this path lies the true path… of the different screening rooms of course. What did you think I was going?
One of the highlights of Fanime is the Masquerade event which took place Sunday night as hundreds of people packed the San Jose’s Center of Performing Arts waiting to watch one of the many original performances put up by cosplayers. In case Masquerade is not too familiar with you, it is an event which involves cosplayers who perform various acts they make up with originality attached. It can range from an original song and dance to a skit from a variety of Anime. It can be funny, serious, sad, or even ridiculous. But like any Masquerade in the past, this year’s performance is nothing short of expectacular.
Our judges for Masquerade.
A Fullmetal Alchemist “broadway show” of wanting to be humans.
Here is a Card Captors Sakura short skit. Looks like they are making fun of a certain person…
Look! THe Ouran Cast! They never looked better in person than they do now.
WHat evil scheme could she be plotting..
And what Anime convention would be complete without our cosplayers? These people spent their time and made a suitable costume for Fanime. Whether it involved days or hours, the results were nothing less than impressive.
Oh no watch out Mikuru! Haruhi is up to something again!
Faye took from time to drop by and say hello. I wonder how much parking was for her…
Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t step on her after she transforms…
Still chasing after Kira even as far as Fanime aren’t you Misa?
Pay very close attention to Suiseiseki’s eyes…
Unlike my 3 previous appearances at Fanime, this was the first year where I was able to stay for 4 days and attend a few more events that time had permitted me. These long yet fleeting 4 days were filled with fun, excitement, work, and joy as I cruised from the dealers room to the musicfest and beyond, spending and cherishing every moment and memory that tags along. But with praises also come the criticisms. For one, the program guide did not make it to people on time who was present to pick up their badge. Only later was there an incomplete and scattered black and white copy as a substitute. But while a few people I asked were a bit upset, it did not seem to be a major problem as information booths this year did a great job in directly people and keeping the overall coherency of the public.
Another problem which affected me personally and caused a bit of disappointment was the general confusion with scheduling regarding panels and guests of honor. I was unable to meet with either Sanada-san or Yamaga-san for their autograph session or interview due to cancellations and ambiguities with the time or place. Although my personal disappointment has been assuaged, the main problem at hand involves the sentiments of the guests of honor who come from as far as Japan to meet both loyal and prospective fans. Now of course I was not part of guest relations and do not really know how things go down with that, I am worried our guests will pack their bags and leave without returning to Fanime. How sad would it be to see Yamaga-san, who had been committed to Fanime for many years, not return?
The fans who attended Fanime this year were truly something. I honestly don’t think I have seen more immaturity then I did during some of my encounters. For example, while riding down the elevator from the 9th floor, some person decided to act ’smart’ and tried to pack as many people into it as possible, with me in the middle of it, until the overweight alarm went off. An action this was not funny and can be quite dangerous. Also, glomping has become somewhat of a problem as unsuspecting people get tackled to the ground by a massive person who is too open to his expressions for his own good. Whether it’s Fanime or not, there needs to be the same level of respect for that person who is the victim of being tackle or even hurt from that very action. Again, this is not acceptable. And just because you think many people don’t mind being ‘glomped’, there are a few who do and those are the people who should not be discriminated due to one’s own selfishness. Luckily for me, I did not get glomp nor do I want some unknown person to glomp me without my consent. It is called respect. Learn that concept for those who have not. When it comes down to all of this, I question why some even attend this convention at all. To play arcades? To play magic the gathering? To just meet people and talk? Whatever the motives are, I am not the one to judge and say what he or she should do properly at this type of convention. But I do know one thing and that is you are the people who are attending and representing the image of Anime fans whether or not you realize it or not. All the running and screaming and ‘acting’ up does not promote any type of integrity let alone self respect. And while I sound like a teacher or a mother right now, I am not telling anyone what they should do. I am simply pointing out that one needs to realize what he or she is doing sometimes and ask if it is a responsible action.
Other than those minor things, I had a lot of fun this year meeting new people and talking about Anime. Honey and Clover II was a nice addition to the program, following the showing of Honey and Clover in Fanime 2006. The dealers room, as mentioned, provided a great deal of merchandise ( for me anyways) even though complaints were heard regarding dealers not providing Anime OSTs and so forth. I guess we can not always have what we want. Maybe next year you will find what are you looking for. The cosplays were also pretty decent as people dressed up in less mainstream stuff and slowly introduced the lesser known Anime treasures only old timers stay faithful to. Kudos to those who dedicated their time in making their costumes and I hope you come back next year even more spectacular when I make my return again. I hope this year has been a fun experience for you all and I hope to see what Fanime cooks up for 2008. Till 2008!
Special Section to The Registration Team, The Team I Worked With
This year, I decided to take on the responsibility of being a staff member as part of the registration team in order to provide a small outlook on what it took to make Fanime possible. For those who do not know what registration is responsible for, we stuffed your bags full of goodies, organized the pre-registration badges before you came so you could pick it up without delay, registered the pre-registration people as they come, made sure the line did not pile up when people are in line by creating sections, made badges for people who were on-site registration, and made sure everything went as smoothly as possible. There was an incredible amount of dedication involved as we worked towards not how long we were there but when we were there when we were needed. Sometimes one of us had to work for as much as 6 hours without stopping and if not more especially on Saturday when the lines were piling up faster than our ability to process the information. It was both a hard and fulfilling task at the same time. And while I made a few mistakes and got scolded on occasion, I did not regret a single moment of my time spent helping out registration. It was one thing to attend Fanime as a fan, but it was another when you were part of helping to make this convention happen. The faces of people you saw as they moved about the line, eager to go in provided a sense of responsibility as you help inch the line closer for them with each passing person. But it was not one person’s responsibility or burden to carry as we all worked as a team supporting each other and taking each others place when we needed a brief lunch break. In my case, I ate once a day for the first 3 days of the convention, eating dinner at 10PM at the closest McDonalds. I am sure many ate only once a day as well. I talked with a lot of people there and in the end, my very presence felt very comfortable. I want to take this time to acknowledge the hard working people who have been there this year and the previous years and say this was a very positive and satisfactory experience for me. I hope more people will find that obligation and experience something unforgettable.
Q/A With Antonio Eco
Here is a special Q&A with Antonio Eco, Head of Registration:
1. What is the best part of working as head of registration and what is the hardest part?
The best part of working as Head of Registration is working with my staff. We are a staff of less than 50 people that process 10,000 attendees in a volunteer organization. I worked registration for the past 3 years as a regular registration staffer and moved up to Registration Manager in that time because I keep returning to make Registration worthwhile for the registration staff.
The hardest part is that the attendees arrive to register at our convention at no set time. The attendees can arrive at anytime and our registration staff have to be ready to handle the line at any time during the time that Registration is open.
2. Approximately how many hours of sleep were you to able to get in the 5 days and 4 nights of this convention?
Sleep is essential for all staff including myself. Unfortunately, the setup and preparation for the lines for Registration caused me to lose more sleep than I wanted. I would estimate I had a total of 14 hours of sleep during the convention.
3. Did you have time to attend some of the major events of this convention (like Masquerade, Black and White Ball… etc etc etc)?
My duties as as head of registration kept me busy most of the time. I wasn’t able to attend most of the major events. Instead, I wanted to make sure that my registration staff were able to attend what they wanted to provided that we had enough staff to cover for them. In the end, I had about 30 minutes for Artist’s Alley on Saturday. At night I would walk the concourse with my brother who was also on registration staff to enjoy the events that I missed through him.
4. How would you say the general fluidity of the line was (especially on Saturday) and how efficiently did you think the staffers worked in general?
The fluidity of the line was as smooth as we could make it. How fast we were able to process the line depended on each member who came through Registration. Our staff not only processes the memberships for each attendee, but we also answer any questions that they may have. This is not an efficient process with more of the difficult questions better answered by an Info Desk, but we managed to keep the line flowing even during the busiest times.
5. Do you think there is something registration can improve upon and if so, what?
There are many ways we can improve registration, but what is feasible for next year is limited to what resources we have available. I’m still working on different ways to improve everything for both the attendee and the staff. Unfortunately, I won’t reveal how we are changing things, but I am excited about the upcoming changes.
Thank you for answering these questions and I look forward to next year. We appreciate your hard work.
Our staffs do their best in keeping an orderly line.
People patiently waiting for their turn to recieve their shiny badge.
Our team members occupied with serving the people who are registering for the convention.