It’s That Time of the Year Again
This year, Fanimecon takes place at the McEnergy Convention Center in downtown San Jose where around 12,000 people gathered in the span of 5 days to create another memorable year for themselves and the people around them. Like every year, we have the dedicated and hard working staffs and division heads to make this truly a convention by fans and for fans. I just like to take this moment to acknowledge that fact and for people to realize the hard work and sacrifices in regards to both time and money put out by them to make it all happen for us. Maybe some will realize that and fulfill the same duty and take on that responsibility to continue the legacy of Fanimecon that was created years ago. So without further delay, here is Fanimecon 2008.
Unlike last year, the dealer’s room this year took place in the bigger room, Exhibit Hall #3. Many have mentioned the fact that it was “such a waste of empty space”. Regardless though, I thought it was a good idea as there was more space and room for people to walk about without that certain someone next to you dripping sweat on your shirt or breathing down your neck. As far as the actual items dealers sold, I thought there were some decent things to buy and some PVCs (basically larger Anime figures scale 1:6 and so forth) which really caught me by surprise to be on display. However, the most I could say regarding the dealer’s room this year was mediocre and decent at best with the exception of Japan Video Games and Berth Doujinshi Club. I guess what I really wanted to see were more items of Anime such as Lucky Star, Code Geass, Kanon (2006), Air, Clannad, Black Lagoon, Pumpkin Scissors and so forth (you get the idea). Even more Japanese magazines like Megami or imported Anime t-shirts would have done the trick. But I’m also not saying there was anything wrong with what’s sold per se. I mean Death Note, Naruto, Bleach, and Haruhi (surprisingly), fine, sell what was needed to be sold to make it worth the hundreds of miles of driving. But I would have liked to see a stock of a few rare imported PVCs or mugs or even Anime OSTs to cater the interest held by certain people who found a niche of merchandise to buy within the niche. I admit that it’s hard to satisfy everyone’s needs, but for me, the dealer’s room was brief (though all the dealers were very friendly and approachable). Even so, I hope many dealers will come back next year with even more diverse and unique items to fancy our personal “taste buds”.
Japan Video Games offered some pretty decent items. Do you see something you want? I sure do, and it’s not just something.
Here is a booth by World’s Best Comic. Might I add, that dress isn’t just for show and tell..*cough*
Anime Depot really knows how to show up my Anime collection.
I just barely see the end of this thing…maybe if I squint…=_=
Here, I want to acknowledge the Anime companies who made their appearances to Fanime this year in their efforts to promote and bring us what we care about. Two companies came, one of which was Media Blasters and the other being Bandai. With Media Blasters, they provided people with a huge selection of hentai and various other licensed non-hentai Anime titles. Bandai of course never failed to surprise me in the past and they have yet to stop now. I have to admit, they’re a huge power house in the Anime industry with Code Geass, Gurren Lagann, Lucky Star, Haruhi, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and many more titles under its belt. This year, Bandai offered free pencil boards and a huge 41×32 inch Lucky Star promotional poster for free. Bless you Bandai. One disappointment however was that there were obviously only two companies that showed up. In the future, I would like to see FUNImation, ADV, CPM, Viz, Nozomi and any others unmentioned to show up and introduce to us what they have to offer.
Representatives of Bandai hard at work.
E-Gaming and Arcades
As previously mentioned, the dealer’s room stole the spot light in Exhibit Hall #3 while e-gaming and arcades moved to Exhibit Hall #2. Amazingly however, the swap of the two rooms seemed to work pretty well. I mean, at least it didn’t feel like I was trekking across a vast empty void from where the consoles to where the arcades were placed. To simply put it, the smaller room in this case won. With the e-gaming section, I had no objections and I found some things which I played for the first time quite enjoyable (though I mainly pigged myself around Rock Band and Brawl). As far as the arcades went, they were awesome and well selected. Last year MvC2 was replaced by Melty Blood; but this year, non replaced either: they were BOTH there. Now imagine that, no need to pick between each other’s existence by people. Other than that, Initial D, DDR, and all your typically expected games made their appearances as well. Oh, and did I mention Puzzle Fighter was there too? One small issue I had was with the tournament e-gaming set up. I registered to take part in the MvC2 tournament, but to my surprise, the system used was different than what was stated, that being a Playstation when it was supposed to be a Dreamcast. In addition, I got so confused with who was supposed to play who that I just flat out left after one match (not to mention the TV used had a screen the size of one on a camcorder). I even heard that a tournament for some game was canceled the following day. However, this was their first time setting up something like that so I would assume it was only a first step toward something great in the future. But aside from that little dilemma, I still enjoyed what e-gaming offered this year as I also knew how hard it was for the staffers to govern and take the responsible for everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, that was put out. It was a good effort and I hope for its improvement next time Fanime rolls around.
One area of the arcades…
…and the other area of the arcades.
Now if I could only squeeze through this guy in front of me… and the person in front of- ah forget it… I don’t mind sitting this one out at the e-gaming area, I guess.
Exhibit Hall #1 was where artist alley took place this year and I have to say that it was great overall. The hall was packed with just about every table taken by some artist and some of the things I saw were short of being spectacular. I mean, I saw a drawing of characters from Baccano! and even a vocaloid character, Hatsune Miku, for a phone strap. Anyways be it popular or not, there were a diverse number of things encircling drawings, prints, keychains, pins, and what have you where it was enough to lure me back into that hall more than just a few times. These artists were not charging much for what they have done either, but just enough so they could continue to do what they love and share with us a bit of their passion. And so, we also did the same to acknowledge what they put their heart into through even that small amount of money we pay to show our appreciation for their hard work. Good job to you artists out there and keep on drawing what you and we all love. No criticisms from me here.
When I said the place was packed, I meant it too.
An artist hard at work. Wish I could draw like that too.
Ah yes, the swap meet. If there was ever a time for deals and rare items, there and then in Exhibit Hall #2 was the time and place to look. This year’s swap meet was honestly better than the previous years with a large number of people willing to sell some things I would just about die before I would consider selling. So seriously, when was the last time anyone saw a Kanon UFO catcher mug for sale? Or how about Code Geass post card collection obtained only from imports? Not only was it fun to look through all the stuff fans brought, talking with the sellers for a buck or two off had never felt so good (even though we all know that extra money went to Pockey, Ramune, Ramen, or all of the above and then some). The only minor problem I had was with certain “regular Anime fans” overcharging things they were selling. I won’t mention the specifics of those sellers, but I can just say some charged more for a PVC, DVD, or poster than even the dealers. On a side note, I hope people who didn’t receive a chance to sell reserve their spot early next time to take part in the experience; so remember, the things you wanted to sell could be what someone else wanted ( in my case, it was 90% of my purchases this year). Really makes me want to sell some of my things as well next year…. na, maybe not.
Surely there is something in there someone out there wants. You know you want that umbrella… yes you.
Gashapons, Super Nintendo game, Manga, posters and etc. You get the idea.
Maid cafe ended up on the other side of the convention center, from where it was last year, on the second floor near the Hilton hotel area. In comparison though, I preferred the old location simply due to the fact that that area just seemed more attracting around the screening rooms and next to the Marriott. The new location was separated by a gap with an escalator and stairs not to mention the area around the back of the maid cafe just seemed…depressing. It was really the only way to describe my initial reaction when I peeked inside. Though I didn’t get a chance to eat there, my experience when I sat with a friend Saturday morning was that the cafe improved to some extent compared to its first run from the previous year. Not only did the maids served food, they interacted with the guests for a period of time and made them feel fairly comfortable. I even recall one of the maids drawing some Anime character on a napkin or something. In general though, the maid cafe was a good idea and props to the hard working maids who sacrificed their time and effort to support this aspect of the fandom. I hope the cafe will be even better next year with maybe some form of entertainment? Or maybe some sort of a quick game after a meal? Who knows. It could only get better and more interesting, right?
Four of several lovely maids who worked at the cafe. Keep up the good work guys. (b^_^)b
Well, this year I didn’t get a chance to check out any of the video programmings (other than taking a quick glance into the rooms) as I was kept busy with other things to do. I guess I’m not one who would believe in going to an Anime convention to watch Anime. But I guess it’s my own little habit so go for it if you like the experience of watching something with a group of people. Just imagine being in an Anime club and sitting around people who would laugh or cry or whatever with you to create a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere as a whole. Regarding the actual Anime screened, I guess they were pretty decent. There were Higurashi Kai, Nodame Cantabile, So Long Mr. Despair, Clannad, and so forth. But these mentioned were just some of my personal favorites and in no way would I believe the other Anime wouldn’t be enjoyable to the mass crowd of people with different taste in each focused genre. That said, I think these screenings room offered the opportunity to group people together who were interested or have begun to take interest in something shared in that “closed circle”. People interested should definitely check out the screening rooms next year. Ah yes…I still remember that one night 2 years ago when I went into a screening room that was projecting Akira to over 1,000 people. That was something memorable.
One of the video programming locations as was with last year as well. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that down the hall was the Hentai room. Interested… anyone?
Like last year, stage zero was located near the main entrance on the second floor of the convention center near Exhibit Hall #1. There, many events took place ranging from AMVs to a Anime game show and live auction for charity starring Ric Meyers and Reuben Langdon. Stage zero was pretty good this year and as exciting as it was, it also really helped introduce many new and shy people walking into the convention to something welcoming and comforting. The only event I really stayed for was the live auction and like last year, Ric Meyers did a bang up job with the addition of his duet, Reuben Langdon, this year. These guys made the auction exponentially enjoyable with their charismatic personality in charming people to the point where even I almost threw my hand up for something I indifferently cared about. If there was a place designated as a resting spot, stage zero would be the place to be. A great keeper for the generations of Fanime to come. Good job.
A break from walking as these fans take a quick break to watch an AMV.
“Item #38… a life size Gundam”…
Masquerade took place on Saturday night in the Civic Auditorium where over 50 entries awaited their chance to fill the stage with original acts and performances relating, but not limited, to the Anime and the Anime characters they cosplayed as. Looking back at this year’s masquerade, I have to say even though a few acts were just incredibly amazing, some were overdone such as the Haruhi dance as a prime example while there were others that made me go ” huh..?”. Just to provide an example, the Haruhi dance was so overcooked that by the time the 4th or 5th one came out on stage, people were already boo-ing. Though I was on the verge of blowing my own fuse empathizing with the crowd relating to that little annoyance, it wouldn’t be fair to blame the later entries who weren’t aware that they were going to be redundant number 6. Also, the performances were of people who sincerely wanted to perform for the crowd as indicated by bravely appearing in front of thousands of focused eyes. However I will play the devil’s advocate part as well and mention that of the thousands of Anime out there, do something which would make us go “wow..” next time instead of something that was over-hyped (such as Haruhi). Masquerade involved performances by non other than fans who wanted to have fun, but expand upon on it as a whole so our fandom would become more rooted in diversity (not that I’m saying it isn’t already). Either way, good job to the entries for their efforts and their well earned applause. I look forward to what our fans bring next year.
Ok now, the Baccano! cast doing the Lucky Star dance. Can we say original already? Please?
A MvC performance. Now I know I’m more biased when it comes to things like this, but come on… come onnnnnnn!
I was so ready to bail if a dragon slave flew my way.
Guests of Honor
Coming from around the country and even from Japan were our special guests of honor who once again made their dedicated trip back to Fanime for our fans who eagerly awaited them. This year, there were many special guests such as Yamaga-san, Sadamoto-san, Otsuka-san, Ric Meyers, Netsu-san and others who weren’t already mentioned. The only panel I attended this year was the Gainax panel where Yamaga-san brought with him a number of Gainax staffs to answer questions for our fans who paid a visit. I was pretty happy to see the sheer number of people who filled that panel room to show their dedication and support for everything the people of Gainax had done (even though I would have considered a few questions to be rather inappropriate). Compared to last year which was had certain panels pushed all the way until Monday, our guests this year received the attention and support they deserved for their hard work and long trip. I just wish Sanada-san would have made her appearance this year as well. After the panel, our Gainax guests held an autograph session and stayed much longer than expected to get through all the fans in line. On the same note, Reuben Langdon and Netsu-san held autograph sessions in artist alley as well. Well done this year though in general. Let’s bring our guests back for another round next year. We’ll be there to show our support.
Yamaga-san ready to answer a fan’s question.
There was one word for me to describe musicfest after it was over this year: awesome. Actually, I could have used more than one word but I’ve decided to keep it simple. The concert I attended was the one on Sunday featuring Ramen and Rice and Antic Cafe. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the experience was damn awesome? First off, the line for the concert was smooth and fairly quick. Security ran down the long (yes, very long) line notifying people to not take in cameras. Though some people decided to be a sneak, they failed hard once they were physically checked near the entrance. I waited a maximum of 40 minutes with about 1,000+ people in front of me. Not too bad. Secondly, the set up for the Civic Auditorium was organized with chairs removed (of course) and enough room where people weren’t pilling on top of each other in the mosh pit. In addition, the place was well regulated and nothing too crazy happened aside from what seemed like people near the back end of the moss pit fighting amongst themselves. The actual concert though, wow. I have never heard of An Cafe until about a week before the convention from a friend. It sparked a little interest in me since I found out their song “Kakusei Heroism ~The Hero Without A Name~”, was the second opening theme of the Anime Darker Than Black, so I decided to wait in line for a few minutes to grab a ticket. Once inside Sunday night, Ramen and Rice put up their performance with a variety of Anime and game songs ranging from Kingdom Hearts to Naruto. Then came An Cafe. What could I say, the fans loved them and so did I. They put up a wonderful show and approximately 95% of everyone was either screaming or got really into the mood. You know, getting into the beat by nodding the head and all the good stuff. Though I wasn’t one of those people who got completely lost in the moment, I couldn’t help but feel as if the fans and An Cafe really connected with each other. They were so lively and not a second were they boring as they seemed to enjoy themselves as much as the audience. Their first appearance here at Fanime was something to remember. After they performed their set, people wanted an encore and many stayed and chanted “An Cafe! An Cafe!” for a good 5 minutes before they came back on stage and performed one final song. Whether or not the person was a hardcore fan or a first timer, I believe An Cafe won the hearts of many who who attended that night. Though An Cafe was a big thing for Fanime this year, I hope many other music artists would appear the year to come to make musicfest an even greater event. Much like how we were provided with an experience to remember, we’ll provide one as fans in return. A job well done by everyone.
*picture from fanime.com
Throughout those 5 days that I resided at Fanime, I witnessed a range of cosplayers from Toward the Terra to Code Geass and beyond. Overall from what I saw, I believe that there was the beginning of a slow emergence in cosplayers targeting more unique Anime to fill in that little gap which lacked diversity from the previous year. However, I do admit that this was the first time I stayed for 5 days so pardon the ignorance when I referred to the previous year as I have just done should I be incorrect. Nevertheless, the cosplays were great this year. The people who spent their long hours making the costumes complete Fanime as a whole and really set up the atmosphere through their devotion and effort as Anime fans. I was glad more and more people had decided to cosplay and I hope those who did took up both joy and pride in their accomplishments.
It’s.. it’s… Miku Hatsune! Leek spin please! (Miku Hatsune - Vocaloid)
H-hi Rena… please don’t um… kill me? (Rena - Higurashi)
So Yoko… about that gun of yours… (Yoko - Gurren Lagann)
So Hei, what exactly IS your renumeration? (From left to right: Yin and Hei - Darker Than Black)
That one on top looks angry. (Dugtrio - Pokemon)
So I assume Konata is off harassing your sister Kagami… right Tsukasa? (Tsukasa - Lucky Star)
Well, another Fanime has come and gone and I have to say that this Fanime was the most enjoyable and memorable by far in the 5 years I have attended since 2004. It was a pleasure meeting many new people and experiencing each event. Overall, I thought Fanime improved compared to the previous year. And though I was not able to attend every event, I was quite pleased with the general set up and how smoothly things went from what I did experience. For example, there were enough schedules and guide books for most if not everyone dispersed throughout the convention so people knew where to go and what to look for at a certain time. Registration worked hard this year as well with their new experimental procedure for people who registered with what seemed like less chaos compared to the last; but from what I have heard, that hit the fan in a bad way. Though I was unable to confirm this, I stopped by there during “rush hour” a few times and noticed things were much more tranquil in comparison.
The screenings seemed to offer a better variety with an array of genres ranging from action, drama, comedy, horror and etc. Also, there were plenty of water stations throughout the convention floor which served as a pit stop for the thirsty ones who have walked for hours on end. Finally, the overall atmosphere of the convention and fans who came improved as well. There was an increase in the diversity of fans along with less immature people who glomped the living hell out of some unsuspecting victim. Instead, I saw people who wore “glomp me” signs walking around who offered themselves to the other party. I believe this was a positive step and that random glomping to be a form of disrespect, unacceptable unless agreed upon by the “host” and “donor”. Also to my surprise, no one tried to fit three dozen people in the elevators and decided to jump up and down so no life-flashing-before-my-eyes-before-death type of situation for me this year. Musicfest, as mentioned, was awesome and so were the panels and guests of honors. Both the swap meet and dealers room completed everything I could want and masquerade and maid cafe were decent as well. But like every year, there was no such thing as a perfect convention so I will share my grievances in a less formal manner below.
Well to start, what smart-ass thought it was funny to press all the floors of the hotel elevators? Can we learn to grow up kids? Even 10 year olds would know how crappy it is to wait, so I don’t know how it would be funny to press all the buttons to make the hundreds of people wait when the perpetrator could be one of victims in the future as well. Also, what happened with the black and white ball? Were we supposed to choose between either musicfest or the ball Sunday night? If anything, why couldn’t it be held AFTER or even BEFORE. Why were these two big events conflicting with each other? I don’t get it. Anyways, these two were basically my biggest complaints and I guess that’s about it. I wasn’t lying when I said this was the most enjoyable con for me up to date.
With everything said, we conclude another year of Fanime, another year of memories made but with another prospective year to come filled with even more memories and friends to meet and make. Each year, we strengthen our commitment and represent ourselves even stronger as we continue to come and support this hobby that we cherish by contributing in some way even as simple as dressing up or showing up for the convention. The time we spend each year here will be carried into the next as we look forward to the time convention closes in as our heart begins to race, waiting for that fateful day convention doors open again. So I say this: continue to do what you love, continue to come to Fanime whether you’re a habitual con-goer or new (along with other Anime conventions). These experiences are something worth keeping and remembering, for some of us even the rest of our life. Until Fanimecon 2009, see you all next year.
~ Robert Lu