FanimeCon 2010 Has Arrived!
FanimeCon took place this year again at the beautiful McEnergy Convention Center in downtown San Jose. Like every previous years, this year’s convention was a very special event for old and new fans alike. People around the world traveled to see what FanimeCon had to offer this year and this year was anything but disappointing with a huge line up of guests of honor ranging from musicians to seiyuus to popular video game creators and character designers.
For a convention that started with nothing but a few hundred people, it has grown almost exponentially to what it is now and what many take pride in help running and going to. The “By Fans, For Fans” motto of this convention is what fuels the diversity of the people, events and guests and every year, the proof is not in the number but the types and diversity of attendees. Like every year before I proceed, I would like to thank the hard working staffs who make this convention happen and for us to enjoy. Some work tirelessly as they sacrifice their own free time and even sleep just so this convention can happen for us to enjoy. I’m sure each and every staff member in one way or another take pride in being an integrated part of this fandom. Vice versa, we as loyal fans also take pride for everything that’s done for us by them. But without further delay, I proudly present FanimeCon 2010.
A few years back, Swap Meet was somewhat of an experimental event. Questions lingered with whether or not dealers might be upset with its presence. However as the years passed by, swap meet has thrived and has proved to be one of the biggest and most unique event of FanimeCon. This year, hundreds if not thousands of fans set up and gathered to sell and buy. It was unbelievable what one was able to find there, but taking into the consideration of the huge diversity of people who attended FanimeCon, it should in some way be expected. In comparison to last year, the crowd was moving much more fluid without the massive cluster of people who were not able to move past the E-Gaming tables near the wall. Things were set up swiftly and smoothly and overall, I saw many happy faces. For me, I would say this year’s swap meet was by far the best in terms of what was sold and like last year, the majority of my money was shelled out just at this one event. With those things said, a few things came up with the swap meet that I would like to briefly address.
One of the biggest complaint by fans this year is the overlapping of FLOW’s concert with Friday’s swap meet event. Many felt unhappy about the fact that they had to choose between one or the other. The fact of the matter is however that at conventions especially bigger ones like FanimeCon, overlapping of events is bound to happen and not everyone can be satisfied. From a swap meet seller’s point of view, I can in some way see that person having a bit more of a disadvantage since someone who’s just browsing could simply go to part of each event at separate times. However again, the question is what’s more important: a concert by a famous Japanese band who’s featured their songs in popular anime such as Code Geass and Eureka 7 or making a lot of money? I guess the answer depends on each individual but I have an idea what the majority of the fans chose. Another issue I want to address goes back to my previous point about dealer’s possibly being upset that their business could be dimished by people who plan to save their for money solely to spend at the swap meet. However, I see it as an opportunity for fans to take advantage by making money so they actually have money to spend at the dealer’s room. At Anime Boston, I commented on the fact that their swap meet was very small and would benefit if it was more developed and given attention to. However FanimeCon is a prime example that both swap meet and dealer’s room could be successful. On a final note, I hope to see even more fans return next year to share with us not only their merchandise but also a piece of their memory and their record as dedicated anime fans.
There is both a good and a bad for the dealer’s room this year at FanimeCon. The bad is that the economy still sucks and the US currency conversion to Japanese yen is still amazingly horrible for importing just about everything. The good is that dealers are still true to the fans and came to support the subculture by providing the things we want. Some dealers are veterans of FanimeCon while others are fairly new. However, all of them, With a smile on their faces displayed their products with pride as attendees passed up and down the aisles looking for certain items to fancy their specific taste. For me, I was pleasantly surprised with a few items such as the imported figures by Toyslogic and Toylet. Also, another booth sold a set of Clannad plates that I really wanted which, unfortunately, was a little out of my budget. Nevertheless, I have not been disappointed by the dealer’s room though I have to admit I really wanted to find a Railgun t-shirt. For those K-On fans though, there was an abundance of their products.
Speaking with a few dealer’s this year, many were pleased with the treatment the staffs at FanimeCon provided for them and I was even told they were treated like ” Kings” in comparison to other conventions. Hearing that made me feel at ease since dealers are no different than the general attendees. People need to realize that those who sell to us were and are still a fan of anime and this subculture and they deserve every bit of respect like the rest of us. They started out as anime fans and many ended up being a seller years down the line as their way of trying to reach out to other new generation of fans by making certain products accessable to people who aren’t able to easily obtain them. Unfortunately, many sellers were not able to enjoy what the convention had to offer because they were tied down. Speaking personally, I would love to run an anime store in the future. However, it would be a shame to forget and lose in touch with myself as a fan that made me who I am today. My hope is that dealers next year can enjoy the convention and the many events there will be. I thank each and every dealer for coming this year and I hope to see their return next year and beyond.
Aksys, Daisuke Ishiwatari and Toshimichi Mori
Back for a second year in a row was Aksys in the dealer’s room to demo their new line up of games to come, mainly Blazblue: Continuum Shift and Death Smiles. For many, Blazblue: Continuum Shift was something new for people who have never been exposed to its style of fighting and art. For others, it was an opportunity to take a glance at and play the sequel to the previous Blazblue game, Calamity Trigger. Again, their set up at FanimeCon looked very nice despite the small amount of space that was provided. Merchandise ranged from comics books, older hit Aksys games and even a limited edition Blazblue fighting stick. Nearing the end of the convention, Aksys even auctioned off a large banner of Blazblue: Calamity Trigger that was used in Anime Expo 2009 from what I remember. Overall, I would say many had fun whether they watched or played the games Aksys set up. I was really glad to see their return in promoting games that aren’t very accepted or even known by the general public. Keep up the good work Aksys and keep bringing over games for people to experiment and fall in love with.
Along with Aksys this year came the creators of Guilty Gear and Blazblue. Both Daisuke Ishiwatari and Toshimichi Mori held autograph sessions and a panel for the loyal fans and the curious. Though I haven’t played Guilty Gear too much, I have played Blazblue and I love the game for its music, character design and even the background art. Though the Guilty Gear series is done and over with, I already can’t wait to see what Mori-san has to offer with the third installment of Blazblue be it the storyline or characters buffed or nerfed. I hope to see them again in the future and I hope they will keep supporting the fandom.
Before I start, I would just like to say wow to this year’s artist alley. Of all the conventions I’ve attended from as far as I remember stretching from the West Coast to the East coast, this year’s artist alley at FanimeCon was just simply amazing and probably the best that I’ve seen in a long time. Just to make it clear, when I say ‘best’, I am in no way putting down previous years. It wasn’t a change in quality of art work that made this year my favorite year. Making a judgment based on that fact would be too narrow-minded. No, it was the creativity of each artist for their booth and what they sold that made this year’s artist alley most fun and memorable. What I mean by that is that there were so many diverse things artists offered this year outside of just drawings and prints. For example, how about some Touhou t-shirts in which I was lured into buying? Or how about miniature Gamecube console decorations made out of little plastic beads? Better yet, how about large sushi roll pillows? Artist after artist, I was very impressed with what I saw and again, especially with how creative most went about their booths and merchandise. Besides, isn’t creativity one of the biggest factors for an artist? On top of that, the type of artwork followed closely with the newer anime and games that are out currently in Japan and America so finding more recent things like K-On, Sora no Woto and Railgun wasn’t too big of an issue. Keep up the good work prospective artists and don’t stop what you love doing!
E-Gaming and Arcade
Compared to past year, the layout for E-Gaming this year was simply beautiful. The tables were organized and the games provided by e-gaming was overall for both old and new generation gamers. Last year, I remember ranting about how Rock Band 2 wasn’t made available for the general public to play. But guess what, this year the game was set up in all it’s glory. Sadly for me, I lost all my finger pressing skills on the guitar but I was nevertheless glad to see crowds of people tentatively on standby waiting for a chance at the spot light. But like last year, there was a game I was disappointed with not being present and that was Blazblue: Calamity Trigger. Though I understand the fact that Aksys will be setting up a booth to promote Blazblue: Continuum Shift along with an arcade, there should at least be a tournament for Calamity Trigger. With the excuse that there are many other tournaments, I still don’t understand how a very popular fighting game that was released less than a year ago was not part of the list of tournaments while games from ages back made it to the scene. Other than that, e-gaming was good from what I saw. I know e-gaming staffs work very hard since it’s opened 24 hours. Some get single digit hours of sleep throughout the duration of the convention so I want to thank them
for all their efforts and hard work.
Like the layout of E-Gaming, the arcades were set up really nicely and organized. The choice of games was excellent ranging from the new Aksys fighting game Blazblue: Continuum Shift to DJ Max Technika. Along with new games came older games and even fun, obscure games not many know about such as Mushihime. Both of these factors made arcades this year feel more complete. In addition, the prices for the arcades were very reasonable. On that note, this year FanimeCon recruited a new head of arcades and he has worked very hard to make sure these games made their appearances for the people to enjoy. A job well done and I hope to see what his big plans are for the up coming years.
FanimeCon delivered with Stage Zero this year again as it sets itself up to be one of the most diverse attractions. Many events happened on the stage ranging from the Maid Cafe’s performance, Halko Momoi’s live concert, Yukie Dong’s performance, Reuban Langdon’s buttwhoopin’ in Street Fighter IV and beyond. Whether one needed some down time in-between other events or just a place to rest his legs, stage zero was constantly providing entertainment. Many of the events that happened on stage zero were done by the fans for the fans. As previously mentioned, Halko Momoi who was last year’s FanimeCon’s special Japanese guest of honor, returned again this year to put up a show on stage with the maids of the maid cafe. Also, Yukie Dong who has been to many cosplay gatherings and an avid support of her fans, bravely put up a show by singing songs from popular and new anime titles. And yes, good old Reuben Langdon was back to show off his Street Fighter IV skills but this time, I heard that he got much better compared to last year (since I remember him losing to Abel more than just once). The charity auction, like every previous years, also took place on stage zero to raise money for the unfortunates. Stage zero is truly the life of the party of FanimeCon and I hope to see the same dedication by the fans next year to put up even more shows for us.
Like every anime convention, masquerade is an event for the fans to be creative and put up a show as characters they cosplay as. It is both a creative and cooperative process by the fans to deliver originality in entertainment. Though I did enjoy some of the acts during masquerade such as the infamous Super Yaoi Brothers, I was still in a way dissapointed by some of the cosplays. At times, I wasn’t even able to relate with some of the characters since I didn’t know who some of the characters cosplayed even were if they were even anything at all. In a way, I was hoping to see cosplayers who were more in tuned with current anime and games out in Japan. Though I have nothing against Ghibli, Naruto, Dragon Ball, Bleach, One Piece, Pokemon or any of the more mainstream anime out there, I did in some way wish some of the acts were a bit more diverse and reached out to not just casual anime fans. I mean, how awesome would it be to see a Kuroko parody of the anime Railgun and her constant ” oneesama~~!” cries? Or how about some K-On skits which are not even hard to think of in terms of being original. Heck, times like this I even miss the overly done Haruhi skits back in FanimeCon 2008. With all that’s said, I want to not send out the wrong idea that I don’t appreciate the hard work and efforts of the people who performed. I am also in no way saying every skit must be relating to anime or some game. However, I do hope that people who put up acts that are relating to anime can dig a little more and maybe find something new, fun and exciting to share with everyone in the following years. It brings closer the diversity that is of masquerade by catering to fans of all ages and preferences. Still, good work with masquerade this year and all your efforts to putting up a show for us.
Maids Maids and more Maids! Maid Cafe and Maids on Stage Zero
What started only four years ago has turned into one of the most popular attractions of FanimeCon under the guidance of the recent head of maid cafe, Jun, and the rest of the maids and staffs who worked with her. The set up with the table was organized and beautiful with ballons stringed to the center of each and the overall layout was very nice which created a comfortable atmosphere. As people ordered their food, they were greeted by lovely maids before being seated by them. Whether it was one person or a group of people, there was a maid available for whoever. After the meal, the maids would keep the customer company and play a small game with them or even spark a genuine chat. When the customer was ready to leave, they had a choice to take a picture with the maid/s who served them. One of the complaints I hear from people were the prices for the food and dessert. However, people need to understand that the price was according to convention pricing and not any more expensive than anything else bought at other locations of the convention. Also keep in mind that these maids and staffs did get paid for their hardworks and services. They were there for the fans and they enjoyed seeing people appreciate an aspect of this subculture they provided.
One of the things I love the most about the maid cafe at FanimeCon was that it tried to retain the authenticity of what a maid cafe was like in Japan. Even the music played in the background were selected carefully. The maids at the maid cafe should not be underestimated in terms of what their duties were either. They were not only there to serve people food but they were also performers and entertainers. For example, the maids put up a grand show on stage zero with Halko Momoi as they brought the whole crowd to life as they sang and danced. The time and effort put in by them were countless and I want to thank them for being a prime example and proud representatives of the motto ‘ By Fans, For Fans’ of FanimeCon. I also want to praise, again, the hard work by the staffs of maid cafe as I know some of them barely slept at all preparing for the many events during the convention on top of running the cafe itself. Thank you for diversifying FanimeCon and please put up a great show for us again next year.
MusicFest: FLOW and LM.C
By now, I am assuming people have already read the little rant about having FLOW and Friday’s swap meet overlap so I don’t think there is any need to go more into it. However I do have to mention that yeah, of course I went to FLOW’s concert between the two choices =P. At the moment, I’m still amazed with how the staffs of MusicFest pulled off getting these two major bands to come to FanimeCon. First it was the announcement of LM.C who’s done the theme songs of the anime Red Garden but then when FLOW was announced, everything hit the roof. They are known for their songs in very popular anime such as Code Geass, Naruto and Eureka 7. With the actual set up and start time, things went without delay and everything seemed to have gone smoothly. Fans were lined up long before the start of the concert to get the best seats in the house. Their popularity was not without base and the whole-hearted appreciation at the concert was seen by the uproar of the fans cheering and standing up song after song. Even I stood up and got into the mood for a few songs and at one point, I made a phone call during one of the songs for a close friend who wasn’t able to be there with me. Aside from a slight ringing in my ears after the concert which was most likely due to how close I sat, everything was very enjoyable. The only negative thing I’ve heard so far was the LM.C autograph session which happened only in a single time block on the last day of the convention with lines that stretch and snaked around the second level of the Hilton into who knows where. Other than that, I thinkmany people had a one in a life time experience or experiences with these two very hard to see bands perform live. I think MusicFest staffs did a bang up job this year and I thank them for their hard work. My hope is still to see Kotoko live but who knows. Maybe it will happen one day.
Halko Momoi Returns!
Yep, you guessed it! Halko Momoi returned to FanimeCon for a second year in a row. As people may or may not know, Momoi-san has taken on various roles relating to what we enjoy such as a seiyuu for video games and anime. In addition, she has released numerous discographies and has even written a book called Akiba Love which is an autobiography. Last year, Momoi-san performed a concert during MusicFest and now this year, she was back for round two since her fans could not get enough of her and vice versa. Most importantly as a self-proclaimed otaku, she came back as a fan and to simply just have fun. Instead of a large concert like last year, Momoi-san performed on stage zero and set up a Momoi Quest where fans would gather clues at each of her events for the ultimate prize of eating with her at the maid cafe while being served by the lovely maids. During her performance on stage zero, she sang and danced with the maids of the maid cafe and brought the crowd to life as she even ran into the audience to get them even more into the groove of things. With that, there were a few things I noticed about FanimeCon and their guest relationship which I greatly respect, one of which was how laid back and hands off the staffs of the convention were. What I mean by that is how much freedom Momoi-san had to do what she wanted to do. We as fans want to see our guests interact with us as much as possible for we are not just attendees but supporters of the things they contributed to everything but not limited to the fandom. As it was obvious, Momoi-san had just as much fun performing as we had watching. Secondly, I noticed how much respect the people of FanimeCon, both staffs and attendees, had for Momoi-san. What this indicates is that people are opened to new things at the convention as new doors open to possibilities people can take with their appreciation for the subculture. This shows the maturity of the majority of the fans of FanimeCon as compared to for example Anime Boston when Mimura-san performed at her performance only to be ridiculed and heckled by several people. Momoi-san also had an autograph session in which it was fully packed and went until the end of the session. Two, not one item, was even allowed to be signed by her and even a photo could be taken with her. All in all, having Momoi-san at FanimeCon and seeing how much fun everyone had proves how much in tune and just how much the people of FanimeCon care about the guests that are brought over. From what I know, there has been nothing but positive things by her about this convention and I for one don’t doubt any word that she’s said regarding that. In future hopes, I of course want to see her come back to FanimeCon and even bring along a few of her friends to experience what fans can do in return as a way to show their appreciation. FanimeCons close ties with her is a strong sign that the convention can treat their guests right and that respect for them can be met. To the staffs and attendees, thank you for presenting FanimeCon. Finally, I had the opportunity to interview Momoi with about two dozen questions so please look for it at the end of the report.
Cosplay is one of those things that’s almost a must and to be expected at any anime convention. Regardless of the reason a person decides to cosplay as whatever character, it is nevertheless good to see fans show that affection. This year at FanimeCon, I saw many diverse cosplayers ranging from both mainstream anime to those newly released in Japan. Though I saw a decrease in cosplayers of certain anime series, I saw a boom in other cosplays especially Vocaloid and Touhou cosplayers to the point that the gathering of the latter was causing a “traffic jam” near the main entrance of the convention. Still, I hope to see more cosplayers in future FanimeCon conventions with people who cosplay as something new and exciting. Though I have never cosplayed, I do know for a fact that cosplaying is a very special not to mention a time consuming thing for some people. Though there are many purposes that people have for cosplaying as previously mentioned, one should keep a clear and strong motivation in mind that as a cosplayer, you are representing the character and you love and as you most likely see something special in that character. While this may be the case for many, some seem to solely want to grab attention by cosplaying which isn’t exactly a sin, but I hope they will find a more meaningful purpose down the road. But away with the rant and let’s get on to some pictures! As with every year, I want to dedicate five slots for cosplayers who I really took a liking to be it for their creativity or choice of character. Keep in mind it does not mean every other cosplayer does not deserve recognition for his hard work and efforts to put together and contribute to another important aspect of FanimeCon. You not only share with us your costumes but most importantly, you also show us your passion and your dedication as fans.
For the last seven years that I’ve attended FanimeCon, not one year has been boring with important and meaning memories I took with me that has been carried over to the next. The friends that I made, the events that I took part in and even the smiles I have seen on the faces of people walking past me will be with me for the rest of my life. I have come to terms with this convention the fact that it will only grow stronger as the years pass. For those who created this convention as mearly fans of the subculture, they have provided the gateway and the opportunity to share with the rest of the world our passion and our dedication in what we love. For that, you have the highest honor and I hope those take pride in themselves for that. Thus from then on, FanimeCon has always been faithful to the motto ‘By Fans, For Fans’ as it has proven year after year. Though FanimeCon has increased in numbers, the most important thing that this convention has gained are fans with the deep appreciation and understanding of the fandom in which were original created and ultimately upheld by us. As one look around the convention, it is easy to see the big gap in the difference of age between attendees. However, that is the ideal convention I envision where the collection of people is not of a specific group with a specific preference but of anyone regardless of age or sex who has the appreciation for this subculture. FanimeCon has proven to those who are young and those who are old that this convention can be fun for anyone and everyone. That is a sign of diversity and integrity. Though there are several things I usually go into in my afterthoughts about things I disliked, I would rather skip that and allow people to step back and take a look at what they take part in when stepping into the convention center. You as a fan represent yourself including us and is a part of this fandom equally with the person next to you. Please realize what you do and reflect on them carefully. The increase in the number of attendees means there will undoubly be those who are new to anime and everything surrounding it. Though there are many types of people going to FanimeCon, please don’t forget to be respectful to not only those around you but also to yourself. In other words, please rethink random glomping, running around carelessly jumping up and down the elevators and etc. I remember this year at Masquerade when random people were trying to start up the whole marco/polo deal that was seen at Anime Boston. However, that only got so far as some called them out to stop the nonsense. By mentioned these things, I don’t mean people can’t have fun but one also can’t have fun while neglecting the responsibility to be representatives of FanimeCon.
So again, another year as passed for us and many memories created and people met. For many, FanimeCon 2010 went just as fast as it came from the crowded line at registration to the last and final day of the convention when people were saying their farewells with hugs and waves. For some on the ride home, many words were exchanged between people while others sat silently reflecting upon the precious four days filled with joy and excitement. Days will return to normal again and life will move on from morning to night, through the weekdays to the weekends and from month to month. However as each day passes, keep those memories of FanimeCon close to you. Remember the excitement of registering for the badge, remember the smiling faces of people who walk pass you, remember the wonderful events and most importantly remember who you are when you set foot into the convention center once again. You are FanimeCon. Until next year, sayonara!
Interview With Halko Momoi -
Q: This is your second time at FanimeCon, so what brings you back again this year compared to last?
A: This time it’s not a normal concert but it’s a stamp rally.
Q: What are some of your favorites events and what are some of the events are you looking forward to FanimeCon this year?
A: The singing and dancing of Fanimaid.
Q: How would you compare the Otakus at FanimeCon and the otakus back in Japan?
A: All otakus are similar to each other.
Q: If an otaku were to vist Akihabara, what stores would you recommend him to check out in Japan?
A: It’s really hard but if you walk around in Japan, you’ll find something interesting.. I think it’s different for everyone.
Q: Is there any place in the world that you have not visited but want to visit in the future?
A: I’ve been attending different cons around the world. I want to Brazil in France because I knows there are otaku there.
Q: What place is your favorite weather.
A: California has the best weather!
Q: Are there any other favorite foods outside of Japanese cuisine outside of Japanese food.
A: *In English* Hamburger! American Hamburger is very big and tasty.
Q: If you had to pick the most moe-iest character from an anime or game, what would they be?
A: Pac Man!
Q: If you had to classify moe as any type of food, what would it be and why?
A: Ohh!.. Ramen! There are lots of types of ramen like lots of different people.
Q: Doreamon has been around a very long time. How many episodes have you seen of that show?
A: I’ve been watching Doreamon since I was two years old.
Q: Which anime character that you were a seiyuu for did you connect the most with?
A: Anise and Komugi
Q: If you could be any anime character, who would you be?
A: Komugi so I cosplayed as her.
Q: What is your favorite role of all the working roles that you’ve done did you enjoy the most?
A: Going to anime conventions and seeing all the people
Q: How is your Seiyuu Relationship Between Sakura Nogawa (Nemu) Yui Horie (Kotori Shirakawa) and Yukari Tamura (Sakura Yoshino) during you voice acting takes while creating Da Capo 1st Season TV series?
A: I remember the show from six to seven years ago. Our relationship was very good.
Q: What are your favorite video games?
A: I like old video games. I like the Angry Video Game Nerd and his reviews.. I liked his review on Friday the 13th.
Q: Are there any cosplays that you are particularily looking for and have you seen it?
A: Transformer cosplays with all the parts on and I couldn’t see the face. I want to see big cosplays and BIG swords because those are banned in Japanese cosplays.
Q: Was there an arcade at FanimeCon you are looking forward to playing?
A: Dance Dance Revolution because we don’t have that anymore.
Q: If you were to see Yamaga-san in the arcade room, would to challenge him to a dance dance revolution high score competition?
A: *laughs* I can’t imagine Yamaga-san playing it but I would challenge him.
Q: If there were ever a battle between giant Mamori and giant Tokunaga, who would you be rooting for and who do you think will win the fight.
A: Don’t fight! Draw!
Q: Is there anything you would like to say to you fans at FanimeCon?
A: Thank you for having me back again!