My convention year started just like the next one will: with Sac Anime Winter. I hosted the Pokemon gathering, met some guests, and generally froze while still having a good time. Then there was AOD, which was somewhat smaller, but a much better location; being in Japan Town reminds me of JTAF (Japan Town Anime Faire), and while it would be inviting for the more unsavory of anime fans, there weren't too many of those to ruin the experience. (Poor restaurant service ruined the experience a little, but that's beside the point.) I attended WonderCon for a day, which I'll certainly miss when it moves to Anaheim in 2012, but I certainly hope it returns in 2013. The Big Wow Comic Fest, which I reported on, was small, but since it was at the same time as the Pokemon regionals, it was a good visit as a warm-up to Fanime.
Then, of course, we have Fanime itself. For me, that's the big convention of the year. (Anime Expo is bigger, but sadly, I was unable to attend this year, although I hope to go there again in the future.) What to say about Fanime? I hope you've read my report on it, so you'll know that I was incredibly busy that convention with gatherings, panels, and so on. Well worth it. Yet it did seem to be missing something - the common consensus is that it was so busy for many of us that we didn't have the time to connect with friends like before, a mistake we hope to amend next year. Always a pleasure, even if to varying degrees.
I passed on Kintoki-con, having no faith in a staff that didn't know what an Abridged Series is or who Kira from "Death Note" was, as well as Decepti-kon, due to their stealing pictures from photographers I knew for promotional material. Hyper-Con clashed with Kin-Yoobi, which I opted to attend instead. I have my beefs with some members of the management there (Kin-Yoobi), as some higher-ups see nothing wrong with using pictures from other photographers without their permission, except for it being "bad PR," although a friend of mine is on the staff and is of much higher moral fiber than them. The convention was decent, albeit disorganized, but I do hope they can get their act together.
There was the summer SacAnime, which was far too crowded and filled with obnoxious, loud fanbunnies with no sense of personal space, yet still enjoyable in its own way. I spent a day at Anime Destiny, hanging out with friends and entering the masquerade, and stopped by Yaoi-Con for a day. I didn't report on it, though, due to their ridiculous Press Pass policy, not to mention the trouble a friend had with her badge being stolen and not replaced. It was mostly good to spend time with friends, rather than the convention itself. Still, as this is another con moving to southern California, it will be missed.
There were all sorts of gatherings, most of which were in San Francisco, Santa Clara, or San Jose. At the tea gardens, by the Yerba Buena Center, at the beach, or even playing dodgeball, and they were all quite enjoyable. I went to some gatherings or parties held by cosplay groups, and monthly meetups hosted by Bay Area Conventions. It's safe to say that I did a lot of driving to and from these events, but each and every one of them were well worth it. This is my social life, or the closest thing I have to one, and I love every moment of it.
I also attended quite a few larger events, and even hosted some. There were two big Pokemon events - the Black and White Version promotional tour, which I hosted a gathering for, and the BW West Regional Qualifiers, which was my first report for this blog. I spent some time at the J-Pop Summit and had a good time, although not enough time to really get a feel for it. The Cherry Blossom Festival in spring was hot and tiring, but still quite fun, in spite of my costume falling apart near the end. My year ended with a trip to the Dickens Faire, which brings me to now.
So here I am, reflecting on my busy year, and already preparing for the next. The next Sac Anime is right around the corner, after all. I've got several costumes to work on - look forward to Greed from Fullmetal Alchemist, Lancer from Fate/Zero, the Sniper from Team Fortress 2, and many more. I hope to attend many of the same conventions, although some will be moving to SoCal, making them difficult for me to reach. I hope these cons will keep getting better, but for that to happen, a lot of the fans need to be more conscious about their actions.
Which brings me to my next point. If I have one word of advice for anime fans this coming year, it's this: be smart, be respectful, and don't give us all a bad name. I hesitate to use this word, but don't be a weeaboo. I saw it far too much at Sac Anime - people would glomp others without permission and damage their costumes, they'd squeal and shout at each other from across crowded hallways, make out for the sake of appealing fellow fangirls or request others do the same, and there were even some honking clown horns constantly while walking through the halls. This is the sort of behavior that has to stop. I'm not telling you to not have fun - by all means, enjoy your fandom however you want, and have as much fun as you like - just don't be a bother to other people. Respect them, respect their personal space, and be decent.
Conventions seem to have been growing this year, and that means we get all sorts of fans, not all of them good. Some conventions are getting too large for their location, while others have room to grow, and I'm looking forward to seeing what becomes of them. It's sad to see some move away, but I hope the people who will be getting them for the first time enjoy the conventions as much as the rest of us have.
In spite of all that, I'm optimistic about the future. Even if we have to see a few annoying fans grow up a little, I'm sure they will in time. Although we're losing a few cons, I hope some of them will return (I'm looking at you, WonderCon), and I'm thrilled to be a part of a convention we're hoping to have ready by 2013, called Mai-Con.
That's all that I have for the end of 2011. I'm feeling good about 2012, so let's all do our best to make this a wonderful year for anime fans, comic fans, and geeks everywhere. So here's fond farewell to 2011, and here's to the future!