My first convention of the new year. After the mild disappointment that was Sac Summer last year, I thought to give this con another shot, especially with some obstacles now out of the way. While still a small convention compared to, say, Fanime, its growth in recent years has been staggering, becoming what is perhaps the second largest anime convention in Northern California. But numbers and growth aren't all to a convention; after all, it's about the quality of the experience, which I found would take surprising changes as the con went on.
I woke up around 9 AM, about half an hour later than my scheduled time. A friend of mine's texted me, reminding me to be on the lookout for a particular mutual friend at Sac-Anime, so I heeded their word. I went out and "made" breakfast (that is, toasted a couple slices of pizza in the oven), and finalized the packing I had been doing last night.
I threw on my Yukiteru Amano cosplay and left the house around 10:15 AM to pick up my passengers. I arrived at Andrea's house around 10:30 PM, helped her pack her stuff into my car, and set off for the general vicinity of the SJSU campus to pick up Kitaru. Although he isn't exactly an anime or cosplay sort, he expressed interest in attending after I told him about the gaming room and its surprising number of Bemani and shmup games, and thanks to last-minute arrangements he was able to go.
We set off not directly for Sacramento, but for Clayton where he needed to pick up stuff from home, including spare clothes and a package containing a variety of games he wanted to bring to the convention. Along the way we discussed some common ground between us, such as MS Paint Adventures, terribad anime dubs, and Valve games. Since getting back on the main path after stopping by his house would be a bit awkward, I set a detour through some back highways that cut through the delta and farmlands, eventually ending up on Interstate 5.
Since Kitaru's phone was out of battery, and I wanted to make a food stop anyways, we stopped by a Carl's Jr., where Andrea switched into cosplay and Kitaru and I grabbed some food to eat. Filling, but not in a good way, as typical of fast food.
Afterwards we set sail (?) for Sacramento, arriving at the convention site around 2:15 PM.
The three of us went our separate ways for now, with me planning to meet Kitaru later in the gaming rooms and Andrea later to collect the remainder of her luggage once her friend arrived to check in or something. I met up with my roommates by the front desk, where after some trouble with the staff, we nailed a room without any significant financial strain. Since it was the 5 of us, the room wouldn't be too difficult to sleep in or navigate (due to luggage). Once we got our keys, I went immediately to the room and dropped my stuff off.
Before I could even begin to do anything else, I needed to meet up with Matt and Robbie. After discussing a few plans, Matt gave me my press badge, thereby allowing me access to more parts of the convention.
My first instinct would have been to check the gaming rooms, but they were closed for now, so I instead darted off to the dealer's hall. I caught wind of DaKree, and decided to join him on doing some shopping.
Unfortunately, at some point, Canon, who had decided to go to my surprise, texted me, saying that Kitaru was looking for other familiar folks. For now, I looked around the dealer's hall: mostly the same stuff as last time. I mostly did window-shopping. I found a large Kyubey plush, as well as a (likely counterfeit) Snow Hachune Miku plushie.
Eventually, the gaming rooms opened, so I took a look inside the one on the right. It was still in the process of getting set up though, but I did notice a The Simpsons 4-player beat-em-up cabinet, to which I simply responded "lol nostalgia". In the back of the room was a dealer selling a large variety of used games, but the prices were a bit steep and none of the games interested me enough to make me buy them, although I did express interest in Blast Corps, which was $8, but ultimately declined on.
Not much else happened during the day. I think at some point I passed out on a chair in the lobby, only waking up to see Canon, @madotsuki, and Kitaru standing in front of me. One of them advised that I rest, but not wanting to waste the day, I carried on.
Someone recognized my Yukki cosplay, and mimiced Yuno's yandere trance...but didn't have Yuno cosplay on. Sadface.
The gaming rooms were open in full force, with DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu Black Label running on one of the rotated screens, and Skyline setting up The Typing of the Dead and a Japan-region PS2 with Tetris with Cardcaptor Sakura: Eternal Heart.
I stopped by my room, finding out that one of our roommates had to bail due to certain problems, so now it was only four of us in the room. For dinner, I had a sandwich that my mom brought home from Panera Bread the other day. I had also packed two empanadas as meal food, in order to further cut back on costs as well as avoid the stereotypical anime con instant ramen diet.
I went down to the swap meet, where in addition to getting recognized by some of the dealer's there, I found some interesting finds: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga 2, and a limited edition set of Devil Summoner 2. Unfortunately, all of them were fairly up-priced and out of my con budget of about $30.
Back in the gaming room, I had a few runs on DFKBL, then watched Kitaru have a go at Tetris CCS, before wrapping up my activities with a one-loop run of Gradius Gaiden.
I went back to my room, and, much to my pleasant surprise, since we picked a two-bed room, everyone, myself included, had bed space! I took a spot and then fell asleep, around 1 AM.
Unfortunately I suddenly woke back up at 4 in the morning, unable to sleep, presumably because this ran counter to my current sleep pattern. Frustrated, I played Persona 3 Portable for about an hour, before falling back asleep.
I woke up to Day 2 proper around 9 AM. I had an empanada for breakfast, then threw on my Persona 4 protagonist cosplay to prepare for the 12 PM Persona gathering.
As I went towards the lobby, I noticed a Vocaloid gathering on the stage, which I was a little sad to miss out on because I didn't bring my Len cosplay, making this the first convention that I attended for multiple days but did not cosplay Len at.
I went back to the courtyard, where I noticed a Hetalia gathering, and went back the other way for things to do.
The Persona gathering, staffed by Matt, took place in front of the stage, and only about 10-12 cosplayers showed up, disappointingly. Matt brought out his Junpei cosplay and showed his Starbucks cup, which he had ordered under "Junpei". DaKree came in with his "mature" Ken cosplay. Other than that, not much happened at the gathering.
At the tail end of it I ran into Max, Alexandria, and Daniela, but they seemed quite busy so I didn't talk to them for long.
At 1 PM was Vic Mignogna's Q&A panel. Having heard rather varied things about him, from "greatest VA ever" to "goddamned creeper with excessive ego", I thought to attend the panel to see and judge for myself. (And besides, he does voice Junpei in Persona 3 Portable, which I had brought with me to the con as previously mentioned) The line itself was massive, extending all the way to the back parking lot, but I was able to nail myself a seat in the front, if not far off to the right.
Vic seemed a bit full of himself, and he did uncomfortably approach one girl asking him a question, but she seemed rather excited about it, and at least Vic seemed rather cheerful and excited about his work. Someone asked him to recite one of his lines from Persona 3 ("Da da-da-da! Junpei has leveled up!"), to the excitement of Persona fans, myself included. =) Although, I was cosplaying from the wrong game :S
The panel ended, and I was tired, so I made for one of the couches in the lobby, where I found a fellow Yuu cosplayer sitting with his friends, also cosplaying from P4, and I took to playing P3P for a bit. I also wasn't feeling too good (emotionally), feeling disconnected from my friends among other things, so my other business just consisted of me checking tweets, including noticing that Kitaru had brought Tetris Kiwamemichi to the gaming room and was inviting attendees to play some 4P coop, so I made a mental note to check that later.
As I made for the gaming room, I noticed the formation of the Homestuck gathering, which was steadily growing to the point of insanity. Now, I've been reading Homestuck, but I don't really associate with its rather vocal and its fandom (which probably has enough fans to fill an entire U.S. state), so I defected to the gaming room.
As promised, Kitaru was playing Tetris K, so I got in on some 4P coop action, which is fun at first but gets freakishly difficult. The lack of a ghost piece feature makes it very easy to misdrop pieces, especially if you're viewing the screen from an angle. Still, it was crazy enough to warrant a single play.
I went back to my room, because I was so tired and I just wanted to take a nap. My roommate's friends popped in, so I joined them for a little conversation before dozing off.
I woke up around 5:30 PM, and switched into my Yukki cosplay, as it's the one cosplay I can easily wear for several days without worrying about it getting too dirty. I felt more energized, although still kind of out of it.
I went out, got dinner, and then recalled that there was a jacuzzi and pool here at Sac, which I didn't spend too long at last time because I didn't bring my swimming gear. So I went back to my room, and changed into my trunks.
At the jacuzzi, there were some 10-15 people already there, and we played some 10 Fingers. Although I easily lost both rounds, it was exciting and fun, certainly moreso than just quietly sitting around with a few others--a fellow KARA fan caught wind that I was a fan of them :D
I went back to the room again to take a shower--you don't really appreciate hotel showers unless you live in a house with water heating that barely works. Turns out Alexandria, who I hadn't had a chance to spend time with all day, had texted me an hour ago, presumably on my way to or while in the jacuzzi, and was inviting me to come hang with her, so I (finally!) met up with her, who was wearing her Yuno wig and a serafuku of sorts (since she didn't have the cosplay itself ready) and since it was cold outside, we retreated into the gaming room, which was a few steps away, so she could sit down. I was finally glad to see one of my usual con friends, as I had been mostly by myself all day.
Alex then invited me over to Daniela's room to come chill, where I happened upon more of my con friends, actually getting to talk to them for a change. Max was all pimped out in his lolita outfit--a reminder of something I'd like to also do one day. ;) We talked about random topics, but then had to tend to a friend who wasn't feeling very well, and that took priority.
By the time my business with my friends was over, it was past midnight, so the gaming room was closed. Oh well, friends in need > playing shmups and IIDX. So I decided to loaf around in the lobby. Not a whole lot happened, mostly I saw people going to and from the rave, which I opted to skip out on as I was still somewhat recovering from an ear infection from last week.
However, security seemed to be in a bad mood. I was sitting on a couch in front of the bar--key phrase in front of--when security came by and asked me how old I am. I told him I was 23, and he reminded me that the area I was in was a 21+ zone. Uh, what? I could understand if I was inside the bar, but if he referred to the space in front of it, let alone the lobby, then that didn't make sense, especially since nowhere around the lobby were there signs saying the space was currently for people of drinking age only. Weird.
The day wrapped up and I went back to the room.
Upon getting up, my first order of business was to get Andrea's luggage into my car, because her roommate was checking out, so I went ahead and did that. Then I ate breakfast (read: another empanada), and dillydallied for a few hours before finally packing up, verifying that I had all of my belongings and the room was clean, and leaving the room for good.
Gaming room, more IIDX, etc.
The Touhou gathering was at 12 PM. Max was originally not planning on showing up, to which I volunteered to lead the gathering in his place, although he showed up anyway. For our gathering, I counted two Reimus, two Marisas, two Reisens, as well as other favorites like Alice, Nazrin, and Koakuma. The gathering consisted mostly of just per-game shoots and a single group shot.
I regrouped with my kigurumi-clad friends Max, Alex, et al. for lunch.
I continued on with my friends in search of food, and we ended up at Taco del Mar, where we talked about various things, from tales of our adventures to our friends' houses, to various creepers (and no, I don't mean the kind that blow up in your face).
I wanted to explore the con some more, so I parted with the group and ended up in the artist's alley. Doujin Press's booth caught my eye amidst the presence of many fandoms I don't really know or care about, as they were selling a variety of Touhou and Madoka Magica stuffs, like bookmarks, as well as translated and untranslated doujinshi. I bought a Madoka doujin and a Homu(ra) bookmark, and unfortunately was a few bucks short to be snagging a Cirno/Suwako doujin.
Dealer's hall trip #213631646...meh. I did get some Coffee Beat candy though, as well as a Meijin white chocolate bar. Coffee Beat = coffee-shaped and -flavored chocolates. Yum~
Matt, via Twitter, informed me of a few major updates to Sac-Anime: Attendance was around 5100, which is a freaking lot for a hotel convention. More importantly, there are currently plans to relocate Sac-Anime to the Sacramento Convention Center, which will hopefully be a great move--Sac really needs that extra space because argh foot traffic in the lobby
For my last major action at Sac before leaving, I went for the gaming room, where Eschatos was available on play. The soundtrack is AMAZING, the scoring system on Original is this neat "kill enemies ASAP" gig, and overall an addicting and challenging game. Too bad I don't have $80 to be throwing down on a Japan-region game right now ;_;
I loafed around for a bit with Kitaru and Skyline as the gaming room gradually closed down, then I flagged down Andrea, as well as her friend who needed a ride back, and started to head back.
On the way back, I started on Business Loop 80 East , thinking it would spit me out at I-80 East, but whoops, I missed the exit and ended up on CA-99 South. Whoops! That's okay, we just stopped by at a gas stop to get our bearings and get snacks.
Once we were on our way back proper, the four of us just went on about various topics, with Andrea and her friend providing most of the noise; I personally enjoyed their shenanigans, as it was far better than a quiet, let alone passenger-less trip back home. :D We also stopped by for some In-N-Out, and Kitaru introduced me to funky kota.
I dropped off everyone, with them thanking me for giving them a ride--although I should also be thanking them for keeping me company on the way to and from the convention! ^^ Finally, I arrived home, thereby concluding my convention experience.
I was afraid this Sac-Anime was going to be even more disappointing than last Sac, but it ultimately redeemed itself in the end.
The gaming room, one of my usual hangout spots at a con if it has games I care about was even better this time, and other than the lack of an arcade for obvious reasons, it's nearly on par with Fanime's gaming room (which is staffed by many of the same people).
I thought I was going to be mostly by myself at the con, but ultimately my friends were glad to see me there and we all did our best to have fun at this convention.
Vic is an...interesting character. Not the most ethical VA around, but he sure is entertaining to listen to. I'll have to catch wind of him at future Sac-Animes.
If I were to apply my Dance Dance Revolution-esque scale, I can't really put a single rating on this. It started off GOOD tier, then nearly became MISS tier, before finally becoming GREAT tier. I'm definitely glad I attended.
I'll definitely be back for Sac-Anime S2012, and ESPECIALLY S2013 when it relocates to the SCC. I swear, this con is turning into a mini-Fanime. To those going on to Animation on Display in Japantown, San Francisco next month, I'll see you there! Failing that, I'll see you at Fanime and/or various other cosplay-related whatevers!