Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nate's Report: Sacanime Winter 2013

Hello everyone! To everyone out there who do not know me, I’m the newest member in the California Conventions Blog. My name is Nate and it’s great to be working with a team who loves to go to anime conventions like I do. You can see more information about me in the “About the Staff” section soon. But for now, it’s time to give out my first report and what better way than talk about the first con of the year, SacAnime Winter 2013. Well ever since I’ve attended SacAnime, it always packed with complaints such as "the place is too small, people are being too rude, etc. etc." Moving Sacanime into a new facility in the downtown district of Sacramento would help lessen those complaints as it is a whole lot bigger than the Woodlake hotel. But does that mean the con would run a whole lot better? Well I was there to take a look at that and of course have a lot of fun while I’m at it.

On the Friday SacAnime started, I met up with Matt and went to our hotel room which had a great view of Sacramento. I quickly dressed into my Ouran High School Host Club cosplay dressing up as Kyoya Ootori for the gathering that was going to be held later on in that day. Afterwards, I decided to take a stroll around Sacanime and noticed that I didn’t bring my SD card for the trip! My camera would have been useless now! So me and Ryan went to Best Buy which was only 10 minutes away from the Sacramento Convention Center to get one. It was really inconvenient but it was my fault for forgetting it so I missed some time at SacAnime. Either way, I did manage to get back in time for the Ouran High School Host Club Gathering. The gathering had a good amount of cosplayers that were cosplaying from the show. Of course the fans were going for the Hikari twins and the “yaoi” things they do. Let’s just say it attracted a whole lot of fans when the twins cosplayers began to get really close. Besides that, we all had a fair amount of shots for the fans to be entertained with and it seems that everyone had fun. I myself had a good time so I would say that the gathering was pretty successful.

Two cosplayers at the Hikari Twins at the Ouran High School Host Club Gathering
Afterwards, I would be in line for autographs of Mai Aizawa, Toshio Furukawa, and Tony Oliver. I would end up in an exhibit hall where there were 3 lines and in each line were the Guest of Honors. It’s up to the attendees to decide which autograph they want and what line to fall into to get their autograph. I would go to Mai Aizawa’s first since I am a huge fan of her and made her sign my Lucky Star manga. Then I went to Toshiro’s line to let him sign my SacAnime booklet. Each of the Japanese VA’s offered to give a signed picture of them, but they cost $10 each. Even if I wanted Mai’s signed picture so badly, I sadly refused. I was also surprised for Tony Oliver’s line because there wasn’t many people going to his line for his autograph. So I decided to get his autograph as well. He signed my Lucky Star Manga and the SacAnime booklet. And also, he was cool to take a picture with me, Ryan, and Robbie. What’s also convenient? This whole thing only lasted about 30 minutes! Wow, talk about great timing!

To left to right: Robbie, Guest of Honor Tony Oliver, myself, and Ryan
I would grab a bite dinner with Ryan and Matt in a local pizza restaurant called Upper Crust Pizza right across from the Sacramento Convention Center before we headed over to the SMT/Persona Gathering where most of the CCB crew would be attending. The gathering was overall fun. We were all taking pictures of poses that we want, even things from the Persona 4 Arena. Let’s just say we had some pictures that included battles between characters from P4 and P3 as well and some characters that are not from P4A yet. We even had cosplayers from Devil Survivor and Catherine come along as well. I really had a good time from this gathering and so did everyone else as we all had fun with all of our shenanigans relating to the SMT games. It was just a great time overall.

With the gathering over, the day was pretty much done with. I was able to check out the Swap Meet in the hotel which was actually disappointing. It took only ⅓ of the registration room and there wasn’t much dealers selling stuff. I was hoping for more but I guess there wasn’t that much sellers. Either way, I did manage to get a few things. I would then call it a day to get ready for the next one. So far the first day was a good one. My cosplays came out pretty well, the gatherings I attended were all so fun, got autographs from the guests of honor, and nothing bad came out of it. A pretty good start to SacAnime.

Saturday started early as me and the rest of the CCB crew went to eat breakfast at a local restaurant called Jim-Denny’s which was located only a few blocks down from SacAnime. We picked this place out because it was featured in a Travel Channel show called Man vs. Food. We decided to take on the challenge and ate their big breakfast platters. Ok we didn’t take on challenge on eating a Hubcap solo but we had a HUGE breakfast. I ordered 2 mini pancakes and a side of bacon with coffee for drink. I COULDN’T EVEN EAT JUST ONE PANCAKE! THEY WERE HUGE! I decided to take one of the pancakes back to the hotel room as a snack (Oh yeah I never ate that). That breakfast pretty much took my appetite throughout most of the day.

This is a "mini?" That's not a mini!
Now back to SacAnime coverage. It was 10am where me and Ryan were standing in line for autographs. I was cosplaying Dipper Pines from the Disney Channel show Gravity Falls for the day. While we were waiting for autographs, a few Gravity Falls cosplayers came up to the line and I gave them a friendly hello along with an obligatory picture for my collection. Oh the Gravity Falls fandom is so awesome! I would grab Grey Delisle’s autograph on my Hi Hi Puffy Amiyumi DVD and SacAnime booklet (She did voice Yumi in the show to those who do not know). She even gave me permission to record a video to my friend. I would also get Kevin Conroy’s autograph on my booklet and he would also sign a picture of himself and give it to me. That is a keepsake I would cherish for a while.

Me and Guest of Honor Grey Delisle
Afterwards, I would meet my friend who would cosplay Dipper Pines as well. He was pretty much my Tyrone for the day. We would walk around con seeing other Gravity Falls cosplayers and would joke with them as we sprayed silly string to them. Only those who watch Gravity Falls will know what I’m talking about. I would then fulfill my friend’s request to go to Target to buy stuff for their hangout later on that night. So I would take some time out of SacAnime to go to Target and help them buy their stuff. I would arrive back at the hotel and noticed that it is getting very cold. So I switched out of my Dipper cosplay into my Kida Masaomi cosplay in time for the Puella Magi Madoka Magica gathering. The gathering had a pretty good turnout, about 8-10 cosplayers attending both female and genderbent. I took a good amount of photos and the people were great to talk to. Heck most of them were my friends and their outfits were great. Overall, I was very satisfied with the turnout.

Madoka Magica cosplayers at the Madoka Magica Gathering
The gathering took about 30 minutes where I would go back to the hotel room where I would meet up with my guests that were going to attend my Birthday Party at the Old Spaghetti Factory. We would walk about 8 blocks down J street in the cold weather to the restaurant where my friends would give me drinks and a great meal along with the expected happy birthday celebration from the waiters at the restaurant (Thank you Matt!). I was really happy from this knowing that I have really great friends that I would get along with in the long run. I really love these guys!

Ryan, Matt, and Ray along with a couple of my friends attending my birthday party at the Old Spaghetti Factory

Afterwards, me and a couple of my friends would go down to the Karaoke room where we would sing the Wreck-It Ralph song, "When Can I See You Again" by Owl City. We actually had a great applause from the audience. They must be such great fans, then again the movie came out recently so I would understand the great applause. I would also sing the song "Sakura Kiss" from the anime Ouran High School Host Club. A lot of people recognized the song and I got some positive remarks to my singing so I had fun with that. And on that note, I ended the day there.

Robbie at Karaoke
My Saturday was pretty much loaded with food and fangasming over the celebrities I met. But when I look back at that day, I didn’t even take a lot of time at the convention! I was more in the hotel doing my business with other things with my friends and roommates. I didn’t go to the Exhibit Hall, attend a panel, or even take much cosplay pictures except for those in the hotel. So it was pretty much a day at the hotel instead of the convention. But either way, I had an enjoyable time. Even if I didn’t go to the con that much this day, at least I had great friends that gave me an enjoyable time at SacAnime Saturday. And it is the busiest day too. So much cosplays!!!

The final day of SacAnime arrived and we were busy packing. We wanted to check out of the hotel room as soon as we can. So after I took a quick shower and put on my Yosuke cosplay, I packed up my stuff. I would notice that my camera wasn’t with me because it was actually left in my friend’s room last night. Luckily, his room was located one floor down from us so I picked it up conveniently. I would then take my stuff down to the lobby where I would wait for a friend who was also riding back with me back to the bay. When he came down, we both went to the hotel garage and placed our stuff there. I would start the day off at the Exhibit Hall to see what I may have missed when I first browsed the area before. And with the amount I had in this trip, I couldn’t even spend much. I only spent my money on a new plush, new manga, and Gravity Falls keychains from an artist. I decided to check out the “Live from Arkham” panel where Kevin Conroy and Grey Delisle were having a Q&A session from the audience. It was great to hear fans’ questions to them and hearing their answers. All of them were pretty funny. Even weirder, I heard from Grey that voice acting can get you very far, even getting you out of paying a ticket. You may ask Spongebob’s VA, Tom Kenny, for more information about that. I had a good time listening to their stories of voice acting in the world of cartoons.

Guest of Honors Kevin Conroy & Grey Delisle anwering questions at the "Live at Arkham" panel
When the panel was over, I met with a few friends and we went back to the Exhibit Hall to do more last minute shopping before heading over to my final gathering for pics. I went to the Valve Gathering and I saw mostly Team Fortress 2 (TF2) cosplayers, but the gathering overall looked good. It seems like everyone had fun as they made funny poses and mixing it up with other Valve games for the fans and photographer’s satisfaction.

Red Scout from Team Fortress 2 at the Valve Gathering
Then out of nowhere, a group of Wreck-It Ralph cosplayers came out of the convention center for an unofficial gathering. It seems like there was a post on the SacAnime Facebook group page, but without any internet in the hotel I wasn’t notified. But to my dismay, it was actually a really good surprise. It was a pretty fun gathering seeing all the characters from Sugar Rush and Fix it Felix Jr. There were also cosplayers cosplaying other characters in the movie (than the main 4) and it was cool to see those characters as well. It looks like Wreck-It Ralph is going to be a big thing going around cons. Like if Rise of the Guardians wasn’t enough, at least this one is tolerable to me.

Wreck-It Ralph cosplayers
And then I felt like all is done at SacAnime. I would call up my friend at 4pm and we both left for the bay. Sacanime Winter is done.

To show my analysis about Sacanime Winter 2013, I’ve made a list of pros and cons that I’ve seen at this convention.


First off I have to say the move from the Woodlake Hotel to the convention center is the right move. The convention center is very spacious, easy enough for everyone to move around in the con. I felt like I can get through to my destinations in a good way, not in a place where I have to push or shove people to find my way. I believe everyone is in agreement with me that the location is perfect.

Dealer’s Hall and Artist Alley combined into the Exhibit Hall is also very spacious, enough to bring in many vendors and artists like what happened in this SacAnime. I believe there was more vendors and artists that were at SacAnime Winter than any of the previous SacAnime conventions. This is probably due to the size and the room to bring in as much vendors as they can. And the space also had walking room for everyone to get through. It has definitely resolved the problem that has been going on in SacAnime ever since I started going back in Winter 2012.

The lineup of guest stars for this season’s con was a great one.I think I saw more people going for the guest’s panels/autographs than before. And with a lineup that included notable foreign and regional VA’s, great artists, and Batman, I would understand why more people attended. It greatly helps SacAnime grow with guest stars like this and I hope Sacanime continues on with this success in this area. Plus, it was much faster this time around to get autographs than the one line system used in the previous SacAnime cons. I would have to say keep up with this new system because it's really satisfying me.

As SacAnime was spacious enough, the Sheraton Hotel also helped support SacAnime as well. And the hotel also looked really nice. Makes a good impression to those who attend Sacanime and could attract more people to attend the con.

Food places and entertainment around the convention grounds are good. There is a theatre along with local eatery at the block called “The Kay” which was located across from the Sacramento Convention Center and is behind the Sheraton Hotel. A pretty convenient location for attendees of SacAnime as good food and entertainment are just close to con grounds.

Cons (The bad things):

Let’s start with what I hate the most: the "Late-Night Electronik" dance. What kind of music are the DJs pulling off? Their music does not make me want to dance. This has been an ongoing problem at SacAnime in my opinion as I started engaging at this activity back at Summer 2012 and even back then I didn’t like the music. It seems like it got worse now. For me to continue supporting the late night electronic dance, please fix your DJs because I may not be dancing in your dances anymore.

The swap meet wasn’t that impressing. It was located at the registration room and it only took ⅓ of the room! There were not a lot of vendors selling and there was not much space for people to move around. I mean you have the whole convention center and hotel to make swap meet a whole lot better. Please consider that.

Lastly, I know people want to have fun at cons especially at night. But I’ve overheard Saturday night, there were people that were messing up stuff at the convention. Most notably a statue that was taken off its foundation on the last day. According to sources, the statue was damaged by convention attendees. Guys, I know you want to have your fun being drunk and going out past hours but doing stuff like this does NOT look good to you or SacAnime. It makes the City of Sacramento think that we’re just a bunch of vandals messing up stuff without any care. Please for the next SacAnime, don’t do these things as it may ruin the future of SacAnime at Downtown Sacramento.

Overall, SacAnime Winter 2013 was definitely an improvement. The new convention venue is perfect with more space for everyone to move around. The lineup of guest stars were great. The panels were good and the newly minted Exhibit Hall was a very big improvement. I find this convention to be very satisfying even with it’s ups and downs but I really had a fun time. This SacAnime Winter is definitely looking up for better SacAnime conventions to come. We’ll just have to wait and see at SacAnime Summer. But as we wait for that time, I guess it’s farewell for me in Sacramento. Until summer, keep it cool SacAnime.

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