Thursday, June 6, 2013

Nate's Report: FanimeCon 2013

It has been five years since I started attending Fanimecon and my experiences has been mixed. From 2009 till 2011, I've always enjoyed Fanimecon in its entirety. But ever since (well last year), Fanime started to go on the decline for me. There were a lot of things to consider when coming into Fanimecon this year like the construction of expanding the convention center. Sadly, that's still there. The guests of honor? Last year's wasn't as appealing. This time, it was so-so. Events? Panels? I didn't really go to much last year to be honest. Even with these setbacks giving me a hard time with Fanimecon last year, how will that affect Fanime this year? I enter the con this year with excitement and curiosity hoping this year's con would be like back in the days.

Day 0

I entered the convention center to notice that registration has been moved to the Fairmont Hotel. As I entered the Fairmont, me and a group of friends were guided by friendly rovers to the end of the line, which was actually outside of the Fairmont in a maze-like pattern. Holy moly, there was so many people! And this was just day 0! I would continue to monitor this registration line as the day progressed.

As my friends found their spot in line, I met up with Ray and another friend of ours to meet up. Since we have different registration lines to attend to (Press and Staff), we decided to grab a drink. We would go to San Pedro Square and looked at the restaurants from our friend's suggestion who knows some good places around the area. Afterwards, we would head back to the registration line only to find out the line continued to expand. It was 6pm where staff and press registration lines were open. Me and Ray would get our badges and go our separate ways.

I would go back to the registration line (now called "Linecon") to see that the line now filled up the whole entire space separating the Fairmont Hotel and the San Jose Museum of Art. You can check the disaster in the pictures below. But it was bad! I've even heard from a couple of people who came out of the line with a badge successfully at hand saying that they didn't even start on time! It was supposed to start at 7pm, but unfortunately the staff weren't ready to give everyone out their badges just yet and registration opened 45 minutes later. This left many attendees of Linecon waiting past midnight to be able to get their badge for Fanime.

While I was still waiting for my friends, I would go to Swap Meet which had a fair amount of people selling their used stuff to the Fanime attendees. I planned to go on Day 0 since I had a sense that Swap Meet on day 1 would be very packed. There were many great sellers out there that I managed to get items that fits my needs at reasonable prices as well. I was able to obtain a Yui folder (Angel Beats!), the Cowboy Bebop Soundtrack, and the first volume of the Soul Eater manga. My friends would be able to get out of Linecon around 11pm (And they started waiting at 4pm) and they would check out Swap Meet before we all left for home. My friends definitely needed rest after their "adventurous" time in Fanime registration.
When I arrived at the registration line....
3 hours later. IT FILLED UP THE ENTIRE SPACE!!!! 
WHAT ANOTHER LINE!!??! This is ridiculous!

Day 1

Me and my friends would arrive the convention center where I had to direct a couple of them to where registration was. After I wished them good luck (really they needed it), me and a group of Dipper Pines (Gravity Falls) cosplayers entered the convention center. While my Dipper would go around the con, I went to our press meeting where I met Lucas for the first. I gave him my sincere welcome and we, along with Ray, discussed things that we are looking forward to in this year's Fanimecon. After our meeting, I quickly went back to see my group. Since there was nothing really much going around the convention center around the time, my group was at the video game room checking out games that we would be able to play. I managed to get into a couple of games of Brawl. Go Toon Link!

We continued roaming the con until we saw a Grunkle Stan cosplayer who really pulls him off well I must say. But our conversation was suddenly placed into a halt by another uncle, and wouldn't you know it, it was Uncle Chan (Jackie Chan Adventures) who would ruin the party. Soon a clash between the two uncles commenced and it brought in an audience that would break out in happy faces and laughter. The video of the fight can be seen below:
What happens when two uncles fight? This.

The fight would be over and there was still some time to kill before attending my first gathering of Fanime this year. So me and my group would eat out at Johnny Rockets where we grubbed down on good burgers and fries. At the same time, our hotel room would open up and I asked a couple of my friends to help us move stuff into the room. I was the one responsible for the hotel and I was kind of worried about the deposit charge that I must pay along with the hotel fee. Turns out that deposit fee was just another $100 that I get back at the end of the con. I was so relieved to hear that. At least I have some spending money during the con and at the last day of con. So I decided to start at Dealer's hall that had a line backing up into the Swap Meet/Food Court room. When 2pm hit, the line went in orderly fashion into the room where I would browse around the room finding stuff that I would buy at a later time.

3pm hit and the first gathering was upon us. So I gathered my group of Dipper Pines cosplayers and went quickly to the Gravity Falls gathering. The gathering was alright having an attendance around 30+ cosplayers who cosplay characters from the show. There were a whole lot of people who were cosplaying the main characters Dipper and Mabel Pines, as well as Wendy Corduroy. I was very surprised to see other cosplayers from the gathering cosplaying secondary characters like Pacifica Northwest as well as Mabel's best friends, Candy and Grenda. As the crowd took shots while we did our own shenanigans portrayed from the show, I have to say this gathering was successful. I had myself a fun time attending this gathering talking about the show to the cosplayers as well as making new friends thanks to it. 
The males of Gravity Falls

After the gathering, I would switch my cosplay into Kida Masaomi for the Durarara!! gathering. But unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend it as I had other obligations to attend to. Apparently, I forgot to do some food shopping for my roommates (I did promise them a bottle of Skal as a token of my obligation of being my roommate at Fanime). So I had to visit the local Japanese food store to pick it up, which was about 10 minutes away w/o traffic. Suddenly the rush hour came and yeah, there was traffic on my way over there. It was bad enough, I could not make it to the Durarara!! gathering. I did hear from one of my friends that the gathering was small, not having many cosplayers attend this year. There's a possibility that there may not be one next year because of that. :( 

The late hour would hit (9pm) and I would then hit up a couple of my friends who were eating at Pizza my Heart and got myself a bite to eat before heading up back to my hotel room calling it a night. Day 2 comes upon us and as I remember from my previous Fanimecons, it is the busiest day of the con! Prepare yourselves, everyone.

Day 2

Day 2 began with me heading to my first panel of Fanime, the Viz Media Panel. I was really curious about this panel because Viz Media is an industry that distributes anime and manga to the United States and I wanted to see any new announcements that they are going to give at Fanimecon. So I dressed up in my debut cosplay of Death the Kid from Soul Eater and went to the panel. 

There were some things that were addressed in the panel that included new releases from the company in both their manga and animation department. It started in the manga department where they announced box sets for two of their popular manga series: One Piece and Bakuman. So if you were wanting to start on reading these manga, here's your chance to do so. The box sets contains about 20 volumes of the manga and are priced from $159.99 - $185.99. They also announced the Tiger and Bunny manga series and comic anthology which they will release at a fair price of $9.99 per volume They even showed us a preview of what the manga will look like when released to stores later this year. The MCs would then announce new manga series that the company plans to release soon. One series that got the fans pumped was the announcement of Magi. They plan to release the first volume this August with new volumes being released every 2 months. Other manga series they plan to distribute include: Voice Over, Sweet Rein, Midnight Secretary (MA), Happy Marriage (MA),  and Sunny. They also spoke about the new Viz Manga App that is available on most mobile devices (iOS, Kindle, Android, nook). The app currently has mangas pricing from $4.99 and up and they give out new releases every Tuesday. They also announced Weekly Shonen Jump where you can get Shonen Jump Mangas like One Piece, Bleach, Blue Exorcist, and more the same day the get released in Japan. At a price of only $25.99 a year, you get exclusive access to all of the new issues of Shonen Jump manga series plus receive exclusive Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG cards and other digital gifts. They also are offering a Starter Pack, which is a free preview of what Weekly Shonen Jump will give you if you plan to subscribe to the service. More information about Weekly Shonen Jump can be found on their website: . Some new manga  to Weekly Shonen Jump includes One Punch Man, Dragon Ball (color edition), and World Trigger. Expect these mangas to be released later this year. Weekly Shonen Jump is available online and on the Viz Manga App. The manga discussion closed with a One Piece contest where the grand prize is a model of the Chogokin Going Merry ship. You can enter for your chance to get this great prize at . 
The Magi manga will be available stateside by this August. 
The VIZ Manga app is now available for iOS, Android, Kindle, and Nook. Mangas start at around $4.99 per volume.
Details about the Weekly Shonen Jump app. Available on most mobile devices.

We then jump into the animation section of the panel where the MCs would talk about things around the company involving anime distribution. And the first thing they talked about was Neon Alley, an anime streaming app available only for the PS3 and Xbox 360. All the animes in the app include english dubbed, uncut HD episodes of your favorite series. The app features weekly world premieres and fan favorite shows as well as extras including anime news, behind the scenes coverage, and interviews. Needs a $6.99/year subscription and you can start off with a 7-day trial to see if Neon Alley is to your liking. Some new series that they have announced for Neon Alley include fan favorites like Fate/Zero, Accel World, High School of the Dead, Zetman, and more. They also announced DVD/Blu-ray releases for some of their series like Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Naruto Shippuden, Pokemon Black and White, Bleach, Lagrange: The Flower of Rin~ne (June 11), and Berzerk-The Golden Age Arc 2 (August 6). They would then announce that the company has obtained full rights to Accel World and K. They really emphasized K a whole lot because there will be a special event for K in Anime Expo this year. So if you visit their panel at AX this year and are cosplaying from K, you may get something special from the company ;) . The animation discussion closed with a Naruto design contest. The design contest is over but we can vote for what design is the best. The winner will get a free trip to Anime Expo. So if you have entered the contest, it's best for you and your friends to vote for your design now. Vote here at:
Neon Alley is a anime streaming app available only for the PS3 and Xbox 360
Viz Media has acquired the rights for animes Accel World (above) and K to be distributed to the states. 

The panel then opened up to a Q&A with the MCs. I would ask a question about providing me more information about the company's right to the anime series Accel World and K. They would not give me information about that actually, but I did get some free Naruto stuff just for asking the question :). When the Viz panel ended, there was this panel where all of the Viz Media panel attendees took a quick survey about Viz related fan items. The survey pretty much shows various items that incorporates Viz Media shows and mangas that they distribute to the U.S..When I completed the survey, I would receive various items from Viz Media that included a wall scroll and a handful of other items. Now I really like going to industry panels if they offer items like these just for attending. Well for the free stuff at least ;). 

My time with the panel is over and it was almost 12. I would arrive to my first gathering of the day, which was the Soul Eater gathering. Dressed up as Death The Kid, I attended the gathering which had a pretty good turnout. There were a good number of cosplayers cosplaying from the series, about 20+ in this gathering, while we pose for group photos and other things. This gathering was set up pretty well and I had a fun time in this gathering. Overall, I would say it was pretty successful. 
Various Stein cosplayers at the Soul Eater gathering
All the cosplayers at the Soul Eater Gathering

I would then grab lunch before heading to my next panel: Perfect Combo with Omori/Sato. I would arrive late to the panel so I only caught up to the guests of honor, Takahiro Omori and Yumi Sato, talking about their stories about working with anime series like Baccano!! and Durarara!! The other half-hour of the panel was open to a Q&A for the attendees to ask questions to the guests of honors. Some gave questions about the Princess Jellyfish manga and anime as well as questions relating to the Baccano!! and Durarara!! series. One question that I found interesting was how they were influenced with creating the OP for Baccano!! and Durarara!!. They answered by watching the movie, Inception. Hmm makes sense, it does have that sense of screwing people's minds. 
Yumi Sato (left) and Takahiro Omori (right) in the Perfect Combo with Omori/Sato Panel

It was 3pm and there were a bunch of gatherings that were happening at this time and I was trying my best to take photos on all of them. One was the Puella Magi Madoka Magica gathering (which I spent most of my time at), Adventure Time gathering, and the SMT/Persona gathering. There were so many cosplayers in each of the gatherings, it was madness. Perhaps the most would be the Adventure Time gathering as I see over 60+ people cosplaying from the show. I couldn't even fit all of them in one picture. That's how insane it was! I pretty much called this the 3:00 show. It happens every time at Fanime where my favorite gatherings have to meet up at a specific time and I have to suffer with going to each gathering taking pictures for each of them. Man, I wish they stop doing that! But from the looks of things, it seems each gathering ran pretty well and everyone looked to be having a fun time at the gatherings. 
All the Madoka Magica cosplayers at the Puella Magi Madoka Magica Gathering
Adventure Time cosplayers in their gathering. Man so many!!!!!
SMT/Persona cosplayers at the SMT/Persona gathering

It was around 4pm where I decided to take a little rest back at my hotel room before heading to Musicfest. My friend would text me up around 5:30 pm to tell me that he was in line for Musicfest. When I got the message, I dressed up as Kida Masaomi from Durarara!! and I left my hotel room to meet up with him and played the waiting game. By the way, this year's Musicfest looked to be good. With the headlining bands being Rookiez is Punk'd and 7!! (pronounced 7-oops) who has contributed so much of their music into notable animes, you know this Musicfest is going to rock! At 7pm, the doors to the SJ Civic Auditorium would open and we rushed in to grab good seats. As we waited for the bands to perform, we were treated to music videos of the bands performing. Rookiez is Punk'd music videos would first appear from the songs, Drop and Complication. It also did indicate that they are the first band to perform. 

At around 7:30pm, the lights went dim and the crowd was cheering dramatically. The lights would emerge onto the band, Rookiez is Punk'd, and the concert would now begin. It began with a quote said by a character in the anime, Ao no Exorcist. Their first song was the 2nd OP to Ao no Exorcist, In My World. They continued to play more songs that they have made as a band before they began to sing the song, Drop. Now before they began to play the song, the lead singer announced that there was one person who wanted to give a message to the Fanime crowd. And it was none other than.......Kida Masaomi!??!?? Apparently it was his VA who gave the message to the attendees of Musicfest. The crowd was super excited to him, yet it was just his picture on the screen. When his message was over, they sang Drop which the crowd was so into when they sang the song. They continued to sing other songs that I have no knowledge of yet. But even if I didn't know much of their songs, they continued to rock the Musicfest audience and I loved every single song they sang in their concert. Of course they would have to conclude their part of Musicfest for 7!! and they ended it with a song everyone knows. And that was Durarara's!! 2nd OP, Complication. I would have to say that definitely was the song to conclude their part in Musicfest. It was a song I was so familiar with that I was caught singing along with them, even the rap part. Overall Rookiez is Punk'd was worth watching. They definitely rocked the house and I was just exuberant throughout their performance. Way to go, Fanime, in an impressive Musicfest!
Fanimecon 2013 Musicfest featuring the bands, Rookiez is Punk'd and 7!!

I didn't stay for 7!!'s performance as I had two photoshoots that I must attend to. First with my Kida Masaomi cosplay and then my Death the Kid cosplay an hour later. After my photoshoots were done, there was one more gathering to attend to which was the SMT/Persona Midnight gathering/King's game. So I quickly dressed up as Yosuke Hanamura and made it to the gathering on time. But as you can see here, I pretty much had a limited time (about 3 hours or so) to change my cosplays. It was pretty hectic, but I managed to get it done. 

Now it was on to the King's game where it was my first time playing the game. After the hosts gave the rules, all the cosplayers played along. I wasn't chosen king thank God, but I was chosen at random to do some things from the King's orders. If I remember, I was a part of a wheelbarrow race with another Yosuke holding my feet, I had to serenade a Akihiko cosplayer with a Yukiko cosplayer singing "A whole new world" to him, and I was a part of a piggy back race where my carrier couldn't carry me through the whole race making me fall face down to the carpet. I was fine though. When the clock hit 2am, the cosplayers were still playing while I decided to take my leave. I would grab a hot dog that a person was selling outside Fanime (Don't worry, that hot dog was clean.) And I would then go to my hotel room to call it a day. With so many things happening on this day of Fanime, no wonder it was the busiest! I was pretty busy throughout the whole day with panels, gatherings, Musicfest, and cosplay, that a rest was greatly needed. 

Day 3

Day 3 began outside of con where I took my roommates to a place in San Pedro Square that is like the Roscoe's of San Jose. And by that I mean a place that sells chicken and waffles. The meal was great and my roommates really liked it as well. Looks like we'll be heading back to Little Chef Counter next year at Fanime.
Not like Roscoe's but still good. Gotta love Chicken and Waffles. 

I walked back to my hotel room to accommodate a few of my roommates who were leaving the con on this day. I helped them pack up and helped them bring their luggage to their car as they depart from Fanimecon back home. I went back to my room and changed to my cosplay, debuting my Aladdin cosplay from the anime series, Magi. I would walk down to the con grounds just in time for the Magi gathering. And when I saw the gathering, everyone was mostly female! If I recall, there was one Alibaba and a Judal who were guys. The rest were ladies. I find it shocking to see that the show picked up a big female fanbase cosplay wise. But I was pleased knowing that there was a big fanbase for the show. There was about 20+ cosplayers that came to the gathering and I had a fun time there as well as the other Magi cosplayers. 
All the Magi cosplayers in their gathering. A good turnout in my opinion. 

I would meet up with a couple of friends who were holding an unofficial gathering in the main floor of the convention center for the anime, K. As a fan of the show, I was there to take photos of the gathering. And being that it was on the main floor, it is the location where most of the best cosplays came by and I decided to take some photos around the area as well. The K gathering had a pretty good turnout considering that the head of the gathering had to gather all of the cosplayers who planned to cosplay from the show. Overall, I was pleased with how the gathering was ran and I had some good shots of cosplayers of a show I enjoyed watching last year. 
The  K cosplayers take a group shot from their gathering

I decided to grab a little snack with my friend at a Boba place near the con before heading to dealer's hall to kill some time before Masquerade began. When I arrived at Masquerade, I didn't expect the event to be so disorganized. I arrived in the middle of a skit where there seemed to be problems with the skit. First, the audio track didn't start when the skit began. There seems to be problems with the audio feed to the speakers. So as the people behind the Masquerade event tries to solve the problems, the MC tried his best to get his crowd entertained at all costs. Because I wasn't liking it so far. Too bad the whole Masquerade this year had so many problems to many of the skits. One of them had their audio cut off before their skit even finished, one had their music louder than the voice audio which made the skit very confusing, and it seems like they didn't have an organized schedule since some of the contestants were confused about who was coming up next to the stage. It was that bad that I decided to leave after an hour. These problems continued to go on and I just decided enough was enough. Although I have to give props to the crowd because this is one of the most influential crowds out there. Even with the problems that were going on with Masquerade, they did what they can to keep themselves and everyone around them entertained. 

With me leaving Masquerade early, I decided to catch up with the K cosplayers and had dinner with them at a Hot Dog place near the convention. We rekindled about Fanime this year and talked about what we've got next after Fanime. It's just a great time to relax and look back at what we've done at Fanime this year as well as make new friends in the process. 

After dinner, me and my friend would head up to the Anime Swimsuit Contest panel which was full at the time we were in line. They weren't able to get us in. So with that out of the picture, I decided to head back to my room and got out of my Aladdin cosplay since it was getting very cold out there. Note I was cosplaying a kid who showed off most of his upper body so changing at this time of day was greatly needed. I dressed up as normal clothes (Anime shirt and jeans) and decided to check around the convention late at night once again. I would check up on Anime Hazard which was pretty much Jeopardy with anime related questions. I also checked out the Karaoke room which was having their Gong Show at that time. There were so many bad singers that I just laughed with what I've heard. Man these people know how to sing badly. It was midnight I decided to check out AMV hell which was pretty much a mash up of funny AMVs that would give the audience a good laugh. I would be up to watch two of the AMV hell showings before heading back to my room for the night. I just don't want to face with tomorrow considering it is the final day for Fanime. So many fun things has happened at this con that I just don't wanna face reality now!

Day 4: 

The final day of Fanime dawned upon us and nothing really much happens at the final day. After I got a morning coffee from Peet's, me and the rest of my roommates would pack up our belongings and check out of the hotel. I would grab my deposit back, giving me some more spending money before leaving Fanime. So  after I packed my car up with my luggage, I went straight to Artists Alley and bought artwork that I find appealing to me.This was also my last time looking around Dealers Hall to find something I would really like to have. I would grab a Magi folder, a Kuroneko figure from Oreimo, and a Death the Kid plushie from Soul Eater. Afterwards, I met up with my friends to La Victoria for a burrito before leaving Fanime for the year.
All of the artwork I bought from Artist Alley. All of the Artist there were really good. 

Well I know everyone had the issue with registration this year at Fanime where all of the attendees of Fanime had to wait for at least 6 hours to get their badges, even longer for those who haven't pre-registered. Plus the fact that registration didn't even open up on time at day zero which had people who had spots at Swap Meet on that day going back and forth from the convention center and the Fairmont hotel to grab their badges. That isn't excusable. To say the least, the whole process of Fanime registration this year was a complete failure. There was just so many lines that people had to go through in the registration process and that there wasn't enough volunteers/workers to help out in registration. Waiting for 6 hours is wasting 1/4 of someone's day spending it just waiting in line while there is a big day of having fun in Fanime. And of course, no attendee wants to deal with that. This is the first thing that Fanime must fix when the con comes back next year. It was bad last year but we blame the power outage for that. There was no power outage this year and it looks like registration's move to the Fairmont made it worst. I would say bring it back to the Convention center as construction will be done at that time and there will be more space for things around Fanime. Especially for registration.  Or think of other alternative ways by looking at other conventions and how they do registration. Seriously, this was such a big issue in this year's Fanime. It's just a big mess to see registration this year and it must be fixed as soon as possible. 

The other issue I want to address is Masquerade. This is my first year at masquerade and seeing how disorganized the event was makes me not want to stay for long. I love the ideas of the contestants that entered into the masquerade but it was all about the people behind the scenes that need some help. It was because of them that made this year's masquerade unbearable to see. If there were more people who know about the technical stuff, then Fanime would have a better run masquerade event happening this year. Instead it's constant delays, confused skits, technical issues, and the MC trying his best to get his crowd entertained while the issues are trying to be fixed which to be honest, he did a great job with that. I must say hire people that know how to run stuff at Masquerade like lighting, scheduling, sound, and others. Because it seems to me nothing was working right to have a properly run Maquerade event happen. 

The temporary move for the Artist Alley was ok. It wasn't located conveniently at the convention center grounds, but it was located only a block away. I was amazed with the huge space the Artist Alley had that they were able to accommodate most of the artists that signed up for the alley. All of the artists showcased some great artwork and I was so impressed with it. Artist Alley this year was great, but I believe it might go back to the convention center next year as construction will be done by then. If Artist Alley next year is located at a place as spacious as this year, then it will be good. Dealer's hall is still as strong as ever having great dealers selling good anime stuff to the attendees at Fanime. The panels were great, the video showings were selected perfectly for everyone's pleasure,  and the accommodations from food to hotel at the con was as expected. 

Overall my Fanime experience was better than last year. This is probably because there were so many things that I attended to this year compared to last. Musicfest rocked, the panels were entertaining, and it just feels like there was a whole lot more things to do at this year's Fanimecon. As construction will be complete next year, I'm pretty sure the whole mess of problems that attendees had at Fanime this year would be mostly cleared up. Fanimecon was enjoyable for me and I was very pleased with what this convention offered this year. I do wish for Fanime the best as they fix some of their problems that occurred this year because this is a notable con for me. To keep it short, it was the con that got me back into anime and motivated me to attend more anime conventions and I don't want this con to fall down by the wayside. 

Well that ends my report for Fanimecon 2013. Long I know but I'm glad you guys read through it all and I hope you enjoyed it. Next up for me is Anime Expo. First time attending this con as well! But for now, it time to part ways with San Jose and Fanimecon. Thanks for all the great times! Until next year, Fanime :) 

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