Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ray Reports: Fanime 2013

I attend many conventions these days, but Fanime will always have a special place in my heart. It’s the first convention I ever attended, and it being only 15 minutes from my house, it’s more or less my “home” convention. It’s also an opportunity to meet friends, old and new, that I typically don’t get to see at any other time of year (i.e. due to distance, not caring about cons besides Fanime), although AX will hopefully change the “any other time of year” part soon. Even though I had a strong feeling Fanime this year was going to suck, I still went anyway, because to me, a year where I don’t attend Fanime is like a Tetris game with a missing piece.

In addition to the photos I have posted here, all photos I took during the convention can be found on my Flickr here
Day 0

Day 0 is, if anything, con prep day, as not much takes place during the convention.

I didn't have a room for day 0; mine was only reserved for Friday through Monday. Fortunately, months before, my friend Natalie and her roommates were kind enough to let me stay in their room for Thursday night.

After getting dropped off at the convention and parking my luggage in Natalie's room, I went bar hopping with Alex and Nate at San Pedro Square. Had a couple nice drinks, and after my second drink I was already disoriented. Guess I’m not that good with booze, but fortunately I know my limits--the dizzying effects of alcohol are enough to make me stop. I did enjoy some delicious appetizer food--maple wings, hot wings, and chicken quesadillas--which probably helped curbed the effects of the alcohol.

Following our little adventure, the three of us went back to the Fairmont to check out the infamous pre-registration line. I can’t say I understand what it was like to be in the ridiculously long pre-reg line since I didn’t register for standard registration, but if the line was so bad that people were going as far as to ragequit the con and go home, this is something that seriously needs to be addressed by next year.

 Nate and I went to get our press badges, which was far less painful and took all of two minutes. Following that, I mostly checked out the gaming room, primarily to see what games were there this year--one of my acquaintances was generous enough to bring their beatmania IIDX cabinet to the convention for the weekend--something that was last seen two years ago at Fanime 2011.

Not much else worth writing here happened, so I eventually left for my temporary room and crashed for the night.

Day 1:

I woke up a little early, primarily to meet with Nate and Lucas to discuss con converage. This was my first time meeting Lucas in person proper, and he would also be staying in my room as one of my roommates for the next three nights.

Around 2 PM, after getting all of my roommates' payments, I went down to the Hilton to check in. Months before, I heard rumors that the deposit was to be $100 per night, something that would be a bit out of my range. Thankfully, it turned out to only be $100 for our whole stay. After getting the keys, I went up to the room with one of my roommates in tow, and called up my other roommates to meet me in the room.

After discussing key distribution, Lucas and I went out for lunch, cosplaying as Persona 4's and Persona 3's male leads, respesctively.

> You spent lunch with the protagonist of the next game.
> You would feel a bond form if he actually had an arcana representation.

 We went over to check out the new Artist's Alley. As Exhibit Hall 1, which had served as the location for AA in previous years, was repurposed for the swap meet and various food vendors this year, the AA was moved to the tent just south of the main con center building. The new AA is lot more spacious yes, but the lighting is darker, making for a fairly dreary browsing experience. It is also somewhat out of the way, though it didn’t stop a constant flow of foot traffic between the main convention center and the AA.

For dinner,  I was invited by a friend to go out with a group to Bo Town, a Vietnamese-Chinese restaurant about two blocks from the convention center. We got one of the family dinner options, which kept the cost per person reasonable while giving us plentiful dishes to munch on.

Afterwards, I made for the swap meet, browsing around. Among other things, I got to meet Travis Odyssey, who on top of being a fellow Touhou fan and SJSU student also produces Eurobeat songs, particularly for the Touhou Eurobeat series, and I picked up a couple of Touhou artbooks for $10 each.

After doing my business at the swap meet, getting in a few games in at the gaming room, I went back to the hotel room, doing a little prep for my cosplay tomorrow.

Day 2:

Day 2 was the day of various Touhou-related events, including the gathering, the post-gathering party, and the Sky Arena tournament.

I took the time to put on my cosplay, which always managed to bother me in some way or another, whether it's keeping my hair under my wig cap, getting my eyeliner on, among other things. After fixing myself up, I took off, ofuda and gohei in hand.

The gathering was at 3 PM, at the inner corner of the convention center and the Hilton. Turnout was higher than last year, with fairly large numbers in attendance.

Usually I tend to enjoy spending time with fellow Touhou cosplayers at conventions--they tend to be fun to spend time with, and I usually don't see them often, especially in a part of the world where Touhou cosplay is quite niche compared to cosplays of certain other series.

After the gathering, I hit up the Touhou Sky Arena tournament, which I lost after one right on account of having no idea what I was doing. I stuck around to spend time with some of the folks from the gathering earlier, who had migrated here. Afterwards we went out to get pizza at Pizza My Heart, although due to the group size we ended up eating at Cesar Chavez Park inside of the restaurant.


Later that night was the Shin Megami Tensei "King's Game" gathering. Based on a scene in Persona 4, the gathering consisted of participants, myself included, being randomly called up to order other participants to perform a variety of actions, from acting out skits, to singing songs, to doing silly poses. I was thinking about putting on my P3 male lead cosplay at this gathering, but felt like it would be too much of a hassle so I just stayed in my Reimu cosplay.

I should also note that the night before this was a full moon. For those who have not played P3, every full moon in-game there is a major storyline event and boss battle. A neat coincidence, although no one else at the gathering really took note of this fact.

Not much else of note took place afterwards. I went to bed fairly late.

Day 3:

...which resulted in me waking up around 10:45 AM this morning. I had intended to attend the Shin Megami Tensei panel at 9 AM, but that was too early for me.

I scrambled my Reimu cosplay together and I was out by 11:30 AM or so. I had breakfast at Jack-in-the-Box near SJSU, which wasn't a smart idea because fast food makes me feel gross afterwards.

I went back to the Artist's Alley for the first time since Friday, browsing around to buy some artwork and a Touhou T-shirt from Kata's booth.

Today was the day of the Masquerade and Black and White Ball. I don't attend the Masquerade because it requires me to stand in a very long line some 1-2 hours before the event begins and I'm generally not a fan of Masquerade skits. I don't attend Black and White Ball because generally my cosplays never pass for ballroom attire.

In lieu of that, I attended tbe Intro to Crossplay panel, hosted by Bacon-Flavored Cosplay. The panel covered many topics on crossplay for both men and women. Although the panel was a condensed version of a normally-two-hour panel, it still provided a lot of details on how to crossplay effectively, based on the hosts' experiences. Various topics included using makeup (especially for male cosplayers, who may not be as experienced with makeup as female cosplayers tend to be on average), how to pose and walk like the opposite gender, and the dreaded arts of binding breasts as well as tucking (look it up yourself, it's a little too graphic for this blog).  I rather liked the makeup tutorial, although (presumably due to the time constraints) it barely covered my "trouble" spots like applying eyeliner and using mascara, especially in tandem with eye curlers.

After spending more time in the gaming room, I noticed my battery was running low so I went to the hallway to recharge and hopefully encounter some friends. My friend saw me there and invited me to dinner with them and some other friends. A stroke of luck, because I wasn't going to go out alone at night in my crossplay just for food.

In the gaming room later, there was a  QWOP tournament, one of the more hilarious spectacles there during the convention. Many players, myself included, tried, only to maybe get single-digit meters at best and negatives at worst. I didn't stick around to see the conclusion of the tournament, but it was still fun to enter and make a butt out of myself.

The day concluded, and I prepared myself for the last day of the convention.

Day 4:

No longer cosplaying as Reimu, I was back to my Minato cosplay. Yes I only brought two cosplays; I wasn't very well-prepared for this convention.

I packed all of my luggage and also left a $10 tip for the cleaning staff. Since they're the ones cleaning up after us congoers, I feel that it's only fair that they deserve some compensation from their guests.

Checkout was fast, with few people in line. I got my deposit back in the form of cash.

I went around the Dealer's Hall a few more times, scooping up whatever neat Touhou goods I can afford, including a PixReimu shirt for $15.

I skimped on Closing Ceremonies. It’s mostly just awards stuff and the gripe section, and there’s no point in me going if I don’t enter any sort of contest or have any serious complaints. I mostly just spent the final hours of the con traveling around, looking for friends and taking photos of cosplayers, before going home.

Final thoughts:

I was worried that Fanime this year was going to be a disaster due to the construction coupled with the increasing attendance numbers, but I managed to enjoy myself nonetheless, spending time with many friends, playing more IIDX than necessary, and buying plenty of things. There are some things that could be better, and some things I wish I could have done, but let’s face it, con experience is perfect, I did as much as I could to enjoy myself.

I do hope registration problems are fixed for next year, as I mentioned; if lines are so bad that my friends choose to ragequit the con then it’s not only going to impact their con experiences but mine as well.

I look forward to next year’s Fanime (despite graduating next year, if I don’t fuck up again), as well as other upcoming cosplay events and conventions!


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