Friday, December 26, 2014

Editorial: Matthew's 2014 Year End Thoughts

NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the California Conventions Blog or its associates.

The following piece is not a "end of the year" review as done in year's past. This is more of my overall thoughts of state of the blog as 2014 comes to a close (thus, the Editorial disclaimer because some of these thoughts may not resignate with the other associates who work with me). This also may be confusing because I'm laying down my thoughts as they come along but hopefully it's all sorted out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It may finally be my time...

Well it finally happened. Due to a combination of lack of transportation, uncertain finances and slowly declining health, I must announce my retirement from the blog, effective January 27, 2015.

I was onboard from the inception of this blog, but I never wrote very much. I was more of a tagalong at times, and I never found the time to fully integrate with the group. It was thanks to Matthew that I stayed on all this time, and honestly, I thank him for this chance, as well as  everyone over the years for supporting us.

Once again, I am announcing my retirement from the California Conventions Blog, effective January 27, 2015. Sayonara, minna. This is Tom Gifford, signing off into the sunset.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cara's PMX 2014 Report

The second weekend of November was Pacific Media Expo, hosted at the LAX Hilton.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why am I always late? A PMX Review

Pacific Media Expo. My journey starts off with finding a parking space. PMX is held at the Hilton hotel near Los Angeles International Airport, so any parking you find is at a premium price. I wound up paying 20 dollars at the structure next to the hotel for one day, if that’s saying anything. I was only able to go for one day, so this review might not be the longest.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Anime California 2014 Review

I know this is a bit late but better late than never right? I wanted to go over be review one of Southern California's newest conventions.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Nate Reports: SacAnime Summer 2014 (Friday only)

With last weekend at Japan Expo in San Mateo happening, it was a tough decision for me to attend summer Sacanime since JX did take a toll in my expenses. But with the amazing lineup of guests they have for the con (Johnny Yong Bosch and Eyeshine, Christine Cabanos, Christina Vee, Yuri Lowenthal, etc,), I was eager to attend; for only a day unfortunately. There was already plans I've already arranged before attending Sacanime and to my luck, they were during that same weekend. But I was able to grab Friday of that con off and to everyone who's seeing this report, it will only be about Sacanime Friday unfortunately. So even if I don't inform you guys much about this season's Sacanime, just note I only attended a day so yeah you won't see much. But anyways, let's get on this report!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ray Reports: Sac-Anime Summer 2014

Sac-Anime is the second largest anime convention in Northern California, after Fanime. As its name suggests, it's located in scenic Sacramento, the very capitol of the state. It seems like yesterday that it had its first run at the Sacramento Convention Center in January 2013, a major leap from its previous location at the Woodlake Hotel. As for me, it definitely feels like yesterday, as I was unable to attend Sac-Anime's Summer 2013 iteration due to financial concerns after having attended Anime Expo and Japan Expo USA earlier that summer, and was also unable to attend in Winter 2013 due to being on vacation out of the country at the time. That being said, let's take a look at how things have changed and remained the same since then.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Matthew's SacAnime Summer 2014 Report: Part 5 - Closing Thoughts

It was only yesterday that the announcement that SacAnime was moving to the Sacramento Convention Center.

Then you realize that it was Winter 2013, moving up a convention slot.

Matthew's SacAnime Summer 2014 Report: Part 4 - Day Three

The secret to commuting at SacAnime is to get there early on Sunday and find street parking because PARKING IS FREE ON SUNDAYS.

Iced coffee and a breakfast burrito from a local food spot on the last day of the convention.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Matthew's SacAnime Summer 2014 Report: Part 3 - Day Two

Day Two started in the most unlikely place: work.

Matthew's SacAnime Summer 2014 Report: Part 2 - Day One

The key to commuting at SacAnime is know your parking situation, which is why I came very early Day One.

The parking garage on 14th and H has a regular parking rate but also has a early-bird flat rate: arrive by 9:30am and leave between 4:00pm and 12:00am and pay only $6. On weekends, it's $5 all-day until 6:00am THE FOLLOWING MORNING. And of course there's street parking, which I'll get to on the Day Three portion of this report.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sac Anime Summer 2014: Robbie's Report

After the so-so weekend that was Japan Expo, I was looking forward to Sac Anime to spend time with friends, see some guests, and generally have a good time. The convention had been getting increasingly better, with less drama and more things to do each time around, so I was optimistic about this year.

Matthew's SacAnime Summer 2014 Report: Part 1 - Prologue + Day Zero

I almost didn't go to SacAnime Summer 2014. The decision to not go but then go again was an 11th hour decision.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Japan Expo USA Second Impact: Robbie's Report

Last year’s Japan Expo USA was a fun convention, although not the busiest event. As such, they decided to move to a smaller location - the San Mateo Event Center, where HyperCon once held its event. Those who had been to the event center before were wary, due to there being no hotels attached and a $10 parking fee with no in-and-out privileges, but attendees remained optimistic nonetheless.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Anime Expo 2014, Year of the Steves! Part 2

I forgot to post the obligatory picture of the crowd before the Exhibit hall opened

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ray Reports: Anime Expo 2014 - Day 4, Post-AX Activity, and Conclusion

And so, we come to the final day of Anime Expo, set on Sunday. Not much to do besides make final Dealer's Hall purchases, say goodbyes, and maybe head out into LA for some post-expo activity.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Anime Expo 2014, Year of the Steves! Part 1

Before I went to AX this year, I was deciding if I ever wanted to go back to AX again. This year was definitely one of the better years of the past six years that I have gone.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ray Reports: Anime Expo 2014 - Day 2 and 3

Days 2 and 3 are the meat and potatoes of the convention, being the two full days of it. They saw me learning a valuable lesson about lining up for panels, as well as tending to a few gatherings and fandoms.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lucas Reports: Anime Expo 2014 Review

Now that AX is over, and have had some time to think, reflect and gather feedback from others, I want to say that it’s hard to say whether AX has improved or not.  Without further ado, let’s take a look at how this year went!

Ray Reports: Anime Expo 2014 - Prologue and Day 0-1

This was my second year attending Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in the United States. It wasn't as fun as last year, probably because the charm of being at a long-distance con for the first time wasn't there, but nonetheless I had my share of fun.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Matthew's FanimeCon 2014 Report: Part 8 - Prospectives and Final Thoughts

As FanimeCon 2014 and their 20th anniversary celebration concludes, there's a lot to look back on during all these years that I've been attending.

The first ever photo that I took starting in 2008.

And 7651 shots later...

Nate Reports: Fanimecon 2014 (Days 3-4)

It has already been an exciting day two of Fanimecon for me and we're only halfway through the con! What will we see in these next two days? Let's get right to it!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Matthew's FanimeCon 2014 Report: Part 7 - Day Four

All good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, this also includes the task of checking out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ray Reports - FanimeCon 2014: Day 3, 4, and Conclusion

Not much happened on Day 3, and I barely spent any time on the floor in Day 4, so I will condense both days' reports into a single post.

Matthew's FanimeCon 2014 Report: Part 6 - Day Three

Day Three of this report really doesn't start exactly at Day Three, but more like after MusicFest at the tail end of Day Two.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lucas Chang Reports: Fanime 2014 Review

Hey everyone, this is Lucas and I’m going to talk and review about Fanime 2014. This was the longest con I’ve been to actually, considering I left on Day (-1) and left the day after Day 4. Just to let people know ahead of time, I was going to start my new job on Wednesday, May 28th, so I couldn’t push myself like I normally can at cons. This meant that I skipped out a lot of things and events, but was a nonetheless exciting and fun-filled weekend.

Ray Reports - FanimeCon 2014: Day 2

Day 2 was Touhou day for Lucas and me. As usual, we got up around 9 or 10 AM or so. I helped Lucas put on his cosplay of Eiki Shiki, his go-to cosplay for Touhou gatherings.

This is the part where anyone who has known me well would expect me to put on my Reimu Hakurei cosplay. For a change of pace, I did not. Instead, I chose to cosplay Renko Usami, a side character who only appears in non-game Touhou material. I had started this cosplay last fall, and over the past season I had picked up some new upgrades for this particular cosplay until it was "complete" on my terms.

I felt a sense of pride of being quite possibly the only person in the Northern California Touhou community, if not the overall California Touhou community, to cosplay as Renko, but at the same time it just didn't have the same fun as cosplaying as Reimu. While I tend to get my share of feedback cosplaying as Reimu--who, for those not familiar, is the series' central protagonist--from photos to people simply calling me out by name, I had almost none of this as the barely-known Renko. Still, it was a nice change of pace, as I felt that this particular character deserved some cosplay representation. For all I know, I probably made someone's day by cosplaying tuch a terribly underappreciated character.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Nate Reports: Fanimecon 2014 (Days 0-2)

Alas, the summer convention season has begun and what better way to start it with the biggest anime convention in Nor-Cal, Fanimecon! But before we get into my coverage of this con, I have to explain that I did miss out on one day of the convention and I will explain more when I get to it on this report. Now onwards to this year's Fanime coverage!

Ray Reports: FanimeCon 2014 - Day 1

It came time to begin the con proper. We got up and conducted our morning routines, snacking on some of the stuff we bought at Costco yesterday in the interest of saving on cash.

I was feeling a bit lazy, and not much was happening just yet, so I lounged around in the room for a bit, getting my cosplay of Persona 3's main character ready. I arrived on the con floor around noon with Lucas.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Matthew's FanimeCon 2014 Report: Part 3 - Day One

Much like every other FanimeCon I've attended (or any convention in general), I'm always the first one to wake up while everyone sleeps in past the "normal" time since nothing happens until Opening Ceremonies happens.

Ray Reports: FanimeCon 2014 - FanimeCon 2006 and Day 0

Then and now

My first Fanime(Con) was in 2006. It was a rather bare-bones experience. I only went from Saturday through Monday, and each day I left by around 7 PM or so, getting dropped off and picked up by my parents every day as I had no car at the time and the thought of staying in a hotel room didn't cross my mind at the time. I didn't put on any cosplays, having not gotten into that hobby yet.

This being my first con, it also introduced me to a lot of firsts. It was my first time seeing cosplay in person--before I had only been minimally exposed to it through photos. I loved how people were replicating their characters via costume, and it was something I decided I wanted to do as well. It was my first time being in a space full of like-minded folks--15,000 fellow fans in one space? Hell yes! I had never experienced anything like it.

Blast from the past.

Now, we fast forward to 2014. I've attended every single Fanime, each one bringing new and unique experiences. This is no exception.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Matthew's FanimeCon 2014 Report: Part 2 - Day Zero

As Day Zero approached with FanimeCon's 20th anniversary in the backburner, some of my routine felt like I was going back to this convention for the second or third time while it also felt I was a grizzly convention veteran.

Matthew's FanimeCon 2014 Report: Part 1 - Prologue

In reality, this report should start all the way back after the end of FanimeCon 2011.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fanime 2014: Robbie's Report (Part 2)

And now we get to Sunday. I suppose you'd think, "Oh, this is the part where things start slowing down," but you'd be wrong, for Sunday was just as busy for me.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Fanime 2014: Robbie's Report (Part 1)

Fanime has come and gone once again, leaving a mess of tired attendees in its wake. Last year had some difficulties, but with construction over, the convention promised to fix all the issues that plagued it previously. Let's see if it managed to live up to its promises.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Big Wow! ComicFest 2014

Twas the week before Fanime, and throughout San Jose
People were preparing for the con days away.
But there was one con held there before all the rest,
For the center was home to Big Wow! ComicFest.

Okay, I'm going to stop the rhyming now and just deliver a normal report. So, Big Wow! ComicFest is still in its early years, but last year managed to impress me with its quality. This year's convention promised to be even bigger, so I went again for a day to check it out.

The convention has grown, taking up more halls than in previous years, although the setup was mostly unchanged; it was focused in one large room, which was separated into sections for vendors, artists, and guests, with some room outside where people could rest their feet and play some Rock Band. One addition of note was a section dedicated to Batman memorabilia, including a Batmobile from the classic TV show.

There were quite a few guests in attendance, including many comic artists, actors from old movies and new alike, and quite a lot of cosplay guests. Maybe too many, it seemed, although most did seem to draw a crowd. Now, I have a simple philosophy about cosplay "celebrity" guests: I'm fine with it as long as they give back to the con in some way. If they host a panel, judge the masquerade, help organize things, or in some way to anything more than sit at a table and sell prints, then I am all for it. There were quite a few cosplay guests who did just that, but looking over the lists of those in attendance, there were still quite a few who did not seem to be contributing to anything. Of course, that's just my opinion, and you're more than welcome to disagree.

Although I was unable to make it to the convention on Saturday, I arrived on Sunday bright and early. I was trying out my Mo-Larr, Eternian Dentist (from Robot Chicken) cosplay, though I changed later on into the Riddler, which was more appropriate, considering the amount of Batman cosplayers there.

Once inside the convention, I began to wander to see who I could run into. There were, of course, a fair amount of friends I knew, some who were there for the full weekend, others who were just stopping by for the day. I was also lucky enough to meet some wonderful cosplayers who I had not known before, but am now friends with, and that is one of the best things about going to a convention (in my opinion).

Big Wow is to be commended on its selection of panels, which covered a variety of subjects. It had panels on monster movies, on the comics industry, and even topics such as cultural diversity in comics. The aforementioned cosplay guests who did host panels covered some important topics, such as why everyone can cosplay if they want to, and preventing cosplay bullying. On the other hand, there were also panels on the "Heroes of Cosplay" show, which I personally do not care for. But again, that's just me.

While checking out the con, I stopped by the booths selling a very nice selection of comics. Bang Zoom even had a booth of its own, where artists would take requests to draw on blank comic covers they sold (at a price, of course, but one well worth it for an original piece), and Top Cow had a table of its own as well. Though I couldn't purchase much with Fanime approaching, there was still quite a lot I was interested in.

Last year's Big Wow managed to stand out well on its own in spite of its proximity to Fanime. This year's felt a little more like a step back towards a Fanime warmup. It was still a good convention, of course, and one that I look forward to seeing improve further in future years.

Friday, May 2, 2014

And Now for Something Completely Different! Ramen Yokocho 2014!

Hey all! School has been hectic for me which means I have been itching for a con that does not conflict with my schedule. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been one yet, but I did attend the Ramen Yokocho 2014 festival in Santa Anita Park a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Kraken Con Spring 2014: Robbie's Report

This was the second year for Kraken Con, but my first time attending, so not only did I not know what to expect, there was little precedent to go on. I had, however, heard good things about it, so I was optimistic when I went to the convention.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Convention Eats: La Victoria Taqueria, San Jose, CA

Conventions Eats: La Victoria Taqueria
Location: 140 East San Carlos St., San Jose, CA, 95112
Cuisine: Mexican

The front of La Victoria Taqueria on East San Carlos St. (Photo Credit:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sacramento Wizard World 2014: Robbie's Report

The Sacramento Convention Center has become a familiar sight for con-goers in NorCal. Not long after Sac Anime moved to the new location, Wizard World decided to join in with Sacramento Wizard World, bringing the large comic convention to Sacramento.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nate's Report: Animation on Display 2014

This month of January has been quite epic. Already I've been to two conventions far from home, which was Otakon Vegas and Anime Los Angeles, both of them occurring during the first two weeks of January. Now to end this grand con adventure, I'm heading back home to the bay area for San Francisco's anime convention, Animation on Display (AOD). Last year was my first AOD and it was a great convention for me that I was up to go to this convention again. With the already looming changes to this year's AOD (mostly change of venue from SF to Burlingame), I was going into this convention with hope that the con will continue to leave me a very good impression.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Ray Reports: Animation on Display 2014

I've been attending AOD since 2011, and this was my first time at the new location. At first, when I heard of the move from the Kabuki in San Francisco Japantown to the Hyatt near San Francisco International Airport, I was rather annoyed because this greatly reduced my options for food, shopping, and activities. It's understandable that AOD is expanding fast, but I still longed for being able to poke around in Japantown, where there were many things to do. Nonetheless, I still had my share of fun at the new location--for those who keep up with the Bay Area convention scene, yes, this is the same hotel that Yaoi-Con 2010 was held. Plus, I wanted to see my friends, who are the number one reason I visit conventions, after all.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

AOD 2014 Review

Animation On Display (AOD) has made a big move this year, leaving the friendly confines of Japan Town and going to the SFO Hyatt, previously home to Yaoi Con. Increase attendance made it a necessity, although many lamented the loss of the dining options and the stores around the area that appeal to the average anime fan. Let's take a look and see how the con worked out in its new location.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

ALA 2014 Review

ALA 2014 Review
By Lucas Chang

Hey guys, this is Lucas reporting on my experience with ALA this year.   Before I get into all the details of the convention, I like to remind people that Anime Los Angeles is not a big con and does not have all the big fancy events that the bigger ones have.  That being said, there are some great advantages to a smaller convention.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Nate Reports: Otakon Vegas 2014

It's a brand new year and I've already set my new year's resolutions: To make my reports shorter and go to as many conventions as I can (ok maybe that last one was a bit redundant). So I set off the year of 2014 to an anime convention that was the farthest con I've been to in my life. Who knew it would be in Sin City! That's right, Vegas Baby! And best of all the con was run by the good people of Otakon. With that in mind, I was looking forward to a great time at this Otakon Vegas weekend.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Matthew's Otakon Vegas 2014 Report: Part 5 - Day Four + Epilogue

Today was the day that we would leave Las Vegas. We had a great time out here, but it was time for us to make the trek back into California. However, we had one more stop to make.

Matthew's Otakon Vegas 2014 Report: Part 4 - Day Three

I'll be very honest here for a second: I really didn't do much on Sunday in terms of the convention. I did attend the tail-end of Closing Ceremonies and got my feedback in the Feedback Panel, but there was nothing that could pull me and Nate away from the Sports Book.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Matthew's Otakon Vegas 2014 Report: Part 3 - Day Two

Even in Las Vegas, I tend to be up early than mostly everyone else in the room even with the night that we had last night. I had a good excuse over "I'm going to take photos of random people in line or people walking through the hallway" though; the USA Sumo event was at 10am, which was early morning for me.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Matthew's Otakon Vegas 2014 Report: Part 2 - Day One

The good news going into Day One of Otakon Vegas that all the badges and accessories needed to distribute them came right before pre-registration opened at 9am. Twitter and Facebook didn't update the night before or overnight, so to those who were wanting their badges on Day Zero hopefully the lines wouldn't be too long.

Matthew's Otakon Vegas 2014 Report: Part 1 - Prologue and Day Zero

My decision to go to Otakon Vegas felt like I was back at the end of 2009 when I decided on a whim to go to Anime Los Angeles over SacAnime in January 2010. This time around, it was either SacAnime or Anime Los Angeles or this brand-new convention out in Las Vegas that's had experience in running one of the largest anime conventions in the entire East Coast.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sac Anime Winter 2014

I'm going to preface this post with a statement that will summarize my feelings about this convention: this was the best Sac Anime I have ever been to.

Normally, the con is decent enough, with a few problems here and there and only so much to do. This year, however, I had one of those conventions where everything goes right, but after needing just enough effort to really make one appreciate it.