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.

Before I even left on day zero, I heard that the badge pickup lines were already moving. That was a promising sign right off the bat, as it meant they had learned from last year's LineCon, and were both starting earlier and moving faster. Indeed, the lines kept moving at a decent pace throughout the con, preventing the backup, confusion, and frustration from last year.

However, that doesn't mean there wasn't a line at all, just not where I expected it to be. The swap meet line was very long, and moved pretty slowly, as they only let in a few people at a time. I tried waiting, but it was taking too long to make any progress, so instead opted to get dinner and came back later when the swap meet was close to over but the line was gone. I still managed to get a few Yu-Gi-Oh cards I needed, and prepared for the next day.

Clare from "Claymore"

When day one began, I started the con by cosplaying as Yaki from "Magi-Nation." It's a card game from about ten years ago, so I wasn't expecting anyone to recognize the character, but the costume still seemed to be well received. As I didn't have any gatherings to go to early on, I had time to actually explore the con, although not much was going to open until later on in the day.

The first thing I noticed was how they used the space from the convention center renovations. I had seen the changes to the center at Big Wow the previous weekend, but I was still curious as to how Fanime would make use of it. They managed to keep registration off to the side, but still in a large room that could hold the line, while the artist alley had been moved back into the convention center in another large room. That also provided room for the dealer's hall to expand, making room for more booths, chairs, and a couple of bounce houses, believe it or not. The bounce houses were collecting money for a charitable cause, because who can resist those?

As the day grew into the afternoon, it was time for the Cosplay Battles, an event I run at Fanime, where cosplayers enter mock fights across series. As it was the first day, I wasn't expecting too big a turnout, but we got a fair amount of people to attend, and they all had a good time.

Following that, I had a panel to help run. My friend Gold Rose and I were running the "Pokemon Trivia League" panel. She prepared the questions, I double-checked them, and I did the talking while she kept the score. It was wonderful teamwork. The panel was a contest, featuring easy, medium, and hard levels of questions, a game of Jeopardy using the classifications of Pokemon from various regions, and finally a game of "Whose That Pokemon" for all contestants. All the contestants had a good time, and the games were pretty close for the most part. We ran out of time before "Whose That Pokemon" was over, so we ended it with a sudden death question: What is my favorite Pokemon?

It's Jigglypuff, for what it's worth.

Speaking of, the last rounds of WTP had several Pokemon that were just round balls: Voltorb, Electrode, Solosis, and one that was a reference to the anime: Jigglypuff, as seen from above. A lot of people called out the last one whenever a round one came up. Contestants also had a habit of guessing Ditto when they didn't know the answer, and while I did fire a few snarks here and there, I think they all had a good time.

Afterwards, I changed costumes for my first gathering of the con. I wanted to complete Devimon for the Digimon gathering, but it was still incomplete, so I went with the season 2 version of Joe Kido instead. The organizer is experienced at running gatherings, and it had a decent turnout, including several friends as Digidestined, and some gijinka Digimon with rather clever designs.

Although there was another swap meet that night, I opted to avoid the incredibly long line, and instead got food. Friday was the easy day - Saturday was when things would get crazy.

Thus came Saturday, the biggest day of the con. There were several cosplay gatherings I wanted to attend, and would have been more had the gathering organizers not put all of them on the same day. I had to miss Attack on Titan and Ace Attorney due to scheduling conflicts.

The first gathering of the day was the Rumiko Takahashi series, featuring mostly InuYasha and Ranma 1/2 cosplayers. There was one from Maison Ikkoku, which was a nice addition. A few friends showed up, which I appreciated, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Immediately after was Fanime's all-cosplay gathering, where anyone and everyone who was available could join in to showcase the cosplayers of all types at the convention. It was tricky to get so many cosplayers pulled into a single area for pictures, but everyone did their best to make it work, and it went as well as it could have. Plus, people got glowsticks out of it.

Afterwards, I changed into the 10th Doctor for the SuperWhoLock gathering. For those unfamiliar, SuperWhoLock is an amalgamation of Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Sherlock, so that those television fandoms can have a gathering at an anime convention. Although the crowd was huge, they were responsive to the organizer, and it went quite well. I couldn't stick around for too long, though, as I had to go change for the Pokemon gathering.

As per usual, I attended as Giovanni, although I was surprised by the lack of Team Rocket members this time around. Though the organizer managed to keep things moving, it seemed a little more rushed and frantic than usual. Still, I had to leave that one after the main pictures were done, because my next gathering was directly after.

Team Flare scientists
The Marvel/DC gathering was as huge as always, and although it wasn't crammed in a smaller gathering area this time, it was still hard to get a huge crowd of comic book cosplayers organized. The organizer did manage to get people following instructions eventually, but the crowd and noise in the small space they had did make it difficult. I was cosplaying as Phil Coulson from the Marvel movies and Agents of SHIELD, and found a few other SHIELD agents to get pictures with, but the heat was intense, so we went inside for a smaller shoot as the gathering went on.

Agents of SHIELD
No sooner did that end than I had to get over to the area where the Cosplay Battles were to be held for a second time. Like before, we had a decent turnout, with more showing up as the battles raged on. It's always hard to predict how many people will attend, because it depends so much on word of mouth to get people in, but that means everyone has a chance for at least a few battles.

There were other cosplay games throughout the day as well, including Cosplay Chess/Checkers and Cosplay Clue. However, those also depend heavily on word of mouth, so it's important the people tell each other about them. That meant that Saturday's events were less than active, but Sunday's got a better turnout when more people knew about it.

With the battles over, I finally had time to enjoy the con once again. I took to wandering the halls, meeting friends and seeing what there was to see.

At night, I was going to go to karaoke with a friend, and checking in for it at seven meant I had about a two-hour wait. Sadly, that messed up all my dinner plans, leaving me to get a sad sandwich from Safeway, and then returning to the karaoke room. My friend had to cancel, so it was just me, so I changed my song and performed "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts."

But the night's singing wasn't over yet, for as I was returning from the con, I saw some people with a keyboard and guitar playing, with several con attendees singing along with them. As they were singing "I'll Make a Man Out of You" when I arrived, well, of course I had to join in on that, and joined in for whatever songs I knew for a while. Afterwards, I returned to the hotel to prepare for the next day.

That, of course, will be covered in Part 2.

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