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.
Day (-1) and Day 0

Because my friends and I drove up to San Jose on day (-1) rather than Day 0, I’m just going to put the two together for simplicity’s sake. I got picked up around 11:30am on Wednesday and started driving the usual route up the Interstate 5. We hit no traffic and stopped at a halfway point to grab some lunch, stretch and bathroom. My driver, Bryan (also was on staff for dance) had an errand to take care of, so we headed up to Fremont first before coming back down to San Jose for the night. We got a cheap motel near the San Jose Airport and to our surprise when we opened up the fridge; we found 3 bottles of beer in the freezer compartment! So after downing down a beer with my other ride mate, we fell asleep and waited to get picked up by Bryan again in the morning.

We got to the convention center about 11:00 in the morning and while Bryan and Peter (my other ride mate) got to work setting up for staff, I went to the San Pedro Market place to grab some lunch. It was right when I started to walk back that I got a call from Matt saying that he was checking in just now and that I could get my bags and rest in the room a bit. I only had my backpack, my one sword prop and my one suitcase with all my extra clothes, wigs and cosplays. Since we had limited room, Bryan suggested that I try rolling up a lot of my clothes and that saved a ton of space!

We did a Costco run to buy food for the four of us for the rest of the con before heading back. We relaxed a bit before walking around the convention hall and to our surprise, there was no Line Con! With the new expansion, there was plenty of room for the lines and it was going very smoothly indeed. To kill some time at night, I decided to bring my old Yugioh cards, went into the game room and dueled away for an hour or so. Later on throughout the con, I did it a little bit during the night to wind down and I was even able to get a few decent trades, which was nice considering I don’t play all that often anymore and wanted to get rid of most of them.

Day 1
I put on my Yu Narukami cosplay for today and focused more on shopping and browsing the Dealer’s Hall and Artist Alley. I found out that if you have a cool costume and it’s from a really popular series, you’ll get a ton of pictures, but not really have a chance to buy and look at the more interesting things the various vendors and artists have to offer. During this time, I started to take mental notes here and there of the con and people’s reaction to it. I noticed that while Fanime got off to a rocky start with the registration and hotels, things seem to fall perfectly into place when the con actually started.

With the expansion, they were also able to double the size of the Dealer's Hall. The added size meant that there were more booths and felt less crowded than in previous years. There were even two bounce houses on one side.

In both the Artist Alley and Dealer's Hall they have a little area off to the side with tables and chairs so that you could sit down and rest. All of these little touches were all very nice.

Again one of the nice things about Fanime is that the staff are all relatively cool and polite and try to take care of its attendees whereas Anime Expo doesn't seem to.

So here's another interesting realization. When I spoke to people about why they like the con and what aspects they seem to mention its location and its proximity to hotels and restaurants. I like of point out that in a sense, Fanime got lucky. A lot of things that makes Fanime good IS location, but the con has nothing to do with that. Had the con been in a different location that may actually have been a different story.

Day 2

Day 2 was mainly ‘Touhou Day’ for me. I didn't get much sleep that night, so I didn't get up as early as I would have liked. I put on my cosplay and hit the floor around 10:30 in the morning. The biggest item on my agenda was the Touhou gathering and after that there was a Touhou Fan panel and the dinner after that.

For some reason, I really did not feel at my best the whole day. I took a few breaks and mainly just hung out and talked to people. Maybe it’s because I’m older now and I prefer the social aspect of cons more than the events and guests.

This year by the way, was Fanime’s 20th anniversary, and they had little events to commemorate it. For example, to break in the new plaza out front, the staff asked whatever cosplayers there were in the area to take a giant group photo. If this had been AX of course, the staff probably would not have done the shot.

As for the gathering and panel, they were good, but not great like years before. There was a Touhou Fan panel after the gathering and a dinner after that, all of which I attended and considering we had about 15 people in the restaurant and just chilled and talked, it was really nice.

After dinner I headed back to take a nap and rest because I started to get a headache, I woke up about an hour later and went to play Cards Against Humanity, the Anime variation. It was my first time playing it and it was really hilarious to say the least. To end the day, my roommate, Nate recently graduated from college, so we brought drinks and partied into the night.

Day 3

Today was mainly ‘Kill la Kill day’ as I pulled out my Houka Inumuta cosplay. Originally I did not plan on having him for Fanime, but all the pieces came in the day before I left so I thought why not. Again I didn’t start that early in the morning, because I was still very tired from the night before, but got a pastry, some fruit and a cup of tea down at Peet’s Coffee and Tea. I also ran into 2 other Kill la Kill cosplayers and mainly hung out and talked, though it was hard to have a conversation more than 5 minutes on the main floor in our cosplays. I also had to borrow Matt’s tablet as a prop so I had to be extra careful with that.

The biggest thing on my agenda was the Kill la Kill gathering and that was one of the most insane gatherings I've done in a long time. We had it outside the new expansion and it worked perfectly. The photographers and cosplayers probably took up that entire eastern side of the expansion! There were quite a few Nudist Beach cosplayers and holy crap they were in shape!

We rested again and later the four of us, and a couple of Nate’s friends joined us for dinner at a Crepe place. One of the nice things about the location of Fanime is the fact that every so often we would go out to eat and there are quite a few decent and well priced restaurants within a 10-15 min walk. After that it was the Black and White ball, which was pretty fun, even though I had only stayed about an hour and half. I really just wanted to hit the hay that night.

Day 4 (and 5)

Not much to talk about here except the usual packing up and cleaning up. It was a bit sad to leave the con, yet at the same time, I was relived. It does take a lot out of someone and in a way I was glad the party was over so to speak. I didn’t cosplay that day and mainly just took pictures and enjoyed myself. The nice thing about not planning much of the con, is that whatever happens, I try to go with the flow. That to me ends up working very well as for example, in the afternoon, I hung out with Nate a bit before he left, and as I was walking back to the con, I bumped into one of my old high school friends and hung out with him a bit more.

This year we had one of the best endings to the con in my opinion as there were these dance crew guys who really put on a big show for everyone in the con lobby. They were going for like almost 2 hours and the staff didn’t say or do anything to stop them. I also got to take some more pictures and talk to few other Kill la Kill cosplayers and just chilled.

I stayed in Bryan’s room on the night of Day 4 and headed out around 11:00 the next day. After saying our goodbyes, we hit the road at (almost) top speed. We stopped by Bryan’s usual stop for some In and Out before continuing on our last leg of the journey. The drive up and down the Interstate 5 is faster, but boring. If you are not in a hurry to drive back down to So Cal, I’d recommend the 101 for a change of pace and scenery.


To conclude, what parts did I enjoy and what parts if any, did I dislike? Well the most prominent was that there was no line con, and again because of the new expansion, the Artist Alley was amazing, the Dealer's Hall was doubled in size and the front plaza was amazing for photoshoots. The only drawback to it was that the con did not feel like a 20th anniversary like AX did. Most of the events and such felt more or less similar than in previous years.

This was my 5th time coming to Fanime since 2010, and yeah there were its ups and downs in previous years and in many cases I never get to do everything I wanted to do. But that’s not the point. What I look at now is how much did I enjoy myself with my friends. There was little to no drama so that’s always a plus, I got to meet up with friends, take some good photos and hopefully made a few new ones. I got some pretty good artwork and I got something for a friend of mine, I got to eat decently well, traded a few cards and had an all around good time.

So how does this stack up against other cons? It really all depends on what you want to get out of it. This is a con that I would always want to do each year, if only for the social aspect and cosplay. The people make it really fun and it's definitely one I would recommend for all con attendees and would be ones.

1 comment:

  1. Verily I can agree to this conclusion with the lack of people because of the fact that there was a bit of a paranoia going on that there's going to be a linecon 2014. When see, people expected wrong some people came in the last minute, usually not until Sunday when everything really boomed out. Saturday was the expected date that people are supposed to show up, but again since last year, Fanime kinda left a remark saying, "Oh this is a bad con, bad staff, bad registration and such, let's get out of here", and have the initial attitude of just staying at home this year.


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