Sunday, June 15, 2014

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!

Day 3:

After being up late from last night, I would end up waking up around 9:30 am. My partner Matt would already be out in line for autographs of Home Made Kazoku which I would love to get but then I was just too tired to get up after the busy day I had last night. I decided to skip out this time around hoping that they will come back to Fanime or to California for another convention. The first thing to go to is the first gathering of the day which was Dangan Ronpa. I would dress up in cosplay as Makoto Naegi, the protagonist of the first Dangan Ronpa game. I would arrive at the gathering on time and I was surprised to see so many cosplayers from both series (Dangan Ronpa and Super Dangan Ronpa 2) and they all looked really great in their cosplay outfits. The gathering would start with a group shot before splitting up the series for shots. Dangan Ronpa would start first having individual shots first along with group shots afterwards. Same went to the Super Dangan Ronpa 2 cosplayers as they had their shoots the same way as well. This gathering was more organized and I had a fun time meeting with my friends and especially new people as we talked about the games and other things.
Dangan Ronpa cosplayers
Super Dangan Ronpa 2 cosplayers
Hagakure x burger? I ship.

The gathering would take about more than 30 minutes. When the gathering was over, I would head over to the Fairmont hotel for my friends panel and it's one that he has been gathering everyone at Fanime for. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for the first ever showing of the Cosplay Wrestling Federation!!!!

Making it's debut at Anime Los Angeles this year, the creators of this panel decided to bring the federation over to Fanimecon to see how the Fanime audience would react to this panel. And from their reactions, it looks like they were really satisfied. Basically this panel brought up all of the cosplayers to pretty much trash talk saying how great they are when they face off the champion of the last CWF event.  Based off the crowd reaction and the judgement of the judges, the judges would decide which single and paired cosplayer would matchup against the champion. In this Fanime, it would be a Dio Brando cosplayer who would win the singles and a male Pegasus with his Fluttershy cosplayer who would both win the paired matchup. Now the champion would make a grand entrance with music and a loud introduction from the judges. And then the battle was on! The battle between Dio and the Afro sayan battled each other out with a mix of fighting words and the crowd was cheering as loud as ever for each of them. Unfortunately, only one must win. And by the audience's reaction, the CWF has a new champ: DIO BRANDO!!!! He would grab the belt from the Afro Sayan only to be knocked down by the Afro Sayan's sidekick. Either way, he's the new champion! But the battle isn't over yet. There was the paired battle between Afro Sayan and his sidekick vs. The challenger Pegasus and his Fluttershy. Again, they battled with a mix of fighting words to encourage the audience who's the better pair. The challengers would fall and the afro Samurai with his sidekick would retain their championship. The panel would end and the host of it all encourages everyone to spread the word of the Cosplay Wrestling Federation to their friends and give good remarks about the panel. They are trying their best to have a panel at Anime Expo and high remarks should get them a spot. And from my experience, they are getting one high remark alright! Their panel was very exciting and I was hyped throughout the whole panel.
Judges of the Cosplay Wrestling Federation
Fanime cosplay challengers take on the champ, AFRO SAYAN!
And Dio takes is your new champion!!!!!

The panel would be over and I would head straight to the Magi gathering to take pictures. I wasn't able to be a part of this gathering sadly this year, but I was glad to be there to see the awesome Magi cosplays. 
All the Magi cosplayers at the gathering
Main 3: Aladdin, Alibaba, and Morigiana
The Kou Empire (Wow there was one cosplaying one of Kouha's slaves. Nice!)

I would head back to my hotel room after the gathering was over to grab some food that we bought over at Costco on Day 0 of Fanime. So I would treat myself to 2 cups of Instant Ramen Noodle with a bottle of Vitamin Water and bars of Nature Valley, which we have over half the box left to kill. In fact, there was just so much food left to eat, I don't think we did a good job in purchasing food for the weekend. We'll have to buy less next time. 

After relaxing for an hour or so, I would dress up in my next cosplay which was a debut cosplay for this convention. Now of course all of you would know what this year's theme is. Ok, yes it's beach and swimming. But there was another theme that was going around the cosplay community. So many cosplayers cosplaying Ryuko Matoi, Mako Mankanshoku, Satsuki Kiryuuin, and the elite four. Yes, I'm talking about Kill la Kill. And yours truly is cosplaying from the show. I've made a Rule 63 genderbent Ryuko Matoi that was ruined when I transferred the suit from my car to the hotel room. The suit and glove wasn't looking great, let's just leave it at that. And I have no prop sword since it broke the night before day 0 of Fanime. So I just wanted to fix all the things that were falling apart in my cosplay and went to the cosplayer's hangout at the Hiton hotel where they had the supplies needed for me to repair my cosplays. The supplies they had were really helpful and it helped get my suit all together again for the gathering. I would find my friend who also needed help with her Satsuki outfit as well as a group who were cosplaying the black suit versions of the elite four. Together, we all fixed our cosplays before the gathering began. When we were done, all of us walked out of the cosplayer's hangout and went straight to the Kill la Kill gathering. 

It was no doubt that it would be big. How big you ask? Well let's just say it took over the whole outdoor corridor of the floor where registration was held! The gathering was maybe over 100-200 cosplayers and photographers having fun over at the gathering. We had shoots of the main characters, the Honnouji Academy students, Nudist Beach, and many more. Some cosplays I was surprised with, including one who actually cosplayed Ryuko and Satsuki's dad! And I never would expect Mako's mom to be a cosplay so that was cool to see. Best of all, a motorcycle custom made to look like Senketsu. What a ride! DON'T LOSE YOUR WAYYYYYYY! The gathering was very fun, I loved all the cosplays in this gathering and I was so glad to be a part of this! Let's just hope the next Kill la Kill gathering will be big. Oh wait, Anime Expo. IT'S FOR SURE GONNA BE BIG! 
Ryuko's and Satsuki's dad along with his "daughters"
Ryuko, Nui, Satsuki, and Mako 
Ryuko with Nonons

Me and a friend of mine who cosplayed a genderbent Omiko Hakodate (tennis club president) went for a photoshoot with our personal photographer. Luckily a friend of mine was nice to lend me their scissor blade for the shoot. And another friend of mine wanted a shoot of me in my genderbent Ryuko cosplay. So I had a pretty busy day with this cosplay and I love it! I'll probably cosplay Ryuko again in the next con. 
Shot of me as Genderbent Ryuko (Photo by Jayson Tran Photography)

The gathering is over and I headed back to my hotel room where I met Matthew who wanted all of us in the CaliConBlog to meet up for dinner. I would accept his offer and would also change out of my Ryuko cosplay into my Nagisa Hazuki cosplay from Free! Me and Matt decided to check a pool party which was the reason for the cosplay. I just chilled pool side and waited for Ray and Lucas' call. When they called us up, we went down to Whispers Cafe and Crepes, another Fanime hotspot, to eat dinner. Like the name says, they do have crepes from hot to desert plus they do also have other treats like hamburgers and beer, which is what I took over at this place. Plus the price is very reasonable for a meal so you aren't spending quite a lot here considering the food they give you. After dinner, me and Matt would head to Amor again to grab ourselves a milk tea drink. 

We would then head to The Gong Show, where contestants would sing karaoke songs in a really "intriguing" way. And by that, just prepare yourselves for all the crazy. And knowing that Matt would be performing, I have to check this out. The Gong Show didn't actually begin with the host introduction. Instead, we......

video
And......

Selfies!

The Gong show started with these songs (Turn down for what and #Selfie plus a song that had the crowd saying "sh*t" that I wasn't aware of) and when you have a crowd like Fanime's, the crowd will always be engaging and that's what I did here.

The Gong Show contestants had some interesting choices of songs including an Attack on Titan mix in with the song of Let it Go from Frozen. I'm guessing this is a better way to explain the story of AoT. Then there was a duet where two men sang the song Fancy by Iggy Azalea and let's just say from this performance, we may have to rethink the way we use whipped cream again. Then there was the most engaging performance where most of the crowd went up on stage to sing "Make a Man out of you" from the movie, Mulan. Even I went up there and no lie, that was awesome! But the main focus is on Matthew and what he is going to do for this show. Here's his performance: click here

So he was gonged. When all the contestants sang their song, the judges then left to pick out who should take home a fedora (apparently a fedora of shame or something like that). From then, I left with my friend to check out other things around the con. I would get word from Matt that the winner was the singer who sang the Frozen Parody with Attack on Titan references. Congrats to her! We would check out Hentai Nights which actually was the first time I would watch hentai. The line was big but it makes sense since they do check IDs before going into the viewing room. I would then stick for two episodes of the hentai they show and it was sickening. But the best part is the crowd according to what I've heard. But where was the crowd? I didn't hear much crowd engagement. Were they really fapping to it? I couldn't bear to watch anymore and I ended after two episodes. Yeah, not watching Hentai again.

I would roam around the con one more time and after an hour, I would head back to my room where my roommates were already sleeping. I decided to do the same and end my coverage. The whole day was just pretty much all about wresting, bad Karaoke, and Kill la Kill. Overall, a good day.
Ryuko and Mako from Kill la Kill
Juvia Lockster from Fairy Tail
Gundam found at Fanimecon!

Day 4
And the last day has come upon us. These four days of fanimecon has been so much fun and to be honest, I really didn't want it to end. But sadly, it must. So as well all woke up, we all packed up our stuff double checking everything if we haven't left anything in the room as well as cleaning it up as well before we checked out of the room. I would have to walk a couple of blocks to my car which was located at the San Jose State University 4th street parking garage where I would place all my luggage and other stuff there. The garage was conveniently close to a McDonalds so I grabbed myself an iced coffee before heading back to the con. I would have to wait for a group of friends whom we plan to cosplay from Kuroko no Basket so I decided to roam around the con for a bit. I would be in the dealer's hall most of the time since I didn't spend much time in there and would manage to grab whatever goodies I can find before the con closes. I would be able to get a Aladdin plushie and folder from Magi, a Valentine t-shirt from Skullgirls, and a Kyubey plushie from Madoka Magica.
All the swag I got from Dealer's Hall. All mostly Magi (plus Valentine)


I would then meet up with my group where we checked out the Dealer's hall again with them as well as Artist Alley before the con closes. At around 2pm, I would get a call from Matthew telling me that he was about to take his leave. I would meet up with him and the rest of the caliconblog crew for one last selfie. We all went our separate ways from there.

Matthew's last selfie of the caliconblog crew before Fanime closes (Photo by Matthew Miranda)

I said goodbye to all of them and hope to see them at the next upcoming convention. After that, it seems that all is done from here at this year's Fanime. So I would meet up with a couple of my friends for one more lunch at La Victoria's which I never had yet from this year's Fanime and grabbed a quesadilla with orange sauce (BTW get this sauce, it's really amazing!). I would also go to Thirst Tea as well to grab a boba milk tea and then headed back home from there. From all these events and moments that I have had at this years Fanime, I really feel like I'm going to miss this year's Fanime. It was that amazing. 
 The Kuroko no Basket group I was in. Junpei Hyuga hitting my head. "AHO!"
One last selfie with my friend before heading out. It's the new craze at Fanime!

Review:
Well we have to start of wit the issue at hand coming from last year's Fanimecon and that was registration. So are we going to have to wait for another 6 hours to attendees to grab their badges? No! In fact, it only took about 5 minutes for an attendee to grab their badge! Surprising as it sounds, it's true and it really improved registration a whole lot! This is because of the new system they placed in where everyone was emailed a QR code where they bring it to registration and they scan the code. They would then grab their badge from there. This system turns out to be the one missing piece to a fast registration process and it worked out this year. I'm pretty sure they will be keeping this system forever because we don't want the disasters of Fanime registration to come up again. The first thing that attendees must do is get a badge from registration and knowing that it is this fast now to get a badge means that Fanime's registration has improved remarkably this year and that everyone is satisfied with it. No more Linecon!!!!!

Or is it really gone? One flaw I saw from this year's Fanime was swap meet. This year's swap meet moved from the convention center to the civic auditorium right across the street. The civic auditorium does provide more room for more dealers to sell their stuff, but what about the shoppers? Apparently there was not a lot of room for them as there was a long line coming from outside the civic auditorium. Not only that but it looks like the dance rooms looked to be more packed than previous years and it's due to this that there was a big line outside of the gaming room just to get into the dance area. And we have linecon all over again? It doesn't want to leave Fanime after all.

But besides these flaws, the staff of Fanime looks like they have taken advantage of the brand new building and has used it to give attendees more satisfaction when roaming Fanimecon. The Artist Alley looks to have a brand new location at the ballroom of the new building. The room is big and spacious and that it can provide more artists tables for them to sell their works than the previous rooms they have had. It may not be as big as the South Hall like last year, but at least it is located now where it's supposed to be at the convention center. The new Dealer's Hall is a whole lot bigger as it took away the room that used to be Artist Alley/Swap Meet and merged the two rooms together to have a massive hall room for dealer's. In fact it's so big that there was a lot of room to provide tables and seats for attendees who want to rest. They can even fit in two bounce houses in the Dealer's Hall as well. Maybe next year, we'll get to see more booths for dealers to sell their items. The gaming room hasn't changed much but it looks like they have provided more tables for table top gaming as well as computers for those who want to play online. Plus the new Just Dance and Rock Band area is pretty cool. I mean I love those games and it's great that they have their own space for attendees to have fun playing these games. 

Although for the panels at con, they have changed considerably as they have moved from the Marriott and Hilton rooms to the Fairmont rooms. Although they may not be at the convention center anymore, it doesn't bother me that the panels are now at a new location since it does provide more room for the panels which means more room for attendees to see. I can remember some times where some attendees have to stand up for the whole hour due to the lack of room in the panel so having it moved at the Fairmont which has provided panels more room makes sense. I may have to walk a block to see a panel but at least I'll find a seat. 

Overall, this convention has greatly improved. Registration problems are gone, the linecon is over and everyone should satisfied that they got their badges in a convenient way. More room for artist alley and dealer's hall means more people are more satisfied selling and buying over at this convention. Musicfest rocked out loud! And the events at this year's fanime was very exciting! The only thing that I want to say is Swap Meet needs to improve so that we won't have a line con there again and to provide more guests for fans to be more crazed about. This year's lineup was ok with Home Made Kazoku being the headliner of the list, but it would be great to provide some outstanding artists, directors or Voice Actors/actresses from Japan to see how they worked on great anime titles. But either way, I had a very good time at this year's Fanime, probably one of the best Fanime's I've attended yet. And I have to greatly applaud the Fanime staff because through all the tough times these last two years, they had to deal with all of the negative comments and feedback given due to the convention's construction and other problems. They have answered back greatly by taking advantage of the new resources they have been provided and have given attendees the Fanime experience we have always had since it all began back in 1994. You know the saying, "Started from the bottom, now we're here." This pretty much explains Fanime this year. And what a way to celebrate it on their 20th anniversary. What a way to come back to life, Fanimecon and I hope next year will be as lively as this year's con! 

And on that note, Fanimecon 2014 coverage is over for me! What's next? Well not Anime Expo this year as I will not be able to attend this convention due to money issues. Plus I just graduated from college and I'm mostly focused on finding a job at the moment. But I have plans set for Japan Expo 2nd impact this year as well as a possible return to Sacanime in the summer. So if you plan to attend these cons, I'll see you there. But for now, it's farewell to me and San Jose. Until next year, later Fanimecon! 

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