Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Matthew's SacAnime Winter 2016 Report - Part 1

Like most of my reports that I have written in the past, most of my convention reports don't start at the convention but usually somwhere else.

And this convention is no exception.

Immediately after I got home a mere fifteen minutes from the new year, I not only was watching the ball drop on TV (tape recorded) but also packing in the last few items that I needed. I tried to get sleep but I woke up hours later, watched Twitch streams, typed my prologue up, and went back to sleep.

By then it was nearly 6am and I had to jump in the shower and get ready for Ryan, Dalton, and Nick to arrive at my house in under an hour. Since I've been doing this convention for a very long time, I decided to wear a "throwback" outfit with consisted of a Sacramento City College Associated Student Counil polo that somehow still fits me after eight years and a Sacramento City College hat to commerate a part of my life and my longevity of attending SacAnime.

Soon enough the three roll into town to pick me up. Since we couldn't check in until at least 10am, our first order of business was to find something to eat, and that wasn't easy given that the majority of places that we wanted to eat were closed for the new year. Luckily, one my Sacramento staples wasn't - a small diner called Stagecoach located off of Florin and Franklin. It was "Southern Comfort Food," and it played with all of our senses as we ate. It was a change of pace from the normal breakfast over at Jim-Denny's (which was still on the menu for the next day) but it was another added stop on our "SacAnime Sacramento Experience" tour.

We then swung by the local grocery store to pick up water and snack food before hitting Highway 99 to head up downtown where the convention and the Hyatt Regency Sacramento, the hotel we were staying at, was awaiting.

While the rest of the three went to go get their badges, I went over to the Sheraton to check-in as press. Everything was going well but it would take a sour turn quickly before the end of the day. Meanwhile, back at the Hyatt check-in was complete but the room was not ready. Usually the room blocks for SacAnime and most other conventions are already defined and set for us to check-in early but due to everyone booking rooms just to celebrate New Year's Day downtown these rooms still had people occupied and had not checked out. We needed stuff out of holding but according to the bellhop it was "all or nothing." Luckily we didn't have to wait long; we were in the room before noon.

People waiting to check in and out of the Hyatt
By now Robbie had shown up to check-in for press and was somehow turned away. Long story short, there was some miscommunication between us and the press staff and soon enough after waiting for at least and hour for the head press person to show up, Robbie "bit the bullet" and bought the $45 at-the-door badge which made both of us not happy campers. I was hoping for some compromises at least for Saturday and Sunday but during the times that I was in the Sheraton after this moment I stopped in the press room to see if this person was there...and this person wasn't. At some point in myself, I just had to drop it and work with what I had, not overly stress about this, and have fun.

People waiting to register and pick up badges over at the Sheraton
The beginning part of Day One consisted of scouting the area now that the convention had the convention center all to itself (meaning not having to share it with the Home and Garden Show or the Greek Festival, although I loved sharing SacAnime with the Greek Festival) and getting my bearings straight for what would be a jam-packed next two days. This is where I found that, yes, because I was press I could not waltz into the autograph line like in year's past and collect an autograph; I was offered a $10 "fast pass" that at least placed me in right in the front of everyone else. I had the weekend to debate this since I did want something signed and wanted to test out jumping the line at the same time.

I also had to find where my Shin Megami Tensei/Persona Gathering was going to take place. I eventually found the area but then got roped into shooting the Haikyuu!! Gathering. The interesting thing was that after going through the normal group shots and shots that made sense to me, the gathering organizer started to go through this long list of "ships" that were being shot. And there were a lot of ships especially for this type of anime. I would think I was done and then, bam - five more ships.

The payoff came in the end when I got to record this quick video of the group.

One of my big suprises over the weekend was my cellphone reception was holding good since I made the switch from AT&T (which had some struggles at the convention center in the past) to Sprint; it was a constant two to three bar LTE connection with no drops and slow-downs and although I have unlimited data the Hyatt's free Wi-Fi for guests staying at their hotel really helped as well.

Both Ryan and Nick had both planned to play a Weiss Schwarz tournament later on in the afternoon. Since this was my first time seeing Weiss in action and Ryan has been trying to get me to play this anime and video game-based card game, I sat down to watch Ryan's first match and attempted to understand how to play Weiss without no previous knowledge. I tried to wrap my head around it but couldn't.

However, this tournament went south as soon as the first round was complete. Nick dropped out because he wasn't feeling good and Ryan was waiting around more than actually playing; eventually he decided to drop out of the final round in favor of something I was doing up in the room, citing that "this tournament was a waste" and that he "would not play another tournament at a convention unless it was officially sanctioned by Bushiroad (like Anime Expo)."

In the meantime, we were finding out that the three places that we really wanted to eat on Day One - Squeeze Inn, Shoki Ramen, and RyuJin Ramen - were closed on New Year's Day. Pieology was open but by the time had determined that mostly everything was closed we decided to eat over at Upper Crust Pizza since we were picking quantity over quality because a) they were open, b) they were connected to the Hyatt, and c) were still serving their all-you-can-eat "express lunch."

After eating and toasting to the new year, there were two major highlights of the day left: the swap meet and the first day of the late-night dance. I don't remember the line for the swap meet snaking all across the Sheraton Grand in recent memory but with three full hours of the meet there was plenty of opportunities to find great deals.

Over at the convention center, DJ Kitsch was on the turntables heating up the dance.

The night would soon come to an end as we wanted to get enough sleep to prepare for the busiest day, Day Two.

- Day One End -

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