Sunday, June 26, 2016

Nate Reports: Fanime 2016

After the winter cons of SacAnime Winter and AOD plus the spring con of Krakencon Spring, it's the summer time now and that means the real con season begins! And what better way to start it off with FanimeCon here in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's always been a great time at Fanime for me as it always is the kickstarter to the con season. I've seen the con have it's ups and downs like my first years attending the con was great to the construction years where it was just horrible to go around the con. And these last two years after the construction and expansion of the San Jose Convention Center I must say have had no problems at all. In my 8th year attending FanimeCon, this one's had a lot of things that I didn't expect to see!

Day 0:

The day started off like no other where I was heading to Fanime with no worries. I arrived at the convention to the new location where registration is, which is now inside the Marriott 2nd floor. The 2nd floor which used to hold panels and rooms have all converted into one to make the new registration room. Now it used to be down below at the new building and it used to flow perfectly, no waits at all (maybe a 5 minute wait) but it's just scan and go and you'll receive your badge like that. This year with the new room was a much different experience. When I enter the Marriott 2nd floor, we already saw many people in line waiting for their badges. I would meet up with a couple of friends and we would reache the end of the line where there was at least 100 people in front of us. And then we just played the waiting game and after an hour long, my friends were able to grab our badges (my badge wasn't ready until 5pm because mine was a Press badge).  After that long wait, we have been notified our room is ready and we got our luggage and moved in to our room. We also had to wait for others that were rooming with us so we decided to roam around the con for the rest of the day.

Registration line is getting longer every minute

And as usual, day 0 doesn't have much to offer. With the staff setting up all the rooms and stage zero, I was just out meeting up with friends and just socializing until 5pm where my badge would get ready. But for now I get to see what has changed at Fanime. The bottom floors of the new building which use to hold registration is now the video rooms while those old rooms now hold panels. The Fairmont 2nd floor rooms are still panel rooms and the usual rooms for Dealer's, Artists, Gamers, and Swap Meet are still the same as well. So not many big changes but registration definitely was a big one. Because when we left our hotel room to roam around, our line for Registration went from just 100 people to this:

It was 5pm and I went to the room where press registration was held. I asked the guy who was working registration there wondering if I can get my badge. Unfortunately, no. Registration didn't open yet according to them, so I had to wait at least 30 minutes according to the guy. Roamed around the con again to meet up with people until 6pm where I went back to the room and again I was stopped. No badge yet, guy told me wait another 30 minutes. What is going on? So I waited longer now and just back to my room where my roommates were waiting for the others that were rooming with us. That took another hour and a half off and then I went back to grab my badge which now was available for me to get. Frustrating, but I was able to grab my badge and continued on with the con.

So with my other friends arriving at Fanime now, they had to go through Registration which now had a longer wait time. So we decided to head to Swap Meet that opened up around 9pm to check out what the vendors have. The Swap Meet was as usual, many people registered to grab a space and were selling their old goods to the attendees of Fanimecon. I was able to grab a couple of card sleeves but that was it. The selection wasn't much appealing to me this year.

After everyone got their badges, we went to grab food at Downtown SJ where I was able to grab a La Victoria burrito before the big rush of con goers begin to overcrowd that place. We would grab our foods and meet back at the lobby of the convention center where we would all ate our dinners there. At the same time, the con staff was still setting up and they are actually setting up something new in the lobby: badge checkpoints. There is this new rule now that the 2nd floor will not be open to those who don't have a Fanimecon badge. So they now set up checkpoints around the entrances (main, Marriott, and Hilton) to check on attendees that they have their badges for the con.

New checkpoints for Fanime attendees: No badge, no go

The gaming room would open now and we would check out the room that only had arcade machines on at the moment we entered. People were also lounging in the chairs playing board games and card games to pass the time. I'd try some Dance Dance Revolution to where I found that they overprice the arcade games. So then I decided to face off with my friend in a game of air hockey which was fun and I think he won? We'd stayed till 2am and then we walked back to our hotel rooms for a slumber. Tomorrow begins the con and we can't wait for this year's festivities!

Fire Emblem Fates Cosplayers

Found GOH DaIce and I had to take a selfie with them!!!

The calm before the con. Fanime begins tomorrow!

Day 1:
The day started off like a usual morning. I went out early to grab a cup of coffee at Philz (great coffee place at Downtown SJ) to help me wake up for the first day of Fanime. When I got back to the hotel room, everyone else was up and I went straight to my cosplay where I was going to cosplay first as Mikado Ryuugamine from Durarara!! After dressing up, I would roam around the con. It was around 12pm when I left the hotel room so I went to grab a quick lunch to where I picked up a bacon wrapped hot dog from one of the vendors outside the con. They were such a great help by the way. I mean I had a busy schedule throughout Fanime that sometimes lunch can be replenished by just a bacon wrapped hot dog.

I went to the Artist Alley and browsed around the artists showcasing their works for this con and they always are great to see. Every artist really gave out good works, I didn't see anything that was bad or sketchy. They all looked great! Whoever was the person behind the scenes selecting artists for Fanime Artist Alley did a really good job. I ended up already buying a couple of things like one artist had drawings of Love Live!'s u's group crossover with the karasuno team of Haikyuu! It's was too funny I had to buy it!!! I was passing by after Artist Alley to watch a part of Opening Ceremonies and saw Da-Ice performing on stage (still psyched to see them randomly yesterday night!). I was able to capture them perform a song. You can see in the video below:

It was 2pm where I had to go back to my hotel room to get ready for an interview. This is actually Nate's first ever solo interview with a guest of honor of Fanime. When I saw that Christina Vee, English VA of many animes and cartoons, was a GOH, I requested an interview with her to the Fanime Press team which they greatly helped me out and I was able to get an interview for this day! With so much hype and excitement on my end, I grabbed my camera and tripod and went to the interview room to meet up with Christina Vee. And for 20+ minutes, I've done my first ever interview! You can see the entire interview below:

A selfie with Christina Vee to end the interview!

After the interview, I went back to my hotel room and dressed up as Mikado Ryuugamine where I would meet up with my friends who were cosplaying the Orihara sisters. What I didn't realize was that the Izaya that was part of this group dropped at the last minue and he had the jacket with him at Fanime, that I could have actually been their douche onii-chan! Yeah, didn't know until later. Well either way all of us went to the Durarara!! gathering that didn't really have a big turnout, except so many Izayas and Shizuos! The only one out of that group would be us, a Namie, Shinras, Celtys, and Chicage. What even sucks was that I guess no one knew about the gathering. Why? I was the only person representing the main cast (Mikado, Kida, and Anri)! Oh boy, what a gathering...

The Orihara family

All the Celtys

When that was over, it was time for a costume change! I had to change out of Mikado and into an Italian capucuco. I was going to be Takumi Aldini from Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars). After dressing up, I would meet down to the con to find our group and we would be walking around the con to the many attendees where we would have to stop for photos. We even went to one of our favorite photographers to take a couple of photos too. When night hit, all of us would go to the SoFA market down 1st street in Downtown SJ for some good foods. Some of us had Pokibowl while other had hamburgers, Ramen, and ice cream bars for desert. A really good place to grab some grub at Fanimecon!

Selfie with the Shokugeki no Soma squad!

Doesn't our props look great?? poor sloth haha

The group would split after dinner but would meet later on at night. All of us would change out of our cosplays and would put on our Kigus on and would just be relaxing in our friends' hotel room. Then again we were kind of tipsy before heading over there. So we chilled there for most of the night until we headed back to our hotel room for some needed slumber, because it was 4am and the busiest day of Fanime starts in just a couple of hours!

These Digimon cosplayers are sooo cool!!!

Persona 3 cosplayers!
Soul Eater cosplayers!

Day 2
All of us would wake up around 10am to get ourselves ready for the day. Most of the beginning of the day I was getting ready for my debut cosplay of a Pokemon Gejinka of Eevee. I was a part of a big Eeveeloutions group where each of the cosplayers would cosplay their eeveelution but a class that you usually see in a MMORPG. Like for example, I was cosplaying Eevee and  I was a beginner class because that how you start games like that. Our Sylveon was a healer, Espeon was a mage, Leafeon was a thief, Glaceon was an archer, and etc. We would all meet up around 1pm and would go to a park with our photographer to take some photos. Our group looked really good to me and I was happy to be a part of it. We all had a good time hanging around and cosplaying together while the photos were being taken. We actually went out of Fanime to a park a block away to take photos of our group, can't wait to see how they look!

Our Eeveeloutions group (Photo by Beppe Sabatini)

Although the weather took a beating to me. During the photoshoot, I had some times where I felt fatigued and I needed water to help me out of it or else I'll faint. Luckily, the group had some but yeah it was a pretty hot day on Day 2. When the shoot was done, the first thing I was looking for is food and water. So again I went to the bacon wrapped hot dog stands to grab a hot dog and soda before heading back to the hotel room to change. Because of the hot day, the pool party that I went to was much needed. So I placed on my swimming trunks and went to the Fairmont and took a dip at the pool. Plus that party was full of fun just the fact I made new friends along with rekindling with people I haven't seen in so long. And the Baja Blast makes it more chilling as well haha.

Poolside with my homie.

The sun was setting and so was the pool party. I would grab another hot dog from those sellers and then head back to the room and changed out to my next cosplay. Now, you would never expect me to cosplay this but I done did it: I cosplayed my waifu (well one of them). Me and my friend were changing out to characters from Love Live! School Idol Project. I would be Nico Yazawa while my friend was Maki Nishikino and it was great cosplay for us (IT'S NOT LIKE THAT THOUGH!). We would roam around the con for a couple of hours surprising everyone with our cosplays, because no one knew about it. I saw some mixed reactions from everyone but it was just fun cosplaying it. And to be honest, at first I thought crossdressing would feel weird but I was wrong, it was pretty fun to do. And I did plan to cosplay Nico again at this con haha.

Nico and Maki heading out for con!

Both of us would go back to our hotel rooms before the SMT/Persona Midnight gathering. I dressed up as Ken Amada and my friend would cosplay other characters from the Persona series. It was just a usual gathering where all cosplayers of the games would meet up. Photos were based on the series and arcanas. Since we were only given 30 minutes, there really wasn't much when it comes to photo ideas.  We mostly just done photos for each series (P3, P4, P5, P4AU, P4DAN, P1, P2, SMT, etc.) and the gathering would end there. I would walk to the only place open at the time (Jack in the Box) to grab a little dinner before late night shenanigans. I just remember that I went back to my hotel room around 3-4am. Halfway done with the con and it's been pretty good so far!

More Fire  Emblem Fates cosplays

Persona cosplayers (plus Miku and Gumi)!
Check out this Robotic Ivysaur!

Day 3
Due to my late night shenanigans, I would wake up at 10am and would quickly grab a coffee from Phillz because I was very sleepy, I was thinking the coffee would really help me out since I got a busy day ahead for me. I even picked up another bacon wrapped hot dog before heading back to the room. It was already noon and the gathering was going to be at 1pm. I would go into my cosplay fast wearing my outfit plus putting on my shield and head ornament. Why does Hayato have so many ropes!?!? (I was cosplaying Hayato from Fire Emblem Fates).

Look at all the Hayatos! Photo by Cindy Luu

I would arrive at the gathering and it would run like any usual gathering. We had a group shot of all of the cosplayers in the beginning but then we all dabbed. I believe that's the thing here at Fanime for every gathering or something. I heard there was always a dab group shot in most of the gatherings but I think that was one of the themes at this con or something. You can blame Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers about the dab. Thank you football! The gathering was then split to characters from the Fire Emblem games (Originals, Sacred Stones, Path of Radiance, Radiant Dawn, Awakening, Fates) and they took their photos. Then it was to each character and that took a while since Fates had so many! I would have my spot for the photographers but there were 3 Hayatos including myself! No one likes the manly boy mage?? Although something unexpected happened. The city of San Jose may have forgotten about Fanime happening during that weekend because during the gathering, the sprinklers randomly came on! We would evacuate that section of the park to another part of the park and continued our photos. Random but really unexpected!! Luckily no one got really wet but that wasn't a bad thing anyways, it was hot that day too. While the gathering was still going on, I went around and took selfies with favorites from Fates, my friends, even my Fates family! The sprinklers was a misfortune but it didn't matter, I had a great time at the gathering! Plus there were like 50+ cosplayers for that gathering, Fire Emblem is big!

It was a great gathering until the sprinklers attacked our land! #BlameNohr

I'd be cosplaying Hayato for the whole day as our Fates group would roam around the artist alley checking out more artworks and finally spending on good ones. I did get stopped by a friend for an interview and we talked about Fanime so far these past 3 days. You can see the interview video below (You can see me at the 6:44 mark):

I would hit up with my group at the SoFA market for food and I would grab on to a tuna Pokibowl. Due to Fanime, most of the stuff they had were sold out fast, as fast as 1pm. They only had Tuna so I at least was able to grab a Pokibowl with spicy tuna in it and it's what I needed now that I had a decent meal besides bacon wrapped hot dogs. We'd spend most of dinner time there before I headed back to my hotel room to change out of Hayato and back into NICO NICO NII!!!! Nico Yazawa would be back on again but this time I was wearing my Jibanyan Kigurumi from Yokai Watch. It was just pretty much me with Nico's wig wearing a Jibanyan Kigu. I packed my camera and tripod and went to the Fairmont hotel into the biggest panel room at Fanime for the biggest show at con: CWF! (Cosplay Wrestling Federation)

CWF's Fanimania III happened on this day and I was able to take footage of the show! Pregame while everyone was coming in, I was able to put up a live facebook video of pregame and everyone in the crowd was hyped as heck! You can see by clicking on this link:

CWF started and it's as usual introducing the crew of CWF with Mr. Hikki, Lashayda, and their MC. Over 8 characters competed for the CWF belt this year including Mumen Rider (One Punch Man), Blanka (Street Fighter V), Hououin Kyouma (Steins;Gate), and Female Metaton (Undertale) to name a few. All of them competed against Little Mac who has won the last CWF but unfortunately at ALA, Little Mac didn't make an appearance making him keep the belt for a show longer. Now it's at stake here at Fanimania and the contestants gave out their best, BUT IN COMES THE SUDDEN MUSIC! Yami Yugi has returned! He had a case (call it like Money in the Bank for WWE) that he won at ALA and he cashed in! He's going for the belt this time and it did round out to those two (Yugi vs. Little Mac) in the final showdown. In the end, Lashayda made the call........

 and WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION! YAMI YUGI IS THE NEW CWF CHAMPION! Yugi keeps the belt for now. The next showdown is in Anime Expo for AXtreme Rules! As we went out to the hallway, the two of them gave a congratulatory handshake and Yugi went home with the belt! The event was exciting and the crowd was really into it! Really though, like you never see a panel just like this but it's just so exhilarating to come into this panel and just blend in with the crowd and get hyped to see the unexpected! If you are into WWE wrestling in general, you already know the hype that comes to shows like this. But for a newcomer like me, I just love seeing how everyone got so hype about this show. It is probably my favorite panel to go to every time they have a show at a con.

Little mac giving away his belt to the new champion, Yami Yugi!
To the new CWF Champion!!!!

Once the show was over, I would hit up with everyone back at the San Jose Convention Center to chill as we have our last night of Fanime as a group for now. I did have to take some walks around the con and had to say goodbye to friends, especially those from out of state. I would get a drink with them before going to the next room and doing the exact same thing. So I did get tipsy when I got back to the Con lobby where everyone was playing games but I had to do that. Who knows when we're gonna meet up again? Next Fanime? AX? It's still a long time. So I had to take some time off to do that.

Some selfies I took from the final night of Fanime.

When I got back to the lobby, I had a couple of drinks on me but my kind of thing is that I don't party on the last night of cons. Reason is I don't wanna feel it in the morning, especially when we have to get out of the room before check out time that is. So for the rest of the night, I would meet up with my friend and played card games (mostly Weiss Schwarz). And then around 3am, I would head back to the hotel room and then crash. Tomorrow's the final day, and I'm already feeling the sadness.

Someone worked on this for Fanime weekend
Neko Atsume cafe! 

Day 4
We woke up pretty earl around 9am and started cleaning up the room. With a total of 7 people in the room, it has been a big mess so we quickly sorted everything out, making it as clean as we can so that we don't get charged the deposit. I would clean up first so I would grab all my stuff while waiting for everyone to clean up in the room. Once everyone went down, I would talk to the garage that our car and would drive to the Mariott lobby and picked up all the stuff for everyone, including myself, who were riding with us. We would fill up the car and then parked our car back at the garage. We would walk back to the con where I would finally check our Dealer's Hall and spent as much as I could on things. I would be able to buy a Yokai Watch poster and packs of Weiss Schwarz cards. Not much to offer at Dealer's but at least I managed not to spend much. The thing that I saw from this Dealer's was all the space that the dealer's room had. In fact it was pretty big, there was just a lot of space around the section that it was comfortable. Was it this spacious before?? Plus the support of certain dealer's at Fanime this year like Bluefin, Kinokuniya, Eighty Sixed, Sanshee, etc. Big names coming into this Fanime, which is pretty notable to take from this con.

I was cosplaying Dippy Fresh, a more chill version of Dipper Pines from Gravity Falls, and I was surprised that no one at this con cosplayed Dippy! There were a lot of Gravity Falls cosplayers but not a lot for Dippy which was pretty interesting! I may have been the first!! I met up with my Dipper Pines and we would walk around Dealer's seeing the last minute deals before Fanime closes up. We did get stopped for pictures but most of the day we just roamed around the Dealer's hall. As it closes up, I met up with my Mabel Pines (she was out having fun at Artist Alley) and was able to take pictures, selfies, and hanged out with her for a short time before we all left for home. Although for us locals, we wanted to stay a little longer.

Mabel is very cheery with Dippy Pines by his side!
Dipper, take a chill pill

Plushies looking swag

As the con comes to a close, I would be chilling in the grass areas on the new side of the convention center (where most of the big gatherings happened) and waited for the rest of the crew to come over. We would take a break from walking around for an hour or two just relaxing and talking about Fanime this year. Although when I talk about this year's Fanime, the feeling of sadness comes over me. It's the Post-Con Depression (PCD) and it's hurting me hard. After relaxing, I was feeling hungry so we went to the middle of the park and we saw that there were food trucks around that area and many people wearing teal. On day 4 of Fanime, the Stanley Cup Finals started and fortunately our local hockey team, the San Jose Sharks, are in it and they are having a watch party at the park. A couple of the crew grabbed food at the food trucks but unfortunately I had dinner plans at the Plant with people that I had to talk to about this weekend's Fanime. Apparently, they didn't have a good time and I had to talk to them about it. So I left the crew, possibly for the last time of Fanime, and then headed to a plaza called The Plant, 5 minutes south of Downtown San Jose, and I would grab dinner there. They opened up an Ike's sandwich shop there so I decided to get dinner there. I would meet up with them at Wing Stop to talk about their Fanime. A lot of drama happened not between them, but between us too that we kind of had like an intervention sort of conference at this dinner. It was just something where we had to let out our feelings with what happened during Fanime and hope drama like this doesn't happen again. We would spend a couple of hours there until I had to drive back to Fanime to pick up someone. We looked at the convention center one more time, this time without people walking around in costumes. It was completely deserted, really depressing to see, but it is what it is.  It's the last day of con and everyone's gone. The sadness grows. As we left the convention center, we had a lot to think about concerning things that have changed at this year's Fanime but it was still a fun con nonetheless.

One last selfie for the road. We out, fam! #VapeNash

Alright well how to start off the review by just saying that whoever made the smart idea to go the Marriott rooms to do registration was a terrible idea. We had two years of a great flow of people getting their badges easily that it took at most 5 minutes for everyone to get their badges. Now, it back to 3 hours! Also with that long of a wait, the line continued to pile up. It piled up so much that it had to go around the 2nd floor of the Marriott rooms and then even down the staircases to the outside grass in front of the Marriott. It was Linecon all over again. So if you were an attendee, you would be shocked to see the mazes you had to face. You start at the grass area and then head to the hallway of the con before heading into the Marriott to see more mazes of attendees trying to get their badges. And you think that the line is over, but no another maze always comes in front of you. It was a mess. I thought this problem was handled with these past 2 years but now it's back and that needs to be fixed and back to the way it was before. Seriously though, you attend Fanime and you see this huge line maze and its just frustrating to see.

Not only that but registration in general. Even pro/press registration had to wait longer too. Our time to get our badges open at 5pm and we would get them easily. Not this time around this year. We had to wait 2-3 more hours to get our badges and I was wondering, what happened in the back end of this registration? Did they not get our names? Is everyone's credentials wiped out or something? They just weren't ready and I find it really inconvenient. Like begin the con ready and keep the flow going, not let us wait for so long. Just everything in registration for Fanime was a complete mess and they need to fix the problem ASAP.

Another issue is the gaming room. Now I felt that the gaming room really was empty, like there was a lot of space that they can place more things in there. For example, this year the Purikura machines were not there and most of us were upset about that not being there. I mean lasting memories of Fanime with friends taking pictures of us being silly having fun in a photo booth and decorating them, like those are pictures I'd love to have. Now we don't have that anymore, its like a tradition ruined by this. Also, I saw there were computers for e-gaming but with all that space, I felt that there should be more computers being offered for this con. And also for video gaming, there should be more TVs and more of the new systems instead of the classic systems. I mean they are fun to play but I was really hoping to get a game or 2 of Smash during my free time. Tl;dr, so much space but Fanime didn't accommodate to my perspective.

The move for the Video rooms to be where registration was for the past two years is a new thing that happened this Fanime. For some rooms, they weren't bad since people can just go in and out and doesn't bring in as much of a hassle. Although the other rooms like Yaoi and Hentai Nights brings up another linecon, but now that its in the new side of the convention means that the convention hallways were full of people trying to watch these 18+ programming. Pretty inconvenient plus blocks the flow of traffic for people leaving the Hilton.

Another thing is the hotel rooms. Whoever placed a room in the Fairmont were pretty lucky to grab a room. But for those who were unlucky, they were straight up denied a room and were booked a room miles away to the Doubletree at the airport. Unless they want to take a car, they have the shuttle that can drive them to Fanime and that still is also takes time to go to con as well. So whoever was responsible for booking the Fairmont hotels should be fired after that. I'd imagine so many people who were denied a Fairmont room to be very upset about this and that the staff should have seen this better. Who really is to blame for overbooking the Fairmont hotel? Obviously the staff and they have to fix that problem immediately. We don't want upset attendees straight off the bat from day 0 since they can't grab a hotel room they registered for during the crazy hotel registration Fanime always has every year.

With all those negativities out of the way, the rest of the con looked good. Especially Artist Alley. I don't know who picks the artists to go to this but they picked a great selection this time around. Like every artist I saw was selling really well that they made a good income out of it! And who wouldn't blame them, their artworks were amazing. All these artists are really talented with their works and they really deserved to be at Fanime. It sucks the artist gallery wasn't there this time around, but it didn't matter since everyone had great artwork selling at the alley.

Gathering felt like they flowed really well. I think every gathering now we have to dab. The flow of foot traffic throughout the con wasn't congested and everyone went through Fanime without complaints. The Dealer's Hall is very spacious as well and I was really thinking why didn't they add more dealers? Did they not go to Fanime, or did Fanime want to lessen their dealers count? Either way it gives more breathing room for Fanime attendees shopping at Dealer's hall so it still works nonetheless.

Aside from drama that happened (I will not explain here), I still had a great time. I just get the feeling of relief every time I go to Fanime. It's a local con for me. Near or far, your friends are always going to be here to attend this con. I've always had so much fun at these Fanimes maybe just because its a local con for me but there's always something to learn every Fanime. For me it's just handling drama because in my entire 8 years attending Fanime, no trouble has always come to our Fanime until this one. At least it was handled and I continued to have a great Fanime. It just comes to show that even if something goes in your way, ignore it and continue on your goal. This con is always for me about having fun and if your not having fun, something is wrong and needs to be fixed fast. Fanime has so much to offer and I'm glad to attend it. There are things to be fixed as I've noted in this review but overall, it was a good con this year!

And that ends my reporting from Fanimecon 2016! You should know me by now but I always write really long stories. I'm glad you guys were in for the ride and I hope you enjoyed this periodical of mine! Next con: Anime Expo 2016!

But for now, it's farewell from San Jose and Fanimecon 2016. Until next year!!!

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