Sunday, January 1, 2017

10 Years of the California Conventions Blog, Part 1 - FanimeCon 2007, Part 1

The old fountains at the San Jose Convention Center. Taken in 2008 because there were no photos from 2007.
2017 marks the 10th Anniversary of the California Conventions Blog, although when my idea of convention reporting came around it was just me and a couple of people that I knew from my local community college that were organizing a trip to San Jose to this convention known as FanimeCon. Back then, the blog I started had my name on it because it was my experiences, my story that I wanted to share about the things I saw, touched, felt, and ate throughout a given convention weekend.

To start off this celebration of a long journey, we begin where it all started ten years ago.

If anything, my first ever report wasn't as thorough or in-depth as my latter reports. If anything, my thoughts and photos had scattered across the first blog posts instead of posting all of them on our Facebook page then posting said in-depth report two weeks later.

What follows is my original report and those same thoughts rewritten together.

To begin the story of FanimeCon 2007, you have to go back when I decided to go to Sacramento City College instead of Sacramento State. For my first year there I had joined the student council. The plan go to FanimeCon would follow in the first half of 2007 when I went to Consumes River College during a conference and met up with Ryann and the anime club she was running. At the time they had plans on going to this convention in San Jose which at the time was a lot bigger than what I had experienced here so far in Sacramento. I agreed to tag along in their room, which was at the time the Crowne Plaza Hotel, now the Hyatt Place Hotel.

One of events that I really, really, really wanted want to participate was the Karaoke Contest despite knowing just basic Japanese and barely passing Japanese III just so that I didn't have to take a language class in college. My opening song was "DAYS" from Eureka seveN and if I made finals I would sing "White Relflection" from the Gundam Wing movie Endless Waltz. There were two people going up against me: Ryann, and my friend Tom but I really call him "Shiro." We met online last year and I met him in person for the first time at SacAnime earlier in the year. I was going fourth in the contest and he was going fifth. At the time he thought he could beat me, being all arrogant and whatnot, but Saturday would determine the winner.

The Wednesday before the convention, I find an unique opportunity to practice some of my karaoke. One of my family members was arrested and my dad needed to pick up a motorcycle. So I take my dad to pick up the motorcycle and while we're waiting for the police to leave, I started running through my songs. I'm not sure that would of helped at the time, but I thought it would.

Another event that I wanted to participate was the Texas Hold'em tournament the convention was running. I was at my peak of playing the famous card game, having picked up books like Super System and books that were branded with the "World Poker Tour" logo. Just like my plans to wear cosplay to the final table at the World Series of Poker, I wanted to wear my Ouran High School Host Club jacket to the tournament.

I found it unique of FanimeCon's Day Zero but I had to close at Quiznos that evening so I wouldn't make it out until Friday. I spent the majority of that day checking the Fanime Forums, working, shaving, looking up Day Zero photos, checking the Fanime Forums again, ensuring that Tom had his music for his entry into the Karaoke Contest, checking the Fanime Forums one more time, and continuing to pack.


The countdown timer on the Fanime website is zero...
It's time to go to Fanime 2007.
Let's get this **bleep** started.

The morning started early but out of all the FanimeCons that I have attended, this is the latest that I've ever been to the convention. I was waiting at least until 11am at CRC and wouldn't be at the convention until at least 1:30 in the afternoon. By the time I was situated and able to start attending the convetion the Ouran gathering had passed. I told Imari that I would be at the Sunday gathering since there was two running that weekend and quickly got back up to the room around 3pm to get the room keys. My first major stop was the Dealer's Hall and see if my FanimeCon katana that I ordered to commerate my first ever Fanime was in. The dealer confirmed and I told them I would be picking it up Monday before leaving. Then I changed in my Ouran uniform, the only cosplay I would wear the entire weekend.

Before the advent of Stage Zero, Opening Ceremonies was over at the spot where now the late-night rave take place on the Hilton side of the convention center. Me and my group attended and were the first ones in, and we took our seats right behind where the Guests of Honor would sit. Eventually, Hiroyuki Yamaga, the president of Gainax, would be right behind me which led to the thought of "I'm sitting near and behind the freakin' president of Gainax." After Opening Ceremonies were over, I was able to shake the hand of Mr. Yamaga and told him how much of an Evangelion fan I was. To this day, among all the things that I experienced from FanimeCon, that is still one of the best moments PERIOD.

 My first official dinner at FanimeCon led me to Johnny Rockets, a joint that I knew in Sacramento and is always a go-to place to eat. I then went back to the convention and participated in the first Texas Hold'em tournament. I had a player dominated with pocket Qs over pocket 8s but somehow found that third 8 on the turn to give him trips over my pair and I found myself out of the tournament. I went back up to the room to change out to normal clothes before hitting up the night events, mostly the rave and the hentai rooms. BSaphire wanted me to help her out and keep the rave in check, so I helped out and checked badges.


According to Google Earth, there was supposed to be a Denny's nearby but could not find this diner to eat breakfast, and so did the group that was with me. It took me asking someone at the Ramada Inn to figure out that the nearest Denny's is in driving distance, not walking distance. So instead we went back to the convention center and munched on Starbucks.

Unlike later years when Tom would be with me the entire convention up until his last appearance in 2011, I spent the majority of the morning waiting for him to arrive, then to go through registration and make it in time to register for the contest. But as usual FanimeCon tradition, even ten years ago, that Saturday registration line can be lengthy, and as a result Tom never made it to the 1pm start time for the preliminary round. I go up in the fourth spot and attempt to sing "DAYS" based on the fact that I listed to the song a billion times. After that, Tom and I get something to eat from the Fanmaid Cafe, also a first for me at a convention, before getting more to eat over at the McDonalds, which has since closed, then meeting up with a photographer that wasn't named Darkin to do a photo shoot of me wearing something I don't remember but might of been my Ouran outfit.

The finalists were announced around 6pm, and both me and Ryann did not make the cut. Part of me wanted to know if Tom would make the cut, but that would have to wait until next year. Since I was still in my Ouran uniform from the photo shoot, the two of us would head over to the Black and White Ball, a FanimeCon-exclusive tradition that seperated this convention from the pack. We were there for a short period and I did get pulled by the tie ala Haruhi to dance with someone, but this was before the ball was moved to Parkside Hall across the street so it was cramped and I found myself bailing early. I did go back and play in the Texas Hold'em tournament again and found myself deeper than yesterday but ran into desperation when I shoved (also known as going all-in) with pocket 3s against pocket Js and no miracle would come out on the board, leaving me with a fourth place finish. I did get, however, a Gaia Online t-shirt which I gave to Ryann because she didn't want to buy anything from the Gaia Online booth in the Dealers Room and I thought it would be an awesome gesture. I rounded out the night visiting more of the raves and hentai rooms but had to head off to bed early because Sunday, like all Sundays at FanimeCon, is the major day for majority of attendees.


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