Monday, May 31, 2021

Virtual FanimeCon 2021 - Matthew's Weekend Roundup


As the magical date of June 15th quickly approaches, as I write this on what would be the final day of a typical FanimeCon weekend where probably some of us are still at the convention and some of us are driving home and/or getting one last grand meal in before getting back to the world grind, we're all hoping that we can gather one again under one umbrella and finally reunite. Some did just that over the weekend and others were relegated to the Whova app as we experienced another Virtual FanimeCon.

The Fanimaids

One of the major highlights of this year's Virtual FanimeCon were the Fanimaids, the cornerstone of any FanimeCon. This time around they came prepared, fill of gaming moments, well-produced performances, and interactions that were to the best of their ability.

On Friday, I watched some of the maids and other staffers play a game of Among Us, a party game that has gained traction over the past year. And because I'm still tracking the multiverse that is Grand Theft Auto 5 roleplay (as mentioned on our podcast), I put each stream up side by the side to watch.

Since I had work Saturday, my viewing experience was pushed to my phone while having my existing PC setup occupied. I tuned in right at 11am for the Breakfast Bento segment where they made themed bento boxes as we the audience got to judge it.

Now instantly something felt real off when watching the stream, and it could be from all my years attending the maid café. The phrase "goshujinsama" thrown around on a Zoom call sounds a whole lot different compared to in-person but I had to get used to it, kind of like how I got used to it covering maid cafes back in my day.

Hakaru with the spotlight

All of the maids showing off their creations

The maids playing Overcooked 2 after the Breakfast Bento segment

Then came time for the performance block. As I mentioned before, there were well-produced performances and they were all excellent - so excellent that it kept crashing Ruka-san's video player (blame it on the overload of moe power). Even Wendell made a cameo to kick off the block.

That LiSA cover was truly something


You also had a chance to win a Monday afternoon 30 minute Zoom session with the maids as if you were in the maid café. I tried by playing the "pull the alligator teeth" game but somehow I lost?

Boo tooth 7

I then got word later on that day that Tom had won a spot with the maids and offered for me to jump on the Zoom call. I did reply back but it was too late by the time I followed up. He did tell me over Discord that it was a fun experience and wants to attend a in-person session next year. He even gave one of the maids tips on beating The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as one of them struggled with the game. It would be nice to actually sit down again and experience a maid café session.

A History of Code Geass Panel

There were only two panels that I paid attention to from start to finish - this one and the one that is listed below.

Hosted by Stephen Hero, co-host of the Mechinations podcast, this panel dove into the production history, how it call came together, who financed the series, and what happened between concept, execution, and other developments. 

The title slide of the panel

Why Season 2 is drastically different than Season 1

Can't forget about the Pizza Hut sponsorship

There were a lot of details that I had forgot about this series and some that I didn't know, like how Lelouch was supposed to have white hair before his black hair design and the whole "old guard vs new guard" concept. Also were points about all the major players including CLAMP and merchandise. 

I want to personally thank Stephen for providing me with a copy of the panel so that I could screenshot slides as part of my reporting.

GoH Panel: Voice Actor Spotlight: Hikaru Midorikawa

Hikaru Midorikawa singing FanimeCon foil prints (Credit: FanimeCon/Facebook)

This was the other panel that I paid attention to from beginning to end. From my experience, I only Midorikawa-san was from Gundam Wing and Fate/Zero but learned of his other roles like in Fire Emblem and Fushigi Yuugi. Because of the convention's policy I cannot provide any screenshots of the recording itself, although if I could I'm not sure if I wanted to because the video seemed to play less than 30fps with the quality around what would be 240p to 360p - nowhere near high-definition. I will give the team props for their reasoning behind pre-recording the interview - so that they could offer up subtitles, which was a nice touch.

I love how in the very beginning of the interview he name drops Toru Furuya when talking about how he got into voice acting through Mobile Suit Gundam - a name that we instantly recognize from our reporting. There also a question about his longevity in the voice acting and how he's changed over that time span, which seemed almost close to what we asked Nobutoshi Canna back in 2019 but in a different manner. It also cool to hear insights when it comes to the older voice actors that still in the business and offer up some lines for those in attendance.

I hope that Midorikawa-san can made it back in 2022 so that we can properly interview him.

The FanimeCon Community (through Whova)

This is probably the best thing about the Whova app in which this Virtual FanimeCon took place - the endless chatter about cons, life, video games, anime, memories, and much more. I had a fun time talking to people as if I were in-person talking to people who are just like me. There were discussions about bad anime, FanimeCon merchandise, weekend food, and other tibits.


In all, it's the aspect of FanimeCon that I miss the most and hopefully I can get back to in 2022.

In Between Panels and Events...

Random photo of an order from a Southern Halal food truck I found in my neighborhood

There's not a lot to report for the Sunday docket, mostly because I was out with Nate as he was visiting family here in the Sacramento area.

Since he already toured the majority of the downtown area, we headed off to Davis to eat and walk around on a nice but somewhat hot day. While we didn't eat any bacon-wrapped hot dogs, we did have some pizza from Woodstock's. Nate noted that he hasn't been around this part of town as usually he's closer to the campus of UC Davis. We also checked out a couple of shots and talked various subjects ranging from life in general to the podcast to Virtual FanimeCon.

There's also the growing tradition of ordering the Matt Cain Championship Edition sandwich from Ike's on this weekend, which as of now grows to 3 years straight.

Matt Cain Championship Edition, 2019

Matt Cain Championship Edition, 2021

Overall Impressions

Compared to what we're going to see out of Anime Expo Lite and Virtual Crunchyroll Expo, this Virtual FanimeCon seemed "light" in the programming department, let alone programming that I was actually willing to engaged myself to. Maybe I might of missed out on what CWF did over the weekend, the other Guest of Honor spotlight panels, or the hang-outs that were advertised on Whova - could of, would of, should of. Maybe I've been spoiled by both AX and CRX in their offerings, where if there weren't any fan panels I could dive myself into the latest titles from Aniplex, Funimation, Viz Media, and other industry brands. Also there weren't any musical performances ala MusicFest - something that we'll see with the other two shortly.

Also one more note about the Whova app: I see the potential for this app beyond this year, especially next year as a companion piece to the convention weekend. You can use it like a guidebook to track what panels and events you're going to, you can organize meet-ups across the convention area especially cosplay gatherings, and give people a forum to chat and connect during downtime. I can understand if they don't bring this back due to the extra staffing needed to maintain and moderate the app while trying to run an in-person convention. 

And one again we're back to that old question of how far FanimeCon's "By Fans, For Fans" mantra can carry them in the age of the corporate trade show masquerading as an anime convention. The community and everything that we offer to the giant picnic in this family reunion is what makes this con unique - and I pray that doesn't change in the future. We already have AX and CRX, we don't need another one in California.

I want to thank Milton and the FanimeCon Press team for allowing us to have access to this Virtual FanimeCon and giving us some special tags on the app so that we can technically count this under our resume.

So please FanimeCon, in the words of Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, and Silk Sonic - please leave the door open for next year.

私のレポートを 読むためにありがとう。
Thank you for reading my report.

- Virtual FanimeCon 2021 Report End -

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