FanimeCon turned 24 this year, and the bay area’s largest anime convention keeps growing bigger. The 2018 event brought in multitudes of anime fans, all looking forward to spending Memorial Day weekend with a convention full of events and activities.
From the get-go, Fanime 2018 was off to a good start, with registration lines moving at remarkably fast speeds. Although previous years have had problems with the registration lines (attendees still remember the horrors of LineCon 2013), the convention continued its streamlined checkin system from last year, and the lines went by with ease and speed.
After checking in, attendees could visit the many attractions the con had to offer. The dealer’s hall was overflowing with vendors selling anime goods, from manga and anime DVDs to figures and plushies, and there was rarely a moment when the room wasn’t full.
Across from there was the artist alley, which, as always, contained fan artists with fantastic works on display. A new trend is art placed on clear plastic cutouts, so people can set up little displays of their favorite characters or scenes, but there was still plenty of traditional art and even fan crafts on sale.
The gaming room underwent a bit of a revamp from last year, with a large free-to-play arcade, and rows of consoles and televisions set up. There was a new stage in there for people to compete in a variety of games in front of an audience, providing some new activities for attendees. Near the back, plenty of tables were set up for people to rent tabletop games from the staff, or to bring in their own.
Between the many rooms, the crowded hallways gave way to Stage Zero, where shows and events carried on throughout the weekend. This included dance groups, trivia games, and even interviews with the convention’s guests of honor, expertly run by the experienced staff.
But of course, there were plenty of panels to attend as well. They ranged from in-character fan panels to Convention Tales to stories from the press, so there was something for everyone.
However, the largest panel would have to be the Cosplay Wrestling Federation, where cosplayers cut promos and competed to be the CWF Heavyweight Champion in front of a packed room and adoring (but insanely loud) crowd. You can check out the video of the show from our friends at Mission Start Podcast below:
One new addition to the Fanime experience was a JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure-themed Escape Room. It was held at the Doubletree Hotel, so attendees would shuttle over to it, where they’d be placed in groups in a large room, where they had only a few hours to decipher all the clues scattered throughout to escape the room and the enemy Stand that was prepared to kill them.
Very few succeeded; it was a very challenging escape room, but entertaining nonetheless.
There were other events at Fanime that attendees look forward to every year. The concert was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime experience – the Joe Hisaishi Symphonic Concert brought live music from the beloved Studio Ghibli films to the convention, and all those who attended were touched on a spiritual level by the music.
The Fanime masquerade continued to showcase some of the best and most creative costumes that the convention had to offer. Meanwhile, the black and white ball provided a touch of culture to the convention, with attendees dressed to impress (which may or may not include cosplay) dancing the night away.
And of course, there were many amazing cosplayers just wandering the halls. Each year one can see what series are growing more popular, and the winner this year was undoubtedly “My Hero Academia,” but there were strong contenders from many other anime, including the new Sanrio/Netflix anime, “Aggretsuko.”
Each day of the convention saw multiple cosplay gatherings, where people would meet up dressed as their favorite characters from a certain series. They’d take photos, meet new friends, and enjoy the in-jokes that only those who watch their series would get, while showcasing the costumes they spent so much time and effort on.
Should any of their costumes fall apart, the Cosplay Gatherings Department also had a Cosplay Lounge, including a repair station, a Cosplay Cleric for all their sewing needs, and a Wig Doctor to fix all their wig issues. There were also how-to seminars at various points, so as to help cosplayers improve. Anyone needing to sit down, relax, and cool down could do so without fear of photography, as the Cosplay Lounge was a no-photo zone.
Throughout the four-day weekend (five if you count Day Zero), Fanime attendees walked their feet to the bones, waited in lengthy lines, cheered their voices raw at panels, and wore impractical costumes with insane props. And it was worth every moment of it.
2019 will be Fanime’s 25th anniversary, so there’s plenty to look forward to. While Fanime 2018 is already a memory, it’s a very fond memory indeed.
Photos below were taken by Danny D Photography.