January 2015 began with Sac Anime, and ended with Animation On Display (AOD). This was the con’s second year at the SFO Hyatt, and the location has served it well; the hotel can host the large crowds the convention’s been drawing in of late, and it provides a nice location for cosplayers and photographers. This year, the crowd was split between multiple events, but the convention still proved to be a success.
The convention was set inside the hotel, but it was a spacious area. In the lobby, the registration line moved quickly, so attendees could get their badges and get in to the con with relative speed. To the left was the main events room, where the guests of honor held their panels, and to the right was the dealer’s hall.
The dealer’s hall this year was much like any other; recognizable vendors had their booths and were selling the same goods as usual – anime, manga, figurines, plushies, body pillows, and so on. The artist alley was a part of the hall, and there were great artists selling their prints and commissions that day.
However, there were some exhibits in the dealer’s hall not commonly seen at other cons. While walking around, one could hear piano renditions of popular anime and video game songs, stop and chat with Little Kuriboh (creator of Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series), then visit the Crunchyroll booth to appear on a livestream of the convention. Cosplayers would often visit the booth to chat with viewers, whose comments would scroll across the screen for them to respond to, even if that usually involving striking a pose from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Beyond those two rooms, around the hotel, were smaller panel and event rooms and a screening room. Further past that was the hotel pool, and in spite of being late January, the weather was nice enough for attendees to take a dip or do a poolside photoshoot. Beside that, the gaming room was set up, equipped with arcades, classic and modern console gaming, and a “bring your own console” table. Stage Zero was set there as well, providing performances and entertainment through the din of gamers cheering and shouting, but neither proved an inconvenience for the other.
There was a good variety of guests at AOD, including the aforementioned Little Kuriboh, as well as Robbie Daymond (the new voice actor for Sailor Moon’s Tuxedo Mask), Marianne Miller (known for Kyosuke in Madoka Magica, Recon in Sword Art Online, and more), and Duke Nukem himself, Jon St. John. Each were hosting panels and signings throughout the weekend, and many could be seen wandering the convention or at their booths.
As the convention ran for the full weekend, finding local food places was a necessity. The hotel restaurant was incredibly overpriced, so many attendees opted to go elsewhere; there were a few decent restaurants within walking distance, although nothing particularly cheap or quick. I recommend bringing your own food if you don’t plan on spending extra on meals.
A good percentage of the attendees were cosplayers, with costumes ranging from the casual to the intensely-detailed. The masquerade showcased some spectacular costumes and performances, and there was also a Hall Cosplay Contest the next day for the cosplayer just walking around to be recognized. While not as crowded as Sac Anime, it had a good variety of cosplayers and series, so no particular shows stood out as predominate.
Attendance this year was slightly less than expected, due to multiple events on the same weekend. In addition to AOD, there was Walker Stalker Con (which we are continuing to post coverage of), the Attack on Titan Real Escape game, and of course, the Super Bowl. Still, the convention was well-attended, and proved a good way to spend the weekend. The attendees were fine, the guests were good, and there were enough events and panels to pass the time without ever growing bored.