The big anime convention in Northern California is, undoubtedly, FanimeCon. With the tagline “For fans, by fans,” it draws in huge crowds of attendees ready to spend Memorial Day weekend surrounded by cosplayers and anime goods. So how did that work out?
Before talking about Fanime, one must also mention the registration and room booking process. While badge purchase was open for some time, booking a hotel room was another arduous process altogether; thousands of attendees flooded the website at the same time to try booking a room before they all sold out, clogging down the website and making it a struggle for anyone to book one, yet they all sold out in minutes all the same. This is a point of contention for many attendees, who hope the staff will find a better way to help everyone book their rooms.
Fortunately, badge pickup at the convention was swift and easy, as the convention followed on its success from last year to compensate for the dreaded “LineCon” of 2013. Although attendees still lined up early on Day Zero (Thursday) to get their badges before anyone else, once the line started moving, it moved quickly.
Now we get to the convention itself. Fanime ran for four days (five if you count Thursday, but that’s officially Day Zero), in the San Jose Convention Center. Though the convention center is connected to the Marriott and Hilton hotels, panels were held in the Fairmont, a short walk away. Additionally nearby was Clockwork Alchemy, a more steampunk-themed alternative/addition to Fanime.
In addition to the usual staples of an anime convention – dealer’s hall, artist alley, screening rooms, game room, and so on, Fanime boasted a few additions. Stage Zero was a large stage in the middle of the convention center, where live games, shows, and screenings were held throughout the weekend. Down in the Hilton was a room called the Dojo, for martial arts demonstrations and panels. For cosplayers, there was the Cosplay Hangout, where weary costumers could make repairs and rest their feet without needing to worry about photos.
There was a wide range of panels held throughout the four days, from the industry, guests, and fans alike. At night the panels could become 18+, depending on the content, but the fan panels alone ranged in topic from “Magikarp: A History” to creating Abridged Series to a discussion about Ero Games. One of the biggest panels, undoubtedly, was the Cosplay Wrestling Federation; while the name may speak for itself, the event itself is a must-see for any fans of wrestling, or generally anyone looking to be really entertained.
Then, of course, we have the cosplayers. Fanime’s cosplay gathering department was working overtime, with over 50 cosplay gatherings and events throughout the weekend, each one organized by attendees for the series of their choice. Sailor Moon, Gravity Falls, Digimon, and more all had unique gatherings, while others were organized by group or creator, such as a gathering for all series by Rumiko Takahashi, or one for Rooster Teeth and Monty Oum.
Outside of the gatherings, there were fantastic cosplayers throughout the con, representing series and shows of all types. Those who were feeling brave enough entered the masquerade, competing in craftsmanship or performances in front of a huge audience.
On the same night as the masquerade was the black and white ball, a more formal event. There was a strict dress code, but any sort of fancy cosplay tended to get in alongside the suits and dresses. The music choices, well, varied in thematic appropriateness; while a slow waltz to the tune of the Sailor Moon theme song was a nice touch, songs like Uptown Funk (which they played twice in a row) felt more suited to a homecoming dance than a fancy ball. However, as long as everyone had fun, then no harm was done.
Saturday night was the Music Fest, with BACK-ON performing in front of a packed room. Although they were announced rather late in the game (Fanime actually appeared on their scheduled appearances before the convention even officially announced it), they were welcomed by a large crowd with screams and open arms.
A new addition was Casino Night on Friday, featuring table games like Blackjack, Poker, and Roulette, with complimentary chips. (No real money was exchanged, naturally.) While new to Fanime, the long lines awaiting its opening suggested it was a welcome one.
Additionally, the Gunpla Builders World Cup held a competition at Fanime. Gunpla, for those unaware, refers to plastic Gundam models built from kits but customized and decorated according to the builder’s desires. The winner was awarded with a free trip to Japan to compete in the finals in December, representing North America – quite a prize indeed.
Throughout the weekend, the convention center was packed full of attendees of all shapes and sizes. There was much to do, much to see, and oh so much to buy, but the verdict seems to be a positive one, and while there may be some changes by next Fanime, 2015 was a pretty good year.
All photos in this article taken by Danny “Dviouz1” DeLuna