It’s a new year, and what better way to kick it off than with an anime convention? Sac Anime returned to the Sacramento Convention Center for its Winter convention, bringing with it plentiful fans, guests, and vendors for three days of anime.
This time around, Sac Anime managed to bring in some impressive guests. It’s known for inviting great voice actors, like Matthew Mercer and Kyle Hebert, but managed to constantly one-up itself by bringing in John DiMaggio (known for voicing Bender and Jake the dog), then Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime himself. Although organizing one-on-one interviews with anyone through the convention proved to be a challenge, we managed to get an interview with Mr. Cullen, alongside California Conventions Blog.
The convention was mostly held in the center, with registration taking place in the hotel, along with a few video game and screening rooms. Throughout the weekend, the staff held tournaments for various games, such as the increasingly popular Gamer Gauntlet – a competition requiring skill at a variety of games.
For people looking for games that don’t require batteries, upstairs in the convention center was a game room for card games, and another for tabletops. Both were full for most of the weekend, with people taking a break to rest their feet and visit the “Red Dragon Inn,” or prove that they’re the greatest duelist of them all. In the next room over was a room for cosplay chess, although my attempts at playing found that the crowded room grew very loud, and the players didn’t always give their pieces time to keep up.
As always, the dealer’s hall was filled with vendors and artists, with some very impressive works on display. More impressive than the goods on sale, though, was the life-sized TARDIS, brought by 10nant Cosplay (naturally, it wasn’t for sale, but he provided information for the person who helped construct it). At times it was hard to tell whether or not he and the TARDIS drew a bigger crowd than Yaya Han, whose table was next to them.
But of course, there was a plethora of excellent cosplayers in attendance, including an impressive Armored Titan by Skottie’s Cosplays that towered over the crowd and broke through the contest competition like they was the gates of Wall Maria. There were certain costumes that were particularly popular at the con, including Sac Anime staples Hetalia and Homestuck, but also a growing amount of cosplayers from Five Nights at Freddie’s and Big Hero 6. There were even cosplayers from classic anime, like the movie Akira or early seasons of Digimon.
However, Sac Anime is also known for having a lot of younger, less mature fans, which is often times an issue at the cons. At one point, a crowd of attendees singing Katy Perry’s “Firework” in the middle of the convention center got so loud that John DiMaggio shouted from the middle of his Q&A panel for them to shut up. While there’s nothing wrong with having fun with friends (lord knows I’ve sung the Pokemon theme song in convention crowds more than once) there is a time, place, and volume level for these things, otherwise it reflects poorly on everyone.
This year, security was in full force to prevent “ghosting,” or attending a convention without a badge. There were staff members at the stairs and escalators in the convention center, checking for wristbands before people could go upstairs. At the same time, they still had people checking for wristbands in front of every door upstairs, which seemed like somewhat poor allocation of staff. There were also complaints of staff members being abrasive while trying to keep people moving, although it is understandable that trying to deal with massive crowds all day could cause a short temper.
While the Summer convention shared the center with a Greek Food Festival, this year one of the convention center’s halls hosted a home decor show. As such, one of the hallways was blocked off from convention attendees, so they had to take the long way around to get from one side of the con to the other. Guests were allowed to attend the show with a Sac Anime badge, but it wasn’t exactly the sort of event that most Sac Anime attendees were particularly interested in attending.
There were several ups and downs to this convention. It had some amazing guests, plentiful autograph sessions and panels for them, and it’s a good time to see friends and some great cosplay. However, there were some issues as well, which will hopefully be addressed by the next convention – and it’s not all on the staff as well, attendees have to meet them halfway to make the convention great. Still, what better way to roll out the new year than a convention with Optimus Prime, Bender, and a TARDIS?
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All Images in this gallery taken by Perry Louie and Jeremiah Slack