As the Summer prepares to make way for Autumn, the convention season carries on with Sac Anime. As always, it was held in the Sacramento Convention Center and Fairmont Hotel, running from Friday through Sunday.
For the past few years, the Summer convention has shared the convention center with the Greek Food Festival. It’s a familiar sight to attendees of both by this point, and the festival tends to let Sac Anime attendees in, although it did occasionally result in one of the hallways being closed off. But the food festival attendees tend to enjoy seeing the activities and cosplayers about, and the convention attendees tend to enjoy the food, so it works out well for everyone.
The largest crowds at the convention could be found inside the exhibit hall, which had changed slightly from previous years. While it still housed the dealer’s hall and the artist alley in the front and back ends, respectively, a portion of it was blocked off for the autograph area, where the guests were located during various autograph sessions.
Speaking of guests, Sac Anime has always been able to bring in some great ones, and they outdid themselves this year. They managed to bring in Jim Cummings, who provided voices for Darkwing Duck, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, and countless other roles in cartoons, movies, and video games. For Futurama fans, they had Billy West, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, and Lauren Tom. Power Rangers fans young and old alike could meet several of the original Mighty Morphin’ actors, or the cast of the more recent Super Megaforce. Legend of Korra’s Janet Varney returned to the con, bringing with her David Faustino and Seychelle Gabriel. And that’s not even getting into the many anime voice actors they had as guests.
Yes, to meet all these amazing actors, one would have to spend a lot of time in line. However, the autograph system had changed slightly. While some guests were at their booths for paid autographs throughout the weekend, the free autograph sessions were trying out a different format.
Previously, the autograph sessions involved a long line leading into a separate room, where each guest had a separate booth and line that people could get into, one at a time, until they’d met all the guests they wanted. This time, the long line split into three separate lines, leading to tables for each of the guests. To see another set of guests in the same session would require going to the very back of the super-line, but it would inevitably be cut off before one could reach another table.
There were two ways to bypass the lines. The first was by attending VIP-only autograph sessions, which were held at select hours, with select guests, in a separate room throughout the weekend. The second was with a Fast Pass system, where those reaching the individual lines could pay $20 per guest to hop in a shorter line.
While the way the paid autographs were set up was similar to larger comic conventions, particularly the style of Wizard World events, the free sessions seemed to be trying to combine that style with Sac Anime’s own. But the results were not as hoped, and made meeting each guest a far more difficult challenge than previous years.
Suffice to say, the lines were a lot slower and less manageable this year than previous times around, and many attendees have reported that the staff they spoke to were either equally uncertain about things, or just plain rude.
Due to communication difficulties between the guest relations and press ops, we were unable to schedule full-length interviews with any of the guests. However, we did manage to grab two minutes with David Fielding, the actor behind Zordon in Power Rangers, for a three-question interview about the fandom’s longevity and his character’s role in everything. You can see the interview below.
Outside of the exhibit hall and autograph lines, there were several panels held throughout the weekend. Some were for the guests to speak with their fans, and others were run by fans.
During the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers panel (moderated by Andre the Black Nerd of YouTube fame), the actors answered questions for their fans in attendance about what it was like filming the show (and its movie), and what they’ve been doing since. While most have gone on to appear in other TV shows, Austin St. John, who played Jason the Red Ranger in the show, went on to become an emergency responder, saving lives during medical emergencies and disasters. And while they were all heroes to those who had watched the show as children, most of the actors had children of their own, who they were working hard to be heroes for.
The “Chilling With Voice Actors” panel drew a huge crowd as well, with various voice actors appearing on stage to entertain the crowd. They read scenes from the famous War of the Worlds, improvising jokes in the voices of their characters.
Another panel with a huge draw was the “Cosplay Wrestling Federation.” Cosplayers representing certain characters took the stage to trash talk each other and rile up the crowd, taking on the roles of “faces” and “heels” as professional wrestlers are known to do. It’s a huge draw at every convention it’s been at, and the audience keeps growing each time.
Aside from the autographs and panels, there were activities to do in each of the gaming rooms. Cosplay Chess was held on occasion, and the video game and tabletop game rooms offered various tournaments throughout the weekend (although some had paid entries).
Friday night was the swap meet, where attendees could sell their goods to others on the cheap. It’s a great way to find the rare or older manga, figures, or DVDs one may be on the lookout for, although the room grew incredibly crowded, and getting to each seller became a struggle after little time.
Of course, the attendees themselves provided a lot to see. There’s always plenty of cosplayers at Sac Anime, and the guests in attendance meant there were several from Power Rangers, Futurama, the Avatar series, and Aldnoah.Zero. Of course, other commonly-seen series were also represented, including Gravity Falls, Five Nights at Freddie’s, and Disney movies. Most of the series also had cosplay gatherings for them, organized and run by fans.
Throughout the weekend, the convention center was always full of attendees rushing from one activity to the next, or checking out what the convention had to offer. However, Sac Anime also suffered some growing pains; they tried some new things, and not all of them worked. There were communication difficulties between the different departments and between staff members and volunteers, causing confusion, miscommunication, and trouble for many. There were several kinks this time around that will need to be addressed in the Winter Sac Anime, but loyal attendees will stand by the con as it sorts these issues out.
There was a lot to do and see this Sac Anime, and perhaps not enough time to do it all in. So con-goers are keeping their fingers crossed until the Winter con comes around.
Photos taken by Perry “Agent P” Louie