FanimeCon 2014 June 1, 2014Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
Tags: 2014, Anime Convention, Cosplay, Fanime, FanimeCon
Another FanimeCon, also known as Fanime has come and passed, and of course there’s a lot to say about it. If you don’t know what it is, it’s an annual anime convention that is held at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center every Memorial Day weekend (late May). I’ve been going for the last few years now and this was my first time going with a group of friends of mine, so my experience was different than the other years.Anyways, I’m going to split my story by the five days of the convention, to keep things structured and simple.
You can find all of my photos from the convention at my Flickr Set FanimeCon 2014.
You can also find my photo post of FanimeCon 2014 at figure.fm.
This was my first time going to Day 0 of Fanime. Normally I just come morning of Day 1 to pickup my badge for the convention, but from my experience with last year’s LineCon, I felt that I didn’t want to waste my time on Day 1 waiting for it again. To help my group even further, we even registered as a group so that I could pick up all of the badges in one visit. My friend and I left for San Jose at around 1PM and got there about an hour later. Registration was scheduled to start at about 3PM so coming early and preparing to be in line for hours was what I was expecting, based on some pictures I saw on Facebook of the line in the morning. However, making our way to the pre-reg badge pick up, we found that there was virtually no line at all, and that registration had started early. It only took the 5 minutes to walk through the yellow tape to the booths to get our badges. I found myself extremely impressed, as did many others who were prepared to throw away their afternoons to LineCon. (Last year I waited for more than two hours, while others I knew waited for more than 6 hours.) People even had signs for LineCon that they ended up never using. I found it funny when overhearing some people who didn’t know what to do with all their spare time now that they didn’t have to use it to get their badge.
I left San Jose after touring around and saying hi to people I knew at around 3PM. It was good that I got home when I did because I still had a final paper due that night at midnight, and another supposed final early morning the next day, so I couldn’t really focus on Fanime until I got my finals out of hair.
Woke up early Friday morning to find out that my final that was scheduled for 8AM was postponed. It was a big sigh of relief as I was now able to focus on preparing and packing for the trip. Since I picked up my badges already, and nothing really important was going on at the con until 2PM, and also hotel check in time was at 3PM at the Fairmont, there was no real need to rush it there. I took my time making sure that I got packed everything that I needed for the con. I was also planning to do some recordings of Let’s Plays there as well so I had to pack my Wii U and recording equipment. By 11:30AM I was ready to go, picked up my two other friends (my third friend was still working so couldn’t make it for the first day) and we were off. We got to Fanime by around 1:30PM, ate a bit of lunch at a local diner before making our way to Stage Zero where opening ceremonies was taking place. At Fanime the Opening Ceremonies isn’t too much of a big deal, especially if there aren’t any notable guests of honor, so we didn’t stick around too long. We toured around the Dealer’s Hall, Artist’s Alley, Gaming area, and main hall. I was taking some pictures, but didn’t take too much as I was showing my friends around the area. When it was time we headed for the hotel to check in. We got a room on the 16th floor, which looked similarly like the room I had last year. Yeah I know that the rooms always look the same, but the view I had from the room was very similar to my room I had last year. I still need to look back at last year’s photos to determine whether or not that was the case. After settling in the room, we went out to look for a place for dinner which was a adventure in itself. We pretty much walked all over downtown San Jose, one person looking at Yelp while I was using my phone as a GPS, searching for a Japanese place to eat. When we finally found it, it was full and so was another that we passed by on our way to our backup place, Safeway. While one of my friends got some food at Safeway, my other friend and I got some Chinese food at a place literally right behind our hotel. We brought our food up to our room, had dinner, and rested for the next day, which would be a busy day for me for various reasons.
Woke up at around 6AM, without an alarm, as I seem to automatically wake up at that time due to me being used to getting up for school and work. Another reason I had to wake up at that time was that I needed to bring one of my friends back to SF for his graduation from college. My other friend tagged along because he didn’t want to be alone in SJ. Besides dropping off my friend, I needed to pick up my other friend who I mentioned was working on Friday. Before we got into the city, we had breakfast at IHOP, that was good. Dropping off, picking up, and driving back to SJ, we finally got back at around noontime. Later in the afternoon I was going to have to return back to SF to pickup my friend again, so I took advantage of the time to take photos around the area as I usually do. At around 4PM I left alone back to SF to pickup my friend. My cell phone was low on power, so I put it on airplane mode for the drive back as I wasn’t going to use it anyways while driving. Once I got back to the city, I called my friend who was not home yet, so I decided to get some food at a local Ono Hawaiian Barbecue. After ordering some Spam Musubi, I turned to find my graduate friend among other people I knew from high school. It was complete coincidence that I ran into him there as I didn’t know where he was in the city. We all talked for a bit before stopping by his place to drop off a couple of things before going back to SJ. Because we weren’t going to make it back in time to go to the Dealer’s Hall, we asked one of our friends who was already there to grab some random grab bags with a budget of $80, as prizes for some Let’s Plays that was planned for the night. When we got back to the hotel room, four grab bags were ready to go. We ate dinner at one of the Japanese places we passed by the day before, then headed back up for the night to the room for some LPing. One of my friends drank a bit so he was slightly tipsy during the recordings, but it was fine none the less. We played some Wii Party and Fortune Street, which you can find videos of on my coolmikeol YouTube Channel.
Day 3 was more relaxing than the others because I didn’t have to worry about driving around and using up time where I could be taking photos. I was already behind on my self quota of photos to take of the convention, so I took advantage of the day to do as much as I could. After having a big breakfast burrito at Peggie Sue’s, I got back to the convention by around 10:30AM, toured the Dealer’s Hall with the friends a bit before splitting off to do my photography. At 3PM was the Kill La Kill cosplay gathering which at first I had a bit of trouble finding before looking down near the new expansion area. I was able to get in front so I was able to take decent photos, but since there was so many people I couldn’t really get the wide shots, so I shot the big groups in series instead which you can find in the Flickr Set. Afterwards I went back to roaming the con, taking photos along the way before returning to the hotel for the usual dinner/LPs before going to sleep at around 1AM.
Day 4 was a chill day, as it was the last day of the convention and being in San Jose. Check out time for our hotel was 12PM, so we took our time packing our stuff in the morning and went out for some donuts at Psycho Donuts for breakfast. We left the hotel at around 11:30AM and got to the convention center at about noontime to do some last minute shopping at the Dealer’s Hall and photo taking before leaving the convention center at about 2:30PM. My friend wanted to check out the Great Mall in nearby Milpitas so we went. We went to Daiso and Dave & Busters a bit before shortly leaving for Hayward to have a late lunch at Sonics before heading back home via the San Mateo Bridge for San Francisco. We all got home safely by 6PM.
Overall FanimeCon this year was good, though there were some pros and cons as there is with every anime convention, being within it and out of it. The major improvement from last year’s con was the badge pick up lines. I like the fact that they made it a priority to fix the issues that made 2013’s LineCon a disaster. Hopefully Fanime will be able to keep lines moving in their years to come. Another improvement I saw was that there was more space available for people to move about. This is directed more so to the expansion of the convention center itself and not specifically to Fanime. I like the area in the new expansion that allows for main cosplay gatherings in the main area that doesn’t actually block foot traffic on the street floor. On the second floor of the expansion, there is an area on the side of the ballroom that had plenty of space for people to sit on the side and have a view of the front of the convention center. It’s good to have an area that people can just take a load off their feet for a bit without having to go out of their way to do so, which I did often by going to the anime viewing rooms to rest.
An occurring issue that doesn’t bother me too much is the lack of notable guests of honor. Because I don’t go to any panels or main events anymore like the Masquerade or Music concerts, sometimes Fanime feels a bit empty of things to really see and do, rather than just take photos. I remember my first Fanime where we had the music artist FLOW as a guest of honor. Their concert was amazing, performing songs such as their ones from the anime Code Geass and more. A couple years ago we had Mai Aizawa come as a guest of honor. She’s a Japanese voice actor/singer who has voiced such characters from animes like Mirai Nikki, Nichijou, Negima, Clannad, and Lucky Star. Last year and this year has had pretty much no one I’m interested in, which is why it seems that Fanime is overlooked when it comes to other similar anime conventions.
I’ll be definitely going again next year, unless something comes up. I’m hoping Fanime will build upon what they have improved on already and improve further. Next year I’ll be graduating from college so I don’t know how it will affect my schedule for Fanime as it kind of did when having to go back and forth to pick up people from SF and back a few times. I know I also said last year that I was going to try and become press status, but since I’ve been so busy over the past year focusing on school, I ended up putting it on hold for that priority. Because I’m nearly done with school and now I’ll have more time available to working on Coolmikeol related things, I think I’ll be able to work towards a more professional status at conventions. Hopefully my photos that I have been taking alone will allow me show that I am fit to be press status, but working on my blog site as well will help with that too.