FanimeCon 2016 June 5, 2016Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
Tags: 2016, Anime Convention, Coolmikeol, FanimeCon
It’s that time of year again! I attended this year’s FanimeCon which took place May 27th – 30th at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. FanimeCon is an anime convention “by fans, for fans”. I’ve been attending this anime convention since 2011, and I do intend to attend it annually as long as I’m able to, as it is one of my favorite cons around.
For all of my photos taken at the con, please check out my Flickr set FanimeCon 2016.
Day 1 – May 27
Got up early in preparation for the first day of Fanime at around 6am. After showering, I had to do some quick shopping at my local Safeway. I waited for the arrival of my friend who was tagging along for the first day of the con before we headed to Safeway, also grabbing a bite to eat for breakfast there. I came back to my place to drop off the groceries and grab the things I needed for Fanime. We left SF at around 8am.
After about an hour drive, I was able to find parking within the San Jose Convention Center quite close to the doors that lead from the parking lot directly into the con center. We proceeded to line up to pick up our pre-reg badge. Because I heard of the long lines from social media the day before during Day 0, I brought mini chairs in anticipation of being in line for a while. During the wait, I was on my 3DS sorting through Streetpasses on multiple games. I never really used the chairs I brought because the line was consistently moving every couple of minutes. 1 hour and 27 minutes later, we got our badges.
Because most major events were not happening until a few hours later, we decided to tour around San Jose State University, which is only a few blocks away from the convention center. Afterwards my friend and I split up to do our own things.
At this point it was about 11:45am, still more than two hours until Opening Ceremonies which I planned to attend. In the meanwhile I went around getting myself familiar with the area.
Quarter before 2pm I made my way to Stage Zero to prepare for Opening Ceremonies. I always like to attend the opening and closing ceremonies because I they make it truly feel like the con has officially started/ended. It also is a way for me to preview the guests of honor, as well as feel the vibe the con has.
After the Opening Ceremonies concluded, I made my usual rounds of checking out the Dealers Hall and doing cosplay shots primarily in the convention center lobby. Normally there would also be a bunch of cosplayers in the tree area on the left of the entrance of the convention center, but unfortunately it was occupied by the badge pick up lines. At least this would only affect Day 1, as the rest of the days of the convention they moved the entire line inside, for both the sakes of the people in line from the heat outside, and the cosplayers and photographers who use that area as a backdrop.
At 7pm I called it for the day, called my friend to regroup, and headed back to SF. It wasn’t quite the end of the day yet for me as we called my other friends to come over so that we could go out have dinner at local restaurant. By the time I got home, I didn’t have much energy to do much else than go to sleep with Day 2 directly ahead.
Day 2 – May 28
Day 2 started almost the same as the previous day did, though I did wake up slightly later to give myself some more sleep. This time my sister was tagging along for the day. We left for Fanime at around 9:15am and arrived just after 10am. I parked at a different parking lot about a block away from the convention center as it was going to be cheaper than the convention center’s $20 parking. To my surprise, this parking area was nearly empty despite it being a peak time for people to park. I guess its because it is sort of hidden, and some people would rather park in the obvious places.
I helped her get her at-con badge, which luckily had a much shorter line than the pre-reg badge pick up line, though it still took about an hour for her to do so. Afterwards we went around the con a bit together before grabbing some lunch from a food area in the back of the Dealers Hall. We split off afterwards, so I went back to do my rounds of photography.
There were a few cosplay gatherings I wanted to check out. That’s one of the things that makes Fanime great in my opinion, the cosplay and the gatherings that form at this anime convention. Most of them are visible and easy to get to. Maybe it’s more so than other cons I’ve been to because I’m somewhat familiar with the area, but also because everything is generally in one place. I don’t have to commute back and forth a large distance every time I wanted to check something out on the other side of the con.
Once things started to settle down, we decided to leave at around 8pm. To my pleasant surprise, when paying my parking fee, it was only $7 for pretty much the entire day. Compare that to $20 at the convention center and it was an easy guess for where I will park in the future for Fanime.
Day 3 – May 29
I felt good after two days of relatively solid shooting of pictures, already about 1K taken. I was actually worried that I’d fill my 8GB SD card to the max for once. I also have a 32GB, but delegated it to my small point and shoot for video shooting purposes back when I went to Sakura-con. I didn’t think I’d need to use my 32GB SD on my DSLR, so I kept it in my small camera from then. I’ll have to buy either at least a 16GB or another 32GB for my DSLR now, so that I don’t run into this issue again.
For today I was going alone, which is an advantage for me as I would have less to worry about. Leaving at around 9am, I decided to stop by a local McDonald’s to pick up breakfast as I didn’t eat before I left home. I got back to Fanime at around 10:30am, on time for another cosplay gathering I wanted to go to at 11am. As I was getting out of my car and gathering my stuff, I noticed I didn’t see my DSLR camera bag. Looking around the car it was nowhere to be found. To my horror, I realized that I probably left it at home, which is roughly an hour drive back, two hours round trip. I called home to confirm that I left it there and sure enough I did. I wasn’t about to go through a whole day without my DSLR, especially as a photographer. I knew that going back and getting it would cost me about two hours, but it was worth it in my opinion. Since I was already here though, I decided to go to the cosplay gathering at that was happening soon. I figured my point and shoot would be good enough for that. Luckily by 11:30am it was over for the most part, so I bolted for my car for home to get my camera.
I got back to Fanime with my DSLR in hand before 2pm and I immediately went to work. If you didn’t know, this year’s Fanime was quite hot, literally. Temperatures were running in the mid 80s, though being directly in the sun made it much worse. Cosplayers were mostly in the lobby area inside the convention center, or in shady areas in the outside. I didn’t get any sunburn because I avoided being in the sun for an extended period of time. I do feel bad for the people who were wearing cosplays that made them hot, as is one of the few reasons why I don’t cosplay much myself.
I got myself an early dinner from Subway, and afterwards shot some more before going to The Best of the Angry Video Game Nerd showing at 9pm, something that I go watch every year. I prefer the older episodes of AVGN (1 to 100), but this year they were showing some of the new ones I haven’t watched yet which were good too. I left the con at around 10:30pm and got home an hour later. I was very tired after the events of the day so I think I went to sleep right away.
Day 4 – May 30
The final day of con finally arrived. A couple of my friends wanted to tag along, one of which came on the first day. We left a little past 9am to arrive as usual an hour later. I planned to park at the cheaper parking lot, but it was closed probably due to Memorial Day holiday. I ended up parking at the Convention Center, which is at least convenient if not for the price. At con, It was pretty dead looking during the last day. Combined with that and the badge requirement, the main floor of the con had the least amount of people I’ve seen during all the times I’ve been to Fanime. My friends went to do their own thing, and I went off to do my own, photos and stuff.
I stayed around for Closing Ceremonies, which is usually not really eventful besides officially ending the con. They had a little (poorly put together) slideshow of some photos from the con, as well as a couple of performances and speeches from the remaining guests of honor. Q&A took place at the end, but that’s when most people leave, myself included. The only somewhat important info that was revealed at the Closing Ceremonies was the theme for next year’s FanimeCon, Magic, as well as the announcement for the first guest of honor, an American voice actor (don’t remember the name). It does sound like Fanime wants to fix the issues that plagued it this year, by also giving some information early for Fanime con goers of next year. Even the website is updated with the date of next year’s con and info.
I met up with my friends shortly after I left the con at my car, and we headed in the direction of home. We went to a Red Robin to eat some dinner, while the Golden State Warriors were playing game 7 for the chance to be in the NBA Finals. They won by the way if you don’t know. Afterwards grabbing a pie from a place called Nations which are very good. We headed home and I showed some of the pictures that I took before disbanding. That is the end of my FanimeCon 2016 story.
This year’s FanimeCon felt a bit off, and seeing other people I know say the same thing online on social media at least tells me that I’m not alone. I guess some of this stems from issues that were arising even before the start of the con. The first I remember was the housing problems with hotels reservations. This was the first year that I did not attempt to reserve a hotel, and I’m glad I did so. Fanime did a thing where people were given priority to reserve hotels if they also had a registration badge with the con. While this sounds like fine idea to avoid scalpers (people who go to con without a badge) to book hotels, it also made problems to people who also reg with Fanime as well. Bear in mind that this information is some that I’ve heard on social media, so I’m going solely on that. In the end, some were not able to get the rooms that they were probably able to get in previous years, some even learning they got double booked day of. Definitely not fun.
The second thing was the changes made to registration. For the past two years, Fanime put a lid on what’s known as LineCon, long lines from people picking up their registration badge. I was expecting the same this year, as many were probably too. Unfortunately last minute changes to the registration system caused LineCon to return in a explosive fashion. I remember monitoring social media on Day 0, reading about how long the lines were. Wait times of a few hours were reported, and videos coming from the pre-con were not very comforting to people who were to face the lines the next day. It was explained that there was some sort of software/equipment malfunction with the previous system and had to be replaced entirely with a new system, which explains the new barcodes that were E-mailed a few days before the start of the con.
Personally I didn’t have much problems with the con. I thought the new policy about the second floor being badge only fine. It definitely lessened the amount of people on the floor, though the Dealers Hall wasn’t too different in terms of it being crowded. For the most part the staff had most entrances to the second floor locked down. Though there was one point where I thought I found a hole in their net with the elevators, the ones near the convention center parking lot. I took it up to see if someone could get on to the second floor unchecked, but low and behold there was a staff there the moment the doors open up. I had my badge then so no worries on my end, though I thought I did see some people without badges try this.
I also didn’t attend any panels/events at all, besides going to the viewing rooms every once in a while. While they had some decent guests of honor this year, they just didn’t pique my interest enough for me to check them out. Nothing really different from previous years, but at least the main reason why I come to Fanime is still fantastic.
Overall, FanimeCon 2016 was alright, but it feels a little underwhelming when compared to my previous years going to it. Maybe it’s because I didn’t stay at a hotel this year thus breaking the full experience, or that I had to take a detour to go back home to retrieve my camera. Could of also been LineCon or the bad things I was hearing about before Fanime started too. A mix of all these things could of caused my feelings to by mixed on the matter. All I know is that I still enjoyed myself, and that I will plan to come to Fanime next year. Until then, see you all later.