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FanimeCon 2017 June 2, 2017

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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This year’s FanimeCon took place May 26th – 29th 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 2017


Day 1 – May 26th

My first day started with me waking up at around 7am, a time I’ve been used to waking up to recently with the return of my seasonal retail work. I aimed to get to the con by 10am, and since it takes about an hour to drive down to San Jose I needed to leave the city no later than 9am. Because I also wanted to pick up a breakfast burrito at my local Safeway, that meant that I needed to leave my house earlier than that, at about 8:30am. I ate some of the burrito before starting the drive down, and I got to say it wasn’t as good as it should of been. It was dry with the filling far in between. Alright enough about breakfast, let’s go to the con.

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I got to Fanime at around 10am, and proceeded to first pick up my badge. I was wondering how the lines were going to be this morning based on the pictures and video from Day 0 yesterday of the lines and such. I did hear later that the lines didn’t last long after registration opened, and low and behold upon walking into the convention center, there was no lines to see. The process was quick and efficient; I walked into the pre-reg area where they have multiple tables of laptops setup each with a barcode/QR scanner. You scan your E-mailed QR code to check in and your badge immediately prints out on a card and is given to you by a staff member. You are then pointed toward a table next to the exit where you can pick up a FanimeCon plastic bag with a program and lanyard. All of this took no time at all and it goes to show that issues that were problematic before can be fixed in a fantastic way. Now if only if Anime Expo could have a reg as fast as this…. (I know that it’s much more massive of a con than Fanime, but one can dream.)

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As usual, my next event I was planning to head to was Opening Ceremonies, however that was more than 3 1/2 hours away at 2pm. I decided it was a good time to get acquainted with the whole con area in the meanwhile. Because things don’t change that much layout wise year to year, it didn’t take much to find out and see what was where this year. Most of where I was planning to be was all in close proximity, literally spinning in circles.

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Opening Ceremonies started on time and kicked off the Fanime weekend by introducing the guests of honor, Black and White Ball, and Fanimaid.

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After the ceremony concluded, I checked out the Dealer’s Hall. Besides the usual vendors of anime merchandise, towards the back corner were some food vendors. We had Hirotoko Co., a Takoyaki stand; JT Express, known for their Sushi Burritos and Spam Musubi; Super Cue, a Boba Tea place; and Psycho Donuts, a local specialty donuts shop know for their unique bakery bites.

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For the rest of the afternoon, I took photos of whatever looked interesting. My criteria and priority for cosplay shots are usually ones that I have not generally shot before, especially unique ones. Meme cosplay are a particular one I definitely go out of my to shoot because they tend to be easier to shoot because people tend to gravitate towards high quality cosplay which makes those cosplayers harder to deal with in my opinion.

I left the con by 8:30pm to get home and rest for the next day, knowing that it will be much more busier than today.

Day 2 – May 27th

Day 2 started similarly to Day 1, getting up fairly early to plan to get to the con by 10am. Had to stop by a Costco Gas Station on the way to refuel though, cheapest gas you’ll ever find around here.

I planned to check out three scheduled events today: The NieR:Automata cosplay gathering at 3pm, MusicFest at 7pm, and The Best of the Angry Video Game Nerd video screening at 10:00pm. Between the times I was just wandering around and taking pictures.

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I ended up not going to the NieR gathering, partly because it was in an area that tends to get hot and is a bit out of the way, but more so because I got lazy to go. As for MusicFest, I already knew that based on experience, there was no need to line up for it prior to the venue’s opening and just wait it out. Even though the line stretched almost around the entire block, when I got into the City National Civic it wasn’t remotely full at all. I didn’t stay for long though, as all I wanted from coming here was photo ops. I would of stayed for part of the performance at least had they not banned the use of professional grade cameras; they only allowed use of cell phone cameras. I got this one shot of the stage right before an usher told me I couldn’t use it, that’s when I left shortly after.

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I went out to shoot some more as the daylight dimmed. I had a great opportunity during this time to photograph a D.Va cosplayer in the most amazingly built D.Va mech prop, complete with lights all over. I heard from the creator of the suit that he will bring it to BlizzCon and retire it afterwards.

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I went to the AVGN screening after 10pm, but left earlier than planned at around 11:30pm to avoid a second parking charge after midnight. Once I got home I didn’t do much before going to sleep.

Day 3 – May 28th

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I got to the Fanime area quite early on Day 3, parking at a different parking garage than the last two days because I could get free parking by validation if I eat at the local diner Peggy Sue’s and park in the adjacent parking structure. Today I planned to go to the Overwatch cosplay gathering at 12PM (High Noon), which I knew was going to be a big one based on the fact that Overwatch cosplay dominated this year’s cosplayers because of it being the first full year of the game being out.

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The Overwatch gathering was massive, being the biggest cosplay gathering out of all of them this year at FanimeCon. It was hard to get any good shots of the cosplayers without having someone blocking my view with either their head or camera. For the most part I just shot what I could, trying to either focus shots on the interesting/unique or doing piece by piece panoramic photos. The D.Va mech from yesterday didn’t make an appearance, but it was understandable with how crazy the crowds were. Time was also limited for the gathering which made it hard to give all the OW cosplayers a photo op. There was a great Reinhardt Wujing (Chinese Lunar New Year skin) cosplay that didn’t get the limelight it deserved, probably due to time constraints. I was able to move up to the front towards the end of the gathering, so I got some better shots then.

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After sticking around the con for photos and watching some anime in the viewing rooms, I left fairly early at about 7:30pm, as things were wrapping down for the night. This would give me more time to work on some Fanime stuff at home and rest up as well for the final day ahead.

Day 4 – May 29th

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On this last day of the con, a couple of my friends planned to tag along. Not to go to the con but rather enjoy the museums and other sights around the downtown San Jose area. We met up at around 9:30am, stopped by Safeway to grab some food (not me though), and left to try and arrive at Fanime by 11am.

That was the plan, but on the way there I was driving quite fast to get the attention of the CHP (California Highway Patrol). I got myself my first speeding ticket, and I wasn’t even listening to the Eurobeat music I had just recently added to my iPod Touch….

We got to the Fanime area just before 11:30am, and me and friends split from there. I walked around a bit with the recent event in mind. I wasn’t really scared or nervous about it, but I can’t say it didn’t weigh on my mind either. I told myself that this was a learning experience for me and that I’ll get through it one way or another. I just wish that it didn’t happen on the one day I had others with me in the car, how embarrassing.

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Day 4 was more or less quite dead compared to the previous days, but in hindsight that’s how it always is. For the majority of the time I just tried to relax at the anime viewing rooms, while coming out every so often to see what was going on in the cosplay scene. I was planning to stay until Closing Ceremonies at 3pm, so I had a few hours to kill just cycling around the front area of the convention center. At 2:30pm I decided to see if the line was forming for Closing Ceremony and it was. Once 3pm came and past a bit, one of the people in line ahead of me starting complaining about it not starting yet, with the person next to me mentioning how Fanime Closing Ceremonies never start on time, which is somewhat true but never hurt my experience of it. It wasn’t too long until we were finally allowed to enter the room and sit. By 3:20pm the ceremony started, where guests of honor who were still around talked about their experience of this year’s con and were presented with a special shiny poster version of the Fanime front program artwork. Fanime also announced the theme for next year’s con: “Gaming”, as well as the first guest of honor for FanimeCon 2018: Caitlin Glass.

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At 4pm I met up with my friends at my car and we left the convention center to try out a sushi place called Kula Revolving Sushi Bar in nearby Cupertino. The wait was quite long, over an hour for us to get a seat. One of the cool things I have not seen a restaurant do that this place did was how you sign in for a wait time. There’s a tablet near the front door where you put your name and cell phone number. You get a text that sends you a link that tells you in real time approximate waiting time and how many parties are ahead of you. As there’s a mall nearby, you could go walking around there or wait in your car instead of waiting around the front door of the place if you wanted to. We decided just to sit nearby as many others were and we were thinking the wait could be shorter than what was estimated (48 min).

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Kula Sushi is similar to your other sushi boat places, but there’s a few things that made this place unique for me. First was that besides your usual sushi conveyor belt system, there was a second separate belt that was used for bringing separate orders made on a touch screen to specific customers. On the touch screen you could order stuff that also is part of the sushi conveyor belt if you wanted it fresh or if you had a hard time getting them from the regular belt because it was always empty. There was also exclusive menu items on their as well that were not part of the regular like ramen and desserts. The food was really good, though I’m not sure if being hungry from the con made it taste better? Either way, I enjoyed all the food there. Another thing that seems unique to this place was that there is a slot to put your empty plates. The screen would count how many plates, and every 15 would get you a prize from a gachapon machine directly above and behind the screen. We had at least 30 plates, so we got a couple prizes like stickers and a ramen keychain that attached to your phone via headphone jack.

After an enjoyable lunch/dinner, we headed back home. I dropped off my friends at their houses and got home by around 7:30pm.


FanimeCon this year was more or less enjoyable. Most of my plans went as expected. I did feel that this year was a little underwhelming, but that’s probably because there hasn’t been an anime that recently defined the fandom. Just like how in previous years you would find tons of either SAO or AOT cosplay, this year was more or less defined by Overwatch, and it’s not even an anime. Maybe that’s why Fanime decided next year’s theme to be gaming based on the rise in popularity in cosplay from said genre.

During my drive back home on Day 3, I became inspired to strive to better myself in terms of photography. One thing that has stayed the same for the past several years was how I did my photography. It was quite basic, and while I do not think of myself as a cosplay photographer, I’d like to be able to do many forms of photography in a skilled way. I’m never fully satisfied with my photos, and I think that is a good thing. It keeps me from going into a comfort zone, keeps me on my feet, to keep moving forward and want to try new things. Besides improving my skills, my camera equipment also needs tuning up and upgrading. I’m noticing dust on my DSLR’s camera sensor, and I have never done major maintenance on it since I got the camera years ago. Lighting is another issue I need to address, as it can make or break a shot. I’m always at the mercy of natural lighting, and I’ll never depend on the built in flash on my camera as it gives the worst results. That’s why I’m noticing much more people bringing in their light stands and umbrellas at cons like these. Fanime has the benefit of having very nice natural lighting at the major areas near and in the front of the con center, but that’s also a limitation as many people tend to flock there as well, making it hard to take shots, especially if it looks like another pro photographer is set up there. I’m going to probably look into camera flash systems and get myself some reflectors as well. I’ll set myself up to improve my photography for next year’s FanimeCon.

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