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FanimeCon 2019 June 2, 2019

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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FanimeCon 2019 took place May 24th – 27th 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 2019.


Day 1 – May 24th

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Day 1 started with me waking up at around 7am, a time I’ve been used to waking up to due to work. I aimed to get to the con by 10am, and since it takes about an hour to drive down to San Jose I planned to leave SF no later than 9am. I had all my stuff ready to go the night before, so after a quick bite to eat and putting everything in my car, I set off.

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Parking in the area has always been a thing of concern for me, since I commute back and forth everyday to the con than staying at a hotel. I had heard that San Jose State University’s parking was either cheap (or free from what I heard on FanimeCon’s Unofficial FB Page). Turns out that information was right as I was able to park without needing to pay, confirmed by some garage staff who I asked. Since SJSU was only a few blocks away from the con, it was definitely a good option to park at than paying $20 for parking at the convention center’s parking garage as I did last year.

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As usual, picking up my pre-reg badge took no time at all. No lines meant that in less than 3 min from entering the line area, I had my badge and con bag in hand and was already ready to go. As it was still fairly early on the first day, I walked around the con to scout the area. The only major area that’s open in the con at this time was the Gaming Hall, the Dealers Hall and Artist Alley don’t open until 2pm. And since not much changes year to year, it’s more so to kill time until Opening Ceremonies that happens at 2pm.

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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 were some food vendors. We had Okamoto Kitchen, Wild Bill’s Old Fashioned Soda Pop, and Psycho Donuts, a local specialty donuts shop. There was also Hirotako Co., a Takoyaki stand who also seemed to operate the neighboring Giant Baby Bottle, where they were selling 1 gallon sized baby bottles filled with organic fruit drinks that you could get unlimited refills for for $30. I saw that they lowered their price later on in the weekend to $25 because sales were probably slow.

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Most of the day I was either scouting around for photo taking, or taking a break at the anime viewing rooms. I picked up dinner at Okamoto Kitchen as I had a dollar off coupon for them. I didn’t know how much their bentos were until I got to the cashier. For about $15 you get this, which wasn’t too bad but the size is quite small.

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When things started to die down I called it for the day and went back to my car, which to my excitement seemed to duplicate itself, with someone else parking their same model same color car next to mine, complete with stickers and plushies. I left the con just prior to 6:30pm to get home and rest for the next day, knowing that it will be much more busier.

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Day 2 – May 25th

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For Day 2, I had a friend riding with me to Fanime. We arrived at the con area at around 10am. The plan for parking was to park at a garage located at the Peggy Sue’s Diner, as they had free parking with validation during the weekend. Unlike last year where (I thought) the garage was blocked by a running event called The Color Run, it didn’t seem to happen this year so parking there was easy. In case that the running event did take place, I found out that there are multiple entrances/exits to that garage that I could use, but luckily I didn’t need to go to those this time. We ate breakfast at Peggy Sue’s Diner and afterwards headed to the con.

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On the schedule only a couple of things piqued my interest, which were all cosplay gatherings. Those gatherings were the Azur Lane/Kantai Collection and the All Isekai Series groups. Talking about the cosplay gatherings this year, there was a lot that I didn’t recognize or think would have a lot of people to have a gathering. I was also surprised that series that usually has many cosplayers such as Sword Art Online was not even present as a gathering. It’s not like the series is not active, as we have Alicization that recently aired with its second part happening in the Fall. To be fair SAO cosplayers were very few this year, but maybe that’s because there was no gathering. Or maybe it’s because it’s the other way around. I don’t know, maybe I’m starting to get out of touch with the younger anime community, despite not really feeling old myself.

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Besides the gatherings, there wasn’t much I was planning to go to. Last year I went to MusicFest because they had a musical artist that I recognized, but not this year. I circled the front for shots of cosplayers of all kinds.

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Later in the day though I met up with my friend who was with one of his cosplaying friends. We had dinner together and afterwards accompanied them to a short photo-shoot (Not mine, I didn’t take any shots). After seeing her off, we left for home.

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Day 3 – May 26th

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Today my car was filled up by two more friends coming along for a total of four of us going to Fanime. The weather forecast for today had me worried because it looked like it would rain all day. It didn’t help that the commute to San Jose had on and off strong showers. After a bit of traffic, we arrived at the con area and parked at the usual place next to Peggy Sue’s for breakfast.

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Afterwards we split off to do our own things. I challenged myself today by not going upstairs (to the badged area), as most of the cosplay was either in the lobby or just outside the entrance. Because of the on/off rain, you could tell that there was a little less people around today. At least it wasn’t raining strongly or consistently. At one point I thought that the rain had stopped for good, but we got sprinkles every so often. I still was able to get some decent shots.

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We had already decided on where we were going to dinner, Kura Sushi in Cupertino. Because wait times there are usually very long, we put our names on the list at around 5pm, with a wait time of approximately 2 hours. (Kura Sushi has an app that you can use to put your name on the list, very useful.) At around 6pm we left Fanime for the restaurant, which was about a 15 min drive away. When we got there, we still had to wait about another hour until we were called. Overall it didn’t really feel that long to wait, compared to the wait time of approximately 3 hours that we saw at the restaurant if you put your name on the list at that time. I don’t think you could even get in if you did so as the place closed at 10:30pm. (It was 7:30pm when we were called.)

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The food was good, especially with great company. I think my friends are getting used to how I operate at anime conventions. Usually I feel obliged to show them around, but I guess the combination of them being at Fanime before and knowing that I do my own thing allowed us to enjoy doing what we want to do without having to worry about each other. They are casual anime fans at best, while I’m more into the “Otaku” level anime fan. Allowing us to enjoy the convention at our own paces I think is best for everyone.

Day 4 – May 27th

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The last day I went to Fanime solo. I didn’t know where cheap parking would be on Memorial Day, so I parked where I did last year, at the outdoor parking lot adjacent to the convention center. Surprisingly, the fee was $15 rather than $10 that I paid the same time same place last year.

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Upon arriving at Fanime at 10am, you can tell that the energy has died down. There wasn’t many people around, most of them in the Dealers Hall getting their last minute shopping done, me included. I also figured that people were also getting ready to check out of their hotel rooms by 12pm, so probably afterwards I’d see more people after that.

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Sure enough after noon the crowds started to come back. Oddly enough I felt that the protesters was helping in adding energy to the con goers, even if it was in a negative way (sort of). I was able to take a few decent shots of cosplayers before getting in line for Closing Ceremonies that was to start at 3pm. The theme for next year’s con was announced, which is food. I left for home afterwards at around 4pm. The next time I’ll be here will be for Crunchyroll Expo 2019 in late August/early September.

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Afterwords and Overall Thoughts

With FanimeCon 2019 being my 9th year attending the event, it seemed to come and go like the wind. Everything went more or less according to plan with no major hiccups. As such it was enjoyable to a certain extent, helped by the presence of my friends who came along with me on Day 2 and Day 3.

With that said, I’m starting to feel my age. As mentioned, I didn’t really recognize a lot of cosplay gatherings this year, and I feel that those groups are some sort of indication of what’s currently popular. I really started getting into anime probably around 2010, and with next year being the tenth year foe me attending FanimeCon, I feel that changes for me are necessary to move forward in life. Don’t get me wrong, I love this community and media, but just like a lot of people would say as they get older, things never stay the same. I’m reaching that point in life where I’m asking myself the big questions. I think Uncle Iroh from ATLA asked it best: “Who are you? And what do you want?” While this question is no easily answered, it doesn’t mean I have no idea what I want. At the very least I plan to work more behind the scenes at events like this, like staffing and such. I enjoyed doing work like that when I worked at anime conventions such as Animation on Display and Anime Expo. Besides being compensated, I felt I was also gaining new work experience which is valuable to me to apply to future work. It should also help with networking, which will allow for even more hopeful opportunities.

I’ll be at FanimeCon 2020, but I’m seriously thinking about applying for staff, or at the very least volunteer. Taking photos of the con is still something I’d like to do, but because things seem to stay the same year to year I want to do something different. I take my photos in a event photography style, to tell a story through chronological photos. To share my personal experience online to others who are not able to attend. I was motivated to do this back when Danny Choo was blogging regularly about his life in Japan, and I still do it to this day, at least when it comes to events and trips. I’d like to tell a new story, this time from working the con than just being an attendee.

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