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Anime Expo 2017 July 6, 2017

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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I wasn’t planning to go to Anime Expo again this year, mainly because of financial and convenience reasons. However, an opportunity to give me that option and reason to go arose that I couldn’t resist. On June 1st Crunchyroll was reaching out to people on their volunteer mailing list that I signed up on a while ago to help out at their booth at Anime Expo. When I got the E-mail it didn’t take me more than 20 minutes to make my decision to try for the position. I even reserved a hotel room on Expedia right after sending the E-mail just in case I got chosen, and if I didn’t I could cancel it easily without paying anything up front. We were told that we’d receive a reply by June 12th if we were chosen, and so I waited. June 12th came and I received nothing from the CR correspondence. I told myself that if I didn’t receive any word beyond the 15th then I would cancel my hotel reservation. By this time I pretty much figured that I wasn’t chosen, so it came to my surprise when I received another E-mail from a different CR correspondence on the 15th, letting us know that they were behind in their AX plans, and that they would reach out to us sometime early the following week. A few days later I finally get the message that I was chosen for the CR AX booth crew. After that it was steady planning towards my next Anime Expo.

For all of my photos from my Anime Expo 2017 trip, please visit my Flickr set Anime Expo 2017.


Day 0 – June 30, 2017

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I didn’t really get a good night’s sleep; had trouble falling asleep, as well as feeling a bit nauseous. It might have been from the hot pot I had for dinner the night before, I’m not totally sure. Woke up at around 9AM but didn’t really start getting up until 10AM. My plan for today was to leave at around 12PM to try and make it to my hotel by approximately 7PM. I had to run a few errands before leaving though, so I didn’t leave the city until around 12:30PM-1PM. Throughout my drive, I had a few instances of traffic slowing me down, but none the less it wasn’t really a problem. I got to my hotel just past 8PM, which is about an hour (anticipating LA traffic) away from the convention center. I ate some food I brought along, rested while watching the local news, and began typing this post before heading to bed. I knew I needed to be at the LA convention center early tomorrow (before 9AM) to find parking and pick up my badge from my CR correspondence.

Day 1 – July 1, 2017

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Slept early so I got a good 7ish hours of rest. Woke up at 7AM and was able to get ready to leave my hotel before 8AM. I needed to get to the Anime Expo area to pick up my badge from a CR crew member at the JW Marriot Hotel at 9AM. Traffic was relatively light and I was able to find decent parking at the convention center garage. Since I was a bit early, I decided to check out what was going on in the front of the convention center. There was a massive amount of people in front of the main entrance to the con, as well as a much shorter line at the west entrance. I’m assuming that most of the people who were at the front were picking up badges as that’s where it usually happens. The west line was probably for entrance for people who picked up their badge already.

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I arrived at the JW Marriot lobby just prior to 9AM to give myself the most time to find who was giving us our badges. By 9:15AM I didn’t see anyone who looked like they were from Crunchyroll, so I sent a text to my CR correspondence, as they said they would be around only until 9:30AM. I didn’t get a reply back, but I did notice someone who looked like they were waiting for someone so I followed. Shortly after I saw a gathering group of people with W-9s in hand, something that I had to give to them too. When I received my badge, it wasn’t a regular attendee one, but an exhibitor one to my surprise. Guess it makes sense now, but at that moment it made me feel excited to be an officially working part of Anime Expo, rather than being just another normal attendee. I was told that I was going to help out at the Crunchyroll Foyer, originally thinking that I was going to work at the main booth in the exhibit hall. Coming back to the con entrance showed me the perk of being an exhibitor right away; coming back out to the west entrance I saw very long line of attendees trying to get in. What takes time for people to enter the con is not the sheer amount of people alone, but doing the bag search for each person. Security is tight as ever thanks in part to what happened at an Arizona convention where a gunmen almost got away with bringing real guns to a con with intentions to kill. I saw signs for a priority entrance nearby for Volunteers, Exhibitors, Industry, Press, and Artist Alley, and so I thought that I’d get in that line to get in. However as I was finding my way to what I thought was its end, I noticed that mostly everyone in it had normal badges. I swiftly turned around to try and find if there was a different entry. I saw a another doorway where a few people were entering, and sure enough it was the priority entrance which took no time at all to go through. Once inside I went to the Crunchyroll Foyer to pick up my shirts that I was to wear while working. It wasn’t my shift yet, but I learned that my job was going to be guarding Adam Savage’s costume he made as part of his Tested series. It sounded like an easy cool job so I was looking forward to it.

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Opening Ceremonies was abysmal to watch all because of the hosts. They were heavily reliant on the teleprompter, and because it wasn’t moving along for them, they kept on stalling and yelling at it. While my favorite Guest of Honor Danny Choo was getting stale at MCing Opening Ceremonies, he was far better than those two goons.

Because I had a few hours before my first shift, I made the most of the time I had by browsing the convention and bought some goodies that caught my eye. I also got some pricey lunch at the con so I wouldn’t get hungry during work. While I was eating though I got a text from my CR correspondence asking me to work at the Crunchyroll Booth in the Exhibit Hall instead of the foyer. I was flexible so I agreed, so by 1:45PM I headed back to the Exhibit Hall for my first shift at Crunchyroll which was from 2PM to 6PM.

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I got to the Crunchyroll Booth on time for my shift, and after a short run down on duties, was left to man the floor. You can say that I hit the floor running at this moment, as I was doing a job that I didn’t know much about. This was where my customer service experience came in handy. My main tasks were to assist attendees and watch the products, restocking when needed as well as preventing shrinkage (theft). As I just started, I had to learn fast: What we were selling, what our policies were, etc. I wasn’t hard adjusting to working the booth, and by the time my shift was half over I was more or less comfortable with the job. I was mainly keeping people from sitting on our low perimeter walls (Exhibit Hall security policy), answering questions about Crunchyroll products, and pointing people in the right direction for our free bags at the Crunchyroll Foyer, located in the West Hall of the convention center.

While I was working at the booth, a Re:CREATORS cosplay group came by and I recognized it immediately. Being a fan of the series, I talked with them a bit. I didn’t have my camera on me at the time, but they were the only cosplayers from that series that I saw throughout Anime Expo. Wish it had more exposure, but alas it’s probably because it’s under Amazon’s Anime Strike streaming service that most people don’t know about it.

When my shift ended at 6PM, which was the same time that the Exhibit Hall closed, my feet were killing me. We even had pretty soft carpet, but it didn’t really help keep my feet from being sore from walking around constantly. The first day is always the hardest, that’s what I always say when it comes to work. I figured the next days of work would not be as bad.

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After my shift I planned to go to watch The Irregular at magic high school The Movie: The Girl Who Summons the Stars premiere that was to start at 7:30PM. I grabbed some dinner from the convention diner again before heading over to the JW Marriot. I got into the line at 7pm, and several minutes later would start moving towards the viewing room. The line was super long and there were many people ahead of me. As the line moved closer towards the room, to the point of being able to see inside through the door, it looked like it was filling up fast. At some point, the line stopped and the announcement that only single seats were available was made. This didn’t bode well for the rest of us in line, as there was still a decent amount of people waiting to get in. I started to think that the chances of the room filling up entirely before I got in were high, and sure enough the room was capped before long. This information was hard to get though for us away from the door; Because the line was still relatively long, we found out through word of mouth of people leaving the line up ahead. Eventually some staff walked down the line to let people know but it took a while before that. The line then turned into the line for the next event that the room was going to be for, which was the FAKKU: Hentai Worth Watching (18+) panel. It seemed that a majority of people stayed in line for that too, in which if they were, were being ID-ed and given wristbands if they were of age. I don’t go to those kinds of panels, so I figured it was a good time to head back to my hotel to rest my feet for the next day. Happened to turn on the TV in my hotel room and Adult Swim was marathoning the second season of Attack on Titan so I watched a bit before turning in for the night.

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Day 2 – July 2, 2017

I went to sleep a bit late, so I didn’t get as much sleep as I’d like as it took me a while to get up. Got myself over to the convention center much quicker this time, though had to park slightly farther away because the parking garage attached to the center was already full at 9AM. The exhibit hall and entertainment hall were closed and wasn’t going to open until 10AM, which was around the time I started my shift at the Crunchyroll booth. Since it was already 9:30AM, I decided to wait closer to the exhibit hall so that I could get there on time.

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It was really cool getting past the barricades that hold the masses of attendees back as an exhibitor. I’m still not used to it, as when I approached the guard who checked badges, I initially hesitate to move through as if I don’t belong when I actually do. I still had about 20 minutes before my shift so I sat around at the chairs nearby the entrance of the exhibit hall. Several minutes later, the exhibit hall opens up to my surprise. I thought that they were going to open up at 10AM or later. I rushed myself to the Crunchyroll booth and braced for the mass amount of people trying to buy stuff from our booth that they knew would sell out. I was more or less forced into the task of monitoring the line, making a makeshift “End of Line” sign and having to cap the line every so often because it got too long for safety reasons. Luckily this rush died down within the first hour of the hall opening. The rest of my time working went pretty smooth, and it definitely didn’t feel as long as my shift the previous day. I even got some food and water courtesy of the CR booth, so I didn’t have to spend any money today for food at the convention.

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After my shift ended at 2PM, I headed toward the Crunchyroll foyer area located at the west hall of the convention center. That’s where we have been giving away very nice and large bagpacks (bags that carry like backpacks). There was a long line for it, but I wanted to get it so I waited. About 30 minutes later, I almost made it to the front of the line when I was called out my one of the staff members running the bag pickups. He noticed my Crunchyroll exhibitor badge and asked me why I didn’t just come up front at the start. I mentioned that I asked another staff member who was working the free stuff table about me just grabbing a bag because I was CR staff too, but that he shook his head in disagreement. I was allowed into the back where they had all the bags stashed, and grabbed a couple. Like I said I’m just not used to this kind of access.

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With a new bag on my back, I had a place for goodies. I headed back to the Blizzard booth at the Entertainment Hall to buy my friend some pins. I also took the time to check out the rest of the hall that I didn’t get to see. Afterwards it was back to the exhibit hall, where more shopping for friends ensued, as well as finding some things that interested me that I would get the next day.

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After another shopping spree, I stopped by my car to drop off my loot and headed to the JW Marriot. I originally was interested in checking out the TRIGGER studio panel at the hotel, but I decided to shop during it. The other event that was still going on nearby was the ClariS video concert. It was about half over when I arrived, but the best music was saved for the second half. What makes the ClariS group unique is that they’re singers with hidden identities. Originally consisting of the duo Clara and Alice, they started with humble beginnings of singing covers and posting them on Niconico. They got noticed by a recording studio and thus their careers was born. Because they were in junior high at the time, and school was a priority, they were shielded from a public reveal. A few years later, Alice left the group to concentrate on college, and newcomer Karen took her place. ClariS still sounds the same despite having a different singer on board, but their real identities are still hidden to this day. In the video concert, their faces are covered by a mask, and the editing made sure that any zoom ups or angles were done quickly. It was still nice to see them “in person”, and hear their music that made them who they are today. I can’t believe that they are already college age singers now, as we first heard them when they were in middle school, when the hidden identity aspect made sense. I don’t know if ClariS will ever reveal who they really are to the world, but it was hinted at the end of the video concert that ClariS is interested in having a concert in the US. Whether or not it happens I’d like to go, especially if it is at an event I’m able to go to.

After the concert, there wasn’t anything else that I wanted to stick around for so I headed back to my hotel, stopping by a McDonalds for dinner before doing so. It was my final night in LA, so I prepared to pack up for the next day.

Day 3 – July 3rd, 2017

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Day 3 was my final day for me being at Anime Expo, as I couldn’t really afford to stay longer, especially because of how this was more or less an improvised trip. Woke up a bit earlier to get ready for the day and to pack my car up and check out of my hotel. I arrived at the convention center just before 9AM, and parking was easier to get this time around. My shift started at 10AM again, so I had time to run an important errand before work. I planned to grab a Funko Pop! Vinyl D.Va & MEKA Buddy figure at the Blizzard booth in the Entertainment Hall, but they had limited quantities per day. As my work shift starts when the halls open for business, I used my Exhibitor status to get in before it opened for everyone else. I thought I could buy it earlier than 10AM so that I could get back on time to the Exhibit Hall for my shift, but unfortunately I couldn’t buy it until around 10AM exactly. In the meanwhile, I decided to go back to the Exhibit Hall to explore it before it opened. It was definitely an strange experience being in the Exhibit Hall before it opened. There was still a bunch of people running around, but we were all exhibitors so yeah it felt like we had some time to ourselves before the masses were allowed in. I got myself back to the Blizzard booth at the Entertainment Hall at around 9:45AM, but they couldn’t sell anything until 10AM. I sent my CR correspondence a text letting them know I was going to be a little late because of that. After I bought the D.Va Pop figure, I ran back to the Crunchyroll booth and got to it a few minutes past 10AM, so I wasn’t too late. Luckily there wasn’t a massive line that I had to manage like the day before.

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It definitely wasn’t as busy as Day 2, and while that was mostly a good thing, it also made time fly by more slowly. When 2PM finally came, I was ready to head out to wander AX for a few more hours before having to leave for home. I did my final shopping spree and grabbed as much freebies before calling it quits at around 6PM. With virtually no traffic on the way back, I got home at around 12:30AM.

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Other things I want to mention….

This was the first time that I didn’t feel pressured at all about taking quality photos. Because my main purpose at Anime Expo this year was working for Crunchyroll, I dedicated myself to that and because of it, overwrote my usual initiative for taking photographs that would showcase the con as a whole. Instead, the photos I took highlight the interesting things I saw during my time at Anime Expo; working and enjoying the convention like I should instead of covering it like a news story. Usually trying to get as many cosplay shots is what I do as part of my photo coverage of anime conventions, but because there is so much competition with amateur and professional photographers alike at this event, I didn’t even try. At least I didn’t feel bad about it at all, as I probably would feel if I came to Anime Expo as a normal attendee. The only qualm related to my camera I had at AX was that I lost my lens cap on my DSLR, probably due to people constantly knocking into because it was back-right side most of the time.

Speaking of taking pictures, most of my pictures was taken with my smaller point-and-shoot rather than with my DSLR. Using the smaller camera was always a better way to take pictures in a pinch, but I’ve almost always used my DSLR as my main because of its better quality, albeit its less convenient size. I’m now considering getting a quality mirrorless camera so that I can have the form factor of a point-and-shoot with the quality of a DSLR.

I heavily relied on the Anime Expo app for looking up the schedule and events and such. Though a bit confusing to browse the schedule in the beginning due to me being used to looking at a grid schedule for cons, it became helpful once I got used to it.

I didn’t mention much about my experience of the LA traffic in my main day by day post above, and I’d like to share it. This wasn’t my first time driving in LA, but it has been a while, though this is the first time I’ve come here totally alone. The first thing I noticed is how much more aggressive drivers are here, especially on the freeway. People tend to be much closer to one another, slow down and stop without much warning, and accelerate and switch lanes in the same fashion. There was always some sort of traffic, but it wasn’t too bad this time around. Because I’m a new driver to the area, I had to study the roads before going on them to know where to go. I didn’t rely on my GPS at all because I was able to remember the exits and streets I needed to go on (and I have a good sense of direction), as well as my GPS having a horrible time locking onto a satellite, especially when in a parking garage. I’m surprised that I didn’t need my GPS, but at the same time hoping to get more use out of it even with its slow calculating ability.

Overall Thoughts

This Anime Expo and trip as a whole was a total success. What I mean by that was that everything I had planned happened and then some. I haven’t been this satisfied with going down to AX since 2012. For me the con was quite chill, despite the problems other people were having with the con. These problems are mainly connected with the fast that Anime Expo is getting overcrowded, as you can see with their line problems. People were reporting hours long wait time just to get into the convention center with a badge, because of the slow security bag checks. I got through just fine because I was exhibitor and thus got in a side way, but for the normal masses I feel their pain. I can imagine those attendees who had things planned out, didn’t include a massive delay due to just getting in. There were some major events that were occurring at the neighboring JW Marriot, and that didn’t require much to get in there so at least there was that. Down the line Anime Expo may have to start imposing a cap on badges because the convention center is always at full capacity during the event. I do hope that I can return as an exhibitor or other type of attendee in the future as it made for a much more accessible experience for me, maybe even as well as a Premiere Badge status in way. There’s nothing I would change from my Anime Expo 2017 trip, and I hope for even better ones in the future.

 

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.

FanimeCon 2016 June 5, 2016

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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 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.

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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.

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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.