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FanimeCon 2015 May 31, 2015

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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FanimeCon 2015 marks the fifth Fanime for me, and I got to say it was pretty good this year. After everything was said and done, and me thinking back on the con now at home, I can say that it was quite a satisfying Fanime. While not much in particular stood out due to the lack of a big current popular anime, FanimeCon 2015 helped me to remind myself why I like anime conventions and the creative community surrounding it. It was pretty chill and for the most part and it helped me to get back into a photographer spirit. While photography is not a main focus of mine, I still want to do more with it when the opportunity arises.

For all of my 750+ photos taken at this year’s FanimeCon, please visit my Flickr set FanimeCon 2015.

Also please check out my photo post of the con at Figure.fm: FanimeCon 2015

I’ll be writing up my experiences of each day. For my review of the con, it will be right after this part for your information. I went to con with a couple of my friends, though they only stayed for about a day from Friday to Saturday. My sister joined me from Saturday to Monday. Keep this in mind when reading the post below.


 

Day 1 – May 22

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Me and my friends arrived at the con at around 11:30AM and got our badges first. As nothing was really happening until 2PM (Opening Ceremonies, Dealers Hall, Artists Alley), and also because our hotel’s supposed check in time was 3PM, we split off for a bit to do our own things until then. I headed over to the Fairmont which is was where I was staying, and wondered if there was a place I could have them hold one of my bags until check in time. Turns out that I was able to check in before 3PM, so I called up my friends who were planning to explore nearby San Jose State University and San Jose’s Japantown, so that they could drop off their stuff. After settling in for a bit we headed back to the con at right before 2PM. We split again, me staying at Stage Zero for Opening Ceremonies and they went into the Artist Alley and Dealer’s Hall. Opening Ceremonies definitely had good vibes going for it, the mark of a good con; from the guests of honor, to the change of Con Chairmen, and everything else announced for the con at the ceremony. I felt confident that this year was going to be a good year for Fanime, as opposed to previous years.

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As with any anime convention, my main objective is to take as many photos as possible, with both quantity and quality in mind. My style of photography is that of an overall approach, that is, taking photos of the main areas of the convention, as well as some photos of the main events as well. In a word, a Photostory. I think I’ve explained this before, but I want my photos to enable people who aren’t at the event to get to feel like they were there. The general setting, the people, the events, everything. I try my best to get around to get as much of a overall coverage as possible for this reason.

During Opening Ceremonies and afterwards I took photos, so here’s a glimpse of them:

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At about 6PM my friends and I headed out to dinner at a nearby Japanese place. Afterwards I headed back to the con while my friends called it for the night back at the hotel. One of my favorite things to do at Fanime is watch The Best of AVGN (Angry Video Game Nerd), which takes place the night of Day 1. While it’s actually just a video room playing random AVGN videos, something I could do from home, I enjoy unwinding on the first day here because I like to see how others react to his videos too. This also holds true to the anime rooms I every so often go to. I tend to go to anime rooms that are showing ones I’ve already watched, because I’m equally interested in re-watching it while seeing the other viewers’ reactions in mind. Animes tend to become either more funny or serious with other people around. By the time I got back to my hotel, it was already 12:30AM. I didn’t go to sleep until 2AM because I was working on posting photo highlights to my Facebook page.

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Day 2 – May 23

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Getting up and ready by 9AM, we had brunch at Peggy Sue’s which was a diner type place. I had the Peggy’s scramble pictured above which was very filling. From here we went to the convention center where it was back to taking photos for me while my friends went off on their own.

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The plan for today was that my friends were leaving on their own to go back home via public transit, while my sister was being brought to the area by car by my family. At around 1PM I headed back to the hotel to get her settled and see my friends off. After helping her get her badge, I let her go off on her own while I did my own thing again. If you’ve noticed the trend, yes I go alone a lot as it’s easier for me to focus on photography and not worrying about leashing others to me. We met up again later and found out that she had a bit of a hard time trying to enter the Dealer’s Hall at one point because the lines were long and didn’t know where to get into it. I realized that I should of showed her around at least a bit before letting her go as it was her official first time being at Fanime. At around 6:15PM we headed back to the hotel for a quick break. I decided to go to MusicFest, Fanime’s own included-in-registration concert event which was hosting BACK-ON. My sister was still resting so I went on ahead.

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Every MusicFest, there are always people who line up as much as a couple of hours before the doors open for seating. I’ve learned that you only do this if you really want to sit in the front near the stage. If you don’t care where you sit or want to sit on the second floor, then come once the lines have all dissipated. I came and got my second floor seat no problem with no waiting. Usually I’d sit on the left of the stage on the higher up second floor, but this time I decided to go sit on the right which my sister says is better because since we’re right handed we tend to look to the right, or something along those lines.

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The concert was pretty fantastic, it was just as good as the only other concert I liked here when the band FLOW was a guest of honor for Fanime back in 2011. About halfway into the concert, my sister just arrived to the concert while BACK-ON was playing a Fairy Tail song of theirs. She recognized the song because she was a fan of the anime, something I did not know. We stuck around all the way until the end where BACK-ON had a group photo with the audience. Afterwards we stuck around the con for a couple more hours, taking photos and watching some anime before heading back to the hotel for the night.

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Day 3 – May 24

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Getting up a bit later than usual, I had breakfast in the hotel room from the bunch of donuts that my family bought on Day 1 from the nearby Psycho Donuts. Seriously though, those donuts are too much for me. I can only eat like a half before the sugar hurts my teeth. Anyways getting to the con at about past 10AM, it was photo time!

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The masquerade started quite sooner than expected, as I heard that people were allowed into the auditorium at around 3PM or so. I didn’t know exactly when it started, though I didn’t really care as much since masquerades are a hit or miss, mostly misses for me. I got there just past 5PM and stuck around for about an hour, but I should of left earlier as most of the entries were just walk on cosplays. The only acts I saw that I liked was the Rap Battle between Sailor Moon and Madoka, and the martial arts group with the swords and spears. Also witnessed a real proposal on stage as well, which was nice, but got me thinking, aren’t those kinds of things a trap for the one who is proposed to?

After having dinner at another nearby Japanese place, and checking of the con for a bit afterwards, we called it for the night and got back to the hotel just past 10PM, the last night of the con.

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Day 4 – May 25

Morning of Day 4, I got up early to start packing up for home. Since check out time was 12PM, and my ride wasn’t suppose to arrive until 11AM or so, we decided to get breakfast at Peggy Sue’s, a first for my sister, then head to the con where we were suppose to meet up with my ride so that we could get our stuff out of the hotel before check out time, and enjoy the con until it closes at 4PM. That was the plan. However, things didn’t go as smoothly as it should of, as my ride only arrived almost a quarter before 12PM, which got me panicking about checking out on time. After a mad dash from the convention center back to the hotel room, throwing everything out of the hotel room, leaving the stuff on the 9th floor with my family so that I could run down the stairs instead of use the crowded elevators to get to the registration desk, I checked out a few minutes after noon to find out that I could of just checked out prior to going up to my hotel room in the first place rather than rush it. I would of still had access to the room, which is what I was worried about not having if I did it as so. I went back up to the room and did a double take to check if anything was forgotten, and also to take a breather before lugging everything back to the convention center parking lot.

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By the time the dust settled from checking out and getting everything in the car, it was already past 1PM, only a few hours left for the Dealers Hall and the con itself. I did my last minute shopping by getting a grab bag for myself, as I didn’t really have anything in particular I wanted, but still wanted to get something regardless. After getting some last minute cosplay shots while my little bro and sis go shopping in the Dealers Hall themselves, we went to the closing ceremonies which beforehand had almost no line at all, a stark difference to previous years. Maybe it had something to do with it not being in the schedule? Anyways I stayed for most of it, just to hear and see how the con went from the people running it. I left when Q&A started. I didn’t leave San Jose right away, as we ate lunch at Peggy Sue’s, the second time eating there in the same day, before leaving the area for good. That is, until next year.

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FanimeCon 2015 – Overview and Review

If I were to describe this year’s FanimeCon, it would be “satisfying”. This year’s con felt more lax, but it also felt that it was more in control of itself. Continuing from last year, linecon never really returned, at least for registration which was always a problem in previous years. It also felt that less people were around overall, though Saturday was the most crowded out of all the days. The guests of honor were relatively good, at least for Fanime standards, though I didn’t really invest time to go to their panels or autograph sessions, or go to any panels for that matter. One of my favorite events of this year’s con was MusicFest, as I mentioned earlier. I hope that we can get good musical artists like them in future years.

The cosplay were just as good and diverse as expected, and there was not a lot of any particular series due to the fact that there isn’t any super good *hyped* animes going on at the moment, unlike previous years. I thought at the very least that the KanColle series would of had more cosplayers, but maybe it’s not as popular as I thought. Maybe at Anime Expo we’ll see more. I did some a decent number of Nisekoi cosplayers, especially of Haru which at that point did not see the episode where she was introduced properly which was already out. Don’t think I got any photos of them though.

A surprising thing was that the Dealers Hall was twice as big as it usually was, using two halls instead of one. I had already heard that Anime Expo was also expanding their space for their Dealers Hall, so it was nice experiencing a space that was already the size of how AX did their Dealers Hall in previous years. The Artist Alley, using the new area in the expansion of the convention center felt a little crowded, but I didn’t mind as Artist Alleys aren’t really my thing to browse in. I didn’t really go into the Gaming Hall that much, in comparison to years before, just because I was focused on cosplay photography and also because there was always people crowding the video games anyways.

For most of the con I was pretty much circling between the main lobby of the convention center and the whole outside front entrance of the convention center. The weather throughout the con kept switching between overcast and sunny, the most hot day being Saturday. I didn’t get any sunburn or obvious tan, so I felt that at most it was an inconvenience for comfortability.

While I was bumbling around, I noticed my usual habits of a casual cosplay photographer, and I feel that I should write a separate post about it sometime before Anime Expo, the big one this July in Los Angeles. I want to talk about why and how I do photography at events like this. At the very least, I am deeply appreciative of one’s efforts in creating, wearing, and making it through con all while dodging personal and con life all at the same time. While sometimes I’d like to cosplay, I learned that I probably can only do casual light cosplays at most, due to fact that I don’t want to lose the ability to take photographs as well. I’ll leave it at that for now, and expand in a future post about this subject.

I will probably return for next year’s FanimeCon, but I don’t know if I will do it as I have during the past few years, where I stay at a hotel. As I live in San Francisco, the trip takes about an hour or so by car, but it would still be cheaper than having a hotel. It would only be worth it if I had multiple people staying in the hotel to split costs, but that became an issue for me. I will gauge the situation and figure it out as next year’s FanimeCon creeps up again, but I can never say for sure what the situation will be for me then.

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FanimeCon 2013 May 31, 2013

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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This year’s FanimeCon was something, something that seems to be getting worse with every year. This was my third FanimeCon and it was OK but just that. If you went to Fanime this year, you should also know what problems the con had this year. This post will pretty much illustrate my experience of FanimeCon 2013. If you want to see all 900+ photos I took, check out my Flickr Set FanimeCon 2013

Day 1 – Friday May 24

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I arrived in San Jose with a friend for Fanime on Day 1 at before 11 AM. After finding parking, I emerged to find a long line sprawling all over the place on the side of the Fairmont Hotel for badge pick up and registration. Normally this would be happening at the convention center, but as you can see in the first photo, major renovation and construction was going on causing Fanime to have to use other spaces in other places. It took me almost 3 hours to get my badge as seen by my timer that I used to see how long “Linecon” would be. That was the pre-reg line. My friend who did not pre-reg had to wait in line for 6 1/2 hours for his, having to wait partly in the sun too. I heard stories that people the day before at Day 0 had to wait 7 hours. The only funny thing for me that happened during the whole ordeal was the fact that while I was waiting directly outside the exit for registration for my friend, a few people mistook me for being a volunteer/staff  and started asking me questions that should be directed to such people. I guess it was because I had my headphone wires dangling around which looked like a headset and also because I was hanging around other staff members as well.

Last year there was an blackout on Day 0 which caused issues with people getting their badges as well, which also affected Day 1’s registration too. I remember I had to wait almost as long as I did this year to get my badge. I had hoped that I wouldn’t have this issue this year, but it just got worse.

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By the time I got into the convention center for the first time, it was already mid-afternoon. I felt like most of my day was wasted which irritated me the most. Whenever I’m at an event like this, my main priority is my photography. Thinking that I’ve missed so many photo opportunities, I felt discouraged to do much and just really wandered the con to scout what was going on and how things were set up, basically getting familiar with the layout of this year’s Fanime. At 9PM I decided to relax with a favorite viewing of mine of Fanime’s, watching the best of Angry Video Game Nerd until midnight.

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On my way back to my hotel room after the AVGN viewing, I happened to hear some Gangnam Style at Stage Zero and saw a PSY cosplayer dancing to it with other people, followed by Gentleman as well. That kind of cheered me up, and it was a bit surprising as well that PSY’s latest songs wern’t dead yet in the con scene. I’d be really cool in my mind if we had a large amount of people at a con doing Gangnam Style seeing as the song came out right after the con season was slowly ending last year.

Day 2 – Saturday May 25

For Day 2, I had a couple of things planned for the morning that I wanted to attend. Before all that though, I had breakfast with my hotel mates at a nearby diner called Peggy Sue’s. I had a nice breakfast burrito which I didn’t finish, so took the rest with me for later. The cool thing was that also the burrito came with a cup drink which I could come and refill all day as long as I had my receipt. I did come in a couple more times during the day to refill my cup, but I didn’t have to show my receipt as it was quite busy in there when I did come in. It was nice to have free drinks the rest of the day so I wouldn’t have to spend money on drinks, and good thing too that Peggy Sue’s is pretty close to both the convention center and the hotel.

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Once at the convention center, I wanted to take some pictures of the Sword Art Online cosplay gathering. There was a lot of Kirito cosplayers versus other characters from the series, but that was kind of expected seeing from other cons before this one had a lot of Kiritos too. I noticed that there was no Silica during the gathering, nor a single Suguha/Leafa around the entire con weekend.

Right after I attended the only panel I wanted to go to, it was about how to work with EVA foam for cosplay purposes. Basically it’s the stuff you see used as mats for like gyms and stuff, but it can also be used to create intricate armor pieces, something I’m working on for my Solar Marine cosplay. As I’m a beginner in crafting and costume making, it was a helpful panel that showed to basics to working with the foam to create something fantastic. I felt motivated to work on my cosplay, though it would have to wait until I got home after con.

After the panel it was time to make up for the lost time yesterday. I went around and took as many shots as possible. Because I do photography at cons in a photostory style, I always take pictures generally of all areas of the con to give my viewers a sense of the convention floor as a whole, to give perspective. I took a good couple of hours wandering the dealer’s hall taking photos of most of the booths, though its pretty much the same as any con’s so it felt a bit repetitive for me. That’s another factor I account for when taking photos, repetitiveness. Especially with cosplay, if it is something that is extremely common that I’ve seen at many cons before, such as cosplay of Naruto or Vocaloid, I tend to look the other way to find something more interesting. Unless it is extremely well made or a unique variation on the character, I always try to go for the new and/or polished cosplays which are usually swarmed by other photographers as well. Here are a few shots I took during Day 2:

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I took a decent amount of photos to feel like I sort of made up for Day 1. I had to return home late on Day 2 because I wanted to attend my cousin’s graduation from college the following early morning.

Day 3 – Sunday May 26

I arrived back at FanimeCon from home later than I wanted to, around 2:30 PM. As soon as I got parking, I quickly headed back to the convention center. As usual, photos were my main objective, so here are some shots I took on Sunday:

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In this photo above, a guy proposed in front of con goers before Masquerade. Apparently these two met at a previous Fanime. I didn’t actually attend the Masquerade, so no pictures from it. Anyways, I’m always far away so until I become press, there isn’t much I can take pictures of from a Masquerade.

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This was the last night of the con. My dinner came from one of those hot dog stands run by some Mexcians right outside the con. I didn’t want to spend my money on expensive convention food. Afterwards, I relaxed the night away by watching some Railgun S in the Fansub room, where I was able to at least watch one episode that I haven’t seen yet. After that I hit the hay back at the hotel to prepare for the final day.

Day 4 – Monday May 27

Morning of Moday was basically just getting ready to vacate the hotel room. Luckily my car was parked pretty close so packing me and my friend’s stuff in it wasn’t going to be too difficult to do before going to the convention center. Because I stayed 2 of the three nights at my friend’s hotel room, I only paid a little under $40 for my entire stay with him. (We had a bunch of people staying in the room which cut the costs a lot between everyone.) After paying and packing, me and my friend headed over to the convention center for the last few hours of Fanime. We split during the time so that we could do our own things before the closing ceremonies at 3pm. I did my last rounds around the con, taking photos as I did. I managed to take a few good shots before I had to go to closing ceremonies:

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Overall, FanimeCon this year was OK, and just that. While nothing really went wrong on my side, with the weather also being quite cool and enjoyable, the con itself had flaws that made it less enjoyable than my previous experiences. While a lot of it has to do with the ongoing renovation and construction going on at the convention center, there were some things that the con itself was at fault for. The handling of reg was bad. Lines should not be long because you only have several people handling thousands of people’s registrations. Also, events this year at con were not as appealing mainly because of the lack of good guests of honor. I only attended one panel and that was for working with EVA foam for cosplay purposes. Day 1 for me was pretty much defined by Linecon and because of that, I missed a lot of photo opportunities which bummed me out. Also because I had to return home late Saturday and return early afternoon Sunday, I missed even more chances at photos. Whenever I’m in a con or event, taking pictures is my number one priority, because I’m dedicated to showing and sharing as much as possible to others worldwide. My goal for next year is to get myself up to “Press” status. With being a press gives you perks at a con, but it also means that I have a more official reason to taking photos. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I believe that my work is ready to take the next step. I have friends and acquaintances who are professional photographers and are press, so I know what they do at cons as such people. I hope to bring my A game to Anime Expo this year, where I’ll be both doing photography and cosplay. Hope to see you there!

FanimeCon 2012 May 29, 2012

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This year I attended FanimeCon in San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center held during the May25-28 memorial day weekend. This four day con is known for being an anime convention that is by fans and for fans of Japanese Pop Culture. It’s one of the biggest anime cons in Northern California and it invites thousands of people to experience and enjoy the many aspects of an anime convention such as cosplay, panels, special guests of honor, artists gallery, swap meet, gaming, anime viewings, and more.

All photos of the con that I took can be found at my Flickr set: FanimeCon 2012

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Day 1

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I arrived at Fanime at about 10:30 am on Friday. I was planning to first meet up with the guy in charge of our hotel room with to get my room key from him to drop off my stuff in the hotel we were staying at. (I stayed at the Fairmont Hotel this year, in the area of the convention center and a much bigger room than last year’s stay at the Saint Claire.) Finding him at the con didn’t take long, but what I also found was a massive line that wasn’t there last year. The line I’m talking about was the pre-reg badge pickup line. It stretched and snaked all the way out of the convention center and almost to the corner of the curb, making a 2+ hour wait for picking up your pre-paid badge. Last year I remembered it only took about 10 minutes or so to pick mine up, but this year it was almost like two and a half hours to get it. I got in line at a little before 12pm and I got it at about 2:15pm or so which got me slightly late for the opening ceremonies which started at 2pm. I think what caused the massive backup of people picking up their badge on Day 1 was the blackout that occurred at Day 0 where it disrupted the process of people picking up their badge the day before the con officially started. For Day 1, the line was like that all day. Luckily there wasn’t really anything important for me to see at the con until later that day so I didn’t miss much, and while I was in line I just played games and listened to music on my new iPod Touch 4th generation while sitting on my mini chair I picked up at a Daiso Japan store.

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After getting my badge and watching most of the opening ceremony, I went around the con to get an overview feel for how things were set up this year. For the most part everything was in the same places, so that was no worry. The only real change around the convention center was a missing chunk of the area around the convention center, or rather will become more of the convention center by next year. Building is taking place for an extension for the McEnery Convertion Center which is expected to open next year. I don’t know whether or not Fanime will use the extension but it will be a new cool space none the less.

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I scouted the swap meet and took a bunch of photos, but generally it looks like last year’s Fanime swap meet. I guess I shouldn’t expect changes in an annual anime convention, besides the guests of honor. Mentioning about guests of honor, there wasn’t anyone I was particularly happy about except for Mai Aizawa. Now in all honestly, I did not know about her name for her seiyuu roles of being Mio Naganohara from Nichijou and Murakami Natsumi from Negima!, but as I enjoyed those characters, especially Mio’s, I am a fan of hers now and now I’ll remember her name when mentioned. It’s like that with all stars I meet; you learn more about them when you go to their panels besides the reason you originally like them, and become a person who follows their future achievements. She had a Q&A session at 8pm on Day 0 and I was there. I got their quite early, so I left and went around the con for a bit longer, then returned to the panel room front door and found some people I knew and socialized with them. While talking with those people I knew, I realized that Mai Aizawa was also waiting outside the panel room with us as the panel room was being occupied. I took a quick shot of her pointing to her scheduled Q&A time on the schedule of the panel room. I was surprised that she was out with us other people quite casually, but I know that Japanese stars here are like normal people here. They are only bugged by their fans which there aren’t a lot of here in the US, especially for a seiyuu like her that doesn’t really have a big anime role so far. As an another example, when I was at J-Pop Summit in San Francisco’s Japantown last year, Danceriod performed which was really awesome. After they had their autograph session later that day, they simply left the place with their producer (or whoever helps them out on foreign trips) and no one followed them as if they were just like everyone else and no one famous. I guess I kind of like those kind of people; people who are known but only to a specific fan base and are popular to them, but are able to live their lives normally without people constantly bothering them like paparazzi. The Mai Aizawa Q&A was only an hour long, but many questions were asked, most were about either her roles in the animes Nichijou and Mirai Nikki, or about Mai Aizawa’s career as a seiyuu in general. I didn’t ask a question to her, but I was thinking about it. I’m a bit shy so I didn’t think my question was good enough to ask, but if I did I would of asked somewhere along the lines about what she thinks of Mai-chan from Nichijou or about Mio’s onee-san’s trolling and how would she deal with them.

I ended the day by enjoying some of the best of Angry Video Game Nerd videos. I stayed for the entire three hours of the showing, as I had enjoyed it from last year’s Fanime. You can watch a lot of AVGN’s videos on YouTube, just search for it. I also played some Super Smash Bros. Brawl in the game room, though I don’t exactly remember if it was after ACGN or earlier before, but I enjoyed it, though I was playing with some input lag because the game wasn’t calibrated tot he flat screen TV we were using. I did surprisingly well for the serious lag that I was playing through.

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I returned to the hotel room at about midnight, though no one was there yet. I didn’t mind as I was only rooming with them, not really being with them as a group. The group I was rooming with were mainly experienced photographers much older than me. A bit intimidating for me being much younger and just getting into professional photography through racking up experience from snapping photos at cons. For dinner I had cup ramen soup, simple and cheap. Brought along a water heater to make it. I had brought along some food but not as much as I did last year which was troublesome in terms of dragging it around on Day 4 of Fanime last year waiting to be picked up. Besides the cup ramen soup, I had brought along some dried mashed potatoes and fruit cups, and some donuts and other snacks but it was planned to be mostly gone by the end of the con. The rest of the room crew came at about after 1am on Saturday, but I went to sleep soon after that.

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Day 2

Woke up in the morning pretty early, around 7:30am-ish. Took a shower and ended up falling back asleep, waking up just past 10am where I got ready in my cosplay of Seiun Eiji and left for breakfast. To keep costs to a minimum, I went to McDonalds to get a Bacon and Egg McGriddle Meal which comes with hash brown and orange juice. Not exactly healthy, but it was cheap and good enough for me.

The main events for Day 2 that I wanted to go to was Mai Aizawa’s autograph session and Musicfest, but those were later in the afternoon. I focused on taking as many photos as possible before I didn’t have the chance to when I were to wait in line and attend said events.

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At about 3:30pm I went from the convention center back to the Fairmont to take a break and also go the autograph session for Mai Aizawa which was being held in the Imperial Ballroom of the hotel at 4pm. I got in line which wasn’t too bad and chatted with some other fellow con goers until it was time arrived to go get our autographs from Mai Aizawa. At one point, I was in front of the line after it shifted up from people entering the room where Mai Aizawa was, and I stated getting slightly nervous. I guess it comes from the thought that your meeting a “famous” person and that they are someone much different from you in respects of people they deal with, another being that she is a Japanese voice actress who brings life into anime characters that we all love. I recorded the encounter with Mai Aizawa, in a discreet fashion with my DLSR camera, recording it while the camera strap was around my neck while the camera looks like I wasn’t using it. I did it for sentimental reasons, as many people would do when encountering a unique situation.

Musicfest is Fanime’s own music event and it usually has guests that fill up the Civic Auditorium that is located right across the street from the convention center. This year, as I mentioned before, there wasn’t much in terms of popular or new guests of honor, and so that contributed to the lack of GOH panels and to Musicfest as well. Mai Aizawa was the opening act for Musicfest which was what I was looking forward to. She sang two songs, though I only remember the title of one of the songs she sang which was “Kimi ni Todoke” which was released on May 9th. She is just starting out her singing career and it looks like its future depends on how popular her new song does in terms of the downloads the song gets on iTunes. Apparently her producer (or so I assume) says that in order for her next song to be released, she needs at least a couple thousand people to buy her music on iTunes which costs only 99 cents per song. That’s kind of sad but understandable because her producer wants to see whether or not her music is marketable enough to make a profit. It’s a business after all and someone needs to pay the bills. After Aizawa’s performance, the main act for Musicfest was other GOH Igaguri Chiba, a literal clown artist/music performer. I didn’t stay for so much of that. Musicfest was a disappointment because of the lack of great musical acts like last year’s FLOW concert. I think Fanime planned to bring in three other musical guests to the con this year, because there were video messages that were played before the start of Musicfest from Japanese music artists telling the people of Fanime that they are sorry for not attending the convention due to schedule conflicts or other reasons. While I can’t quite remember who those people were exactly (you can tell I’m bad with names as I keep mentioning this) they looked like some real nice musical talents that would of been welcome to Fanime.

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Afterwards I went back to the convention center to enjoy playing some SSBB again, this time on a TV that doesn’t cause lag. I didn’t do as well though as I did when I played the night before, which was surprising because I was able to win even with lag but not without? I guess the people I played the night before were not as good as the people I played on day 2 night. Went back to the hotel room before midnight and again ate a cup ramen soup for dinner. Some of my hotel room mates returned and I talked with them for a bit until calling it a night at about 2am. This was the night I started typing this post of my Fanime 2012 experience, as I didn’t have anything else better to do, and it would help me remember better for writing the post if I wrote it ASAP. If your wondering, I wasn’t using the hotel’s internet, but rather I brought my own. I use Virgin Mobile’s Mifi, a portable device that allows me to bring WiFi to any location that has cell service. I bought it last year for $150 but I think now its cheaper. The plans for the internet are quite cheap, but you get what you pay for I guess, as the internet speeds from this thing are not capable of downloading and uploading anything fast enough. I can’t even watch YouTube videos, though I guess its because I used the $10 plan which gives me internet that expires in 10 days but only for 100MB. I didn’t want to take the risk of losing all my MB of internet before the end of the con. Next time I’ll get the 500MB plan which is $20, much better that I won’t feel so restricted to what I do on the internet on my laptop or iPod Touch. Also that plan lasts for a month so time won’t be an issue too.

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Day 3

The only event I considered going to on Day 3 was the Masquerade, which is always debatable for me to go or not, but I usually do because I’m sentimental and I always feel that the Masquarade of an anime convention is a good way to end things off, as Day 4 usually lacks in interesting events. Since the masquerade was later on in the afternoon, I felt this was my chance to take advantage of time and take as many cosplay photos as possible. I was not disappointed, as there were a lot of photo opportunities. I’ve got to say, this anime convention’s quality of cosplayers was pretty much the best I’ve seen so far. The past two days I was not satisfied with the quality or quantity of photos I took, so I wanted to make up for it today. Check out a few of the many beautiful and hard worked cosplay photos below, of course you can check out more at my Flickr set, mentioned at the beginning of this post, or at my dedicated Cosplay Flickr set.

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At around 5:30pm, I started to line up for masquerade which was held at the same place where Musicfest took place. Doors were to open at 6pm, but people always line up a few hours early. I knew that I didn’t want to sit in the seats on the ground floor, as I prefer to be above the stage on the balcony than on the ground where people can block you when they get up during a concert. The seats in the balcony don’t fill up that quickly so I didn’t have to waste time waiting in line for a seat I wanted. The line was pretty long, snaking all over the place where I was in line, behind the San Jose Tech Museum. What made the lines even more confusing was the fact that a different line for Black and White Ball was in the area as well. I got in the Civic Auditorium a little past 6pm and took my seat on the left balcony. While it gives a relatively good view of the stage, part of the left side of the stage was obscured by a wall, which became a problem while taking photos. I never take good photos of masquerades, because always too far to get a good shot. Makes me kind of wish I had a long lens like the one I borrowed before from a friend to try out a while back. (He was selling his 75-300mm lens for less than $100). Maybe next time I’ll try to get a better seat, maybe. I usually don’t like masquerades so much because they are walk-ons and skits, usually based on anime and game series, and most of the time those skits are based on a series I’m not too familiar with. This time however, I think most of the skits were pretty good. I stayed around for all the entries of the masquerade, but left before they announced the winner.

I went back to the hotel room early, at about 10pm, to rest and work on this post again. There wasn’t much I wanted to do out there in the con area, because everyone else was partying during the final night of the con. I’m not the kind of person to party hard, as I felt that also working on this post would be more productive. I also started to pack up a little bit already because tomorrow we were checking out of the hotel room in the morning. I went to sleep at around 2am, and no one still had arrived so I don’t know when my roommates actually returned.

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Day 4

Waking up at about 9:15am or so, I started packing up the rest of my stuff which didn’t take long to collect and put away. I wasn’t going to get a ride out of the con until around 3pm so I had to organize my stuff in a way that I could manage with while I waited at the con. I didn’t bring too much stuff so I was able to consolidate all my stuff into a easy to carry and pull system. At 10am I left the Fairmont hotel for the convention center where I found a cute Erio Touwa cosplayer I met yesterday that I first saw at the Cherry Blossom Festival in April. I had told her the day before that I liked her performance from the Cherry Blossom Festival, and that’s when she told me she had a performance scheduled for Day 4. When she had told me the time the first time I met her at the convention, I thought she had told me at first that it was to happen in the afternoon. I was mistaken as it was in the morning and I’m grateful that I got to the con when I did on Day 4. I arrived in time to see her performance at 10am at Fanime’s Stage Zero, where she did some dance covers, singing, and a combination of the two together. While I enjoyed the dance covers and singing alone, she didn’t do so well when doing both. I understand that it is hard to sing properly while dancing so I have her props for trying.

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Afterwards I decided to take advantage of time and access to good quality internet to work on my laptop while waiting for my ride which was still hours away. I ended up just using the time to update my Left 4 Dead 2 game which took hours to do because of a 10GB update. I also started brainstorming on a future cosplay which will take me months to complete as I’m no expert at cosplay making, but I’m willing to learn and take the time to make my future cosplay look good, be durable, and be comfortable to wear. I hope to make a debut of this new cosplay by early next year. I won’t mention what it is for now as I have just recently thought of doing this cosplay, because planning stages are still in its infancy.

I didn’t take too many pictures on Day 4, because most of the good cosplayers had already left or was not wearing their cosplay because there wasn’t much going on today; not worth wearing it if there isn’t many people to be interested in it. At about 3pm I went to the closing ceremonies where it was just the convention chairs thanking everyone for their support as Fanime is a con by fans and for fans. I had to leave in the middle of it because my ride had arrived, but I don’t think I missed much.

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Overview

Overall, Fanime 2012 was pretty solid in terms of cosplay, but lines were an issue especially with the pre-reg line on Day 1. I know that it wasn’t Fanime’s fault for the power outage that caused the problems of people getting their badges, and I also heard that Fanime staff put in extra effort to get as many people their badges despite the down computer systems. It just kind of reminded me of how I was in line for a long time at last year’s Day 0 Anime Expo pre-reg lines.

Another kind of issue I had was with my own photography. I wasn’t too satisfied with my cosplay photos during the first tow days, especially because I knew that I had better equipment and skills than last year. I always strive for the best I can do, but I felt that the quality and the quantity were both lacking at one point during the con. On day 3 of Fanime, I made up my loss for the most part, but I feel that it wasn’t the absolute best work I could of done. I hope that my Anime Expo 2012 experience will be better in terms of photography, and in overall experience from last year’s Anime Expo.

Well actually, on May 31st (or June 1st in Japan), Danny Choo reposted my photos on his own blog. To me, It’s like the biggest gratitude for all my hard work uploading photos and writing up numerous posts about Fanime for my readers and fans of Japanese Pop Culture. So in the end, I guess I’m proud of the work I’ve done and hope to bring great coverage of Anime Expo 2012.