Hi folks. Dennis here with some early initial impressions regarding Fanime this past weekend. It was five days (if you count Day Zero) of fun and exhaustion. Yeah, those two words perfectly describe our experiences at Fanime. However, it wasn’t as smooth sailing as we’d like it to be.
In terms of attendees, the ones you see and meet at Fanime are some of the best you can meet at a California convention. Friendly, outgoing, excited, diverse, and passionate–you’ll find many people you can get along with or strike a conversation with very easily. And attendance has shot through the roof! When I first began attending this convention, their totals were around the 10,000 attendee mark. And this year, they’re at an estimated 20,000 plus!
And therein lies the problem: Fanime is growing too much. Now, I’m not going to throw down the “old man card” and tell everyone to get off my Fanime lawn. No, nothing like that. How good the convention has been the last few years has really spread word of mouth throughout the community of California anime fans and cosplayers, which in turn spreads to those who visit one California convention from out of state. How many times have you said to someone “Fanime is my most favorite convention to attend” while you were at a convention that wasn’t Fanime? (Okay, maybe in not those exact words, but something similar.) With the growing attendance, the convention center has been undergoing construction the past two years. I know a lot of us were upset when the fountains out front were taken down. And this is why a lot of things were being done offsite, like artist alley, registration, panels, and even autographs. If you haven’t heard through social media, the most dire problem for the attendance is how long it takes to process registration. Some of my friends had to wait over six hours just to get their badge! There has got to be a better way.
The staff is growing, too, but not in the way you think. There has been lots of staff turnover due to many key members just growing up and not having enough time to devote to making Fanime go as smoothly. This is only opinion on my part, but I think that’s why some of the registration problems happened for attendees, artist alley, masquerade, and even swap meet. It’s probably why some of those things that should have gone smoothly online were posted so late or just mishandled. And last year, the director of the masquerade/Cosplay Spectacular stepped down, most likely also causing most of the previous masquerade staff to leave, too. Not out of spite, but probably due to lack of drive to follow a new leader. And it showed. Masquerade this year was such a train wreck. There were some great skits, but the experience as a whole was plagued by delays, technical problems, and what I can only assume is a last minute replacement for emcee.
So yeah, those complaints aside, there was still a lot going for the convention. So many cosplayers and so many activities to do, this was actually the first year I’ve attended Fanime that I was NOT able to actually go through the dealer’s hall to look for some more things for my anime collection. I only got through about a third of the booths. So many things happening! Watching the live-action Kenshin movie again was great. Taking so many cosplay photos was amazing. Hanging out with a lot of my friends was great, and just relaxing in my hotel room during after hours of the con was fun, too (Cards Against Humanity, my new hotel survival kit with friends). Eating all the delicious food, making my taste buds drool just thinking about it now. Winning Chopped Cosplay in our first time competing! I’d like to give special thanks to all those who attended the “Pocket Universe” panel and “One Piece Podcast Panel.” I know the location was a little far for one, and the early morning timeslot was bad for the other. But you guys were troopers to make it out to those. And I thank you.
More special thanks to our roommate Adam from CCRStars Cosplay, Diana from Bejitaballz Cosplay (and now regular contributor for the Cosplay Jam podcast), Sam for being a trooper, photographers Dustin and Daryl for taking time in shooting myself and Kate in our Avatar costumes, all the cosplayers for posing for Aaron’s photos, and all our friends old and new that we got to hang out with at the con. Podcast episodes (yes, multiple) will be up in the next few weeks along with the cosplay photo galleries. Hope you enjoy!
While this isn’t the full gallery, you can catch a glimpse of the Fanime photos thanks to Aaron’s teaser gallery here.