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Old 06-06-2012, 11:49 AM   #1
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Fanime 2012

I finished attending Fanime 2012. This is my third year attending.

Background

For those who don't know, Fanime is the second largest anime conventions on the west coast. It takes place once a year towards end of May at San Jose Convention Center. It runs four days straight and features many events including panels, competitions, Fanimaid Cafe, Artist Gallery, Gaming Hall, Black and White Ball, dance parties, autograph sessions, Cosplay Spectacular, swap meet, Dealers Hall, and MusicFest.

There were many changes compared to last year’s Fanime. This year, attendance increased. Before, pre-registration and registration line usually wraps around the convention center’s first floor, but this year there were so many people that the line extended outside and around the block. To accommodate growing attendance, Fanime expanded to Fairmont Hotel across the street and Doubletree Hotel. Unfortunately, the front of the convention center was under construction. A commercial building not connected to Fanime was torn down and turned into a construction site.

This year, FanimeCon united with the Steam Federation to create Clockwork Alchemy. In some respects, it’s a separate convention dedicated to all things steam punk. They have their own venue and guests of honors. I didn’t attend Clockwork Alchemy, so I won’t go into any details.

Last year, autograph lines were a nightmare. Long lines of people zigzag through Hilton’s Ballroom, spilling over into outside hallways. It caused a traffic jam between autograph goers and hotel guests. The swap meet was also a nightmare. This year, the Fanime committee decided to rent out the Imperial Ballroom inside the extravagant Fairmont Hotel located across the street. Its ballroom is twice as big, which can accommodate the lengthy autograph line and swap meet vendors.

Despite the changes, some things remained the same. The Dealer Hall, Artist Gallery, Video Rooms, Stage Zero, and Gaming Room were held in the Convention Center. Late night dance parties were held in Hilton. Panels were still held in the Marriott hotel. MusicFest and Cosplay Masquerade took place across the street inside the Civic Auditorium.

http://2012.fanime.com/

Guests

This year line up of guests was a mixture of familiar and new faces. Ric Meyers (inducted into five worldwide martial art halls of fame for contributions to martial arts), Gilles Poitras (author and librarian), Mamoru Yokota (illustrator, character designer, producer, and animation director who has worked on such popular titles as Ben-to, Macross Frontier, Death Note, Air, Kanon, Magical Canan, and Louie the Rune Soldier), and Hiroyuki Yamaga (Executive Director for GAINAX) returned to Fanime. Unfortunately FLOW and Haruko Momoi couldn’t attend.

There were a few new faces this year. David Vincent is well-known voice actor for English dubs. He’s voiced Grimmjow from Bleach and has been involved in other titles such as Durarara, Code Geass, and Gun X Sword. He’s also worked in television industry on shows such as NCIS, Criminal Minds, The Nine, and more. His voice can be recognized in video games such as BlazBlue, Super Street Fighter IV, and more.

Shigeto Koyama is well known for his character designs for popular mecha series such as Gunbuster 2, Gurren Lagann, Star Driver, Eureka Seven, Eureka Seven:AO, Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society, and HEROMAN. He’s also worked on Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt and Rebuild of Evangelion Tetralogy.

Kia Asamiya is a mangaka and illustrator. He’s worked on well-known classics such as Shin Seiki Vagrants, Silent Mobius, and Martian Successor Nadesico. He’s also worked on many manga adaptations such as Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Batman, Hellboy and Uncanny X-Men.

MusicalFest guests featured Igaguri Chiba and Mai Aizawa. Both artists aren’t well known in the music industry and just debuted not too long ago with their first music CDs. Mai Aizawa can best be described as cute who has been voice acting anime since 2004. She has worked in numerous titles such as Lucky Star, Air, Clannad, Rosario + Vampire, and Mirai Nikki. She has also voice acted for video games such as Harvest Moon, Super Robot Wars, Yakuza series Mahou Sensei Negima, and recently Nichijou. Igaguri Chiba on the other hand falls in a category all on its own. His style can best be described as wacky, influence by rock, metal, and pop. He likes to dress up in flamboyant costumes and renown for crazy performances.

Thursday (May 24, 2012)

Pre-registration Line

FanimeCon doesn’t start until Friday, but those who pre-registered could pick up their badge and pamphlet on Thursday between 4:00pm to 8:00pm at the Convention Center. A friend got in line around 3:00pm. There were a few hundred people ahead of him. I came in thirty minutes after him. After I arrived, the line exploded from a few hundred to a couple thousand people waiting for pre-registration.

Unfortunately the staff had technical difficulties and didn’t start processing people until 5:08pm. After an hour of slowing inching through the line, a transformer blew up, which caused a power outage that effected the entire block. Computers and Servers all lost power. Thousands of people were stuck in line with no air conditioning and all except emergency lights turned off.

After a few hours, the staff decided to process people manually. Only those who brought printed proof from an e-mail Fanime sent a week ago could go up and claim their badges. Finally at 8:30pm I claimed my badge and pamphlet. It took a total five hours. Shortly afterwards, PG&E fixed the transformer and power came back online.

 


This was by far the worst experience I’ve had throughout the convention. It’s embarrassing that I had to wait five hours for pre-registration on Thursday, when my friends the next day waited two hours for registration. Thankfully the staff remained calm throughout the entire ordeal. They even passed out free water bottles.

Overall, I hope I never have to experience this again.

Friday (May 25, 2012)

Friday was an interesting day. Not only was there Fanime, but I also had to attend my sister’s graduation ceremony from San Jose State University’s College of Business. Fortunately the Graduation ceremony happened mid-late morning. I was able to attend, enjoy lunch with my family, and make it back to the convention by 2:00pm for opening ceremony.

Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony was a blast. Guests were introduced one by one.

After the opening ceremony, I hung out with friends and walked around Artist Gallery and Dealer’s Hall. Around 7:00pm, I left the convention center to have dinner with family, went home, and sleep.

Saturday (May 26, 2012)

I woke up early in the morning and took the light rail to convention center. There, I met Nelson, a good friend of mine. We walked round the convention hall for a bit before running into Yvonne, another friend. Yvonne volunteers as a Fanimaid. She dresses up as a maid and performs in Fanimaid Live performance and helps out in the Fanimaid Café. At the time, she wasn’t feeling very well, so Nelson and I went out to get food. After dropping food off to Yvonne, we walked over to stage zero to enjoy our breakfast.

At the time, it was still early in the morning. Most of the venue doesn’t open until 10am. Usually there’s a DJ or host at Stage Zero keeping occupied. By stroke of luck, the DJ manning Stage Zero was giving away three exclusive invitation tickets to Yamaga Party. Nelson and I jumped on it right away.

 


Yamaga Party

Around 11am, Nelson and I walked over to St. Claire Hotel for the Yamaga party. There we met other attendees who also obtained invitation ticket on Friday. There were only less than twenty of us. As I walked in, I was greeted with Italian food prepared and served by Il Fornaio, an authentic Italian Restaurant. Having just eaten breakfast not too long ago, I decided to skip the pasta and head straight to dessert.

I also discovered each guest of honor had their own round table and were accompanied by a translator. We divided into groups and mingle with each guest of honor. Every fifteen minutes, each group rotated to different tables to meet a new guest.

The first guest I sat next to was Mamoru Yokota. Out of all the guests, he’s the one I wanted to meet the most. Last year, Yokota did a commission for me. I was hoping he would do another commission for me this year in the Artist Gallery. It felt surreal sitting next to a man I admired. I showed him a picture of the commission he drew for me last year, and he recognized it. For the remaining fifteen minutes, we talked and asked questions about each other.

The next guest I met was Kia Asamiya. I told him how much I enjoyed reading Martian Successor Nadesico. Asamiya mentioned the characters types he created long time ago were unusual for his time period, but now they are frequent and show up in newer anime and manga titles.

Next I met Mai Aizawa. I was surprised how small she was. Despite her small stature, she’s really cute and energetic. She was excited to be here, though a little nervous about her upcoming performance at MusicFest. She enjoys Rock and some Trance. She also loves voice acting. I learned she finds it easier to voice drama than comedy.

I rotated on to the next guest, Shigeto Koyama. Koyama was the second most anticipated guest. He’s worked on two of my favorite titles, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society and Eureka Seven. He’s also a huge mecha fan. It was a lot of fun talking to Mr. Koyama. He talked a lot about Panty & Stocking. Apparently the staff working on it had a lot of freedom in its production.

 


The last guest I met was Hiroyki Yamaga. Yamaga has a long history with Fanime. He’s been an honored guest of FanimeCon since 1997. He’s an Executive Producer of GAINAX and the host of the Yamaga Party. It was enlightening to converse with a higher-up. I asked him a few questions about the Anime industry in Japan, including budget constraints and challenges in production.

I didn’t have time to talk to David Vincent, Ric Meyers, or Gilles Poitras. Igaguri Chiba didn’t come. It was a great privilege to eat and talk with the guest of honors from Japan. I hope Yamaga attends Fanime next year and host another Yamaga Party. If he does, next year I’ll camp Stage Zero in hopes of getting tickets again.

Fanimaid Live

After the Yamaga Party, Nelson and I hurried to Stage Zero for Fanimaid Live. The maids put up a great performance. They sang and danced to multiple songs. They sure love dancing to Vocaloid.

 


 


After the performance, I hooked up with other friends and walked around Dealer's Hall and Artist Gallery. While I was there, I bought Ghost in the Shell Solid State Society DVD.

 


Shigeto Koyama Focus Panel

Late, my friends and I headed to Shigeto Koyama focus panel. Koyama presented his works and answered questions. Towards the end, he raffled off exclusive prizes such as doujin art books he drew and clear posters.

 


By now my friends and I were getting hungry. We went out to get food and later returned for Mamoru Yokota panel.

Mamoru Yokota Panel

I was surprised how many people were lined up for Mamoru Yokota Panel. Last year a quarter of the room was filled, but this year the entire room was jammed pack. As before, Yokota had a digital overhead projector, displaying live drawings onto a large screen. Throughout the panel, he answered questions while drawing whatever he felt like.

MusicFest

After Mamoru Yokota Panel, my friends and I rushed across the street for MusicFest. Before the concert started, two large screens displayed music videos and short apology messages from Mini, Megumi Nakajima, and Nightmare who originally planned to perform at Fanime, but couldn’t make it. I was a little irritated because at the end of each message, each artist promoted their CD. Here we have big name artist doing self-promotion right before performances of Mai Aizawa and Igaguri Chiba.

Mai Aizawa was the first to perform. She sang a couple songs including her newly released “Kimi ni Todoke”. She was really cute and upbeat. I enjoyed her concert and wish her luck on her career as a vocalist.

Igaguri Chiba’s concert was entirely something else. He showed up wearing nothing but a fundoshi (traditional Japanese undergarment), Pikachu ears, and make up to hide his identity. To complete the look, he was also painted from top to bottom in yellow with a few stripes. Accompanying him were two macho men wearing red hair shawl, large glasses, and red fundoshi. Chiba cracked a few jokes in “engrish” and performed several songs while doing macho dance. It reminded me of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I know it” MV or Inukami Macho Ending. I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the entire concert. I’ve never seen anything like it befor. They kept swinging towels in the air and doing macho poses. In one of Chiba’s songs, he was singing about Senbei (Japanese rice crackers) while his two dancers were throwing a bunch into the audience. Good show Chiba! Your craziness is amazing.

After Chiba’s performance, there was a surprise showing of Hatsune Miku concert recorded a couple years ago. My friends and I didn’t care for it because it was a real vocaloid concert. No 3D projectors, just a recording of a concert inside a concert. We walked out and got McDonalds. Yes, it’s unhealthy, but it’s the cheapest thing to a meal. Afterwards, we headed over to the Nerd Courting panel.

Nerd Courting

The Nerd Courting panel was age restricted for 18+. The panel focused on everything about relationships including forming relationships, intercourse, and breaking up for nerds. I learned a lot from this panel. Supposedly nerds view the world differently compared to other people. We have a vivid imagination and a need to explore. This characteristic is both a blessing and a curse. While it enhances our creativity, it can be detrimental to our skills in forming relationships. This panel addresses these problems.

The panel lasted three hours. By the time it was over, I was exhausted. It has been a long day filled with excitement and meeting interesting people. I headed home wondering what the next day will bring.

Sunday (May 27, 2012)

Shigeto Koyama Autograph Session

I woke up and got to convention center around 10AM. I ran into a couple friends in the lobby. They plan to attend the Shigeto Koyama autograph session. We headed across the street to Fairmont hotel, where the autograph session takes place. After waiting an hour and a half, we finally got in front of the line of people waiting for autographs. The day before, I bought Ghost in the Shell Solid State Society DVD for him to sign, but apparently I didn’t need it. Koyama was drawing images of a cartoonish dog with his autograph and recipient’s name. Koyama decided to be a little creative with mine.

 


 


After getting our autographs, we stopped by Subway for lunch. I ordered a foot long, half of which I had for lunch and the other half I saved for dinner.

Mamoru Yokota Commission Part I

Last year, my friend and I got Mamoru Yokota to do a commission for us. We greatly appreciated his work and looked forward to having him do another commission for us this year. With that in mind, we headed over to the Artist Gallery and waited for Yokota’s arrival.

We arrived to the Artist Gallery and discovered he was already sitting at a table working on commissions. He had a list of seven people waiting. We ask the translator if we could add our names to our list, but he hesitated. He claimed Yokota was very busy and then ignored us. Yokota left half an hour later to attend his own autograph session panel. One of his assistants stayed behind to look after Yokota’s table. We asked her about the list. She was very kind and allowed us to add our names to it. I wrote down my name, the character I want drawn, and I was willing to pay $50. My friend did the same. Yokota’s assistant told us Yokota will be back around 4:30pm.

My friend and I killed time by walking around Dealers Hall and Artist Gallery. At 4:30pm, we returned. Yokota’s assistant informed the translator about our request. Once again, the translator hesitated. I stood patiently next to him, waiting for a response. After a half an hour, he finally informed me that Yokota was too busy and advised we should make a simpler request such as characters Yokota had already worked on in the past. He also told us to come back tomorrow. If Yokota finish his commissions tonight, he may consider honoring our requests. Dismayed, my friend and I left. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for Mamoru Yokota. I was more pissed off at the translator. I already saw the commission list and knew the people before me were willing to pay $140 to $200. I suspect the translator thought the amount my friend and I were willing to pay was too little and not worth Yokota’s time and effort. In any case, perhaps Yokota will be done and consider taking on my request.

Cosplay Pictures

My wait in Artist Gallery wasn't a complete waste of time. While I was there, I took a few pictures of cosplayers.

 


 



 


 


Shigeto Koyama’s Character Design Panel

My friends and I left to attend Shigeto Koyama’s Character Design panel. Shigeto showed up with a tablet and his mac connected to a digital projector. In this panel, he demonstrated important aspects of character design.

The first thing a character designer should consider is the character’s silhouette. A good silhouette could easily be recognized by the audience. Another important characteristic is hair style. Viewers identify characters 80% of the time based off hair style. Another thing I learned from Shigeto’s panel was that hair accessories and curves of the hair define the character’s style. Anime characters with banes curved inward are usually introverts while characters with wild hair pointing outward are extroverts. Hair accessories sometimes mean the character is restraining them emotionally.

 


Throughout his panel, Shigeto showed us production sketches, not meant for the public. For that reason, Shigeto kindly requested the audience not take any pictures. Once again, Shigeto raffle out exclusive prizes towards the end of the panel. Dang, three people behind me won. I was sitting in the wrong row!

Cosplay Masquerade

After the Shigeto Koyama’s character design panel, my friends and I went across the street to the Civic Auditorium for Cosplay Masquerade. On my way there, I spotted an amazing Mass Effect cosplay pair. They did a phenomenal job with their costumes.

 


Cosplay Masquerade consist of competition for best Cosplays and skits by groups of Cosplayers. A lot of the skits made game references or inside jokes. Most of them I didn’t get, but for the most part, they were all very entertaining. There was certainly a lot less Yaoi skits this year. Thank god!

Late night with Mamoru Yokota 18+ Panel

My friends and I left Cosplay Masquerade and ate dinner at Subways. We then headed back to the convention center for Mamoru Yokota’s 18+ Panel. As the name implies, this panel was for audience ages 18 and up. In his career, Mamoru Yokota has worked on Eroge games, most of which bishōjo. Like in his previous panel, the audience asked questions while he draws on the screen or show pictures of his previous works. A lot of the questions the audience asked were pretty outrageous. Someone asked him to draw Futanari. He did, but later crumpled and threw away his drawing towards the end of the panel.

I didn’t take a lot of cosplay pictures. I left it to the professionals. You can find pictures here:

http://www.acparadise.com/acp/cons.php?cyid=4627&t=4


FanimeCon’s Hentai Nights 18+

Seeing as this was the last night of Fanime, I decided to pull an all-nighter watching hentai until 6am in the morning. I won’t go into details, but it was awesome. For those who are 18+, I suggest you try it. It isn’t a sausage fest. Believe it or not, half the audiences are women. The staff periodically checks with flashlights making sure no one in the audience is doing anything obscene. For those who want to watch hentai in peace, this isn’t place to be. The audience constantly cheered and laughed whenever the characters do it.

Monday (May 28, 2012)

By late morning, I was exhausted. After Hentai Night finished, I visited other video rooms and watched Anime until friends arrived.

My friend Arvin showed up in his Gir costume. He did a great job with the overall appearance, but forgot to insert eye holes. A group of us guided him around the convention hall. We didn’t get very far. Every few feet, a lot of people would stop us to take pictures. It took us a half an hour just to walk from Artist Gallery to Marriot. Arvin didn’t mind. He enjoyed posing and getting glomp by fans.

 


 


 


While walking around, I snapped a few pictures of other cosplayers.

 


 


 


Mamoru Yokota Commission Part II

Just as promised, I returned to Mamoru Yokota’s table in hope that he finished his previous commissions and had time to work on mine. I talked to the translator and ask about my request. He told me Yokota did finish the commissions before me, but wouldn’t work on my commission because it wasn’t a character he’s worked on before. Hence, the translator crossed my name off the commissions list. To add further insult, the translator started a new commission list. There were already three people on the list. He claimed Yokota had been in Artist Gallery all morning working on commissions and that I should have come earlier. BS! I’ve been in the Artist Gallery on multiple occasions and saw Yokota’s table was empty. Yokota must of arrived an hour since I last checked in. The translator is a real douche bag. I pray next year Mamoru Yokota finds a new translator.

Allison Henderson Commission

After leaving Yokota’s table, I searched Artist Gallery for another artist who would do a commission for me. I came across Allison Henderson’s table. I notice League of Legend pictures posted at her booth. I’m a huge League of Legend fan. I asked her to do an inked drawing of Ahri. Despite having a long list of other requests, she agreed. After leaving my name and phone number, I walked around Dealer’s Hall, looking for last minute deals. One of the weapon dealers had a blowout sale. I bought a Katana for $20.

 


I also picked up a free May’n World Tour 2012 poster, which I had already advanced, registered for the June 23rd concert at Yoshi's Jazz Club and Japanese Restaurant in San Francisco.

 


A couple hours later, I received a phone call from Allison, informing me that my commission was ready. She did an outstanding job drawing and inking Ahri! It’s very detailed and captures Ahri’s cuteness very well.

 


 


You can check out Allison Henderson's artwork at her Deviant Art website

http://betrayal-and-wisdom.deviantart.com/

Closing Ceremony

By now it was getting late. Dealers Hall and Artist Gallery were closed. Technicians were packing video rooms. All the panels were over. Guests who were staying in the hotels were checking out.

My friends and I headed over to Closing Ceremony. It was a sad event. A video made Acksonl was shown, highlighting some of the best cosplays.



I reflected over all that I’ve done over the past four days. I had a lot of fun attending panels, Yamaga’s Party, MusicFest, Cosplay Masquerade, Artist Gallery, Dealer’s Hall, and hanging out with friends. Despite a few setbacks, I enjoyed my stay at Fanime. I plan to attend next year.

For those who have never experienced an anime convention, I highly recommend you visit at least one. It’s fun intermingling with other people who are just as passionate about anime, manga, and the Japanese culture.

I look forward to Fanime 2013!

This is SaiQ signing out.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:27 PM   #2
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Re: Fanime 2012

I heard some negative things about Fanime this year, namely the outage and protesters seemed to be a big deal. Glad to see you had a really good time though, and thanks for the detailed review.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:55 PM   #3
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Re: Fanime 2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kanashimi View Post
I heard some negative things about Fanime this year, namely the outage and protesters seemed to be a big deal. Glad to see you had a really good time though, and thanks for the detailed review.
Religious protesters have appeared at previous Fanime conventions, but they are small group. Past Fanime goers have gotten used to them. While some view them as party crashers, most us find them hilarious and make a mockery of them. The video I posted shows two half naked pokemon cosplayers doing sit-ups next the protesters.

Aside from the protesters, there were couple negative things about this year Fanime such as mis-scheduled panels, construction, lengthy registration lines, etc. The board of directors this year were brand new and a little green behind the years. I think they've learned a valuable lesson and will improve the venue for next year.

In fact, during closing ceremony, they gathered feedback from the audience. I proposed they should consider advance registration option in which they mail badges and guide before Fanime starts. Sure it might cost extra, but I'm sure most convention attendees wouldn't mind paying a little extra, so long as they avoid lengthy pre-registration and registration lines on day of.
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