Why The Chicago Con Circuit is Amazing: Anime Central 2014

Posted on Sep 04 2014

AnimeCentral 2014 Why The Chicago Con Circuit Is Amazing

In this special series of articles, I aim to highlight some of the best that Chicago has to offer to fans of anime, manga, and Japanese culture. As a native of the Chicago suburbs, I’ve attended numerous conventions, large and small, and have always come away with great times and greater memories. No convention has given me as many memories, opportunities, friends, and great times as Anime Central, and this year was no exception at all.

DSCN0962For those not familiar with the anime scene in Chicago, Anime Central has been around for 17 years and has shown absolutely no sign of losing any traction in the near future. Each year, attendance goes up as thousands of anime fans, young and old, come to meet their favorite voice actors, hear from professionals directly from Japan, and party with friends, music, and games. This year, thousands of fans came together at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and the Donald E Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL for an experience that exemplified the pride and spirit that other Chicago anime conventions strive for. Some of the biggest attractions this year came in the form of the Guests of Honor “Wake Up, Girls!” and the special concert A New World: intimate music from FINAL FANTASY. I wasn’t able to experience these two concerts, but the buzz throughout the convention was noticeable!

ACen also boasted a great roster of talent from Japan and the U.S. including Chris Ayres, Joel McDonald, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, veteran manga artist Yoshitoshi Abe, “Wake Up, Girls!” director Yutaka Yamamoto, and more! The number of panels and photo shoots this year this year was pretty incredible; I could barely pick what to go to and when!

DSCN1099Personally, this year was extra special for me because I got the chance to show off Anime Central to my girlfriend. She traveled for seven hours for the chance to experience everything ACen had to offer, and I was her guide. After years of attending and reporting at ACen, it was interesting to note how excited I was to introduce my girlfriend to the hotel, the convention center, and the whole con itself. I even had the chance to introduce her to 91.8 The Fan’s longtime friends Samurai Dan and Jillian! After saying hello to one another, I got the chance to talk to Dan about how he and Jill were doing since their Indiegogo campaign had ended. They had assured me that the campaign had done a great deal in helping them and they are still working hard to be able to continue their practice and convention appearances. In fact, I had the chance to attend two of their panels, as is my tradition at every convention I attend that invite Dan and Jillian as guests. On Friday, I was able to feast my eyes upon their amazing sword collection again as Dan shared his knowledge with attendees. On Sunday, I attended their fantastic sword demonstration; even after seeing it many times, I still can’t help but laugh!

DSCN1186Saturday ended up being a busy day thanks to some great photo shoots and a few events! I spent a few hours running back and forth between various locations trying to take photos of all the great cosplayers. I was a bit bummed out at times as many of my favorite video games and anime had photo shoots scheduled at the same time as other photo shoots or panels I wanted to attend. I also had the pleasure of attending the Masquerade once again! The cosplayers were exceptional this year, and it’s one of the events at Anime Central that I look forward to the most! The dedication put into their cosplay is practically humbling.

After relaxing in my hotel room for a while, I made my way to the famous Soap Bubble rave to get my groove on. In reality, I don’t have much of a groove, but the DJs this year were determined to shake the place down anyway! It had been a while since I last attended the Soap Bubble, so the experience was as refreshing as it was exhausting! I noticed a few people being a bit rowdy on the way back to my room, but the hotel staff and ACen staff were all working hard to make sure nothing serious happened. It’s always good to remember just how fantastic the Hyatt is for hosting ACen all these years.

DSCN1407Friday and Sunday ultimately ended up being more laid back than usual; a lot of relaxing, sightseeing, and stopping for photos occurred rather than attending panels. In the end, I still couldn’t have asked for a better convention. Though things turned out a bit differently than previous years, I still had a great time introducing a great convention to someone new. Next year, I plan on whipping myself into better shape and experiencing even more of what Anime Central has to offer! Next to come is a look back at Chicago’s great mix of comics, television, movies, and video games!

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