FanimeCon, the anime con put on "By Fans For Fans", returned to the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California during Memorial Day weekend from May 24th through the 27th for a four day extravaganza of anime, gaming, panels, concerts, and more.
As a seasoned veteran of comic, sci-fi, and anime conventions dating back to the mid-Eighties, I’ve got to admit that I’ve seen quite a lot and at times can be a bit numb to the whole experience. When I arrived to FanimeCon, which was my first time at Northern California’s premier anime themed con, for their 2013 installment of anime-centric activities, I felt a certain energy in the air that I haven’t sensed in a long time.
This year’s FanimeCon was segmented due to renovations happening at the San Jose Convention Center, meaning that the con was spread throughout the downtown area. The main exhibit halls at the convention center contained panel and video rooms, the dealer’s hall, and even a live entertainment stage complete with dancing “maids”. Other activities that FanimeCon hosted were found in adjacent hotels and buildings surrounding the convention center. The artists alley was a block down the street, autograph rooms were found across the street in a hotel, and even a con-within-a-con featuring Steam Punk goodness was a short tram ride away. It was energy stemming from this segmentation that I was sensing. With anime fans spilling out on to the streets, some posing for pictures in cosplay, others rushing off to their next panel or autograph session, I really got a sense of the anime community coming together to celebrate what we love.
The list of guests was as long as it was impressive. Just a few of the talents that attended were director Takahiro Omori and producer Yumi Sato of anime favorites Durarara!!, Natsume’s Book of Friends, and BACCANO! Also on hand was toy designer Tsuyoshi Nonaka who worked at Bandai on projects including Super Sentai Series (known as the Power Rangers in the United States), Kamen Riders, Mazinger Z (Tranzor Z), Ben 10, and more. A veteran of FanimeCon, Hiroyuki Yamaga, screenwriter for Gundam 0080 and executive producer on FLCL and the Neon Genesis Evangelion Death & Rebirth movie among other credits made it out for this 16th year at the con. First timers at the con included the j-rock bands ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D and 7!! (pronounced 7 oops).
With so many planned activities, it was a challenge nailing down just which ones to do. I decided to peruse the dealer’s room, sit in on a few panels and even catch a few episodes in the video rooms. Of course, a con wouldn’t be a con without cosplayers. It was really great seeing all the cosplayers, good and bad (let’s admit, there are bad ones – but they’re still awesome nonetheless). A large number of the costumes at FanimeCon were really well made with plenty of intricate details.
A highlight for me was catching the concerts of ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D and 7!! held across the street at the San Jose Civic Auditorium. For both the bands, it was their first time playing in America and they both rocked the stage. Stay tuned for a more detailed report and exclusive interview about 7!!’s first gig in the States.
Although FanimeCon is essentially a fan project whose staff includes many volunteers, it is far from being unprofessional. An estimated 25,000 enthusiasts were in attendance over the four days of the convention. That’s 4,000 more people that their last event – so the organizers must be doing something right. There were operational snags here and there, but overall the convention seemed to operate pretty smoothly. Video rooms ran 24 hours during all the days of the con so there was always something to do. So many things were going on that the staff even had to remind attendees to get some sleep between days. FanimeCon was a delight to attend and I look forward to going to the next one. If you’re in the Bay Area next Memorial Day weekend, you might want to do the same.
For more information about FanimeCon, visit: http://www.fanime.com/