For those who have been following me, and the adventures I have been having these past few years know this one thing about me: I LOVE going to conventions. But there are two conventions that hold a deep place in my heart. These two are Animation on Display in San Francisco, and the other is FanimeCon in San Jose. And I am happy to report, that Fanime once again did not disappoint me at all.
FanimeCon for those who don’t know, is the biggest Anime convention in Northern California. With over 20,000++ people coming in over the Memorial Day weekend, the convention literally takes over Downtown San Jose. Add the fact that there are three other conventions going on in the Bay Area on top (Kubla-Con, Fur-Con and Bay-Con) it has evolved to become a tradition that Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer convention season in Northern California.
And for us at The Geeky Manifestos, this is the weekend that kicks off our summer tour as well as my summer as well. This weekend was an adventure that took me and the crew not only all over the convention, but all over down San Jose as well.
So let’s start at the beginning, as all things do.
Started a little hectic. But I highly recommend those who travel pretty light and want to save some money on the hotel parking costs, consider taking Amtrak or CalTrans. With VTA and taxi’s being reasonably affordable, it’s easier to move around San Jose.
Friday was an even more awesome event, because I had Lord Milo and Squire Stefan (Lord Milo’s twin brother) join me to hang out! What was even better was that it was their first conventions EVER. So to have the guys hang out and have fun along with me is awesome. Also, one of their friends, was an artist and put the two of them to work, while I hosted panels.
I still think the best moment from Friday was watching Lord Milo, his brother Squire Stefan playing video games and enjoying themselves as if the game had just come out for the first time ever. It goes to make us think that although lives may grow older and change, certain things, like the feelings that come with playing a game you played when you were younger.
We hosted W0W For The Non-WoWed, it had a small turnout in comparison of the last few panels I’ve hosted. But I had a lot of fun, and the people who came had a lot of great questions. So all in all, I consider the panel a great success.
After panel hosting, I began working as a Staffer for the panels department. For the past two years, I have worked as a staffer to have fun and have shared many a good memories and adventures with peeps. And this was no exception, with everything from conversations about Pokemon who get free healthcare, to educating each other about meme’s. Overall working with my fellow staffers has solidified how much of a family they eventually have become to me. Good bad and ugly, I would do what I could to help them.
Now after serving a 7pm to 2am shift at work, getting up for a 9am shift is really hard on top. But what really makes getting up early in the morning harder, is when you have two guys sleeping on the floor in front of the table in which all the food was on. Now I was able to manage, but it was an interesting challenge when not trying to wake up the guys even though they are indeed heavy sleepers.
One of the biggest issues this year was a lack a printed schedule, and while many rumors abounded as to what happened, all I know is that it totally changed the dynamic. Many complaints and issues came from the lack of schedules. Hopefully next year they will fix that, but for sure, it’s not our fault.
Saturday was a day of lines, Gaia and Hetalia. I also go to learn about Amtguard which is a Live Action Role Play. (That’s for another entry!) And I also got to learn about cooking done Hetalia style. Yes it did involve pasta, but they had a lot of other good food that I didn’t ever think would be Hetalia related.
There was also this wonderful event called “AnimeCon of The Dead” which I only attended the last part of it due to the fact I took too long of a nap, but it was incredibly awesome to get the congoers freaking out over zombie cosplayers. The only downside was that they blocked our “Fast-Track” lanes in the convention center, so they kept being taken out of character to get out of the walk way, which kinda sucked. But the event was super awesome, and I am hoping that they take this idea to other conventions as well. (It would be a insane hit at Sac-Anime.)
One thing I also noticed during Fanime is that they changed the location of the “recharge spot.” This spot as I like to call it, is the place where peeps can recharge their laptops, cell phones and other electronics to survive the convention. In the past there was a center place in the concourse, where there were tons of tables and chairs with electrical outlets along with some free Wifi. But this year, they had moved it to Gaming Hall. While I understand the reasons why the moved it, I think it would be better if they moved the Wifi also into the gaming hall, since it’s open for the length of the convention, peeps can recharge and blog when needed. Or if they need somewhere quieter they can go back to their hotels.
I myself had to utilize this on Saturday, only to realize that it’s better for me to go back to my hotel room and work it out. But while I was charging, I noticed quite a lot of people around me using the recharge plugs. Something for me to take to the gamers next year, that it would be good for them to make that an official recharge station and charge some money for a little. But then again, that might be a bad idea. Unless it’s for charity, and then I could roll with that.
But then again, you must admit, sitting on the floor in the middle of the gaming room does have it’s advantages. The best of course is that “geek stench” as it is so called, doesn’t affect you as much on the ground floor. Also, you begin to realize how big of a convention Fanime is. Especially when the gaming hall is super full in at 2am on a Saturday. Tell me your local game shop is open 24 hours a day and they let you play to your heart’s content and allow you to charge your stuff on top. Bet you they would laugh at you.
In the past, Sunday was the day of rest and dancing, as it was the day of the Black and White Ball. But this year, was not the case. In a stroke of genius (and a way to get more peeps to come on Sunday) FanimeCon moved their cosplay day to Sunday! As such, the whole convention was all dolled up with lots of places to go. With everything from protesters, meet ups all over the convention and cosplayers on a mission to show off their greatest works to date, Sunday was no longer a “lazy” day at Fanime, it was a day that was in full speed. I started this day, with a short trip over to the Fairmont side of the convention center. While this is one of the furthest and priciest spot in the convention center area, this place makes up for it by having all the food and shopping spots within a short distance. I stop to pick up some cake for a friend, whose birthday always falls on Fanime so he comes down to hang out and have a mini-celebration.
One of the biggest events every year is what I jokingly call, “The March of The Lolitas”. Where I meet a whole bunch of Gothic Lolitas, getting together and not only having fun, but it’s also when they host a yearly fashion show. It’s always fascinating to see Lolitas, but it’s even more hillarious to watch all the men in our staff get very weird and not want to do their jobs. I think it has something to do with the outfits that freak them out. I don’t know, it’s just really hilarious.
But Sunday didn’t just end in a normal way. Although I was getting ready for a night of Magic The Gathering because they were having a late night tournament, but I got a surprise from my friend.. What was this surprise you ask?
Yah. You are looking at the picture on your left correctly. It’s a limo, in front of the convention center. And yes, my friend just totally had the best birthday adventure ever. As it turns out, my friend, just recently got a new job as a driver for a Limousine company. And to top it off, he got an awesome discount cause he went through his company. So what did we do? Well ride in it of course! And we did! We almost went to Dave and Buster’s, but we were actually over-time so we drove around town.
And just when I thought Sunday was over after a ride in this limo. There was quite a lot more to go. Somehow, through a series of events, we headed to a small food spot in San Jose which is actually quite famous. It’s called La Victore, and in a small house flipped to be a restaurant, this shop not only is famous for it’s delicious food, it is even more delicious for it’s orange sauce, which is a spicy mix of delicious. Add that and a few people just flat out passing out in front of me, you have an interesting restaurant.
Afterwards, we ended up heading to a friend’s car, which was parked like 6 blocks away from the convention center. Don’t ask me why or how we ended up so far away, but we did. The only downside, is that we learned, that although downtown San Jose is cool, it’s still not totally safe. Once you get past a certain point, San Jose is not the safest place to chill. Well, we eventually made it back to the convention center and we parted ways. By the time this was over, the Magic tournament was over, and so my only refuge was in the Panelist Lounge, which is open until 2am. And so I spent the evening chilling and making Monday morning’s signs. After that, I returned to my hotel to regather everything and get it all packed up.
Although I don’t like working so early on Monday morning, because I took a late shift on Friday, I was not able to get out of a Monday shift, so I made sure to pack everything, get checked out and head down to my shift right away. So I serve it, having fun and taking photos all along the way. But already, post-con depression was setting in. One of the downsides to conventions coming to an end is that you have to return to your normal life. But it was the last thing on me and my fellow staffing friends’ minds.
But after the rooms closed, and I had all the pizza that I could devour. It was finally time to head home. One of the things that really sucks about the end of the convention is going home on the train, and pulling away from your friends, and knowing you may not see them until next year or who knows when you might? Till then you have to rely on Facebook, and blogging your adventures. If there is anything I take away from this year’s adventure, is that at the end of the day, it’s all about community. Not just how much Anime you watch or who you pwned at the gaming tournament. It’s all about the relationships you build and take with you back to your normal life. It’s the inside jokes that you remember from year to the next, and the traditions that you start and continue until you meet again next.
So as I wrap this convention up, I would like to let our fans know, that conventions are more than just shopping, gaming, and watching Anime all day. It’s about sharing your experiences, not with just with the peeps you come with, but with the people you meet. Although sometimes, there are crazy or bad moments, most convention-goers will tell you that some of the best and most interesting moments come from your community get-togethers.
I end this year’s wrap-up with a video from Sunday night. As I was walking back from the gaming hall, I saw this group of people playing guitars and African drums. These people didn’t know each other until that evening, when they all were sitting in the same place strumming and just playing around. To me, this is the epitome of community, people just coming together in peace and just enjoying life to the fullest.
So that’s a wrap on FanimeCon on 2011. Next year, we intend to be a part of the entire convention from beginning to end. Our photo stream is available below, and is also available by checking out our Facebook and Twitter accounts as well! We look forward to seeing you at the next convention!
The Official Fanime 2011 Photostream!