Houston, Texas, USA. April 10th – 12th 2009.
As far as conventions go, Anime Matsuri has one of the worst reputations around. To those of you who haven’t heard of it, here is a brief history: in its first year, it simply tried to be too big too fast. Voice actors canceled, panels were canceled, events just did not happen. The lines seemed to last forever, and some people could not get in because day passes cost far too much. Staff members were less than helpful and volunteers were downright rude.
2008 proved to be much better. They were more organized than the year before, and from what I hear through word-of-mouth they improved a lot overall from their first year. Skipping to 2009, it’s Anime Matsuri’s third year, and I have to say they are REALLY getting good at what they do.
There is something for everyone at this convention, and I mean that. With gaming tournaments, very informative panels, fighting samurai, fashion shows and j-rock concerts, a slew of amazing guests, a large dealers room and artist alley with people making anything you can think of, even a car show for you auto maniacs, it is like putting a child into a candy store to run around. As I said, literally, something for everyone.
This year, from what I could see (it was a tad bit overwhelming), most everything went off without a hitch. Panels ran as they should, guests were there as promised. But, as with every con, there were hiccups.
With everything there was to do, the convention seemed to stray away from what it was truly about: anime. Sure, you saw your cosplayers and your anime art, representing what we all gathered there for, but in other places? It wasn’t about anime as much as it was about the anime culture. For example, when you go into the dealers room, you expect to see manga and DVDs everywhere. However, all I saw was gothic lolita merchandise. We were lucky to have even one manga vendor and one dvd vendor. There was very little variety. You were better off shopping in artist alley.
Most, but not all of the guests showed up and not all panels went through as planned. Jason David Frank, who people were anticipating perhaps just as much as the musical guest, Miyavi, decided not to turn up, thus canceling the three panels where he was scheduled to perform. Possibly the biggest complaint about the convention was the four hour wait before the gaming tournament, and the Miyavi concert that immediately followed it. People both inside and circling around the hotel had to wait for four hours to file into the events’ room, where they had to wait for another hour while the gaming tournament went on. I can say that at least 80% of the people were there for the Miyavi concert, and not forStreet Fighter. Aside from that, the audio of the concert was absolutely horrid. The blare and grumble from the speakers was just too loud to hear Miyavi talk, let alone sing. But the show went on, and Miyavi delivered one hell of a performance to say the least!
With a few years of practice, this convention has gone from something not so wonderful to something very enjoyable and I really hope to see it progress more over the years. They still have a LOT of room to grow and are still learning to work out hiccups, but every convention has those so it just depends on how they treat them. However, I promise you, with so many things to do it causes sensory overload, you are sure to have a good time at this convention!