|San Jose, California, USA. May 27-31, 2004.|
|Reporter(s): Djudge, Phate, I, Lady Sage|
[Communications hub contacted…]
[Searching for compatible channel…]
Hmm, guess the signal here is clear enough. Anyway, Djudge, taking a moment from my hiatus here to give all you readers here at AS a small peek of what happened, through my perspective, at FanimeCon 2004, one of the largest conventions right here on the West Coast and in the U.S. for that matter. This year’s event was spread out over four days and spanned a good part of the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, the adjacent San Jose Hilton, and the San Jose Civic Auditorium just across the street. So without further adieu, let the con report commence![Open log Agent Djudge…]THURSDAY, 5.27.04
DAY 0[Playlist highlight — Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Kunkei Five M]Well, while the convention didn’t start until the next day some prep for the weekend festivities started on the 27th. For starters, I spent most of the later half of my day in line for the pre-registration lines so I could avoid the monster lines for badge pick-up on later days. Happened to arrive at around four o’clock when the line was only around fifty people in length. Over the next couple of hours though, I’d see the queue plump up to escape the convention center’s doors and spill out onto the sidewalks outside the complex. Several hundred people were behind me by my estimation; some already decked out in some makeshift cosplay and/or Fanime memorabilia of conventions past. The wait was crazy stuff indeed, especially since I had to deal with a mysterious wandering “fanboy funk.” After collecting my badge, I ended up collecting a few of my friends who also managed to pre-register in time and we spent a couple of minutes wandering around the complex. We checked out the arcade (which was still setting up) and the swap meet room where a few vendors were already selling some of their used goods. All in all, nothing caught my eye – well, that’s a lie, I had an small urge to nab some Fullmetal Alchemist swag – so we just left at around nine to catch some winks. FRIDAY, 5.28.04
DAY 1[Playlist highlight — The Pillows, Fool on the Planet]
So yeah, first day of Fanime just happens to start off while I’m still at school, so let’s all just fast forward through my day until we get to about two o’clock. Got off the light rail at the convention center and proceeded through the glass doors and into the convention center to get my first looks at the revamped scene that the Fanime crew put together. To be honest, wasn’t too impressed with the sheer amount of empty space that the guys didn’t use up. There was just way too much bare carpet and it really detracted from the atmosphere in my opinion, should’ve fenced off some of the places (which will become more important for this day’s log in a bit). As I cracked open my makeshift schedule, I realized that there was pretty much nothing for me to catch today other than the dealer’s room. So for about the next hour or so, I ended up wandering the hallways of anime/Japanese merchandise. DVDs, plushies, posters, wall scrolls, cels, OSTs, models, toys, trinkets of all sorts were up for grabs and I pretty much laughed at everyone who was blowing all their money away on con-inflated price tags. So, with nothing in sight, I proceeded out of the dealer’s room with a couple of my friends that I happened to bump into while meandering around in the hall. Enter my single biggest highlight of the con: the moment I almost got kicked out of the convention; so, with nothing to do (or to distract us otherwise) we wandered down an empty corridor and proceeded to pass the time by sliding down some staircase railings. In a matter of ten minutes, we had about six members of the security detail on site swoop down on us with seated motor scooters and chew us out about our activity (which was pretty stupid looking back on it). Thankfully, our group had a connection in the senior staff that bailed us out with some fine wordplay. After that, we were let go, and well nothing could possibly follow up that event. Anyway, end day one, overall con experience so far: 6.0 [Close log Agent Djudge…]
[WARNING ‘Unauthorized transmission detected…]
[HACK in progress!]It’ll get awfully tiring if I need to keep hacking in to give my report… Guess I’ll fix that. Well, I reached San Jose at about 1:30, got into my hotel, and was ready to experience my first day ever at a con. I made sure to bring my wallet, though I didn’t think I was going to buy anything the first day. I must say, as I walked up to the San Jose Convention center, I felt mildly overwhelmed by its size (Hey, it was my first con). Anyway, I walked in and got my shiny pre-registration badge smoothly enough, and proceeded to be slightly disappointed with what they had at first; you’d expect there to be more stuff around for a con with roughly 7,000 attendees. But hey, I figured nothing would really be happening the first day, either. This was confirmed when I double-checked my schedule; there was nothing to do! The only things that caught my interest were the showings of two fan parodies, and the first one wasn’t going to show until 4:30. So to pass the time I decided to go hang out in the Dealer’s Room and see if there was anything interesting there.When I got there I noticed that the prices weren’t anything to write home about, but I had hopes they would go down by the end of the con. As I walked around, I nevertheless was in awe of all the anime-related merchandise around, but Djudge already went into enough detail about that, so I won’t bother. Anyway, soon enough it was time for the first fan parody: Tomoyo Does Cardcaptors. Though I have never seen Card Captor Sakura before, I figured why not; it was a parody, and I like those. I’ll say that I didn’t find it entirely funny, but it had some good moments. After that I just walked around the con waiting for the 8:00 P.M. parody to show: Evangelion ReDeath ReDux, which ended up being one of the funniest things I have ever seen; parody or not. After that I went back to the hotel for some nice sleep. Now it’s time for Agent I to begin her tale of Fanime through her eyes…
[Unidentified broadcast ended…]
Sadly, neither Lady Sage nor I were able to truly experience the first day of Fanime. After a long ride, Lady Sage and I finally arrived in San Jose. There were still cosplayers walking around everywhere, some loaded with bags of merchandise. As my mother, who was gracious enough to drive us, checked in, Lady Sage and I checked out the grounds. Nothing really big was open at 11:30 p.m., so we just looked at the arcade (consisting of about 13 or so games including Dance Dance Revolution, Beat Mania, racing and fighting games, and a few other assorted machines) and spotted out where the registration line and the dealer’s room were located so we knew where to go the next day.
[Close log Agent I…]
[Playlist highlight — Tamaki Nami, Greeting]
After grabbing some shuteye back home, today was the day that I would supposedly meet up with Agents Phate, LadySage, and I to exchange some greetings and what-not as well as to go over our strategy for the anime reviews panel that was set to happen the next day. Well, before any of that happened, I arrived at around nine o’clock and played on a friend’s laptop to pass the time away until the AMV contest was set to start. When the clock struck ten, we went across the street (still avoiding SJCC staffers here) and proceeded to enter the Civic Auditorium where the contest was being held. Wow, talk about a yawn-fest! Let’s just say that, for the most part, the entries to this year’s event were a bit lacking when compared to 2003’s repertoire. The only ones worth checking out should be on AMV++ so head on over to www.animemusicvideos.org and search for videos that were entered into the FanimeCon 2004 competition. So with that hell over and done with, there was still quite some time to burn before the second big event of the day, Der Cosplay (the convention’s cosplay masquerade) was set to take the stage. So once, again the dealer’s room was hit up and, like before, there was absolutely nothing to buy for the prices that I saw swimming out there. After about half an hour of wandering aimlessly between Naruto: Narutimate Hero for the PS2 and several tempting Bleach tankoubon, I checked out the dreaded Funimation booth to check out what they had on tap. Just then, my turn apparently turned for the best, when I realized that the survey had participated in the day before (why did I give them names of titles to massacre?) was apparently some sort of prize drawing as well. So, instead of nabbing a DVD of some crap title that they had on hand, say Blue Gender, or something good that I had already seen before, Fruits Basket, I decided to pre-request a volume of Fullmetal Alchemist as my free prize. Meh, it may not arrive till next year, but I’ll still be waiting and hoping that Funimation honors their side of this whole deal.
After finally managing to emerge from the oxygen-starved showroom, I got a call from CommanderDrake, who I only managed to talk to once before, back on Thursday. So we chatted it up for a couple of minutes while I proceeded to wait outside the assigned AS staffer meeting point: the “How to Pick up Women” panel that was going on in LP4. Well, one thing led to another and suffice it to say, miscommunication killed our linking up and before I knew it, it was due time that I began to line up for the cosplay event. So after the assigned time had come and gone, I got up and exited the convention center, and proceeded to jaywalk to the other side of the street where I encountered one of the longest lines that I had ever seen for one event. The thing whipped around a city block and was set to spill onto another street if the con ops didn’t corral folk. After a few minutes of standing and shuffling, my friends and I were finally seated inside of the auditorium. We got crap seating, way off to the side of the room where an overhang managed to slightly impair my line of vision of one of the large video screens. After about one or two acts, I received another phone call, this time from LadySage and I‘s party. A few garbled moments of correspondence, we finally set up a time to meet up the following day seeing as how I was presently tied up with Der Cosplay. Sunday at noon would be the next target time and that was the end of that. The rest of the show was a bit too bland for me I must say. Just like with the AMV contest, this year’s entries for the cosplay bit was again lacking. Especially when compared to last year’s performances, which included a stripping Dilandau from The Vision of Escaflowne, a creepy Sailor Moonx Sailor Mercury skit, and an awkward moment involving an Armitage III cosplayer falling out of her corset. The saving graces you say? Well, this year there was a strangely amusing Tentacle Gundam that had a fixation on groping men and women alike and a pink gloomy bear that had a tendency to beat up handicapped school children; WTF indeed. Intermission highlights included a screening of the AMV contest winners, a disrespectful Fanime crowd walking out on what was a splendid performance by an amateur(?) singer who gave a wonderful rendition of Bonnie Pink’s “It’s Gonna Rain!” from Rurouni Kenshin, and members of the U.S. Martial Arts Team that busted out some trippy flips and assorted ass-kicking combos set to various tunes off the Naruto OST. Lame? Just a bit. Cool? Hell, I’d bet my badge that the crowd wants them back next year.
By the time I got the hell out of there, it was around eleven o’clock and frankly, I didn’t want to go home just yet so I followed my friends back across the street and into the Hilton to catch a screening of the latest Zatoichi film. Damn, that guy still kicks ass even after these many years. I’ll definitely have to check out that feature in its entirety one of these days. Fanime day two checkout time: midnight.Overall con experience so far: 7.0
[Close log Agent Djudge…]
After getting up from a good night’s rest, I quickly changed and made it back to Fanime by about 9:00 A.M. I just barely managed to make it to a showing of Madlax episodes 1-2 (I was only slightly disappointed to see that it had nothing to do with old Mel Gibson movies or constipation medications). After that, it was nearly 10:00, and I had a choice of either hanging around more in the convention or going to the civic auditorium to see the AMV finals. I had never been too exposed to AMVs before, and since I had been told that they were going to show the winners at Der Cosplay, I didn’t bother with that. So I just went to the Dealer’s Room again to waste time until, which was when Area 88 TV episodes 3-4 would be showing. When that showing was over, it was near noon, and time to see another anime parody: Nescaflowne. It was done by the same people who did Eva ReDeath, so I went in with high hopes. Though the humor missed a few times, I was nonetheless won over once again by Studio Sokodei’s work.
[Close log Agent Phate…]
Next day I woke up at 5 for no reason whatsoever. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so at 5:45 I went out to tour the convention. I was able to play a couple of games of DDR and sucked but had fun anyway. Also peeked into a few of the video rooms but didn’t stay anywhere for very long. I went back to the hotel room at about 7:30 after much wandering and dragged Lady Sage out of bed for a day of fun-filled convention grandeur. She was real happy about that, I can assure you. Let’s see… we went to the AMV competition, which had some of the best comedy AMVs I’ve seen for a long time. They also had this absolutely charming little Kare Kano video which I want to find. We got to go to the dealer’s room, which I thought was really nice; it wasn’t extremely big like the ones at AX, but it was large enough for you to find just about anything you want, such as imported CDs, Japanese snack foods, DVDs and VHSs, manga (both English and Japanese), art books, swords, kimonos, even some hentai and yaoi for those interested. A good way to describe it is “comfortable”; it’s hard to be lost for long in there because of its size, but you still get the things you want. I picked up the first volume of Osamu Tezuka’s Adolf manga for 40% off (score!), a lot of Japanese candy, and the first DVD and decorative box for Texhnolyze.
[Close log Agent I…]
[Playlist highlight — Bad Religion, Stranger Than Fiction]
Sunday morning started off with me having the fattest headache of them all, so I brewed up some Joe and left my house at about eleven or so to catch the light rail at the bottom of the hour. Ended up arriving at the convention center at about 11:50. Once again, my networking skills failed and the party didn’t meet on schedule. At about 12:15 or so, a couple of other friends that I knew called up and so I proceeded to wade through hordes of otaku to find them on an outdoor balcony for some lunch. At about the bottom of the hour or so, my cell went crazy and this time it was LadySage and I‘s party on the phone. This time the plan had a solid foundation and wasn’t interrupted or distorted by rowdy cosplayers so a set time was established outside the LP2 room which was currently hosting the “Great Teacher Largo” (of MegaTokyo fame) panel. After waiting about an hour or two, and listening lectures on the wonders of 1337 and classic gaming, the panel finally got out and in the midst of a dispersing crowd of salivating fanboys I heard two girls calling out “Anime Secrets!” and “Djudge!”
<_<; (LadySage would definitely agree with me there, that segment was just “wrong”)
Anyway, after the AMV panel sucked up ten minutes of our timeslot, all four of us AS staffers on hand were getting pretty livid in that no Fanime staff was on hand to supervise the panelists and pull the plug on their operations. Enter THEM Anime: they just burst on the scene, and I really have to thank Jason Bustard (our contact with THEM) for taking the initiative and swooping down on the panel table at the earliest possible moment. Hmm, now that I think about it, THEM arrived out of nowhere that it was pretty eerie how they just rushed the room, especially Jason, who was still carrying around a goban from the Go room. Once we all got seated at the head of the room, we all found our seats and got ourselves comfortable. Sensing that I was the de facto leader of the AS party, I took it upon myself to snag a chair closest to the center as possible. (Phate, interestingly enough, who was still wowed by the earlier Nami panel, decided to snag the chair that the pop idol sat in for himself and conveniently found himself smack dab in the center of the panelists.) Just as we were set to go however, disaster struck, when we all discovered that the tech guy who was supposed to be assigned to us apparently packed up and left! A few muttered curses later, THEM once again came to the rescue by having one of their pals in the audience jury-rig a solution to our video problem, but as I’ll explain later, that really didn’t matter much in the long run. So with nearly twenty people in attendance (>10% of our room’s capacity), among them esteemed author Gilles Poitras, we proceeded to introduce ourselves and opened up the floor to Q&A with Jason and myself assuming MC status of sorts. To be truthful, the discussions and the level of analysis that THEM brought to the panel really brought forward the fact that despite the fact we don’t always agree with their methods and conclusions, they’ve definitely been at this longer than we have. But, not to be outdone, AS drove home the connection that could be made with the younger, less experienced fans in the audience by showing that people their age could enjoy anime at this level. This was especially brought on by how all four of us tackled the on-the-spot analysis of shows that were belted out by members of the audience. Just as personal highlight, the time I got to address Mr. Poitras’inquiry on what we thought about Maison Ikkoku, as well as other fans’requests on shows likeSerial Experiments Lain, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Grave of the Fireflies was pretty damn fun. Taking my hobby to this level is an experience that every serious otaku should do once in their life; it’s definitely a unique experience. I mean, come on, where else can you seriously bash Kimi ga Nozomu Eien in such a serious forum? In a night filled with so much success, I guess it was inevitable that the wheels would come off somewhere, and it did when we tried to show Voices of a Distant Star. The AMV panel cut off those precious few minutes that we needed to at least show key parts of the piece and I was frankly a bit pissed off when Fanime was trying to sweep us out of the room when we were the last panel scheduled there. Thanks to Jason yet again for holding off the scathing Fanime staff and buying us some time to hand out those DVDs that I bought for the panel. In the end, it was just one massive jan-ken-pon between the audience and me. When the dust settled, three happy otaku were able to walk off with a copy of Voices of a Distant Star.
[Close log Agent Djudge…]
As I planned, I got up on Sunday morning at around 8:00 and got to the con about an hour later. I managed to catch a showing of Kyou Kara Maou episodes 1-4, which pleasantly used up about a hundred minutes of my time. I walked around for about twenty minutes, and then took some time to stroll around the Dealers’Room. I didn’t bother to buy anything with the money I had left (I had purchased the first Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful DVD along with the second Azumanga Daioh DVD on Saturday), so I just looked around at the various things being sold. While walking around, what to my eyes should appear? Why, none other than a Tales of Phantasia hardcover artbook. I was tempted to get it, but decided not to after much deliberation. I managed to get the last few minutes of the “Anime for Parents” panel, run by author Gilles Poitras. When it was over, I looked at my watch to see that it was five minutes till the planned meeting time with Djudge. So I hurriedly got out of there and went on over to what I assumed was the meeting place (a “lobby” or something). After waiting there for a bit, then walking around and basically back and forth between places could have been the “lobby” my legs were growing tired and I rested a bit in the area outside the Exhibit Hall. Not too long after that I caught sight of Lady Sage and I walking rather quickly into the Exhibit Hall. Not knowing anything else to do, I quickly caught up to them and asked about Djudge, with them replying that they were going to meet him at the “Great Teacher Largo” panel. Though I was barely familiar with Fred Gallagher’s MegaTokyo,Lady Sage filled me in on the needed info, so I could still enjoy the panel; though I don’t think I enjoyed it nearly as the other attendees there. When it was all over, the Anime Secrets team was finally able to meet up.
When the panel was over, we got one last group shot with THEM before parting, I went on over to MusicFest with Djudge. After about ten minutes of camino playing, I decided to leave; I was a little too tired to handle the incredibly loud music and fangirls (Well, I was seated just yards away from the stage). As I left, I kept note of how TheCheeseGod seemed to be calmly sleeping through it all.
[Close log Agent Phate…]
[Close log Agent I…]
[Playlist highlight — L’Arc~en~Ciel, Clicked 13 Best Singles]
So with the vast majority of the festivities for Fanime done with, the last day of the convention was mainly spent wandering around looking for last minute deals in the closing moments of the weekend. I arrived fairly late at the convention center, at around two in the afternoon or so, in order to catch the vendors in their last hour of operation. Some had already packed up and left, but most of the major merchandise booths were still in business. After some deliberation I snagged the second season ofRurouni Kenshin for seventy-five bucks, went on to nab a spiffy Serial Experiments Lain wall scroll for ten more, and ended my little spree by collecting some back issues of Newtype. With the dealer’s room finally shut down for the year, I collected my new swag and wandered around a bit more before coming to pass on the closing ceremonies. All in all, while the convention didn’t rock my face off as much as it did last year, I’d say that the transition to the newer, larger venue was for the most part pretty smooth. I left the premises with loot in haul at around four. Final overall con experience? 8.0
[Close log Agent Djudge…]
[Close log Agent Phate…]
“So there you have it, that’s what Fanime was like through my eyes. Without the wow factor that was GAINAX, the convention seemed to be on a notch lower than it was last year when it came to anticipation. Still, I have to admit, that the con is heading in the right direction and that I’ll be eagerly waiting for what their staffers have in plan for next year’s event (which I should add, has been scheduled to also be held over Memorial Day weekend).
With this, my duties to AS come to a close for now, but keep on reading! The guys here are set to make some changes this summer and the months ahead will mark a new chapter in Anime Secrets history.