Fanime 2016 - Convention Review
by Bryan Mero
Fanime, held in San Jose, CA, is the largest anime convention in Northern California. Boy, does it show. I attended in 2014 and it was crowded but nothing like I was this year. The amount of people who attend is staggering. At one point I heard whisper of 25k attending. Is that a good thing, of course, it's great to have that many people so enthusiastic about something they love. The bad thing, at times there are so many people it was tough to just find a place to sit, but if you looked hard enough you would find it.
Yes, I took pictures and posted some on Facebook...but this is a review, if you want pics you can find them almost anywhere. I once again went undercover cosplay to see what it was like to be a cosplayer and be involved with some of the gatherings they have each year. Saturday, I went as Agent Coulson from SHEILD. There was a cosplay gathering that afternoon. I met quite a few friendly Marvel cosplayers and being the only Coulson in the group (large amounts of Spider-man, Capt. America and others) it was fun to have them call for any SHEILD members for pictures and have our entire group call me out "Coulson!!" Gee, thanks guys, at the very least I did a good enough cosplay so they knew who I was. And having a Nick Fury lend me his firearm for picture, made it all the better. That was so fun until Sunday...the Disney gathering.
Sunday I was cosplaying as Fixit Felix Jr. I reprised this cosplay after putting in the closet and lending it out to others. It felt good putting it back on. I showed up for the gathering, which was first for the day and low and behold, I found Ralph...now this is someone I haven't found at any other convention so far. Everytime I cosplay as Felix, I usually never have a match in Ralph and this was the first time. (see pic) We had a great photo session and then moved on. The reaction from people is always fun. Stopping for a picture is never a burden. My entire hope when putting on a cosplay is at the very least brings a smile to someone's face.
The gaming area was huge! There were tables everywhere for checking out and playing board games. Open areas for giant Janga and the tables filled with video game consoles. During some of the game play the crowd was four deep. I didn't spend a lot of time in the gaming area this time around, but if I did, I definitely wouldn't be bored.
This may be my only real complaint about Fanime. The panels are all in another hotel two blocks away. It doesn't sound that far away or inconvenient but it is when it's close to 90+ degrees outside. Once I made my way to the hotel the panels were fine but it felt disconnected. The real heart and hub was happening back at the convention center. I don't know if there is anyway to have more panels at the convention center itself...it would probably make for more attended panels for lessing known groups.
The PROS of the Con:
Having a seperate large room for Karaoke was brilliant! Except for a few technicial glitches, it always made for a good time. It was relatively full most of the time and people would sing along, help those who needed it and cheered those who didn't. One of the best events at the con.
A cosplay room just for cosplayers who need a break. No photography was allowed so the cosplayers could let there guard down and just talk to each other. It also provided a cosplay repair station. This was constantly in use and such a great benefit to all who needed it.
As a parent, I also went to the Parent's Lounge. Now, I have to say, it was not well attended, which to me was great. I had a place to go sit down, with no one around and even watch the Warriors play-off game on my tablet while enjoying my dinner. Please keep this for next year Fanime...please!
The CONS of the Con:
The area for the artist alley is still to small or too crowded. I love walking through and possibly purchasing a piece of original art but when you can barely breath as you go from row to row, this is an issue. There was a large section in the back of the room that was open so I'm not sure why the rows couldn't have been openned up a bit for better flow through the room. I'm not sure what the answer is. There are so many talented artists, it's just a shame that it was tough to view it all.
The panels, beside being in a different building, were also not very attractive in terms of content. I was expecting much bigger things to be presented but unfortunately were not. It never had something that I had to see as it was an investment in time and effort just to leave the convention center and walk to the nearby hotel.
My final and probably most annoying complaints - the Schedule. Ok guys, most of those who put on Faniame are also apart of AOD, Kraken Con and other conventions. They all have a large grid of times and events that you can look at all at one time. Fanime on the other hand, had a pocket guide with a font size so small that I could hardly read with a magnifying glass. Also, black font in a shaded box is even harder to read! Then there's the App. The schedule on the App didn't go in full chronological order, it went from venue to venue or room to room and listed what is going on. I would scroll and scroll trying to find just the current time and finally just give up trying to find a panel or other events. If there is one thing to do better or fix, fix the schedule Fanime...please!!
Even with a few complaints, this is still one of the best collections of people in the Bay Area. It had something for everyone. I even discovered new things like live action Ultraman and Future Diaries in the video rooms. The dealers hall was huge and had products from all over the globe. The cosplay only gets better and better with every con I attend. The craftsmanship just improves each time. Evryone was really friendly and nice, even in the midst of crowds and crowds of people. The masquarade was a blast! Even with technical difficulties, it was still worth it all. The live theater of anime/manga of Fanime was fully on display and it did not disapoint.