It’s convention time of year again!
Fanime 2017 was perhaps the smoothest convention we had encountered to date, from seamless registration processes to the wide variety of things to do in the San Jose Convention Center area. Although there were slight line issues for certain events, that would have more to do with the large quantity of attendees fitting in a small area. We do have to emphasize though that Fanime is generally as good as an attendee’s attitude will make it out to be. Having an idea of what to look for will definitely help, and if not, the environment of the convention center gives sufficient breathing room and open space to browse at your pace.
We were unable to acquire an interview with Kanae Ito, though certainly had a good time covering her panel. Tidbits from her panel included being unfamiliar with the virtual YouTuber Kizuna Ai, wishing she herself were taller, seeing Amu from from Shugo Chara resembling her the most, and which voice actors she likes hanging out with. She voices a large number of different characters across many anime and games which is what she loves most about being a voice actor.
In regards to fan panels, we highly recommend attending any that has a topic description that piques your interest. The strongest aspect is perhaps the more relaxed environment that isn’t strictly industry.
As usual, we put a high emphasis on seeing the evolution on the Artist Alley. Fanime continues to use a jury system, which while we do not know the criterion, does make it a selection progress that doesn’t give a first come first serve benefit. Different years we see different faces, and recently has the Grand Ballroom been consistently the location for the artists to show their wares. General consensus among the people we checked with for feedback stated that the quality is quite high. We’ve had the luxury to interview a select few artists ranging from up and coming to seasoned artists from other countries who flew in just for Fanime for the first time. If you are one that likes art, this is absolutely the place to be. It can be easy to spend hours just browsing at your leisure.
Aside from artist alley, two other major halls include the dealer’s room and the game room. The dealer’s room uses the same opening times as the artist alley and is very merchandise focused. The game room is a bit more unique for Fanime, as the space has consistently been used as a very good hangout place featuring board games, arcade games, and PC games alike. Dedication sections are used for tournaments, and there’s plenty of seating to accommodate for everyone. Normally after the halls close, this ends up being a prime place to go to, since only concerts and night panels remain.
Scheduling for Fanime is no easy feat, as it goes for the entire memorial weekend. That means up to four days where hotel availability is lower and prices higher. Day 0, which is mostly used for pre-registration as well as the swap meet comes at a time before the convention even begins. Certain food places will have significantly longer lines during the course of the convention. Regardless, the time is spent on your own adventuring as the flow is good whether you go in and out of the con, attend panels and concerts, or hang out at hotels. There’s plenty to do!
Anyone from the Northern California region is definitely recommended to attend Fanime as it has an excellent mix of size and fun things to do. Food choices are within a few blocks of walking distance. There are sufficient numbers of parking structures to accommodate the number of attendees in full, and the location is close enough to multiple highways to give people the room to move around the area. For those that come by car, we’ve encountered several that drive here from places as far as Washington state or Arizona.
With that said, do exercise caution and go with an open mind. Fanime is good to plan in advance, since getting information beforehand needs to be sought for. It can be easy to get overwhelmed from the potential line sizes, lack of communication, and strict guidelines. Do understand that despite flaws that exist, Fanime has largely done an excellent job providing attendees with a good convention experience. A strength we would say would definitely be the relaxing atmosphere in this convention. Rarely do you see a convention with responsive staff, satisfied attendees, artists, industry and guests all around. It’s quite the spot to go for Memorial weekend.
See you in Fanime 2018.