Greetings everyone! Neko’s Shiritori had been extremely busy in the month of April and May with many ordeals and we had some time to catch up on what’s happening recently. Amoirsp here for a report on Fanime 2014. We will split this into three parts: two writeups from our team members, and one transcription with Fanime guest Hiroyuki Kanbe.
We at Neko’s Shiritori had the honor of returning as Press. With how well last year went, we were expecting better since the San Jose Convention Center is finally complete with its major construction. Fanime in the last few years was hampered by construction, which made various areas unavailable.
Memorial Day weekend was quite the convention weekend as half of us went to Fanime, while the other half went to London MCM Expo. This year at Fanime we went with a different strategy and brought along Keoicorp, our designated photographer, to assist us with covering more areas of Fanime.
Cosplay in general at Fanime was much different this year, sighting far more emphasis on anime series compared to last year. We were informed that a new policy was in place that reduced the showings of non-Japanese series such as My Little Pony or Homestuck. However, League of Legends still ran rampant, so it may have been a focal fandom limitation.
Day 0 – The first noticeable thing was that the registration line had moved back to the convention center. For starters, registration conventionally begins late afternoon, such as 5 PM, but this year it opened before 1PM. Opening registration earlier spread out the waiting time and diffused the congestion, so there was effectively no line this year. However, we later learned that a large majority of attendees actually went to Clockwork Academy to line up, and that location had far longer of a wait than usual. This effectively is similar to too many attendees pre-registering: the line for it ends up longer than the regular line. At least excessively long registration lines were avoided for once.
Not much to say with the day before Fanime as far as events go, but there’s always the Swap Meet. Like last year, it was free but the location moved to the Civic Center. Although the auditorium has housed many wonderful events, we felt this location was a poor choice given how small the actual space to move around is. Such a building scales well with performances, not circular foot traffic. Personally, we found the selection at Swap Meet to be small and less appealing than last year. Not only that, but similar items such as Anime Card Sleeves were on average $12 as opposed to $9 from the previous year. When you consider supply and demand, it’s not that bad, but not knowing online retail prices can bite if buyers aren’t aware. Absolutely nothing caught my eye for consideration. The worst part about Swap Meet was actually the fact that there was a long line; waiting for potentially an hour just to get in. Compared to last year, Swap Meet definitely went downhill even though no fundamental function was broken. There simply were less sellers.
Day 1 – Unfortunately, every year Dealer’s Hall and Artist Alley don’t open until 2 PM on Friday, so there wasn’t much point in attending until this hour. Plans got even worse as Artist Alley itself had a sort of long line that made the booths start late. Although there were no major issues, the process definitely could have been more seamless. Since as Press we were disallowed from playing a role as a helper for Artists, we have no direct experience and resorted to inquiring various artists on their experience this year.
The first major question was how is the Grand Ballroom compared to the large tent from last year. Many were quick to say that the Grand Ballroom was a major improvement, for the simple fact that foot traffic flowed easily into the Artist Alley, as opposed to last year where attendees had to make a specific trip strictly to the large tent. However, opinions weren’t unanimous as some artists pointed out that the larger tent actually lead to more sales in a sense, because attendees had a focal interest in buying art as opposed to window shopping walking further away from the Convention Center.
Day 2 – Dealer’s Hall and Artist Alley opened at 10 AM this time, so we opted to arrive by 11 AM which factored in possible traffic. We stop by Raemz’s booth and were lucky to get a commission drawing for nekotea.
Dinner was hectic, as the original plan was to eat at a Ramen place in Santa Clara. Although the idea of dinner was good, convention reality struck and we didn’t eat until 9 PM.
Day 3 – It was more like an unsuspected meetup day. Multiple groups of people who we know of who haven’t been to Fanime before suddenly showed up. A lot of our time was used up hanging out with fresh faces, so we couldn’t allocate as much time to the events as everyone had their own thing to do.
The day ended around 8 PM. Unfortunately we forgone the Mangagamer Panel, which we were interested in since it was hosted by RadioOverCoat, who runs Touhou Tuesday. Also, this marked the first time Mangagamer had a panel at Fanime.
Day 4 – While slick deals existed in the Dealer’s Hall, we used this day to round off Fanime and say goodbyes. Some partings were with sweet sorrow, though some great memories and meetings were definitely made.
I would go as far as saying that Fanime 2014 was by far the most enjoyable Fanime. Going as a team allowed each individual to cover more things while splitting the workload. We learned a little more about general human behavior, and attempted simplifying this year.
As a frequent attendee put it: Fanime is like a $50+ payment to have a good time with people on Memorial Day weekend. That’s definitely what we saw and hope the trend can continue as Fanime slowly improves.