Greetings everyone! We here at Neko’s Shiritori suddenly went to SacAnime for the first time! We were personally recommended to attend by Sacramento residents that we encountered at previous conventions which we have covered. To be honest, we had an extremely great time at SacAnime. We give complete thanks to Mr. Wadley who granted us the opportunity to cover SacAnime. It was an absolute pleasure to deal with the staff there and we hope to grow our relationship with them.
Our photographer, Keoicorp, had been to SacAnime before many years ago at its old location. We also brought along Zetsuna to cover more ground. Just from size alone it was noticeable that the Sacramento Convention Center mixed with the Sheraton Hotel was an excellent venue to hold 13,000 attendees. We heard that this was a 30% increase from the previous 9000, so the growth is at an Anime Expo level and only looking up.
Although unrelated, the Greek Festival was also happening at the Sacramento Convention Center. Attendees had the benefit of entering the festival without paying the entry fee as the badge covers the cost. We were delighted to dine in gyros and calamari while enjoying the Greek exhibits and musical performances on center stage.
Day 1: Friday, August 29, 2014
We opted to go to the dealer’s hall first since our planned schedule for panels began around 2 PM. We were extremely impressed by the large hall size, where there was plenty of room to walk, along with many dealers and artists. We encountered Doujinpress and made haste to rendezvous with artists in the artist alley.
Our first panel was the 3D printing. Kitsuneheart gave a comprehensive overview of the basics of 3D printing; covering entry-level projects, the materials used by current-day technology, and onwards to turning the craft into a profitable side business – just don’t quit your day job yet! The major points included the proper sizing to fit your needs: larger printers can print bigger props for your cosplay, but at the cost of initial price and the time needed for the printer to work. Speaking of time, it’s the main factor determining your prices should you engage in profit ventures, and not the materials needed for printing. Last but certainly not least, Kitsuneheart drew a cautionary analogy to a 3D printer being like a pickup truck – once everyone knows you have one, people will want to use it but not repay the costs of its use. Kitsuneheart did an especially great job with the panel despite not having PowerPoint capabilities because of being provided the wrong cable. Best of luck if you decide to take professional 3D printing up!
Our second panel was the online voice acting panel. Whitney Jay and Marri Jax, two rising stars of English voice acting, led the panel starting with their origins in the voice acting industry and continued with what actions someone looking to do the same feat should do, like look for opportunities at least on DeviantART and YouTube, and treat these with the utmost professionalism lest that cripple your future voice acting career before it’s even started. Ah yes, and let’s not forget the friendly banter between the two while discussing those points! After the lecture was done, Whitney and Marri selected participants from the audience to try out voice acting for themselves – clips of anime, such as Attack on Titan, Code Geass, and Ouran Host Club, were played (without audio) along with impromptu voicing from a hard-copy script. While the hands-on (voice-on?) practice was enjoyable by the audience and participants, several volunteers mentioned the problem of not knowing how a specific character should act because of not having viewed the anime before.
To finish off the day, the last event attended was the AMV contest. Even if there were a few videos that suffered from low-quality source material, overall the entire video reel was pleasant. A strong showing was made by English songs, with tracks from The Lonely Planet appearing twice, however one video dared to have various clips set to a Chinese song instead. Three such entries are presented below:
Day 2: Saturday, August 30, 2014
Saturday was the real meat of the convention, and it was clear right off the bat – attendance by convention-goers seemed to double compared to Friday. At first we wanted to see one of SacAnime’s long-established highlights; the maid and butler show known as Café Hoshi. Unfortunately we weren’t able to purchase a ticket for the timeslot that we had free because of stratospherically high demand, and simply cutting the queue with our Press badges would have been simply rude to other people. Without a doubt, we’ll see this at the next convention.
The Mark Sheppard Q&A session was so awesome you had to see it to believe it. No amount of transcribed words can replicate his presence and performance. He completely dominated the theater. You don’t question him, he questions you.
At 3:00 PM we decided to head back to the Sheraton Grand Hotel and see the Ultra Street Fighter tournament held in the Tofanelli Room. Unfortunately the room was well over capacity from viewership and suffered from heat and a certain smell throughout the space provided.
While waiting for the next event, Zetsuna wandered into the halls and heard a call for Black Pawns from the Variety Room. Of course, it was none other than Cosplay Chess! Two people actually engaged in playing chess, while the room director relayed the moves to the pieces in cosplay (no knowledge of chess piece movement required) for them to act the game out. If people had props handy, they were free to act out the capture of an enemy piece on the condition that no contact was made in order to avoid hurting people. The first game that Zetsuna was there for (a Black Pawn dressed in a white labcoat, oddly enough) ended far too quickly with mate occurring five moves later. The next game lasted much longer and had high-cost trades to leave the kings, rooks (except Zetsuna, this time on White), and six pawns each. Black ended up winning that game by promoting a pawn and White surrendering in response.
Finally, it was time for our highlight of the day at 6:00 PM – four guests arrived for Press Interviews. Josh Grelle and Danielle McRae had insight to offer from behind the voice acting microphone, as well as Cas Anvar and Amber Goldfarb’s input from the Assassin’s Creed franchise, among other roles. We had the pure joy to personally speak with Danielle and Cas, and our interviews will be transcribed at a future date.
Despite showing up late to SacAnime’s first Singles Speed Dating event (restricted to people aged 18 and up!), Zetsuna was allowed to observe what was left. Not actually participate with that tardiness, which would also be rude! After speaking to a few males not active in speed dating, he got some information regarding the speed dating event on Friday as well. At the time, attendance was roughly 100 males and 40 females. On Saturday, the ratio evened out to 60 males and 50 females, definitely closer to 1:1. The event worked by reversing the direction of every other row of chairs so that the females sat facing one direction and the males faced them, and rotated accordingly. The ten odd males then took their turns sitting in the back row, probably muttering about guy things. At first the atmosphere seemed like everyone was enjoying their time, but upon exiting the room – ladies first, naturally – someone let out a yell suggesting that she was there simply because of her friends also attending. Afterwards, people who felt like they had gained some worthwhile contacts were directed to a smaller room for more focused chat. Remarks from several people in there said that the room was too small, definitely something to improve upon next time.
The AMV contest received an encore showing, with the same videos shown on Friday.
Day 3: Sunday, August 31, 2014
With our interview goals completed on Saturday, we used up Sunday to establish ad hoc interviews with a few artists at the artist alley, specifically Complexwish, Puppybao Productions, Larein, and SarahRStraub. We intend to interview them and post about them at a later time. Much of the rest of the time was used to say farewells and capture any remainder memories on camera.
Honestly, we would go as far as saying SacAnime is our favorite convention of the year. We felt that the core things that are desired in a convention are found here. There’s growth, adequate size, personable staff, professionalism, and a lot of enjoyment found here. We would absolutely love to return for SacAnime Winter in January. California’s capital truly had a community feeling. If you are one that enjoys good food, downtown Sacramento has quite the selection of quality meals!