A friend of mine told us that there were open spaces in her car to fit in three more people for their trip to Fanimecon. I was one of three lucky people to convey their interest in going. I went, I wandered, and I worried. And then I learned.
Looking back on the ordeal, I had never gone on a trip of this sort. Ever.
Well, maybe I did. Back in high school, the speech and debate team would organize carpools to other high school tournaments and we’d have to share a hotel room (with the same gender, of course) and basically be in each others’ company for the whole day, even when sleeping. I was familiar with the ins and outs of sharing hotel supplies, the eternal struggle of finding something to eat, and getting used to other people’s indoor habits and mannerisms without bothering other people with your own. I look back on those moments in my life with much satisfaction. I was much less talkative back then, which was a big deal given I was supposed to be on a speech and debate team, but just being in the company of other people was fine in and of its own. It invigorated me. Motivated me. Compelled me to do my best with each debate round. I could not care less about the actual regulations we were put under in order to make this trip happen, and to be perfectly honest we all didn’t notice them at the time. Despite the safe and insular environment provided for us, I found happiness in just being part of the trip. There were no risks to be taken when it came to school-sponsored, glorified slumber parties. There was nothing to be worried about.
In comparison, my first trip to Fanimecon was something to worry about. Sharing a hotel room with college buddies has much different connotations, much different risks involved. We have no chaperones to enforce the school’s strict, tri-colored permission slip guidelines. Due to the necessity of saving cash, overpacking a room as commonplace and gender walls were torn down; we had a mix of four females and three males in our hotel room for the duration of Fanimecon. Had we been back in high school, hell, had we informed our parents beforehand that this was going to happen… I’m not actually sure what would happen. I know that my own mother still views me as God’s Given Baby from time to time in an effort to hold onto the good ol’ days when I was shorter than her (which would be before 2005), so I know the news would at least come as a surprise. God forbid if I ever told her that two of the girls were underage.
Despite the large social stigma of having boys and girls of varying ages in the same room, we weren’t about to start a 7-person orgy and party it up all night in our 21st floor Marriot Hotel room. We had better things to think about. Like Fanimecon. And how the fuck we were going to organize our time over those four days. See, four of us are the adults in the room, and that meant that we had the responsibility to act like adults when it mattered most. In theory, anyway. Neither we nor our underage roommates were under any obligation to stick together, nor were we compelled to come back to the hotel room at the same time. I guess this is the advantage of being in a hotel that’s attached to the convention center, as opposed to my speech and debate days when the hotel would be a noticable amount of miles away from the high school in question, but we became dismissive of any notion that we needed to stick together. It was not necessary to enjoy Fanimecon. It may help to have friends around to do enjoy the ambiance with, yes, but there was too much to be done at Fanimecon to use friendship as an excuse to avoid a panel I was actively looking forward to. In my case, I ended up separated from my group quite a few times in an attempt to attend everything I wanted to attend.
Did I enjoy the events? Well, my first time at an anime convention was a lot more about the experience than it was the quality of the panels themselves. Going to those panels made me realize that the people who organize this are usually college kids, no more mature than you or me, desperate to express themselves via the things they did best. And boy, did they try. Oh, man. They sure tried.
I went to a lot of panels: the cosplay panels, the “Anime that do X and Y” panels, Industry-specific panels, the whole she-bang. I became victim to a wide range of professionalism as I attended each. One of the cosplay panels had to improvise a whole half of their panel because of a medical emergency taking away one of the two panelists. Another one attempted to convince us of a list of “Visually Stunning Anime”, but fell short of actually explaining why his selection was “visually stunning” other than that it was “visually stunning”. I later learned he was also going to head the “Anime and Religion” and “WTF Anime” panels, two that I was looking forward to going prior to this panel, and thus had to change my schedule around a bit in order to avoid his panels. Other panels, like the “Hilariously Bad J-music Videos” and “Most Hilarious Bootlegs”, exist more to showcase their crazy content than to provide any panelist-specific entertainment.
I studied each panelist as they presented their powerpoints. I made careful count of the amount of “uh”s and “um”s they uttered as they moved from bullet point to bullet point. Attempts to waste time disguised as hand-raising exercises did not pass by me. I noticed it all. This may seem mean to the person who takes the effort to prepare a panel in the first place, though. But I could probably do better. I have the experience with speech and such in order to at least stop the “uh”s and “um”s, the unscripted banter, the uninteresting time-wasting antics. You’re given 55 minutes to present your subject. It should be worth my while to sit there and listen to you. Even if I haven’t actually hosted a panel before, I definitely know how to give a presentation. Needless to say, I slipped a lot of mediocre/negative reviews in the feedback boxes.
The AMV contest wasn’t all that great either. Some of the AMVs were already spoiled thanks to me watching other people watching them at other cons on YouTube. Which meant that everything else I was watching became all that much more boring to sit through. And I mean, real boring. For example, there was a Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle AMV that attempted to use the manga panels as the resource, and while I commend their attempt at using manga panels it didn’t make it less bad. I didn’t even stick around the next day to see what AMVs won the contest. It was probably the videos that won the other cons.
If this is to imply that I wasn’t enjoying myself because of the disappointments, that would be wrong. I just defaulted to enjoying myself in a more derisive way. The attitude is eerily similar to how I approach anime, and in fact the more I think about the similarities the more I start to understand the appeal of anime conventions. Fanimecon was a place for anime fans of all types, and while the majority of those fans did not gel with my personal taste there was still a lot of reason for me to attend and enjoy what Fanime had to offer. Even if it meant criticizing crappy panels and AMVs to no end.
But hey, it wasn’t all disappointments! I ended up buying a small share of stuff from the Dealer’s Hall, including a FMA pocketwatch, a black STL 12-hole Ocarina, a retractable metal sword that I was not allowed to open until after the con, several T-shirts, and a bento box. I also ended up attending the Home Made Kazoku (Eureka Seven OP2, Bleach ED2) concert against my better judgment, which as it turns out my judgment was completely wrong because the concert was fucking great. They did a lot of audience participation stuff as well as their anime-related songs. They also mashed up a bunch of cheesy puntastic shit like “We Are Family” because Kazoku means Family and Family means No One Gets Left Behind. Turns out it was their first gig in the US and their US tour was coming up soon (didn’t stop them from sliding in a “Family Reunion” pun). Don’t really know how the hell Fanime was able to land that one, but I enjoyed myself there. As an aside, I have horrible concert etiquette. I didn’t stand up or shout or anything. I just listened like a proper concert audience should. I probably have the wrong kind of concert in mind. I bought the $35 shirt after the concert, though! That’s gotta mean something!
There was also the fact that I encountered a denizen from the aniblog community. I met up with Sorrows Neptune shortly after attending the History of Sports Anime/Manga panel (which was decent btw). Mind you, this is the first time I’ve actually tried to meet up with a complete stranger over the internet, but I’m glad it didn’t turn out to be some kind of prank. We hung out for about an hour or two taking pictures of cosplayers and talking about various things concerning anime and real life. Great girl. Would love to hang out with more.
Now back at home, and given one day to relax and process what just happened, I am now slightly behind on my schoolwork and all I have to show for it is a goddamn plastic card with a penguin on it. However, I am looking forward to attending Anime Expo in July and, in fact, attending any future cons in California. I’m also in the process of planning out a good quality cosplay not only to humblebrag about but also to feel proud of.
RIP my wallet.
- Here’s some of the better cosplay pictures I took:
- Fuu (Samurai Champloo)
- Ryuuko and Mako with Senketsu (Kill la Kill)
- Heiwajima Shizuo playing ping pong (Durarara!!)
- Yang, Weiss, Male!Ruby, Adam, and Roman (RWBY)
- YOU’RE MY FAVORITE DEPUTY
- Masayoshi Hazama (Samurai Flamenco)
- Nudist Beach Mako and Gamagoori (Kill la Kill)
- Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
- Medicine Seller (Mononoke)
- Kate Hoshimiya (World Conquest: Zvezda Plot)
- Death the Kid (Soul Eater)
- Yuuta and Rikka (Chu2koi)
- A Lot Of Characters (Fire Emblem)