FanimeCon 2012

Tuesday, 12 June 2012, 8:00 | Author : Kricket
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Nobody doubted that Fanime would return yet again to the San Jose convention center.  This fan-run convention has become a tradition to thousands of attendees; with over a decade of history backing it, it’s easy to fall into the assumption that the convention will run itself.  But it does take combined effort and coordination, so we want to thank the staff for all their hard work!  That being said – I saw some really amazing new things this year, some of the same, and some really questionable decisions.

Fanime decided to join with a local steampunk convention this year: Clockwork Alchemy!  Which means double the programming…. right?  We quickly found out that the “steampunk” events were held at the hotel Double Tree.  No big deal.  It’s got to be one of the hotels nearby.  Turns out Fanime was offering shuttles back and forth between the two conventions but you should plan on it taking about 30 minutes to arrive at your new destination, which was quite isolated from downtown San Jose.  They even had some interesting cosplay panels I wanted to attend, but it just wasn’t worth the hassle to go there and back when Fanime already has so much going on.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed some wonderful cosplay programming at Fanime (I actually managed to catch some of the masquerade this year!) and saw some very impressive costumes (many of which lit-up!).  But I must say that the highlight of the weekend was a brand-new cosplay event, Chopped Cosplay!  This “Iron-Chef” inspired costume-construction-competition featured a rag-tag combination of fabrics and sewing tools with a secret ingredient added to each round.  Teams of two to five members had to attend a qualifying round on Friday night, with the actual competition taking place from 7-9pm on Saturday.  Instead of making a full-course meal, contestants were challenged to put together a complete Final Fantasy costume replicating any character of their choice.  Although each team did very well under pressure, we agreed with the judges’ nomination of Lulu.  Their use of the secret ingredients (a red plastic cup, a string of white lights, and pin-pong balls) were flawlessly incorporated into the costume.

What did disappoint was the video programming this year. While I understand that convention approved fan-subs are always a bit behind the times in terms of obtaining the latest, newly-released anime, I expected to see a lost more of Ludovico’s recommendations in the schedule.  I found some of his shows in the program guide (Lagrange, Kamisawa Dolls, Tiger & Bunny, Occult Academy, House of Five Leaves, Durarara!) but when I was looking at the pocket guide, these shows seemed so far and few between that I never quite knew what to watch.  Despite my looking for current and interesting shows, I visited the ‘Nostalgia Room’ more often than not.  (Though I must admit I rather enjoyed jumping in and out of the Sailor Moon Marathon.)

During lulls in the programming, I filled the hours watching Janet play with her “NekoMimi” cat ears that moved as if she were a real cat!  Now, these motorized headsets are not controlled by thought (per-se), nor are they controlled by emotion.  Rather, they move as an indication of your brain-waves, with modes that reveal whether you have an active or relaxed mind.  This hot new item seemed to spread quickly by word of mouth as early as Friday afternoon.  For the price of $100 many attendees were sporting this new technology, which has been in development for over a year.  But this is only the beginning; the company is already looking into creating interchangeable ear covers with various colors and furs.

Fanime  has grown significantly from it’s humble college-campus beginnings.  And I love what they have accomplished, but moving forward, I really think they need focus on quality programming and expanding into a new venue.  If you haven’t yet contributed to the direction and development of an anime convention then it may be time to step up and help!  I’m sure they could always benefit from the help of a few extra volunteers or staff.  I’m not suggesting that this convention is on the brink of failure.  It’s a tribute to their popularity that the halls are so crowded, hotel rooms fill up immediately, and not all artists can secure an Artist-Alley table.  But these are just some of the problems that need to be addressed if they are to maintain their good reputation as one of the largest conventions in the nation.

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