Thursday, 24 June 2010 19:37

Fanime 2010 Report

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Oh Fanime, why do you happen so close to ACEN to torment me so?

Fanime is supposed to be the chill out convention, the one where you just hang loose, go do stuff, and typically have a restful and fun time. This was not the case this year, and I think it started when Mayhem suggested we go to the Black and White Ball. I readily agreed, not exactly enjoying the sausage feast of the adult only dance of last year. This, of course, would necessitate a certain amount of preparation both before (in the form of getting my suit together) and during the convention (in the form of dance lessons). Sounds like a fun way to break up the con a bit.

Heading to Fanime has resulted in me typically driving to northern California, spending the night at Mayhem's, then heading over to San Jose for the convention. There was no deviation this year in this formula, and we even managed to dodge traffic like champs this year on the way to the convention. You don't really NEED to show up the day before at Fanime, but it helps to prepare, even for a relatively sedate convention like this. Probably good that we did in any event, as I was still suffering from the lingering effects of the cold I powered through at ACEN and the fact I powered through it rather than slept as would have been more prudent.

Professional registration was far better this year as I was able to put both myself and Mayhem on the same Press ticket rather than us having to register separately. Getting our badges was relatively painless as well, aside from some minor miscommunication in how to submit an article we'd written to them and the fact I kept on ogling the girl behind the counter who was there again this year. I swear, one day some girl I say this about is going to see me coming and just shoot me preemptively. There was also questions concerning union interference this year, which sparked off this thread on the Fanime boards a month or so before. As you can see there's a bit of miscommunication between the large actors of the convention on how video is to be shot, which was pointed out, but didn't really affect anyone actually shooting video at the Masquerade, so it didn't matter. You'll also note that contrary to the last post by one of the mods, EVERY one of the Fanime staff mentioned the Masqureade BY NAME when saying that we either could or could not. I have nothing but good things to say about Fanime, but if they were trying to dodge the issue here, which was a slight breakdown in comms, it will eventually bite them in the ass on this or something else. Otherwise I'd say it's not always a good idea to just skim posts, as you often miss important details…and I need to take my own advice on that from time to time.

As far as the convention itself went, the general atmosphere was a lot like that of ACEN. A sort of tired lethargy, and though you wouldn't know it from the amount of pics that were taken, there was a noticeable decrease in the quantity of those cosplaying, though quality remained quite high. This was readily apparent during two of the more popular main events: the Masquerade and the AMV contest.

The Masquerade was fun this year, but not nearly so entertaining as it was in previous years, mirroring the Masquerade seen at ACEN, though I honestly think this one was a little better than ACEN's overall. Like ACEN's there was no real rhythm, just a lot of random skits though none that really stood out in my mind as anything that stood apart from the others with an exceptional grace. I did note; however, that there has been a marked increase in both the amount and quality of the props and stage decoration used in the skits. It's become more and more complex as time has gone on. This year was a good year in that while I was filming, Mayhem was allowed to go back stage with a few other members of the press and take pictures of the cosplayers in a more controlled environment. You can find those pictures here on TFA Cosplay. He does mention that due to Union constraints they couldn't rig up any lights worth mentioning, so they had to improvise lighting rigs with what was already available. Regardless of this artificial limitation, it was an impressive job as you can see already.

The AMVs…well, for the most part they were hardly worth mentioning. I'm certain I was nodding off during them. Overall, I'd say the Action category was probably the most engaging though nothing there stuck in my mind as impressive; there were a couple in the impressive category, but more on that in a moment. You can find a list of the finalists here on the Fanime boards along with a list of the winners here as well. The two off hand that I find worth commenting on didn't actually win anything, but for completely different reasons. Honestly, I'm not sure why the one from comedy, Tenacious K didn't win anything, it was funny as shit. Maybe it was the fact he had to bleep every other word out, I don't know. The next was impressive and exceptional for an entirely different reason. Brad DeMoss is a staple in the AMV community; we've all seen and liked his work. Lately though, I think the man has lost it. If his goal was to leave the audience in stunned, near horrified, silence while he laughed manically, I'd want to shake his hand on that because that was one of the most fucked up things ever done to the mass audience of an anime convention by another attendee; short of the entirety of AX being Rickrolled last year. On the other hand, if he thought this was legitimately funny I'd say the boy done lost it, because it was not funny. The video was a set of what looked like World War II based anime, several scenes with Hitler, set to that fucked up song "Springtime for Hitler" from that hilariously fucked up fictional musical "Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp With Eva and Adolf at Berchtesgaden" that was part of the Mel Brooks movie "The Producers" from 1968; more info can be found here on Wikipedia. I would say not funny, because if he was imagining the movie it came from or the musical remake while doing this and how legitimately funny and satirical it was, then he just projected his experience on an audience that is just plain too young to get that, and even those of us who may have, it had nothing else to go with it to give it context to make it funny. Perhaps it would have been better if the visuals had been satirical, but they were quite serious, which again makes me wonder if the idea wasn't to horrify the audience into silence. I'll leave any judgments on his character for releasing this out of it; I'm sure everyone can come to their own conclusion. I unfortunately can't link to it because it doesn't appear to have been submitted to either Youtube or animemusicvideos.org at the time of this writing.

The Black and White Ball reminded me far too much of the problem I saw at Anime Conji, but more on that in a moment. I would say this event is mostly an excuse for people who don't typically do this sort of thing to get dressed in really nice clothes and hang out dancing, though very badly for nearly all there. Honestly, even with the lesson we had taken in the waltz, that wasn't nearly enough time to learn that dance, much less the dozens of others that were being featured. Mostly people just went with a variation of the two-step and called it good, which is more than fine. For myself, I find that the suit I wore when I was 150 pounds and much skinnier didn't fit nearly as well now that I'm 180 pounds, especially around the neck. I also discovered I hadn't brought the right shoes for this sort of thing, which necessitated a trip to JC Penny early in the morning to pick some up. Oddly, I found getting away from the convention for a moment was a little refreshing, which tells me I need to let up a bit more overall during these things. For the neck problem, it was pretty much just have Mayhem strangle me 'til we got the damn shirt buttoned; I'll need to get another size it seems. It also came to our attention that we'd both need a point and click camera here, because our huge setups were not conducive to sticking around while in a suit and tie. My problem with the Black and White Ball came when I got into a mixer and wound up dancing with this waify little blonde girl in a fancy dress who then proceeded to glare at me (she was not cute when she did this) and inform me she was going to have issues because she only danced with girls implying she was the leader not the follower…for starters. I was not happy with that statement or attitude, so I did the worst thing I could to her, and danced her all the way to the end of the floor. She couldn't get away fast enough. It was then I looked about and noted that there were FAR too many girls dancing with girls when there were dozens of guys on the side kinda looking around wistfully. I spent awhile studying this while trying to control my anger, which Mayhem took at first to be the same type of fear that the guys here were experiencing in regards to walking up to a girl and going, "Wanna dance?" No, just that first experience pissed me off to no end and the behavior later en masse really irked me. Look girls, if you're a leader GET IN THAT FUCKING LINE! Had a couple of guys in the follower line; this is an anime convention; things get a little goofy like that. On the other hand girls, the guys are relatively harmless, but given what most of them have gone through, are quite a bit more gun shy than you could imagine. It's okay to walk up to them and go, "Dance?" Who the fuck cares if he can or you can or what you wind up doing. Traditionally it's the guy that's supposed to do this, but like I said, these guys are generally scared out of their minds. However, they'll loosen up if you want to put a little effort into it…or you could continue to dance in your own bubbles with each other which I know many of you didn't want to do. Later on in the dance, I'll admit, this was actually happening. It allowed me to actually shed enough annoyance to finally ask a few girls to dance as well rather than just write off the whole thing as a waste of time. Overall, we really REALLY need to pump that place full of smoke from the ganja laced with some Spanish Fly. Whole fuckin' thing needed to loosen up a lot more.

This year's H nights theme were not how fast they could make the audience run like Hell. No, this year was more of a comedy thing, which was a welcome change all around. First night had one entitled Cleavage which was basically a big boob forbidden fruit sort of anime with some amusing parts. The next was entitled Cantaloupe Hunter and I'll be damned if I can find a link to that. It's pure porn, but the ending has one of the best laugh out loud moments I've ever seen in the medium…so much so I won't begin to spoil it if you can locate this sucker. Next night showed one that was a quite forgettable big boob one, but the one after, entitled Cosplay Sex Machine, was wrong, creepy, and extremely funny. Honestly, I have to recommend Cosplay Sex Machine just for the shear level of comedy and one crowning moment of awesome during a bit of futunari which was so fucking hilarious the squick factor usually inherent in such things was nonexistent. For the final night we were treated to the first of what they hope will become a larger event; that being a Hentai AMV Contest. There was only one entry this year, and it sucked…not in the good way. Still, it WAS the only entry. After which, we were treated to various others the event manager downloaded which were mostly from Germany (and now I'm thinking of that Rhamstein video…you can look that one up yourself if you want, heh). I'll have to see if there's a list of them somewhere, because several had songs I want to listen to fully. Yes, yes, I know, actually paying more attention to the music than the hentai…what kind of fanboy am I?

Managed to go to two panels this year. The first one was a beginners class to cosplay photography put on by OpenHappy. This particular panel was about as basic as you can get, and started with the premise that you'd just outgrown your point and click and were thinking of moving up to something like a Nikon or Cannon DSLR. Pretty much everything covered was something I already knew, but there were many there that did not. Those attending ranged from the just curious, to near pros like me, and to actual pros like who was giving the talk, so it was an interesting event all around. The topics ranged from equipment, to lighting basics, to software one can use to edit their pics after the fact. If anything though, I would say that lighting is something that needs its own panel as it's the hardest to master, as knowing it is a science, but using it? That's art. The second panel I went to was Nerd Courting to see how it was this year as opposed to last year. Adam, the guy who gave the talk at the panel, ran the whole thing like a stand up comedy routine, and it worked. I was laughing my ass off while listening to much of what I already knew, but was pretty sage advice regardless. I noted that there were considerably more girls in there this year than guys; surprisingly they made up half the room at least. I'd say check this panel out again next year if you can, if only to listen to the anecdotes and stories that'll have you spitting whatever you're drinking through your nose.

There were several odd miscellaneous events that were going on with Fanime as well. Halko Momoi was in attendance this year again, but rather than having one big concert she had sort of a treasure hunt where she'd put on several mini concerts throughout the convention. You'd get stamps for attending in a sort of treasure hunt; if you collected them all and you could enter a drawing for a chance to win a prize, though I don't know what that was. I attended one, and took a few pics you can see here starting on this page and continuing to the next on TFA Cosplay. I like Momoi, not so much as a fan, but more as a personable entertainer. She likes what she does and she loves the fans for whom she loves to entertain. She interacts with them constantly. In slightly less complicated terms, she likes to play and likes to play with people, and the more fun everyone can have the better. I can't think of a better sort of entertainer than that; perhaps that's where her true appeal is. I'd buy her a drink if I wasn't almost sure she'd pass out after one or two, heh. The swap meet grows on a per year basis. One of these days I need to just bring a plastic crate because there were things on sale there that I really wanted to get, but had no real place for it. The little anime and whatnot I got just wasn't enough, but then getting it all back home from up there is about as hard as doing it from ACEN. I finally got to the Maid Café, after a few years of promising myself that I'd go. Our Maid was a cute little one who noted she was practically bushwacked into the job, but was enjoying it none the less. You can see several of them here on TFA Cosplay. They also had several Maid shows on stage zero, only one of which I actually managed to get any pics of here on this page. I'm really proud of that last pic, as that thing was horribly noisy and off color. The wonders of what modern image processing programs can do.

On the subject of pictures, I'll say again, it seemed the general amount of costumes had gone down, but there were quite a few exceptional ones which I'll touch on here. These two for example; though I'm not sure where they're from, were exceedingly well done. This Mercedes cosplayer looked like she jumped right off the screen and into the convention. These guys are just exceptional all around as Shinobi (or is that Hayabusa?) and the assassins from Assassin's Creed. A hilarious Rika from Higurashi was not to be missed. The lovely Sabre Lily was a rare find, indeed. And these are but a small fraction of the awesomeness I managed to capture. I even managed to attend quite a number of gatherings such as the Street Fighter vs Capcom gathering (continues on for a few pages) and the Touhou gathering (also continuing on for several pages). I did want to attend the Rozen Maiden gathering, but there were only two maidens in attendance this year, and they were all kinds of bummed about that. Heh, these were the two that missed it their first year, made it their second year and had a helluva time, and now on their third year…nothing. I find this depressing as it's one of my favorite series, but that's the way these things go. Still, check all those pics out; I promise you won't be disappointed.

Despite some rough spots which were not the fault of the convention, I can say that this year, like the others, I had nothing but a good time. Got to do everything I wanted to do and then some besides. Hell, I may well have overscheduled myself. On my long term list I didn't get a cute fangirl to collect, but then I think the years of being able to do that are well and done, and I…well, I missed that chance. I admit to regretting that terribly in the here and now, but then, how could I have known the future back then? I take awesome pictures, I drink copious amounts of alcohol, I meet new and exciting people, and do weird and geek filled things; and here at Fanime every one of those is available in every flavor imaginable. It's a long mellow party that caters to however much you can handle at any given point in time. And seriously, that's all I really want, so Fanime delivers that all on a metaphoric silver platter. I'll look forward to attending again in the coming years.


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