Wednesday, 26 June 2013 20:14

Fanime 2013 Report

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So...how about those lines? What, too soon? Shit, I've been putting off this report for a while, I figured...y'know...maybe we could have all...yeah, who am I kidding?

If you weren't at Fanime 2013 you MIGHT be wondering what I'm on about. Honestly...shit, we'll just start this by getting it out of the way right now. Fanime 2013 was a much nicer version of Anime Expo 2007. Yes, I went there. I mean, really, there's just no other way to describe this year's Fanime. It was a mess of long lines, crowded areas, and technical difficulties that would have made the place an absolute Hell to be at had ALL (there was one notable incident I'll describe later) the convention and grounds staff been as dysfunctional and downright evil as the ones that were at AX 2007. Fortunately this was not the case, so we should probably count our blessings, because that would have been the spark of that would have set off all sorts of fun fires.

Let's start with probably the worst issue with Fanime this year: Registration lines. Bluntly put, there's absolutely no excuse for this. Registration is likely one of the most if not THE most vital thing that needs to happen at any convention. If you don't get your people registered, they can't make the convention go. Consequently, upwards of an EIGHT HOUR WAIT in the reg line is completely inexcusable. I heard there were like MAYBE five computers working on this, when in fact, there needed to be at least four times that amount. With wait times like that, you can imagine what happened to those outside baking in the hot sun...we had several getting carted off in ambulances, and fortunately that's all that happened. I've not heard of any fatalities anyway. Worse, no one came out and noted to anyone that they could have gone and gotten their badge at the Steampunk convention that's held alongside Fanime. Granted, they weren't set up for those numbers, but still...it's called a pressure release; a bit of relief for the shear enormity of what you were facing. No, for an evolution such as this, it should have been all hands on deck, and not whatever trivial amount of people they had running this part of the show. It didn't help that the hotel staff looked outside and noted all the people on without shirts, in other skimpy costumes, and nearly had a fucking meltdown. Seriously, THIS IS NOT THE FIRST FUCKING YEAR OF FANIME THEY'VE BEEN HOST TO! WHAT THE FUCK, PEOPLE!? Oh, and the most hilarious thing, I mean seriously, the most hilarious fucking thing was when one of my crew tries to take a picture and one of the staff barred him from doing so.

Really? Seriously, dude? How fucking stupid are you? You don't think this story isn't going to come out? You don't think by doing that it's going to make the whole situation even worse than it already is? You don't fucking think that from others who do not care to ask, such as this picture from Elite Cosplay or this video from 86Brady, aren't going to be taken and show up in a public space? Found with a simple Yahoo or Google search? SERIOUSLY?!

But yeah, apparently people were waiting in lines to go into other lines to go into other lines, people were falling out, and so on and so forth. There's nothing that one can defend here. This was a fuck up on an epic scale. This kind of thing can actually shut an event down, and should have been avoided at nearly all cost. I even heard they had a much better registration system that flowed a lot better and faster. Obviously, this didn't help one bit, given the situation that everyone found themselves in. At the moment I cannot find it, but there is one man who wrote a far more in-depth point-by-point critique of the entire registration process at this Line-con, but I shall link it when I do...it has some damn good info in it.

So, let's move on. Technical glitches? Fuck, we had many. Weird shit, like in the AMV contest room, some of the videos weren't playing in the correct sequence...or at all. They also started it a bit earlier than what was printed from what I recall, so I missed out on an entire category; it's fortunate there were other showings, but unfortunately, I could not get to any of them. The biggest offender had to be the Masquerade, with entire vocal sequences over the sound system cutting out in the middle of the performance numerous times (the Hetalia skit comes to mind...why they didn't redo that one is anyone's guess, or even acknowledge everyone screaming that they needed to redo it) or just getting all jumbled up like with the Madoka skit (which they DID redo, and it was awesome). Look, in times past, getting that sort of thing up and running and everyone turning in CD's with their work in a format that was, at least, somewhat readable by the equipment was nothing short of a miracle. Now? How fucking hard is it to connect an ipod to a sound system? Or even to a computer connected to a sound system? My laptop runs linux and, unless your files are just plain corrupt, it can play and connect to just about everything out there. It's why we've made enormous strides in the technology, so we can service the widest possible amount of people with the widest possibilities concerning the situations we may be involved in. This should not be the chore and minor miracle working it used to be.

Concerning moments of ill planning not in relation to the huge screw up of the reg line, there was the MC of the Masquerade himself. He was valiant, I'll give him that, but it's kinda obvious they didn't have anyone to MC this year, and sort of grabbed him last minute. Dude was beyond ill prepared and horribly out of his depth, but he acquitted himself; not all that well, but given what it looks like happened, it could have been a helluva lot worse...he pushed on and got the job done. Even so, that was...just not something you do. For one of your main events, you plan that out a little bit better. It gets worse though! Half time comes up and all we get is music. Look, that's not nearly enough to keep the audience entertained...at least play some AMV's. About this point, the general attendees seem to have quite literally had enough. I counted...maybe ten or so that stayed until the awards were presented. I'd never seen an exodus like that before, and that is something that should have disturbed them DEEPLY. And then there was the problem with places for photoshoots. Look, I get it, the convention and hotels are under construction, which has now bestowed upon Fanime another nickname: Construction-con. At least it wasn't Devastator-con, so we can all thank whatever god(s) we worship for the small favors. Still, there seems to be a certain passive aggressive dislike of some of the series that cosplayers pick to cosplay as...in this case My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. As popular as that one is, they put the shoot in a corner that could only handle maybe 10% of what actually showed up. They did this with several others that had similar fan bases. Claiming ignorance is like me saying that I didn't know that jumping into the sun wouldn't result in my disintegration. It's not the first time either, so I'm beginning to think it may be something other than piss poor planning. At least the Homestuck folks wound up...offsite somewhere.

Was it really all that bad though? No, it wasn't. One of the best decisions I think they've made is to open up the South Hall for Artist's Alley. That thing is massive, and they nearly filled it to capacity with those who were selling their artwork and other projects. The couple times I found myself there, the place was crawling with convention goers as well, so concerning the general attendee crowds, this was one of the primary release valves, I'm guessing. It got people outside of the general convention area too...the simple act of walking, even to an easy to reach location, does wonders for one's disposition. Once construction is done, I hope they keep it open to the convention for whatever is required...they're going to need it. Another good decision was their 24 hour food area. For the past few years, I've noted there has been a booth in the dealer's hall that sells things like canned coffee, Japanese soda, snacks, and the like. I couldn't find it in there, but I found it in this area, and I frequented it often. They had a donut shop, a Chinese food stand (I think it was), and a couple of other outlets which were most welcome. Behind it was a little festival type of setup, and I spent some time hanging out there. Watching their archery was most fascinating, and while I wouldn't have minded hanging out for longer, there was work to be done.

Concerning Main Events, I'll begin with the Masquerade. Yes, it was a mess of technical glitches. However, concerning the presentation and craftsmanship of the cosplay's themselves, I found that this year's contestants truly outdid themselves in just about every fashion. Hell, you should have seen the Madoka set that they had to redo since they fucked up the audio, and thus, the performance as badly as they did. It was almost to the point of a professional stage play. The opening act done by the band 'The Trims' was fantastic. Seriously, go check those guys out...I'm kinda surprised they're not better known. There was even a marriage proposal in the middle of this concert to spice things up a bit. In retrospect, I'm going to say this should have been the half time entertainment, not the opening entertainment...it would have kept the entire audience engaged with the event. I'm going to admit, I found myself not really impressed with this year's AMV contest. Not because of the technical glitches, or the fact I missed an entire section, but because I simply found most to be...kinda 'meh'. Maybe it's just me, I dunno, but I really just didn't feel much vibe from any category or even from the contest at large. Closest I think I came was the Drama category, which had a couple that evoked some powerful emotions, but for the bulk? Just can't seem to get myself excited about any of them. I would post a list of the AMV's in this contest along with the winners, but there does not seem to be a list of either that I can find online at present time. I'll include a link when one does appear. Wound up at the comedy show this year, and I found it to be rather hilarious for the most part. Next year, I will record it, if I'm even at Fanime, and time permitting...it is worth that. The show is 18 and over though, and I can only thank the presenters for this, because it wouldn't have been nearly as good if the comics had to check themselves. In fact I doubt they would have shown up. The only problem with the Comedy Show was the staff manning the door. The guy right there at the door must have been on some serious SERIOUS drugs, because when press showed up and wished to get in to cover the event, this guy quite literally mentally shut off. Lights out. There was nothing behind his eyes. I mean, I've seen clueless staff before, but this guy...Holy Shit. I thought Mayhem was about to have a fucking meltdown before this guy's supervisor finally came up and told us to go in. Seriously, the only time I've seen this level of soul vacating body was at the DMV when I was trying to register an out of state vehicle. It was like Rahziel walked by and thought this guy's essence looked damn tasty.

Outside of the main events, one of the notable occurrences was that I wound up at the My Little Pony panel, which was basically just an informative "This is what happened to cause the fandom" type of presentation. Nothing major there; though I will say that the last little portion of it taken up by an audience staffed performance of "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" was...kinda dull. No sense of humor in any of those who went up there. I also trolled the Flea Market, which has been expanded to two days (and should probably go on every night of the convention), and continues to expand its attendee participation at an exponential rate. Deals are made and money changes hands...I nearly bought the Comic-con "Fall of Cybertron" Bruticus. Hell, if I needed spare parts for Transformers, this would have been the perfect place to get them. On the subject of Transformers, I had a mission to buy Fortress Maximus at this con, but unfortunately none of the dealers had him stocked. The one dealer had Predaking, but I'm not paying $300+ for him. Someone better have Fort Max at AX, or I'll just have to order the damn thing. About the only thing I walked out of there with was a copy of the Denpa Onna subtitle only blu-ray box set from NIS America. Funny thing about the NIS sets...they're soft subs, but they're hard set to be on, so most blu-ray players cannot disable them. It has to do with the company they license much of their stuff from, who is one of those who feels that they need to stiff the international market to keep their domestic market from undercutting them in blu-ray sales. It's annoying, but if you're tech savvy and annoyed enough, its' also not something that can't be worked around. I'd like to talk about Hentai Night(s)...I really would. The problem I have is that this time around, though I know I enjoyed myself, I really can't recall any of the titles I watched, outside of the one I already watched, which was "Sex Friend". And it's not the time it took for me to get this report out...I didn't even remember what I watched that night when I went back to the f'n hotel. They were that forgettable. Even so, the funniest thing about Hentai Night(s), as I've constantly said, is not the videos...but the audience. It's a full blown MST3K session with a couple of hundred people screaming all sorts of fucked up shit at the screen...you never know what you'll hear, and that's kinda the point.

Pictures...ah yes, pictures. Let's start here with them. TFA Cosplay has been getting a staff of sorts to cover events far and wide in multiple different ways. I mean, I've always had Beacon's photos for Comic-con (though I think he's switching over to Facebook) and earlier for Anime Expo...getting the others into it is going to magnify what we do considerably. I'd also like to get the Platinum Dragon involved too now that he has a real camera, but we'll see as time goes on. I'm going to be honest this time around I didn't take a single picture I didn't really really like. So the most notable ones I found are more of the artsy type shots, such as this cosplay of Fang from Final Fantasy 13 which had the wind blowing her hair and the sun just right for a great shot. I also enjoyed taking this photo of this impressive Ealizabeth cosplayer from Bioshock Infinite. That leafy background is the covering over the doors and windows they had at the front of the convention center, and works extremely well for a photo backdrop. Concerning shear technical skill, check out this Evangelion cockpit that Lionel Lum put together. I managed to get in there for some in-depth shots, so they go on for the next several pics. The craftsmanship on this prop/display is outstanding in a convention that was marked by outstanding craftsmanship already. Concerning a 'favorite' cosplay this year, it had to go to this Sabre Nero cosplayer who was one of the few I stayed with to take several pictures of. I was not the only one...this cosplay was spectacular, and everyone wanted a good portrait. Finally, one of the stranger photos was this Chi and Freya cosplay couple. Strange in that, though I used my Olympus, I've noted on not just my pics, but on everyone else's, that the lighting that was striking them accentuated them magnificently. The highlights and shadows were like nothing I'd ever seen on anyone in that convention center...it looked almost engineered. I'd like to take credit for it, but this is just one of those happy random occurrences that make being a cosplay photographer worthwhile. I'll admit to enjoying the show they put on for us as well.

What to say in closing? Like Anime Expo 2007, this particular convention was marked with dizzying heights and abysmal lows...though again not nearly as high or as low as AX 07 turned out to be. There was a lot of good, but there was also a lot of bad. Quite frankly the level of bad we saw this year is unsustainable, and will kill this convention unless it is corrected. Fanime is fun, and by the fans and for the fans. Or at least, that's what it's supposed to be like. We may be hitting some hard limits on that sort of thing. Location, crowd size, technology, staff turnover...it all needs to be looked at and fixed. There were long stretches of people not having fun here, and that is a death sentence for something that is supposed to be nothing but fun. Good job on the good stuff, but if the bad stuff isn't dealt with, then the bad stuff won't be a concern for too much longer. People, especially in today's day and age when money and time are premiums, will conclude the costs far exceed the benefits, and not patron Fanime. And Fanime is something that I feel needs to exist in this era of Trade Shows and copyright tyranny. Some place for fans to be fans without being told what to do, when to do it, and how they can do it...within the limits of the three pillars of common law. In recent years we've seen some encroachment on that, and this year, a serious breakdown in the mechanics of the convention itself. It would be a shame to see this go away.

Last modified on Wednesday, 26 June 2013 20:25

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