As an aside, do not go to this hotel. The manager they had on duty was one of the rudest and most irresponsible individuals I’ve seen in quite some time. Aside from being generally disagreeable, if leaving her prepubescent daughter at the front desk alone wasn’t bad enough, she tried to charge us more than their agreed upon price and then claimed she couldn’t fix it…but the manager coming in later that afternoon could. One could hope that after the complaints flowed in she was terminated from her position, but we’ll see.
Continuing on, getting to the hotel and getting unloaded was generally uneventful. One thing I really like about smaller conventions is that initial setup time requires far less logistics and is far less time consuming. Things you think would only take a few minutes only take a few minutes rather than the hours that are typical for conventions like Fanime and Anime Expo. It is also helpful that they allowed Mayhem to get our badges for us, which saves time for both us and them concerning the lines crowd. Getting something to drink from the 7-11 right next to the convention center was rather nice as well, but I felt sorry for these dudes when the crowds arrived in full force. I hear later there were twenty minute waits in line and actual problems maintaining stock of drinks and munchies. Let’s hope they learned this year what to prepare for next year.
Starting on Day 2, we arrived to find that the convention was sharing space with the Greek Festival whom had extended an invitation for anyone with a Sac Anime badge to join them free of charge. This proved a boon for all involved as it brought a welcome change of pace from anime con immersion, but also crowds of people to the Greek Festival…and even better, to their food areas. There was a lot of food, and all of it damn good. Really damn good. Mind you, after a couple of days of eating almost nothing but that, I was kinda glad to go, but I’ll be damned if that wasn’t both good and convenient for all the convention attendees. I hear they’re going to do this again next year, and if I can make it, I look forward to it. In any event, the convention center itself was capable of handling the crowds of Sac Anime which had long since overwhelmed the Woodland hotel by a fair margin, though unlike most other conventions I’ve gone to, they were very clear about where we were and were not allowed to have cosplay gatherings. Given that the convention center wasn’t really as big as most others and the surrounding area is basically down town Sacramento streets, this move was understandable. And it’s not like the area given to use was in any way lacking. It was upstairs outside on a very large balcony area which was provided more than adequate space for all gatherings, cosplayers, and photographers.
Pictures are and remain one of the activities I enjoy and one of the primary activities I engage in with various others at a convention. Our loose association of individuals continues to acquire a great deal of content for everyone to enjoy; some of which you can find here. Eventually I should be able to get the others’ pictures up there as well. While there are no specific highlights that stood out to me per se, I would like to note that this Harley Quinn here? Yeah, that’s Charmie Sweets an excellent cosplayer and a pretty good friend. I note this only because we kept passing her in the dealer’s hall and couldn’t recognize her to save our lives…and we just weren’t sure if we should walk up and ask and make ourselves look more the fools than we were. Finally we met with another of our group, Pio, who confirmed it was indeed her, so I walked up and said hi. Sorry, Charmie, we’re a bunch of blind bastards, but that was a damn good Harley, heh.
Main event attendance this year consisted of the Masquerade and the concerts as it has for the last two times I was here which you can watch below.
I do apologize for having to remove the audio from the skit at about 19:40 for the Masquerade. King Records Japan is putting a worldwide blackout on all content that uses their label, and by that, I mean they have instructed Youtube to block the whole video, not silence the song, not put a link to buy their song next to the video…no, they block the whole video worldwide. I would recommend to all cosplayers who attend Masquerades that they no longer use copyright music if at all possible, but if they must, then to check the ‘owner’ and see their use policies. It’s become more and more draconian as time has gone on. This year I was really lucky that the convention video man let me borrow a spot on his power strip, as I’d lost a vital piece of gear that allows me to connect to my long life battery…which I have since found (in my sofa…things always wind up there). As far as the content goes, it was most enjoyable; that perfect blend of large convention talent and small convention brevity. Also, props to the dude in the Rainbow Dash cosplay who was the winner of the karaoke competition and rocked the house to “First I wanted you dead, but now I only want you Gone” from Portal 2. On a more sombre note, like last year, we had one of Sac Anime’s well known cosplayers, Elizabeth Stevenson, die before the convention and, as before, a memorial video was shown during the Masquerade . At this time, no one at Sac Anime has come forward with that video, so I cannot include it in the video that was shot. I will not use what video I did shoot through that presentation since this girl was obviously loved and missed by many…I would not put their grief on display for the world to gawk at.
The concerts ran afoul something I’ll talk about in a bit concerning areas of weakness and improvement for the convention this year. Still, despite that initial unpleasantness and despite Mayhem actually having to pull a fifty foot power extension cord right out of his ass (actually, the back of his truck) and get it to me as I could not use my long life battery, we managed to record most of the concerts on Saturday night. This year’s offerings were Akai Sky, Steven Skyler, and Eyeshine. Akai Sky were a pretty good opening act, especially when they started the Attack on Titan theme, which is unique in that the song has that epic soundtrack style of Two Steps From Hell or E.S. Posthumous, and not something you find in anime…though everyone really liked it. Steven Skyler popped up next for a couple of songs, and I was amazed at how talented the dude was. I suspect this guy could have taken any girl (or even multiple girls) he wanted in the audience back to his hotel, had he been so inclined, after that performance. Finally Eyeshine took the stage, which has become a staple of anime conventions both small and large. They have a ready-made audience given who their lead singer is; they’re also decent, talented, and fun. I’ve enjoyed them, the audience enjoys them, they enjoy being where they are, so why, not? I will note it’s good to see they’ve improved over the years as a noticeable smoothing of their initial roughness has been discernable to me in the times I’ve listened to them live.
After hours at a smaller convention tends to move into the areas of dances, if you like that sort of thing, or, since we were downtown on a Saturday night, trying to find a bar to drink at. Original plan was to hit up a bar that had mermaid swimmers, but given the line out the door and our general underdressed status, we opted to continue our quest until we wound up in an Irish Pub. There we sat down and discussed many thing about life, the universe, and everything; trading news, that sort of thing.
And while I’m thinking about it, Yukie Dong, congratulations on your marriage. May it be happy and life long.
This convention is growing, and right now it has that perfect balance of small convention mentality with that growing large convention numbers. However, this year, I’m sensing a general tipping point. Staff was generally friendly and did their jobs, but there were a number of instances where one would have to ask ‘what they were thinking?’ which is not something I’ve seen before here. First one was the guard post set up between Sac Anime and the Greek Festival…I can’t even imagine the mentality that went on thinking THAT was a good idea. The Greek Festival had its own access control and events at Sac Anime had theirs. Putting that sort of badge check demarcation makes about as much sense as me thinking I could out fight Kahn. Then there was the insistence of not allowing press in early for some of the main events that allowed photography and video recording…like the concerts. Look dudes, you see that concert video up there? See how I only got Akai Sky at I think their second song? That’s why you allow us in; so we can get it all for everyone. While enjoyable and fun, it’s still a job we do; one that requires a bit more time to set up for than just sending us in right as the music starts. Finally, while not the fault of the convention itself, I’d like to thank the jerk who got up on the stage with Eyeshine and interfered with them enough that the staff simply removed everyone, including the press photographers. Classy, dude, real fucking classy. Now neither the fans, the band, nor the convention will have good photos of the event.
All in all, this is still a pretty good time. With their new venue you’re not stepping over each other getting from place to place and with all the amenities surrounding it, you’re sure to be able to enjoy your time there to the fullest. A general step up in training those on the ground and some insistence on logical thinking and common sense would seem to be in order, because what we did see, while only a little inconvenient, are warning signs that we’re entering into larger con mentality, and I’d like to see Sac Anime put that off as long as possible.