Sunday, 23 July 2006 23:29

Fanime Report: 2006

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Fanime...Fanime...Fanime...

What can I really say about this convention? Hmm...I was only there for one day, so it's kind of hard to do a a full blown report on it. My tastes are more geared towards the events and experiences of a convention for reasons I'll state below.

As mentioned, this will be more of a story of impressions. I go to anime conventions now adays to take pictures of cosplayers, go to main events, and hang out with friends and fellow fans I happen to meet. Most of the anime they play I've already seen, am in the process of collecting, and/or have no interest in. I recall I used to spend a lot of time watching anime, both at Comic Con and Anime Expo, but recently there haven't been that much anime that such conventions have played that is not already released in the states...there are really no big premiers, no must see for the experience animes anymore, unless they're going on during main events, which tends to mean, I just don't go. The panels that I want to take part in, are often the same way...or they're something I don't dare try to go into, for fear of life and limb (like the recent CLAMP panel at Anime Expo...more on that one in the Anime Expo report.) It's rather sad, really. There's so much more I want to do at these things, but they conflict with the other things I want to do...which often is done purposely. I'm not the only one, you see, who has to make such decisions, and that keeps some 30,000 people from showing up to a single event. One of these days, I'm just going to say, “Fuck it!” and go to all those other events. Might even be next year, considering I'll be taking at least one day off to go to Transformers the Movie...and I WILL go see that, heh.

But anyway, those are mostly Anime Expo and Comic Con gripes. This is Fanime, and to be honest, all I really came to this one for was to hang out.

It all started when Mayhem noted there was a 3 day weekend coming up on the same weekend Fanime was taking place. He invited me up to hang out and check out a day of Fanime, since he lives in the general area. I checked my own schedule and thought, “You know, that's a good idea.” Gensao was already there for the full convention, so we were definitely going to hook up with him...there was also a few others, such as a couple of friends who were actually convention staff, and whoever else I might run into. But then I thought, “You know, Anyaku is also in the general area.” I haven't seen this guy in years, so we got ahold of Anyaku (author of “The Trials of Tsunami,” other kickass fanfics, and general all around good guy), and invited him along...which he readily agreed to.

For AX, I had been planning on buying a new camera...one far better than the cheesy one on my MiniDV based Panasonic DV-953 camcorder that I've been using the past few years. I had my eyes on a digital SLR for the longest time, but to make it truly functional, I'd have to lug around a few lenses and what not, and I figured...nah, it wasn't worth the hassle of all that. I also wanted to look at my pic on the LCD before I took the pic...single lens reflex cameras don't usually have this feature, and if they do, it's not a direct feed from the actual lens from what I'm given to understand of how they work. So, that knocked what I wanted down to some sort of high end digital camera. Given what I wanted it was either a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 Digital Camera (10 megapixel camera, really nice) or a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30S (I'd have preferred an FZ30K, but Best Buy didn't have the black model, heh), an 8 megapixel camera. Ultimately, even though the Sony had quite a few more megapixels, it had several drawbacks: No optical image stabilization, only a 5x optical zoom, and relied on Sony's proprietary media cards. The Panasonic on the other hand, had such a powerful optical image stabilization that it must have cost someone's soul to invent, 12x optical zoom, and used generic SD cards for its storage. Fanime upped my timetable for getting this camera, and it was funny, as I wound up getting this camera the very day I left for Mayhem's place.

Fortunately, I had a day to get used to the controls of the camera, and had anticipated the arrival of the camera by getting a UV lens, a bag, an extra battery, and LCD protectors...all of which came the day I left. Problem is, UPS has this fun little shipping policy, where they'll ship to residences during the week, yet will only ship in the middle of the FUCKING DAY! Where are most people in the middle of the fucking day during the fucking week? Right you are...at work. So I rescheduled all my shipments to come the day I left...however, what they neglected to tell me was that the camera was given special instructions by Best Buy NOT to have any corrections of address or shipping date, and so...kept trying to deliver it, and finally gave up after their third time and held it on site. In retrospect, I should have just told them to keep everything, and I'd get it from them in the morning...this cost me several hours (as I waited for it to be sent to me), but no real big deal. The idea, you see, was to get to Mayhem's place in enough time to watch X-men 3...which I did...barely. Good movie, btw, but honestly...they really gave Scott the shaft in this trilogy, heheheh.

So the next day we hung out at his place, drank beer, played with his kids and niece, and I got used to my new camera, as well as charged all the batteries for this camera and my video camera, which I had planned to use to video tape the cosplay for Fanime.

Anyway, the next day quickly came, and we actually managed to get going only about 45 minutes late...I swear, one of these days Mayhem will be on schedule and the Hells will freeze over. ^_- In any event, he hooked up the GPS, and we went cruising to Anyaku's place to pick him up, going only about 80 or so, since I didn't dare drive us any faster...though I did drive about 85 or so on the way to the convention over in San Jose...we got there about the time we wanted to, hehehehehe.

Finding parking was not as hard as we thought it was going to be...even better, it was free parking, and not that far from the convention center. We got to the convention center, at about 9:30 in the A.M. and headed inside for registration. No line at all, which was very nice, and we met up with Gensao and his group almost immediately (he actually found us at registration, heh). We paid for our registration, got our bags, and headed upstairs where Gensao has, at this point, told us the dealers hall will soon open. Here, I take the first picture of the convention, which you can see on my site. That's Anyaku, who we were very happy to have with us, as we haven't gotten to see him too often over the years.

Quickly we checked events, and about the only thing I was really interested in was the AMV awards and the Cosplay which was later that evening. So, it was off to the dealer's hall for us, and to my passion at these events: Photographing people in kick ass costumes. Yes, I'll admit it, most of them are cute girls...I'm weak like that, I like cute girls in kick ass costumes. If there's a guy who has a damn good costume and looks decent in it, I'll take a picture of him too, but I will admit to having a bit of a cute girl bias at these things.

This was interesting this year as the EGLs were out in force, and that's something else I'm weak against. I didn't get to attend their meeting, but I did take pics of quite a number of them. Honestly, this makes me really want to do something that I now have the camera to do, and that's a photoshoot. EGLs are really photogenic for the most part, and I would really enjoy doing a few photoshoots one of these days. I should probably get a monopod too.

In the dealers hall, I had only one thing I really wanted to buy, but at $110 per G1 reissue Soundwave, I wasn't going to get those there, heh. Anyaku, on the other hand, got himself the Ai Yori Aoshi visual novel, translated by Hirameki...I need to see how far he's gotten with it. Also, I need to ask Hiremeki how well they're doing, and if they'll ever consider an actual dub special edition of this one, as I think that would be most cool. I actually have a copy, but I haven't started playing it yet.

I found out quickly that Fanime was far less corporately controlled, as opposed to conventions like Anime Expo and Comic Con, which are becoming more and more, like Tradeshows, and thus are subject to stricter corporate guidelines. For one, they were showing a fan parody outside the dealer's hall...something they'd never show at AX or Comic Con. I forget which one it was, but I rather enjoyed the lax atmosphere that made it possible. Also, they had a stunt performance on that very stage later in the day...also something they'd have never done at either of the other conventions.

It was after lunch, when I ran into the cosplayer and her boyfriend that made me sit down and just go, “Whoa...” as well as pay more attention to my surroundings in that context. Epiphanies are funny like that...they make everything seem both super real and surreal. This particular event also inspired the article I recently wrote about how far we've come as fans.

This year, I tried limiting the amount of pics I took with cosplayers, but there were a few I just had to do with the characters, as I loved the characters the girls were playing. I don't think the girl in this pic, who is cosplaying Raven from Teen Titans was too enthused about it (in fact she seemed near half dead when I talked to her, heh), but then there was the girl who cosplayed Bara Suisho. Very nice young lady, and quite pretty. She told me I was the only person out of the blue who realized just who she was cosplaying...I felt so odd about that. I mean, Rozen Maiden is about as fine a story as it gets...how could I have been the only one? And yet, she seemed so excited about it, that I just had to smile...and later get Gensao to take a picture of me with her, cause I just couldn't pass up the chance to take a pic with Bara Suishou, heheheheh. Also, as a bit of a plug for her business, she runs the Pegasus Maiden website and contributes the Applesugar EGL brand featured on that website...some good stuff for an EGL or for the EGL in your life.

Let me segue off a bit from the report and note something that struck me. After this convention, Literary Eagle was showing me the websites where enthusiasts had posted their pics of the EGLs who had visited Fanime. I had known what struck me for awhile, and even commented on it, but this really slid it home. When guys try this, they either look like Hitmen, Quakers, Puritans, or just plain bad. So few of us can pull off true EGA, so only a few even try it. Those that do, can sometimes pull it off, but often...not so well. Which kinda sucks, as I find I'd love to wear something to truly compliment Lita when she goes strolling down the road in her cute little EGL dress, and while The Dark Priest might actually look cool next to her, it just doesn't quite have the right vibe to it...that, and that fucking thing is hotter than Hell (that's not a costume, that's a real wool Monk outfit there). And we can't even use the Nehru anymore, as Neo wore it for most of the Matrix trilogy, without people telling us we're cosplaying Neo all the time...and I liked that outfit too. Honestly, we guys need to figure something out here, 'cause we're not doing too hot in this category.

Back to the convention though. Around the afternoon timeframe, after lunch, Anyaku and I made our way to the AMV awards. I can tell Fanime has far more lax rules when it comes to what can be submitted, as I saw all sorts of strange and wonderful stuff. The best music videos, I thought, was the Avenue Q one, set to various anime, the Furuba one, set to the music by Phil Collins “You'll Be In My Heart,” and the Princess Tutu one set to “Hold Me Now.” I have no idea who sang it, but it was intense. Fun stuff all around.

Eventually time rolled around for the stage performance of the Costume Play. This was done in an old fashioned theatre style building just across from the convention center. Unlike Anime Expo or Comic Con, you didn't need tickets to this event, so people just lined up and waited. Before an event like this, I won't eat or drink anything...typically, lunch will be my last meal of the day...maybe I'll have a light dinner, with a little water, but usually, it's just lunch. Lunch actually comprised of a double cheese burger at Johnny Rockets, some fries, and a diet coke. I should have been set for the day, but it turns out I should have eaten something before hitting this cosplay...and at least drank a little bit. Needless to say, by the end, even though I didn't have any need for bathroom breaks, I still wasn't feeling too hot.

Ah well, nothing that wasn't survivable. So, anyway, I realize one thing...I really want to set up my tripod, but I'm not certain as to the rules concerning it. So, I go looking for a convention representative. Can't find one, so I ask one of the ADR guys in back. This fucking asshole, in his most condescending, “get out of my face you pathetic piece of shit fanboy,” tone of voice says, “Please, don't talk to us.” I flip him off and continue on. I mean honestly, all he had to say was, “Nope, sorry.” when I asked if he knew the policy concerning tripods and such (there's often a fire hazard, you see, with putting them in the aisles). C'mon guys, I know there's a whole lot of you that work at conventions, but there's a time to be a dick, and a time not to be a dick as in all things. Figure out which is which and everyone has more fun...yourself included. That was not the time to be a dick. Anyway, I find myself a volunteer...apparently the convention is seriously understaffed for this event, so finding this guy was a stroke of pure luck. He didn't know, and his supervisor was too busy back stage, and couldn't be bothered to give an answer...assuming his supervisor knew. This is pretty typical for conventions...so few people know anything of value. They small fry, such as minor supervisors, staff, and volunteers are ants...just doing what they're told, like good little lemmings. While sometimes this is unavoidable, honestly, this needs to be remedied in some fashion. Questions need to occasionally be answered, and while mine is admittedly not very important, it could have been...and if your supervisors don't know jack, trying to find someone who does could make things very difficult for everyone in such situations.

Eventually, I just said, “Fuck it!” and set up in the biggest aisle they had. No one had any problem with it, and I was able to film the whole cosplay.

Well, I would like to say this recording was flawless, but honestly, I had two real big camera malfunctions and a bunch of minor ones. First was that the motorized turret I had my camera mounted on had come undone from the bottom of the camera a bit...so it rocked up and down when it got to certain angles. It's annoying, but compensateable (not an actual word). At one point, in between skits, I removed the camera and turret, and screwed the turret to the camera securely, which fixed that problem. Also the person next to me kicked my tripod once pretty hard...also in between a skit, so no big loss there. For the minor stuff, there was the guy who had half his skit done up as a movie so I couldn't get it all recorded as my turret wouldn't tilt to catch the full movie on the projection screen, and the zoom control failed on me during the awards ceremony...nothing major there though, I doubt anyone will even notice that.

Then there was the quality of the plays in general. Somewhat entertaining, but nothing mind blowingly insane like this year's Anime Expo, which rivaled '99 in fun stuff. Honestly, the MC for the Fanime cosplay was often more entertaining than the cosplays, and that's not right. Overall, I can say, I'm happy I got what I did, but I'm not too thrilled with it overall.

After the cosplay, I packed up all my stuff, took a couple of last minute pics, and got the TMFFA group pic here with myself, Mayhem, Gensao, and Anyaku. Usually we get this at Anime Expo (and this year we had some fun guys attend from the old group of Tenchi writers), but for some reason, we never did get together for a group shoot. No big deal, but it's kind of a tradition we didn't get to follow through on this year at AX.

Then came the drive home. I took the first half, driving Anyaku back home. We bid farewell, and Mayhem took the second half. We were both so burnt at this point, we were blaring all sorts of songs that we were singing to, just to stay awake...kinda reminds me of coming home from Mayhem's Bachelor party, heheheheh. Anyway, the songs included everything from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” to “Transformers the Movie”...anything to stay awake.

Somehow we made it back to his place. I tried looking through the fridge for something to eat, but wound up eating a banana and some bread, as I didn't want to cook anything, drinking some tea and water, and crashing hard.

It was fun, can't complain there. Got to see all sorts of fun things, hang out with some friends, take tons of pics, and film what I wanted to. No real complaints can be had...I can honestly say, for what we did here: Mission Accomplished.


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