Anime Conji is currently in its fifth year, and its second year being run by the SPJA. It has changed its location from the Double Tree to the Town and Country to the Sheraton across from the airport this year. The first location change was obviously due to the fact that the convention was already too big for the Double Tree and needed a far larger locale for all the attendees. This current location change was due to the fact that at the Town and Country, everything was scattered all over the place and people were getting lost going from one area to another. Can't really argue with that one, even though I never had that problem. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that they need to pick another date, however...one that does not coincide with Wondercon. They could probably get more attendees and just about any guest one could think of (not that who they had was bad or anything) if they did so. It would probably help with that whole problem of not having a lot of people interested in the Masquerade, which occurred this year, and resulted in the cancellation of said event...which while regrettable is also understandable. They didn't want to just have a twenty minute show after people had been waiting for a couple of hours to get into the main events hall. This offered them an opportunity, however, to experiment with the convention a bit.
One of those experiments was that they had a sort of tent area where they had some cosplay set pieces (an idea whose time has long been overdue), and Nerf. I wasn't quite able to get into it myself, but I did witness a zombie battle bout of which the people died a horrible death. However, yes, nerf guns with nerf darts and lots and lots of people shooting at each other. From what I can tell that was a really fun and really popular thing to do; though I'm unsure of how many nerf darts survived the abuse. But hey, the opportunity to shoot at fellow convention goers...how often do you get to do that?
Another was the Karaoke night and Talk Show that Kyle Hebert was hosting on day two. I checked out the Karaoke for awhile, and noted Kyle wasn't there yet, but I did manage to help sing "Any Way You Want It" by Journey with who was up there and the rest of the audience. My interest in that night, however, was with the adult oriented AMV's, and while I do not have a list of what was played at this event, I can say I understand why they kept these in a sort of 18 and older category...though they didn't even begin to get into the wrongness of AMV Hell /0. Come to think of it, they may need people to sign a waver on that one before watching it...which actually would have been easy since they had wavers for the nerf wars that you had to sign.
On the subject of AMV's for some reason Anime Conji has consistently had a damn good show of them, and this year was no different. Here's the list of them:
ActionPillar Man, Pillar Man - by "LC"_Lapen
Storm - by Straw Buggy
Astral Notes - by Kyros
Wishes in the Dark - by Emma Browning Best in Action
Soul Hunters - by Hagaren Viper
Superalloy - by drewaconclusion
Magi, The Dayman - by BakaOppai
DramaBlame - by [key]Scarlet
A Way - by BasharOfTheAges
When It Rained - by tipsd9video Best in Drama
Hot Commodity - by GuntherAMVs
Face Your Fears - by BakaOppai
Disconnect Destiny - by VivifxAMV
Deez Gunz - by Mr. Pilkington
ComedyThis AMV will win an Oscar! - by Kireblue Judge's Favorite
Hououin Kyouma The Science Guy - Anthony Zalar
Ishvalan Eviction Notice - by Hagaren Viper Coordinator's Choice
AMV(&humor) - by BasharOfTheAges
YTMND AMV: Fad Entertainment System - by drewaconclusion
Anime 101 - by VivifxAMV Best in Comedy and of Show
Krillin, The Nice Guy - by Drabaz
SentimentalCherish - by PiercedSky
Dare You to Dream - by MinetChan
Before I Go - by SelfishPromise
A Drop of Hope - by BakaOppai Best in Sentimental
The Fighting Ippo - by Compbros
Hearts and Houses - by Ryvannis
Go and Be Free - by Lark(1MoonGoddess)
UpbeatRD: "Oh, Action!" - by BasharOfTheAges
39 Degrees Fahrenheit - by "LC"_Lapen
Every Baka Needs Some Baka - by Anthony Zalar
Glam Jam - by GuntherAMVs
A Piece of Toast - by BakaOppai Best in Upbeat
Soul Eaters Anonymous - by BecauseImBored1
Something That I Want - Ryvannis
PreshowLike a Phoenix - Attack on Titan
Edos - nihilant01
Neuromancer - Re-Blended Corn Dog
8th Grade Goober Syndrome - MycathatesyouAMV
Angel With A Heartbeat - LCWorks
Shingeki no Kyoujin - Attack on Titan/Naruto
The Finish Line - Dvi-jigen
Dirty Revenge - l33tmeatwad
Dyslexic of the Abundant Staff - Ryvannis
I Love the Anime World! - Rider4Z, Stryyder (While an older AMV, you should have heard the applause in the audience)
For fuck's sake, Ryvannis, upload your videos so's we can watch them; they're damn good! Anyway, I tried to locate most of them on Youtube, animemusicvideos.org, and wherever else I could. In terms of the Preshow, those are mostly from my scribbled notes, so if anyone knows who or where those videos are, drop me a line, I'll update the links and/or names. A lot of these have made the AMV circuit last year, but are still well worth watching. In terms of cross pollination, yeah, there was a bit of that...a little bit more than I'd like, to be honest. While it's true that some videos can be used for multiple categories others are more at home in one than another...I see a lot of what I'd call straight music videos in several of the other categories this time around. Also, I'm a little surprised that AMV(&humor) by BasharOfTheAges didn't win anything. That one had the audience laughing so hard they were falling out of their seats.
Cosplay was pretty typical for a smaller convention, in that it wasn't me and a few other guys running around killing themselves. This is especially true of this year as the venue was all in one place. You can see a lot of that cosplay here on TFA Cosplay. Most of it was pretty good though nothing really noteworthy that I can report on. There was the well known cosplayer Maridah (from the Middle East pronunciation and not the Irish as I originally thought) was there and held her first panel, which included some good tips for aspiring to advanced cosplayers and cosplay enthusiasts as well as some fun anecdotes about her time in this hobby and her experiences at conventions which you can watch below:
I was unfortunately only able to start the camera going after the second question, which is a damn shame, because that first question, though I do not recall it precisely, was a damn good way to start it.
Other panels I went to was part of the Stunt Fighting panel on Friday with Team Lift XMA. There they demonstrated various weapons and were very clear on flashy vs real (or as they put it, do this and you'll wind up getting stabbed multiple times), how people in movies fight vs how you'd really fight someone (at the risk of repeating myself), and that sort of thing. It was quite a lot of fun; I'll need to make some time to see a full panel if I can. Another panel I went to was the Fakku Q&A. I would...record...this one, but I'm not entirely sure I should. One must understand, these are the dudes who run Fakku, the biggest English hentai doujinshi site in the the world. Absolutely nothing is sacred at this panel, and I do mean NOTHING! It tends to start out with what they're currently fapping to and devolves from there. Through it all, you can piece together some useful information about how they started, their business model, and the like. Also some interesting tidbits like when they finally instituted hash tags, the one most searched for on their site is "Monster Girls". As I'm a fan of that genre myself, it honestly didn't surprise me. But as I said, nothing is sacred here, and while the Burlesque show is risqué, the Fakku panel may get us kicked off Youtube, so I may have to release that as a torrent only, if I'm ever to record that in the future.
Some miscellaneous convention anecdotes. I only managed to go for the first two days, so I didn't really see closing, but I do recall there was to be an Easter Sunday sunrise service with Vic Mignogna. I'm not what you'd call a practicing Christian, though I do try to maintain the positive aspects (there's no other type that I can recall, heh) of the teachings of Jesus in my life, as much as any mortal is able. If he holds another one next year, I may have to attend (unless I'm at Wondercon this time), though I suspect I'd need to get a hotel room for that to make it before sunrise. The dealer's hall and artist's alley were quite large for a convention of this size, and tended to be fairly packed. Like last year, I was noting there were a lot of bigger ticket items getting bought; a lot more than one would think at a convention of this size. As for me, I walked out with a Twilight Sparkle and a Pinkie Pie plushie. Yes, I will be collecting them all as I am able...I'll need another display case, I'm thinking. I noted the press lounge was usually not that occupied (which is a good thing...that means they're all out working), so I tried to stop in from time to time to talk with the two that were there (and I'm so sorry, I cannot for the life of me remember your names) and share my photos and such. Also managed to drop off everything from Anime Expo 2003 on up and Anime Conji's stuff from last year to the press coordinator, Meg Amo, who was probably not expecting all that. Stuffed about five pounds worth of blu rays into her little hand bag...that was amusing. Still, I hope she enjoys it and puts it to good use.
In closing, this year was a lot of experimentation, and it seemed to work out, though I admit to missing a lot of what has become staples of an anime convention, such as the Masquerade. It did allow me to actually go to some panels that interested me though, and assuming I'm not at Wondercon next year, I may be able to check out some of the other stuff they tossed in, like the Talk Show, if they do it again next year. Hell, the panels even prevented me from filming Eyeshine, but while I do enjoy their concerts, I have recorded them several times before. I really hope they bring back the nerf war, though I shudder to think how much they'd be spending on nerf darts. I think, if anything that might be critical of the convention, is that after five years, there still doesn't seem to be any sort of overall direction. Like they're still trying to figure out what they're wanting to do and how they're wanting to do it. I'm not sure this is a bad thing since everyone pretty much copies everyone else. At least someone is TRYING something new; though perhaps they should try a different location next year, if for nothing else, there's nothing to eat around there. Still, if you're in the San Diego area, you're an anime fan, and you're not looking to break your bank just yet, you'll have a decent all around good time there.