Out of the several smaller conventions in South Carolina, Columbia happens to be the home of not one, but two conventions! Nashicon in the spring, and Banzaicon in the fall. Attending smaller conventions is always a gamble because many small conventions do not have the resources or the experience to put on a huge show, and while Banzai was not the most guest, nor panel heavy convention I have been to the people and intimate interactions with guest's and panelists are what made this convention special in it's on way.
Guests and Panels
As to be expected in a southern convention Vic Mignognia was a guest of honor. I say this only from expirence, it seems no matter how small the convention is, if it's a southern convention there is a good chance Vic Mignognia will be there, but in addition to Vic, Lisa Ortiz was also in attendance. Lisa Ortiz was a voice actor I had never gotten the chance to meet which lead's me into an antecedent from the convention. Saturday was also Hetalia day and so a group of the fandom was all together. Someone dare a well known member in the fandom to go up to the fandom and say in a very cheesy Russian accent "Will you become one with mother Russia?" (A joke from the anime) As it turns out the first person she saw was Lisa Ortiz (unknown to us at the time) Being a good sport Lisa responded also in a Russian accent "Of course I will!" Later that day upon finding out the lady was indeed Lisa Ortiz we all freaked out and she is now on my list of coolest VA's. In all honesty it is stories such as that that can only happen at a smaller more intimate convention.
As for panels I have several critiques. From my own experience and hearing the stories of other convention attendee's, many of the panel's this year were poorly put together and run. This is no fault of the convention, it is the fault of the fan's preparing their panels, but one thing that could have helped panel's run a bit smoother in my personal opinion is to have staff member's inside the room's as it is at many other conventions, instead of just watching the door outside. Other than that minor critique I thought the selection of panel's was diverse enough considering it's size and amount of submissions.
Hotel and Dining:
Located in downtown Columbia, SC there are many local and chain eatery's right in the epicenter around the convention. The actual convention is held in the Marriott hotel and most people stay right there in the Marriott for convenience reasons. In the event the convention hotel fills before you are able to book there are 3 other hotels recommended by the convention staff and are within walking distance. The Sheraton is across the street from the Marriott, but does not offer the convention rate so is a bit more expensive. The hotel I stay at was the Clarion, which was about a 10 minute walk. I wish I had been able to stay at the convention hotel, but it filled up extremely fast. For the money (Clarion being the cheapest of the 3) it was not too bad and we only had to stay there to sleep.
As far as dining is concerned there are many local and chain restaurants right on the strip beside the convention. There is the hotel bar and a restaurant inside the hotel, the restaurants on the strip and around downtown Columbia are your best options. In the strip are places such as Subway, Pizza Inn, and a small local cafe, but it closes at 3pm. If you are willing to walk a bit further about 7 blocks away is Mellow Mushroom and a small local authentic ramen restaurant that sell's ramen of all kinds and curry. My group on the last day of the con made the adventure out there, and it was well worth it. You are served a massive amount of food for around 7 dollars.
Dealers Room and Artist Alley
I have never been to a convention of that size where the dealer's room left much to be desired until now.Though it is only it's 4th year running the attendance was well over 1500 people (exact numbers are unavailable) The dealer's room had less than the college convention Nerdcon I attended, which only peaked 500 people last year. I was highly disappointed.
The artist however as always featured many beautiful pieces of artwork by many of the local artists! I am never disappointed in the quality and work the artists put into their crafts. My only complaint is the artists alley was not even in it's own room. It was a series of booth's located outside the panel rooms. This created high congestion during peak convention times and when panel's were letting out. Overall organization could have been so much better this year.
Upon deciding to attend Banzaicon I was a bit skeptical at first due to having bad expirences at smaller conventions in the past, but what Banzaicon lacked in size and resources it made up for it in heart, soul, and people. From my experience southern conventions are usually have some of the friendliest people I have ever met and Banzaicon was no exception. If you want to attend a convention where you can meet and recreate close personal relationships with people in the same fandoms as you and even get to experience the quests in a more intimate setting this convention is for you. This convention is great for anyone, but especially someone who it is their first convention.
Another Veteran's Day weekend, another Pacific Media Expo (PMX) has passed by, with this one being the 10th anniversary of the convention. Returning once more to the Hilton Los Angeles Airport (LAX), PMX brings back its wide range of events, panels, workshops, and other activities that cover many areas of East Asian and Pacific Islander popular culture. PMX continues its tradition of catering to a variety of interests from anime and manga to East Asian music, lolita fashion, and martial arts. For veteran attendees of the convention, it should not be a surprise that a panel showcasing voice actors of an anime series would happen simultaneously as a workshop on taiko drumming.
Cosplayer and performer Mikarin takes the stage.
With its location in the LAX area, PMX attendees have quite the variety of dining options that accommodate all budget levels along with the choice of walking a good mile or two for access to 24-hour convenience stores, banks, and more (because sometimes you just happened to have forgotten some key essentials). As for the hotel rooms, they are well equipped with proper furnishings and such to allow for a comfortable stay during the event. In regards to the actual venue, PMX decided to go for the lower 4 floors from the basement to the third floor this time around. As mentioned in my previous reviews of this convention, the interior of the Hilton LAX does not work too well due to lighting issues, but luckily, the third floor gardens and pool area are open to attendees for the purpose of cosplay photoshoots and gatherings. Instead of ani.me like in previous years, PMX has decided to take on the task of maintaining a photobooth as an option for photoshoots this time around with its own team of volunteer photographers (Photos can be found over here.
In the span of the 3 days it occupied the Hilton LAX, PMX offered a wide range of events and activities in the areas it was held in. PMX hosted overseas guests like manga artist Matsumoto Izumi and Japanese band BACK-ON alongside domestic guests like voice actor Michael Sinterniklaas and Internet celebrity Martin "LittleKuriboh" Billany. PMX also featured its usual decently sized Dealer's Hall along with an Artist's Alley for people to purchase a variety of items, whether officially licensed or fanmade. A Swap Meet was also held for 2 out of the 3 days of the convention for a few attendees to find better homes for some of their goods. This time around, PMX allocated space for 3 fashion boutiques selling lolita fashion clothing and accessories. For those who like their games, the Gaming Room in the basement should be able to satisfy those urges with a wide range of video and tabletop games along with a Pump-It-Up tournament as its main attraction of the weekend. A Cosplay Lounge has also been implemented with a repair station alongside consultations with the Masquerade judges. As with last year, a Pocky Room continues to offer a variety of products of the titular brand of covered biscuits along with Ramune and little trinkets. The Maid Cafe has been moved down from its previous location on the top floor to accommodate con attendees better and to lessen elevator delays. Panels, concerts/live performances, workshops, and nightly dances are offered as staple events.
Local cosplayer Tomoyo-chan and official PMX photographer Kris Zoleta answer questions from the audience at a panel.
Panels ran into little trouble if any, showing a steady improvement from when I first attended 2 years ago. There were still times when panels would run past their allocated time slot as typical of most conventions, but these were not too much of a nuisance. As if learning from mistakes made with the scheduling of the main attractions in previous years, PMX has decided to spread them out in such a way that would prevent time conflicts with the BACK-ON and Synthesized Reality Productions (SRP; an international organization of Vocaloid producers including NeutrinoP of Vocalekt Visions who was behind last year's Vocaloid concert) Vocaloid concerts held during time slots away from the Cosplay Masquerade. It definitely helps that these main events were held in the same room, and I for one welcome this change. Lolita fashion and Pocky, not a bad combination.
With the time reorgnaization of main events, PMX has done away with one of its major problems of its programming and its ability to accommodate its audience. However, PMX is still tainted with some flaws. Being a hotel convention and having to use up a total of 4 floors, elevator traffic definitely saw delays especially nearing the time of larger events. Another thing to note is the implementation of Cosplay Red Zones and Cosplay Green Zones, the former of which intended to make non-con hotel guests feel secure in the lobby and other marked areas as cosplayers are not allowed in those areas with weapon props and full-faced masks. With that said, although it does not seem to be happening soon, PMX should look into getting back into a convention center style venue as its attendee count is definitely on the rise and main events have shown to reach full capacity on a consistent basis for the past few years.
Maintaining its tradition of catering to such a wide variety of interests, PMX continues to provide with its entertaining events, panels hosted by both members of the industry and fans alike, and its various workshops, fashion boutiques, and other special purpose rooms. PMX also upholds its intention to strengthen the bond between fans/consumers and industry with a diverse guest line-up as per usual. If you are an avid fan of any part of East Asian or Pacific Islander popular culture, PMX definitely has something for you to enjoy. A good first convention for those who have yet to get their feet wet and an enjoyable convention worthy of checking out for veterans, PMX is definitely a convention to check out especially if you wish to know about what takes place inside the industry of animation, manga, fashion, music, and more.
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This was one of those rare weekends where I was low on money and time. I could get away for Bent-Con for a Saturday and although I am not gay, I was the only one in a position to report on this particular convention. The owner told me I would have a good time and invited me to view as many things as I could, so I took him up on his offer and made the drive to Burbank with my camera and my notebook and kept my eyes open during my first “gay” comic book convention.
I did wonder if I would hear “It’s Rainin’ Men!” at all during the day.
Unfortunately, due to work and child-care needs, I didn’t stay overnight at Bent-Con, but the entirety of the convention was housed in the Burbank Marriott and Convention Center complex. Although this hotel is in the midst of homes, an industrial area, and next to the Burbank Airport, this is a very elegant place. They use polished wood and soft earth tones to their advantage everywhere. They have a Daily Grill in the lobby and spacious areas for people to gather downstairs.
They have a charming, if small, pool, and the staff is very courteous and well-trained. In fact, a friend was staying at the Marriott and registered early on. He was surprised when he opened the door to his room and found a junior suite when he booked a normal room. He was happy enough he didn’t ask, but the best theory I have is that they probably overbooked the hotel, but rather than simply tell him they didn’t have any more rooms, they automatically upgraded him. Although I have dealt with a number of hotels in the Marriott umbrella, this is the first time I have seen a proactive move by one of their hotels, and I commend them for it.
Since the Marriott was holding the entirety of the convention, there is no shuttle system to review.
Bent-Con is a smaller affair, so registration was handled by four people behind one desk. You would think that would create quite a delay, but, the opposite occurred. The crowd around the desk was minimal as they promptly handled requests and issues. In fact, although my press badge wasn’t ready when I arrived, the staff quickly took my name and printed a badge on the spot. Their staff made quick and decisive moves to keep people chugging along and limit any potential problems. They have a lot to be proud of with their workers and organization.
I’m not entirely sure that the Burbank Convention Center needs to be called a Convention Center. You see, this is a one-hall building that resembles a refurbished office building. I saw about six ballrooms of varying size used for a dealer’s hall and panel space. An Artist’s Alley was set up in one of the hallways, as well as some vendors in another hallway.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the space, but it is smaller than I expected for some reason. I’m probably spoiled by the larger and splashier buildings sprinkled across California. In the end, the building size didn’t matter, just the convention inside, right?
The Dealer’s Hall is an extended ballroom in the Burbank Convention Center. They have several artists and independent manufacturers showing off their wares for people to buy. One thing that struck me is that there was no formal industry support for this convention. All of the sellers are independent companies telling new and original stories. Some people would say that’s bad for the convention, but, in retrospect, I think that is bad for the industry. Marvel and DC have both crowed about their LBGT characters, but none of them are fairly featured in their books. They could have a chance to directly address these fans, but no one from any larger comic company, including Image, Aspen, and Top Cow, came to engage the con-goers.
Hopefully, that will be the next step to show these fans that their patronage is welcome.
A lot of the panels are well-catered to their customers, including panels about being fans, being gay fans, interaction with Guests of Honor and their experiences, Though there weren’t many panel rooms, they had full schedules from 12:00 p.m. to about 7:00 p.m. in the evening. Since I was on a short schedule for the convention, I didn’t get to see a lot of the offerings, but I did sit in on a panel with David Yost of Power Rangers fame. He told some interesting stories about growing up, realizing his sexuality, and the subsequent struggles. You rarely hear stories about such things in such strict detail. The staff does a good job of keeping the panels rolling on time and moving people as necessary.
They have a very good process here.
Cosplay here is comparable to Comic-Con during the daytime. You can see some detailed, well thought out costumes, but it doesn’t seem to be a larger part of the convention, so far. I didn’t see any gatherings, but I did see a lot of characters incidentally run into each other and take pictures together. There was a lot of appreciation of the costumes by those not in them, though. A lot of people would stop cosplayers and take pictures of what they see.
The staff is VERY glad to see you!
That is the plainest I could put it. The staffers I ran into made it a point to smile and ask if they could help me with anything. I was very glad to find out that customer service is a big part of the plan for Bent-Con and that the staff remained engaged and interested in what people may need. I really don’t have much more to say. At every level, the convention staff would occasionally look around and make sure we had what we needed.
If the convention had a general issue to overcome, it wouldn’t be the building, but it may be the city. Burbank is a conglomerate of a lot of building types. There are commercial buildings nearby, as well as houses, Burbank Airport, and a few cheap restaurants, including a Denny’s. I would say that the restaurants are the only true advantage of the area. Outside of that, the only useful building that I am aware of in short walking distance is Burbank Airport. There is also a Fry’s Electronics nearby, however, there is a railroad between the hotel and Fry’s, and you need to cross underneath the tracks via two narrow, shallow staircases. It isn’t a welcoming walk.
Though I have written the above, the hotel and convention center are great places for the convention, and I don’t have a great suggestion for an alternative place for the convention to roost.
There is no local night life for the convention to take advantage of, so they largely create their own. There are dances at the convention, as well, as areas to sit down and talk with the other con-goers. They actually created the best convention pool party I have seen complete with a DJ, fire pits, mermaids, mermen, and lots of chairs around the pool.
This is a definitive social convention; this is a place you go to share your fandom with other fans and enjoy the company for a few days. You can find some shopping to take advantage of, but the real draw is the ability to hang out in larger groups. Bent-Con had me a bit anxious since I am a straight male, but my wife kept telling me that they just wanted more people to go, and that was absolutely true. While it is billed and catered to a gay audience, they are very glad to have fans of all stripes show up to enjoy themselves for a while. Not only that, but they seem to have the full support of the facilities they are using and know how to make the most of their time. This convention isn’t necessarily good for kids with adult comics being in full display, but there is a lot for adults to see and do.
If you’re comfortable enough in who you are, you should stop by and have a good time!
Comikaze has had humble beginnings by being held in a make-shift hall in one of the parking lots of the Los Angeles Convention Center in it's first attempt just two years ago. Last year, they moved into the South Hall with some fair success and received a boost when Stan Lee bought in as a partner. This year, they tried an aggressive expansion with museums, sponsorships, and a reality show focusing on several interns. Has that formula paid off? Do we have a new convention in California that lures people to come, or is it more like plumbing the quarter bin?
Myself and two members of the Rolling 20’s decided to test that theory.
In a break from my usual patterns, we stayed at the Los Angeles Luxe Hotel. It was formerly known as the Downtown Los Angeles Holiday Inn. It is decorated in rich earth tones and is pretty subdued as hotels go. There were no after-hours noises or parties, so the hotel was pretty quiet throughout the day. Each room has a wet bar with overpriced items in it. They wanted $9.00 for a small can of jelly beans. If you cleaned out the refrigerated wet bar and put your own stuff in it, they will still charge you $50.00 for cleaning and sterilization.
We kept the wet bar closed.
Parking was also $40.00 per night and valet only ($60.00 per night during large events, like the local Lakers and Kings games.)
On the plus side, though, the staff was very accommodating. They came each day to ask if we wanted free bottles of water and chocolates, offered us apples, responded within 20 minutes to maintenance or extra requests, and treated us fairly for the most part. There was some confusion with the hotel valet that wasn’t pleasant to deal with, but we eventually let it slide.
All in all, it’s not a bad hotel, but with only 2 elevators for 9 floors, you could be waiting a bit on a busy day.
There was no shuttle system for this convention, even though the list of hotels available was almost identical to the Anime Expo, including the Westin Bonaventure. Though, for reasons I don’t know, no one seemed upset by the lack of convention-provided transportation.
This is another situation where I want to seriously know why Anime Expo registration can be such an arduous affair when other conventions in the same building can be so slick. I lined up at 9:00 a.m., two hours before registration. Their registration opened on time at 11:00 a.m., I was about 15 people back in line, and my total wait time during active registration was… 6 minutes. That’s quite a feat when there appears to only be 12 to 18 people with scanners. They scan your confirmation, and immediately hand you a badge. You walk to another table where they give you a lanyard and a badge holder, and you’re done.
There is no registration pack, but there’s 5 different locations you can pick up copies of the convention schedule/program inside and outside of the Dealer’s Hall.
There was another thing that they did that was BRILLIANT. When I lined up for registration, I was in a line with several people who already had badges. It turns out, they had people waiting to get in when the convention opened at 1:00 p.m. on Friday in the same line as those waiting for badges. I didn’t understand until after the doors opened at 11:00 a.m. While I went to get my badge, anyone with a badge was taken up the escalator on the far left side of the Dealer’s Hall, and they were taken to a place to line up and wait for the convention to open INSIDE THE DEALER’S HALL. It had a snaking barricade set up so people were not waiting in the sun all day and losing I.Q. points from exposure.
If I had a complaint, it would be that the badges have no identifying name on them if they are not a special guest, exhibitor, or press member. If you lose a badge, anyone can pick it up and walk into the convention.
During the weekend, there was rarely a line for registration of any sort. They handle their ticketing expediently and keep people moving. However, there was a line to buy tickets every day, including the last day of the convention. It appears that word-of-mouth is spreading about this convention, as well as the advertising done via SyFy’s Fangasm show.
I said it last year, but someone from the SPJA should contact Comikaze and ask how they can match their process.
The Los Angeles Convention Center is still an interesting place for a convention with its numerous meeting rooms, bridge over Pico Boulevard, and two halls for dealer or multipurpose space. Comikaze is especially confusing to me due to how well it did use its space.
You see, Anime Expo and Comikaze have roughly the same attendance. Anime Expo may be a bit larger, but not by much, and Comikaze’s entire operation was inside the South Hall. They didn’t use the Skybridge or the West Hall… and, it worked well!
For panels, they used the rooms on the third floor of the South Hall and another space I’ll tell you about in a minute. But, even with all of the panels, the use of all of the South Hall for exhibition space, and the cafeteria in full swing, there was rarely a feeling of crowding in the convention center. They allocated space well and kept too many people from creating logjams.
Even the convention center staff was nicer than I was used to, especially after this year’s interaction with the Anime Expo. Although the building was busy, it was very relaxed, and there was a lot of smiles on people’s faces.
If you’ve wondered what it would be like if someone tried to emulate San Diego’s Comic-Con on a smaller scale, you’d have what we saw at Comikaze.
They have upgraded from last year by bringing in some larger name vendors like Aspen, Top Cow, Valiant, Yes Anime, Lion Forge, and Toynami. Hot Topic and Whimsic Alley were large sponsors this year, and both had booths with wares and giveaway games. There were also comic vendors, clothing sellers, cosplay idols, and stars who had their own tables. I managed to wrangle a signed print from J.Scott Campbell at his booth.
We were really awestruck by the Legacy Effects display. They brought examples of their work for people to view, and that included life-size displays of the Iron Monger armor, the Destroyer armor, several Iron Man armors, and a few other odds and ends.
Comikaze still has a great layout for their dealer’s hall, and they have tweaked it to be even better. There is still a main hallway that is double the size of most of their other walking lanes. You can take it straight back to the Main Stage where their biggest guests, announcements, and demonstrations take place. However, this year, they balanced their dealer’s hall by adding the Artists Alley and small press as the last tables you walk by to get to the Main Stage. It gives the room more balance when you have a reason several times a day to walk by vendors and artists to get to the big stars as they speak.
The autograph section was on the far right of the dealer’s hall along with tables for some of the bigger stars like “Weird” Al Yankovic and Louie Anderson, and on the far left was the Video Game Museum. It was like walking through memories of video games past, including stand-up arcade machines of the original Super Mario Brothers and Toobin’, glass cases filled with patches (kids will know them as “ancient achievements”), and even old couches across from working tube televisions with either a Super Nintendo or an Atari 2600 attached to them.
Keith Apicary would have a conniption with all of the awesome to be seen there.
Additionally, there were museums to the careers of Elvira and Stan Lee, where you could view their memorabilia and where they would occasionally appear to sign things for their fans.
The panels are mostly fan and fan-organization affairs, but they are still a lot of fun.
There were discussions of female fandom, how to duel with a lightsaber, improv groups, comedy shows, and a lot of the other usual panels you find at conventions about beginning cosplay and how to collect certain items.
Arguably, the most punch in the presentations was at the Main Stage at the back of the Dealer’s Hall, where Levar Burton, the casts of Fangasm and Who Wants To Be A Superhero, Tara Strong, and Stan Lee himself made appearances.
There is a little bit of everything to feed your fan-beast.
While cosplay at the last comic book convention I visited was light, Comikaze was much more intense with it, if a bit disorganized. There were large groups for both Marvel and DC, but not much else. However, there were more random cosplayers walking in and around the convention for you to see.
Maybe it’s the vibe of a sci-fi convention, rather than just an anime convention, but there was a MUCH more varied sample of cosplay at this convention. We saw Power Rangers, Ghostbusters, Sailor Scouts, X-Men, Avengers, Justice League’ers, Serenity crew, 7 different Doctors and their companions, and the villains associated with the same.
We even saw some obscure cosplay we haven’t seen before.
There is a lot to like as people let their flags fly…
Comic-Con still has the best, friendliest staff I have ever encountered… but now, I have a close second-favorite.
Comikaze’s people were more than helpful a lot of the time. They actually seemed to care what kind of time the attendees were having. Early on Day 1, I ran into two staffers who held up paddles and were looking warily at the attendees. I thought it was some kind of line control until I came close. The paddles said, “Ask Me!” I’ve seen conventions answer questions as they came, but this was the first time I’ve seen people with clipboards of information actually solicit questions before they are asked.
The thing I wasn’t prepared for was how well the Los Angeles Convention Center staff worked with the Comikaze staff. After personal experiences from this July hitting a new low, the staff the LACC assigned to Comikaze were helpful and offered suggestions. If their suggestions didn’t work, they wanted to know so they had the correct answers.
Where were these people for AX?!
If you’ve been to Anime Expo or one of the myriad of conventions in Downtown Los Angeles, you know what you’re in for. The area is a financial district, so there is money being made by people who already have a lot of money, and a lot of things in the area are priced accordingly.
Parking is a premium that can run anywhere from a few dollars to almost $50.00 per day, restaurants have entrees that average around $17.00 to $26.00 per plate unless you know where to look, and there isn’t a whole lot to do in the area unless you’re into fine dining, dinner clubs, or the local concerts and/or sports teams.
Maybe they are just de-sensitized to all of the events that happen at the Convention Center through the year, but there is no incentive for the city to get involved in entertaining the masses locally. I know that San Diego has set the bar impossibly high, but I would like to see my home city at least try to work with local conventions to get more people to come for them.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a night life if you didn’t arrive with money to spend. Comikaze doesn’t have dances or late night panels as they operate most of the daytime hours (9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.). The local city doesn’t have much to offer beyond that besides the afore-mentioned dinner clubs, Lucky Strike bowling, or a movie theater.
Hopefully, you brought a video game system or tablet to occupy your downtime.
There is still room for improvement and growth in this convention, but there have been large strides made since last year, and that is an achievement considering how fast this convention has expanded. The staff really seems to care what people think and say about things both good and bad on their efforts. More and more high-powered vendors are also paying attention to this convention. Does that have to do with the fact that Stan Lee and Elvira’s names are on the banners? In all fairness, probably, but they’re working that to their full advantage, and I feel that the con-goers are reaping the benefits.
“Comic-Con Lite” may be finding its own formula to high success soon. It may even transform into another can’t-miss convention that Los Angeles has been searching for. If you want to find out what happens, show up next year, True Believer!
Recently this devil decided to make her way down to Georgia, but instead of looking for a soul to steal I went in search of cosplayers and anime merchandise. Anime Weekend Atlanta is rather large anime convention, reporting in with 18,000 in attendance this year, in the heart of the south in the city of Atlanta Georgia, making this con numbers wise much larger than Katsucon, which was previously thought to be one of the largest anime con's on the east coast, coming behind Anime Boston and Otakon.
Location and layout.
The convention is spread out between the Cobb Convention Center and connected Renaissance Hotel, even leading into the adjacent park featuring the popular group photoshoot area "The Amphitheater." Navigating AWA is very confusing in the beginning, more so than some of the other convention's I have been two because technically it takes place in two buildings, Once you have learned the layout and have walked the convention several times over it becomes second nature where to go, you even learn several short cuts. At the end of the weekend I was still discovering new passageways and routes to get from one area to the other faster than following the flow of traffic.
Downstairs of the convention center is an area known as "the mall" it features a full food court and several shops. These eating area's are relatively reasonably priced because they are retail locations and not convention food venders. I ate more subway 5 dollar footlongs that weekend than I probably have in my entire life for this reason. Unfortunately if you plan to eat in the food court I would suggest budgeting at least half an hour for meals due to line wait and finding seating, but it's worth it to not starve and to have options.
Hotel and Parking
For Anime Weekend Atlanta the Rennissance Hotel and the Sheraton, located across the street and connected to the convention center via a skywalk are the two "con hotels"In addition to these two hotels there are a large number of hotels within walking distance and all in one group of each other. There are a number of perks of staying at The Sheraton or The Renaissance, but if money is tight staying at one of the further away hotels is a wonderful money saving option, especially since parking at convention center is free. The parking garage does fill up very fast, Sunday being the worst day, so another option is to take the free shuttle to the convention. (Above- Black Butler cosplayers outside the Renaissance Hotel)
Programming and Panels.
(As a disclaimer when I critique an event or how an event was run that is my personal opinion from my experiences. My opinion in no way represents the opinions of the entire Mission Start Podcast staff)
I can not say from past AWA experience due to this being my first, but this years variety of panels was excellent. In past reviews I have played heavily on not enough diversity in fan panels approved, but paneling was something done right at this year's AWA. There was catering to every demographic of convention goer whether you were a fanboy, photographer, plus sized cosplayer or wanting to plunge into lolita fashion.
While the panels where wonderful and a nice variety, though running on "otaku time" (15 minutes late for everything) I can not say the same about other programming such as the formal ball and the rave. The AWA ball can be described as a glorified prom with food and cosplay. I have heard from numerous sources this as well. While balls are usually included in your ticket price at the con's I have attended, this ball costed extra to attend. I paid extra to listen to top 40 music in a overcrowded ballroom and eat. I will say this though, Go at least once, it is worth the experience and you might possibly enjoy it. My personal experience is just that, personal. Also I attempted to attend the rave this year. Keyword attempted. Saturday night's rave stated 2 hours later than scheduled, allowing guests in at nearly 1am, then once the ballroom it was held in filled to fire code everyone else was left waiting in line for up to 3 hours until someone left the rave and many did not get to attend at all. Once inside the rave after a 2 hour wait we left early due to no space to dance or move. During the rave there was excitement though. Before hand while waiting in line we witnessed someone steal the fire extinuisher and then be chased inside the rave by con staff, then once inside the rave one of the amplifiers caught fire causing panic and everyone to bomb rush the exits. Don't worry the fire was put out nearly instantly.
Overall Anime Weekend Atlanta is a wonderful convention with exceptionally friendly people. Though many personal events almost ruined the entire convention for me, the warm atmosphere and equally warm weather were able to put a smile back on this otaku's face. My advice to anyone attending this convention in the near future is to 1, stay hydrated. In September the south is still quite hot and humid causing you to sweat far more than if it were not humid. 2, wear good shoes and prepare for a lot of walking, having the convention center spread between 2 buildings lead for more walking than I was use to and by the end of day 1 I couldn't wear heels the rest of the weekend. and 3, come with an open mind and have fun. Also check out the dealers room and artist alley, both conveniently next door to one another. For a con it's size the dealer's room was pleasantly less crowded than at many cons and there was plenty of space to walk in, making buying items an even more enjoyable experience (until you realize how much money you actually spent.) All in all I would recommend this convention for someone who is a bit more experienced in conventions and trying to branch into going into bigger cons, but is not quite ready to face the crowds of Otakon.
With the summer convention coming to a close, SacAnime completes its first year run at the Sacramento Convention Center. While many have had mixed views based on the performance of its trial run, this reviewer found the experience to be fleshed out --having a greater sense of wholeness in comparison to its preceding run. I'm a man who loves his food --what can I say?
To many Californians, aside from San Jose's Fanime and San Diego's Comic-Con, SacAnime was the only convention that could cater to an anime fan's (note, not the pejorative word "otaku") interests. In fact, over the years, Sacramentans and many others have had the opportunity to actually watch an event grow and develop over the years. In its origins, the con had barely scraped over a couple hundred attendees. Nearly a decade later, Summer 2013 set a projection of 7,500 attendees, though the actual total hit over a staggering 9,500. Attendance notwithstanding, there was quite a lot the con had to offer any prospective attendee.
First off, unlike last year, SacAnime had just about full reign over the convention center... Aside from having to share the event with a Greek Festival that was being held that same weekend. If I could interject for a moment here, I just want to say that the gyros there were AMAZING for $7. Pictured right is the stock image that a booth for Kronos Gyros used (if I'm not mistaken) for those curious of what a gyro entails. In a pita bread, fresh carved meat, tomatoes, red onions and a savory Greek cucumber yogurt to top. Other than my salivating thoughts of their food, the Greek Festival did provide a nice change of pace if one looked forward to mixing things up during the weekend. While I wasn't able to look too deeply into GreekFest, it looked rather busy with fresh food stands, jewelry booths, art booths, a dance floor and other miscellaneous shops. Had I the time, I would've loved to check it out further.
SacAnime as a whole did improve on itself and by having a wider range of space, a lot of activities were easier to access. Unfortunately, even considering the expansion did help with overall events, access to the upstairs was somewhat limited to the attending public as the escalators had broken down on more than one occasion. With the upstairs department divided between competitive tournament play and more casual arcade gaming on the opposite end. Being able to access the game room, arcade and autograph session uninhibited by foot traffic was an amazing plus, though the autograph section itself was heavily populated; more on that later.
Full access to the upstairs also provided a nice change of scenery to any cosplay photography. On top of which, for those who desired touch of change to scenery could enjoy something new for the background if their pictures as well as a wide open space for skits and relaxation purposes. With the Greek Festival also taking place, part of the lower half of the building was restricted, so a lot of open space which could've been used for gatherings and general relaxation purposes was unfortunately barred from the attendees. Aside from that though, the vendor's hall/artist's alley was actually made larger from its previous run as it filled two exhibit halls. Needless to say, I was rather impressed with its expanded presentation.
Regarding the vendor's hall, I did think its design was handled well, though the selection of products was kept mainstream and felt otherwise limited and/or repetitive. Aside from a few choice items here and there, I couldn't find much to compel myself to shop. If there was any major complaint I had in regards to the vendor's hall, it would have to be that the only place selling manga was a shop called 'The Comic Shop' and even then, I saw transactions being rung up as the product's full value and what I could assume was roughly 9% for tax, though my math could've been off slightly. I could go into detail, but unfortunately, it's nothing pleasant. Aside from that, the vendor's hall did provide just about everything for anyone's needs.
Restaurants around the area seemed rather accommodating as well with everything from pizza to sushi and even a delicatessen in the nearby area. Of the various places that were around and got a huge boost in success thanks to the convention, I'd like to give a bit of a shout-out to Upper Crust Pizza, Pennisi's Deli and of course, Mikuni's. Ever since the shift of venue to the convention center, Upper Crust provided an all-you-can-eat experience for a low price, Pennisi's provided great quality in their food with a nearby venue and as for Mikuni's? Well, between the Zig-Zag Handrolls, the Unagi Dons and the bevy of other food choices available, one honestly can't go wrong.
A $10 pizza buffet and handmade sandwiches that aren't from Subway? Count me in!
The game room was also revamped in this round of convention entertainment, expanding from one minor room to an entire FLOOR of the convention center. On top of this, there was a split between gaming preferences wherein half of the upper floor was dedicated to arcade gaming whereas the other half was dedicated to console gaming and tournaments. Speaking of tournaments, T.B.A.G.R. or The Big Anime Gaming Room
helped manage both the free gaming and tournament aspects of the convention. Additionally, I was able to help provide the group with some prizes including several gaming posters, a couple guides and even some games. I couldn't believe how busy it was in there! On Saturday, the game room was entirely packed with people aching to play a match of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
and to watch the various tournaments being held.
Lastly, my favorite element of conventions: autographing. To many, this may be the sole reason for attending a convention while for others, a mere bonus to the festivities. Naturally, there are a few sets of fears associated with celebrities and conventions: lines, shock, hydration and not knowing whether or not a person will have the opportunity to get articles signed. In my case, I unfortunately found myself to be denied a chance to meet Charles Martinet who voiced characters such as Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi from the Super Mario Bros.
series, Paarthurnax from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
and several smaller, more miscellaneous roles for a myriad of titles. Other well known actors included (with condensed descriptions):
-Troy Baker: Vincent Brooks from ATLUS' Catherine,
Joel from The Last of Us,
Snow Villiers from Final Fantasy XIII-
Johnny Young Bosch: singer for the band Eyeshine and voiced Vash from Trigun
and Kaneda from Akira
-Ashley Johnson: Ellie from The Last of Us
, Terra from Teen Titans
and Gwen Tennyson from Ben 10
-Cherami Leigh: Lucy from Fairy Tail
, Gaige from Borderlands 2
and Asuna from Sword Art Online
-Nolan North: Desmond Miles from the Assassin's Creed
series, Nathan Drake from Uncharted
-Sumi Shimamoto: the original va for Nausicaä in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
and Kyoko from Maison Ikkoku
I was able to get my hands on plenty of autographs, but due to limitations presented by blocked off sections of the building, lines were abhorrently crowded, tight and felt like a clausterphobe's nightmare. On top of which, the lack of any feasible hydration stations left con-goers (myself included) waiting in line --some in stifling costumes-- with little to no ventilation and had left some members in attendance feeling light-headed, dehydrated and otherwise less than prime. When it came to the actual autographing sessions however, disregarding the primary line, autographs were broken into three areas based on which person had their table set up, leaving autographs to the discretion of the attendees. While this did help streamline matters somewhat, the tight coiling of the line and the narrow hallway where awaiting fans had to traverse made the experience relatively uncomfortable. If there was full access to the center, one possibility came to mind of separating the larger drawing celebrity's line into an adjacent area so there would be freer access for those who wish to get other autographs. Furthermore, the heat that built up in the line areas had lead to premature exhaustion of guests and nearly left this reporter fainting from dehydration (though in all fairness, wearing a satin cape didn't help much either). While it's just a thought, hydration stations would've been a great asset to have at some of the corners in line, regardless of the cost. It just takes one person collapsing to potentially mar the image of a big organization.
Was waiting nearly two hours in line worth it to get Sumi Shimamoto's autograph on a poster I shelled out $5 for worth it? Absolutely.
All things considered, SacAnime Summer 2013 was a lot of fun. While the convention still seems just a slight bit rough around the edges, it feels as though the con has found its rightful place after nearly ten years of entertainment. If there was anything I'd like to impart onto the staff for next year's assembly, it would be that for areas such as the autograph lines, little modifications could've made the overall experience feel that much greater. I personally can't complain about the Greek festival, though if it was either earlier or later, then the crowd that wished to enjoy that would've been able to do so without feeling impeded upon and the SacAnime crowd could've also felt somewhat more liberated. These things aside, it was a great experience and I can't wait to see what SacAnime Winter, 2014 has in store for us down the road.
Reviewed by: Kaz
Final Report: The convention could've used some minor tweaking, but was still wholly enjoyable. There was a certain lack of vibrancy present however, though I can't place what it was about it. Keep up the good work, SacAnime staff!
On a personal note, I tried to capture the majesty of Ninja Sex Party's singer/guitarist Danny Sexbang on Saturday. Little did I realize that carrying a guitar and a full speaker set was going to be as heavy as it was. Either way, I had a blast that weekend. For those new to the convention circuit, SacAnime's a great convention to ease oneself into.
If you are part of the otaku/nerd culture in America you have probably heard of Otakon. This year Otakon topped a record number of attendee's. 34,100 to be exact. This puts Otakon at the largest anime convention on the east coast, but ignoring all of the hype, is it worth it it? Some attendee's I talked to had traveled from as far away as Seattle to attend this convention. I have a very simple answer answer to this. Yes, I highly encourage everyone to expirence Otakon at least once in their lives, especially if you live towards the eastern United States and do not have to fly.
Baltimore is a huge city, the largest city I have been to other than DC for Katsucon and AUSA. That being said be prepared to pay a hefty fine for parking. To park for the weekend my car mates and I shelled out 58 dollars to park Thursday night through Sunday afternoon. Other than the parking situation the convention costed no more than any other conventions. A pass costs 80 at the door, but if you ordered up until the week before the convention you could get your pass for 70 as I did. Considering the size of the convention this is actually a rather nice deal, considering Animazement in Raleigh's pass, a convention 1/5 the size for this year is 60 and Katsucons pass at the door is 70 and they're half the size.
It's crowded. Baltimore CC is a large establishment, but when you throw 34,000 people into anywhere be prepared for congestion. Overall the convention did a fair job at trying to direct the flow of traffic, but there were many times where I would be trying to get from one end of the convention to the other and had to cross the sky walk and it would be impossible to cross due to the mass number of people trying to cross at once. Extreme lines did not help with the congestion. A line would be forming for a panel or a guest or the dealers room and though there would be ropes at times the lines seemed to form in the middle of a walk way and stay that way until a member of staff could redirect traffic.
Dealers Room, Panels, and more:
Due to the mass number of people in attendence the line to the dealers room extended from the dealers room, up a flight of stairs, then onto the main level and looped around a rope maze. This sounds like it would not be worth it, but the line fortunately moved rather quickly considering the size. Once inside the dealers room I was in awe of the many things you could buy. I was highly impressed by the selection offered and the number of dealers set up. I ended up spending 30 dollars solely on manga because I could find ones there I could not find anywhere else. Anything you could image was there, including the usual booth's such as the Funimation booth and the "Rainbow Yaoi booth" Yes, there is a booth selling nothing but Yaoi and Yuri that you can see across the dealers room because it waves a giant rainbow flag high above any other booths.
I only attended two panels the entire convention, that was not because they were not interesting, but because I was so busy. The panel selection was fantastic and I was pleased to see there was not six thousand of the same panel. Only one of each kind of panel was accepted so the issue of having six as a nation panels did not arise. My favorite panel at the convention was the Cosplayer Nation documentary. I even had a cameo in it! It was great to see the behind the scenes of everything cosplayers have to go through in order to make the cosplays we do and hear different stories of why we do it.
Sadly I was not able to see TM Revolution live or the Masquerade. The line for TM Revolution began to form 3 hours in advance and by the time I was able to head to the arena to see them the line was wrapped around the building, this was an hour before.
Hotels and getting around Baltimore:
Around the immediate area of the convention center are several hotels. The hotels to the side of the convention center are connected by a sky walk so con goers never have to actually set foot in the streets of Baltimore. This is a great way to go if you want to pay the extra price for being next door to the convention, but you do not get a feel for the city. There are also a plethera of hotels within a mile of the convention center that are in downtown Baltimore. My crew stayed in the Quality Inn, which is 3 blocks away. It wasn't a bad deal, but the only draw back not staying right next to the con was walking through downtown Baltimore at night wearing costumes and some of my friends very little clothes. We did not stay for the rave and my room had a 1am curfew to keep everyone safe. It is always best to be safe than sorry when dealing with your money and very expensive items such as camera's and also your life.
Another option available to those living in area is to take the light rail in. There is parking at light rail stops and many people I talked to who did not have money to stay in a hotel used the light rail to commute every day. Also City of Baltimore has a bus system that can take you to anywhere in the city so let's say if your cosplay messes up and you need a last minute walmart run, but it will cost extra to move your car? Take the city bus! It makes things quite convenient if you do not mind wandering around Baltimore in cosplay.
All in all Otakon is a huge con but if you don't mind waiting in lines it is well worth it. If it is your first time headed to Otakon my advice would be read up as much information as you can. There are many advice pieces written and they all offer the same general advice. Watch your money, don't wander Baltimore at night, stay hydrated and arrive early. Also I would like to throw in my own personal piece of advice, pick up your badge Thursday. You will stand in line for many many hours if you do not and you will loose a good chunk of your con time Friday if you do not. Thursday when I picked up my badge I waited in line for maybe 45 minutes instead of the 4 hours it would have taken me if I had not gone Thursday.
Also, never buy drinks inside of the convention. Support "Ice cold water, it's only one dollar" guy and buy from him. It will save your wallet in the long wrong and plus, he is the inside joke of all otakon goers. If you say "Ice cold water" to anyone who has been Otakon they will immediatly think back to ice cold water man.
So is it worth it? Hell yes it's worth it.
by M.J. Pennington
Con Photographer, and Reporter
"A weekend of Villains and Vigilantes!" from a volunteers point of view!
Registration is where I worked! I enjoyed working it and the people I worked with were UBER nice and fun! I really liked meeting all the con goers as they came up to the table. My favorite ones were the ones who you could tell it was their first con all bouncy and smiles. I also enjoyed seeing people be reunited with friends whom they havent seen in a while.
Location, Hotel and Parking
This Glitch-Con was held in Springdale at the Holiday Inn! There was plenty of room and parking for all who came to the convention there. The group that I went with stayed at the La Quinta Inn that was right next door to the convention. This location was good cause there was plenty of food choices within walking distance from the convention building.
Panels & Events
Where can I begin on the Events. There was a bit of everything anime, gaming, sci-fi, Steampunk! I did two panels with friends, and got to sit in on a couple of others. There was a lot of fun stuff to do. I would have to say that my favorite panel, even though i didnt get to sit through all of it, would have to be the "Ancient Anime" panel. They showed all sorts of clips from really REALLY old animes like Kimba and Speed Racer (even though it wasnt called that in Japan I cant remember what it was called over there)
I loved the Artist Alley! It was right behind the registration desk and I was able to look over my shoulder and see stuff. Equinox Comics ( http://www.equinoxcomics.com ) was there! I saw them at TnT they are a bunch of talented guys and really nice! Creations by Caitlin (https://www.etsy.com/shop/LenKitty?ref=si_shop ) AWESOME HATS AND HOMEMADE PLUSHIES! Then there was 2 Nerds on a Couch (http://www.etsy.com/shop/2nerdsonacouch ) and their impressive art works! There was so much there I could probably write a novel on the Artist alley alone!
The Dealers room was nice and all the Vendors were really nice. I made friends in the dealer room. Luke got loads of candy when he spent his money on a candy prize bag you buy a bag of candy then you got a ticket for a prize that was in a box. My favorite part was I found a Black Panther Comic I had been looking for for a long time. I was sad that I wasnt able to get bak to the dealers room and get a better look at hte mans collection to see if he had any ant-man but there is always next year!
The Sky D.o.G.s, Claire Ashgrove, Richard Epcar, Steve Downes, and Colleen Clinkenbeard are just a few of the awesome guests that were at this con this year. All awesome in their own way and blast to meet. I didnt get to go to the signings like i normally do, but I did get to meet them in the hall and say hi and they were awesome. I can not wait till I get to meet them again.
As a volunteer staff member I had so much fun working with everyone! They were nice and helpful to everyone that was there. If you got confused or lost there was a staff member there to help you right away. Which it helped me having the schedules printed off and maps all over. If I didnt know something , being a first year glitch-con volunteer, there were people who I was able to ask who knew. I felt really blessed working with this lot and from my point of view everything seemed to have gone very smoothly.
There were no schedule photoshoots at this convention but there sure were alot of photographers there taking pictures of all the different people, stuff and even the cosplayers who were there. My cosplay partner and myself got several pictures taken of us during and around our panels and even while it was slow and we were working.
A lot of people think as a photographer I see other photographers as competition, I know this cause i have two ears people and I do use them, but I dont. I love other photographers each one of them are artists and take pictures differently than the other, just look in our photos you will see the difference not only in the quality but in the angels and what not that each photographer uses. Im saying that cause I get excited when i make friends with a person who is a photographer It is just AWESOME! not only cause I have someone new to talk about photography about, or cause i have someone to take pictures of me in my cosplays but because I am meeting someone who will show me how they see things in the world through their pictures. David Lackey of No Robots Photography (https://www.facebook.com/NoRobotsPhotography ) is a new photographer that I met and I love his photos. You should go, like, and check out hsi stuff! he is really talented photographer!
Glitch- Con had Music, Dance, Comedy and Variety Acts this year. The Master Of Ceremonies was none other than Mr. Peter Pixie himself, just so you know I so did not fan-girl everytime I saw him. Especially when I was in my Kurogane cosplay cause that would have been out of character.
The Damsels of Dorkington, I met them at the registration desk they were nice, but sadily I was not able to go to thier show cause of helping at registration, but I heard LOADS of awesome stuff about it and I am planning on seeing their show next time we are in the same place.
The Plaid Jackets, DJ Azrael, DJ Blay, AND DJ Infamous had the convention dancing and dancing.
Suzy Specter, I dont think I have the right words to describe her but I will sure try. Talented, Sweet, Elegant, Graceful, and so much more! I was blessed to meet her at a Drake-con when she had a panel on belly dancing..... I didnt do well in that but it was a lot of fun and i did learn a little bit, cant do it but i did learn. I was so excited when I saw her and I was able to see a little bit of her panel that was today and I got to see her in her Sebatian cosplay which both made me happy. I hope next time we are at hte same con I will get to sit in on more of her panels.
I did not get to Carnival Epsilons act but I heard from congoers that it was really cool, and a must see. I also heard something about apples and chainsaws. I did get to meet some of them at their booth in the dealers room, they were the lovely people who had the bags of candy with the tickets, and they were really nice. There was a lot of beautiful patches there and some interesting embrodered feathers.
Glitch- con charity of choice this year was the Northwest Arkansas Women's Shelter
. The Northwest Arkansas Women's Shelter is committed to serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and to empowering them to build lives free of violence. I personally think this is a great charity and wished I had more to give like Arkansas State Senator John Woods who came out to the convention and donated $10,000 to Northwest Arkansas Women's Shelter on behalf of Glitch-Con. HOW AWESOME IS THAT PEOPLE!
Should you go to Glith-Con. YEAH! Im not just saying that cause I was helping them. I really mean it. It is a wonderful convention with wonderful people, interesting guests, fun panels, AWESOME MUSIC, cool stuff, TONS of games, and much more!
I suggest if you can go to Glitch- Con 2014.
by M.J. Pennington
Con Photographer, and Reporter
When you go to the register you normally need your id and/ or the paper that says you paid for the pass. Well I have a funny story. WE get to the con and was having trouble finding the papers but we eventually did find them, and when my group got to the regestration desk( which wasnt crowded or anything cause we got there later in the evening on friday) the only person who had their id was my roommate/cosplay partner. My wallet was missing and hte other in our party didnt have his id in his wallet. If I hadnt insisted on finding the papers for little man three out of the four of us probably wouldnt had been allowed in, or would have had to rebuy our tickets. The girl at registration was really nice and sweet which made things a little bit easier and my wallet THANK THE LORD just fell out my bag in the car floor board.
Location, Hotel and Parking
TnT was at the beautiful and large Tulsa convention center in Tulsa Oklahoma, and we stayed at the Doubletree hotel. We parked in a parking garage and that is where our car stayed the whole weekend cause the spot we got was not easy to find.
The convention building had enough room for lots of panels and events and for lots of congoers to move around without bumping into one another all the time.
The hotel I wasnt really happy with. The beds were uncomfortable, and small. I didnt get much sleep that weekend probably 6 hours from friday to sunday all together! there was no fridge or microwave. See i wouldnt have minded if there was a contenental breakfast included with the price that we paid for the room, but there wasnt one and we didnt have anything to cook or store food. The bathroom was TINY. not small TINY!
Next year if things permit and I am able to go I will not NOT be staying at the double tree hotel.
Panels & Events
This year I was busy helpin the CAnnot Unsee Cosplay group with some of their panels, and was only really able to go to one panel outside of that that was ran by aianime cosplay group. All the panels were fun to watch and participate in. There were some other panels that I heard about like the Supernatural Panel that were a big hit!
There were lots of events but the one that was the BIG THING was the cosplay contest which I was only able to sit in a little bit due to health issues. What I saw was really cool, and wish i could have seen more.
Artist Alley filled two hallways. TWO HALLWAYS! and every single one of the artists were amazing i wished i had the money to buy something from all of them! I got some great pieces as did my roommate.
The dealer/venders room was big and there were lots of booths to look at they had games, wigs, decals, swords, and lots of toys and goodies to look at and choose from.
TnT had lots of guests but i was only able with my schedule to see the voice actors. Brina Palencia ,Eric Vale ,Jeremy Inman, J Michael Tatum, Terri Doty were all wonderful and a absolute joy to meet! I met some before and like always it was wonderful seeing htem again and getting to introduce my son to them and tell him who they did the voices for.
The staff was Awesome, and Helpful! There was a lot going on and a lot of congoers and they were right ontop of it, or well from my point of view they were on top of things.
there were lots of photoshoots going on in different parts of the convention center. I myself was the photographer at a mini shoot
, and one of two cosplayers in the other
There were ups and downs for me at this con, but i still had fun getting to see friends whom me and my son love dearly, and getting to make new friends. I loved cosplaying Ant-man, and Bruce banner while my room mate/cosplay partner cosplayed Wasp and Betty ( If you want to see pictures we have some on our facebook page
, and on my personal studio page
Like I said above lots of ups and downs but lots of convention experiences have those. I really enjoyed Tokyo in Tulsa and I am planning on going again. The convention Tokyo in Tulsa is a good convention with wonderful people on their staff and the panels and events were great.
Go to Tokyo in Tulsa. YES! DEFINATELY! It is a wonderful con that everyone should attend if they can.
Usually when a brand new anime convention starts off, usually doesn't start off the best.. From my experience from going to Kintoki's first anime convention in the Hyatt in Sacramento, the turn out was great and there was stuff to do, and I really enjoyed what was there. There was plenty of promise and good vibes for Kintoki-Con, and I was excited to come to Kintoki-Con's return after a year off of convention.
Kintoki-Con was not held this year at the Hyatt, but was held at the Holiday Inn in the Capitol Plaza. This location was great for near by food and other cosplay needs, as it was right in-between the K street mall and Old Sacramento. To me Johnny Rockets was the easiest and most convenient fast food place because it was the nearest to the hotel. Inside the Holiday Inn hotel, the hotel itself was rather small. If I were to compare the size of the convention space with any other anime convention I attended, it would be like going to Anime on Display size. It was a dramatic change from the spacious place of the Hyatt to something more small and cramped. Kintoki was using two floors of the hotel for the convention. The first floor was mainly used for the mostly everything while the second floor was used for panels. While I did enjoy the few perks the hotel had to offer, breakfast and the pool, switching from the Hyatt to a much smaller size was very off putting and more of a downgrade from what Kintoki-Con started with.
While I was walking around the convention floor, I popped in the Dealers Room. It was pretty small, but big enough to walk around and see whats on for sale. The venders that were there were selling all the anime goods, like plushies, love pillows, manga, gundum models, and much more. I didn't have a problem or any particular obstacles that hinder my experience in the dealer hall. I did talk to some of the venders and they explained while it was nice that there wasn't any problems or big traffic, they were hoping to have more of a big turn out for more sales. The size of the room where the dealers hall was being held in, was small to a medium size room. Nowhere near the size of say fanime or any other mid to big convention out there. I would even go out to say this was smaller then Sac Con's Dealer's Room.
Video Game Room
While the main video game room is where most of the consoles and games were at, there was also two other areas in the convention that had video games as well. Near the back of the convention was the arcade of various games including Dance Dance Revolution, and next to the main video game room was a another dance game set up with the Wii. It was rather interesting to see the video games setups broken up like that instead of having everything in one giant room. The video game room was a pretty medium size room and enough to hold all the consoles and games in. There was a stream set up in the back of the room to stream some of the tournaments over on twitch.tv's website. Most of the tournaments were free to enter and all of them went very smoothly. It was really relaxing being in the game room, and there wasn't much to worry about other then waiting in line to play your game depending on which console you were playing on. Overall the game room was fine. Nothing that really stood out, it was there for people to come in and play games. I would say with video games divided up around the convention was easy to accesses any type of video game without no worries or waiting in lines to play your turn.
Most of my time when I was at Kintoki-Con, was spent in the artist alley. I am always amused and I rather enjoy buying stuff from the artist alley more so then the Dealers Room. Artist Alley was the biggest room used up from all the rooms I have seen in the hotel. I walked in and checked out some of the artist great work. Walkways were a bit narrow, but because the attendance at the convention wasn't as bad as other anime conventions it was easy to navigate though artist alley without blocking someone's way. The artist that were there offered a wide range of different assortment of goodies. Anywhere from drawings, wood carvings, trinkets, pins, and much more. Like the venders in the dealer hall, some of the artist were hoping for a bigger turn out rather then what they expected. Never the less everyone was very friendly, and very kind while going around looking at whats for sell. Having the artist alley with the biggest room in the hotel was a good move on Kintoki's part.
Most of the main events that were held was in the biggest room of the hotel, where the sign ups were for the cosplay contest was held. The room held many big events from the Masquerade to learning how to dance to Kpop with plenty of room for people to move around in. I attended some of the events and enjoyed my time to not only sit down and relax, but also being entertained. I checked out the Masquerade, Idolmasters dance group, learning how to dance to Kpop, and much more. I can tell everyone that was in that room for some of the main events were having a lot of fun and possibly the best part of the convention. For the size of people that attended the con, this room and everything that was going on in it felt pretty fun and a relaxed atmosphere.
The Swap meet was held in a small room near the video game room and the front of the hotel. It was probably not the best room for a swap meet, but given with what rooms to work with, this was the best Kintoki had to offer for the swap meet. Once it started there were a good amount of sellers showing off used goods on all things anime, video games, plushies, and much more. I would say the most amount of people that can go in and take a look around were about 5-10 people at a time before someone leaves and another takes it place. From what I understand people in the swap meet were having fun, talking to people and selling goods. While the swap meet was going as planed, it still felt like the room size hinder the possibility to be even better.
While I did not attend many panels, I did went to a few. What struck me was that I didn't realize the panel rooms were very small. I did not think the rooms for the panels would be this small, but this was size that were left to work with. With that being said, that did not stop from the panels from being fun. It seems like even in the most unpleasant of times during the panels I attended it was still fun to sit down and have fun at the panel. There were a few minor hiccups when it came to some of the equipment that was being used, but the people presenting at the panel were more then capable to roll with it.
With all this being said about every possible room and activity during the convention, I have to point out the mistakes that the convention made. One of the biggest blunders Kintoki Con made was that the registration was not ready on time or set up for people right away. I saw that people were in line for hours waiting on the staff to be ready for registration. I have overheard the staff were there since 10 am, but for some odd reason was not prepared for people to come in around noon. The price for getting into the convention as a attendee was priced at $40. Now I can understand if this price was set for say Sac Anime or any other mid-major convention, but for what Kintoki was offering and the size of the convention itself in the Holiday Inn hotel, it would be smarter to price it lower around $20 for the weekend instead of $40. A common theme I kept getting from everyone who did sell either it be with from the Swap Meet, Dealers Room, and Artist Alley was that they were hoping a bigger turn out. With people who attended last Kintoki Con, many expected a bigger turn out since it was off to a great start two years ago. While on paper there was a ton of things to do at the convention, in action there really wasn't. During day one, when both the Artist Alley and the Dealers Room were closed for the day, there was literary nothing going on at the moment except in the main events room and panels. The video game room was late on opening up, and people were wondering the halls with nothing to do. There were several times where I was left bored out of my mind and instead hanged out with friends to have my own fun. Most of the people that were there for Kintoki-Con said that they were there only until Sunday where they left for the Japan Pop Summit in San Francisco.
With everything I have said, I did have fun, but not as much fun as I had hoped for like the first Kintoki -Con. This year's Kintoki-Con took a step back in some areas especially with the size and hotel space. There is still potential in my opinion for Kintoki-Con to be the new and better Sac Con, but this is not in the right direction. What really hurt this convention was not having a lot to do in any part of the day. Sure there was the usual troupes that a convention should have, but outside of that there were not as much going on to really to make the $40 entry worth it. Hopefully next year Kintoki can learn from its mistakes and come back with a slew of great ideas and fun for everyone to have.
I been informed by the Head of Kintoki Con on a few things I did not know upon writing this review on a few things I missed:
"We work with a much smaller budget than year 1 due to the financial complications we had after our first year. This is also the reason why we had to skip a year. Also JPop Summit announced their dates after we had signed our contract with the hotel, so that could not be helped.We did do a poll after Year 1 as well and at the time of the poll people selected that July would be better than June; however now theey are wanting the June date back for Year 3."