Anime on Display is an anime convention that's been running for ten years in San Francisco, and it was my first time attending the event. I have heard of AOD in the past, but only thought it was smaller attended convention like Sac Con and other small one or two day anime conventions. Turns out I was wrong, and was quite surprised by the number of people attending the convention as well as the quality of the special gusts to only rival those of bigger anime conventions like Fanime and Otakon.
So upon entering the convention at hotel Kabuki, I was kinda surprised of how small the convention really was in space. Walking around going from room to room, and as well checking out the entire scene, the hotel itself was in my opinion too small to hold the amount of attendees for AOD. I was able to cover the entire convention in the span of twenty minutes not only just from walking from one end to the other, but also going in to some of the rooms at the same time. Now I may not know the full details of how AOD is normally run, and the finical income of the convention, but if there is anything I learned over the years with anime conventions is that anime conventions tend to have more people attending every year. Seeing that this is my first time going to AOD and was only informed recently of AOD moving from a smaller venue prior to the Hotel Kabuki its seems like its only a matter of time of the convention moving again to a bigger venue. On the plus side of the venue was that it was easy to walk around the convention and not running into huge crowds and at the same time go where everyone was for some of the panels to have fun
The panels I believe was the best part of the convention. There were a wide range of great panels, and none of the panels were threw away or the type where it was only worth staying for five minutes. Panels ranging from very informative from the Skullgirls panel talking about the process of how the game was made, and the challenges being an independent game company to very silly ones like cards against humanity panel with Ken Potnac and Neil Kaplan. There were some I wasn't able to attend to that I would really love to go to if I had a clone of myself to go and cover, but I can only cover so many panels at different times. If AOD will have these quality panels like this one, I probably will go again next year for sure if anything for the panels. Room size for the panels were small to huge but even attending at the panels there were a lot of room to sit down and not crowded and there was plenty of seats during the bigger panels for everyone to sit in.
Video game room
Now I have been going to the video game rooms a bit more often lately at every anime convention the one at AOD was small, but wide enough for everyone to move around. As I have stated prior in this convention report, it was crowded at the convention but for some odd reason in the panels rooms and in the video game rooms it was empty enough where there was no problem moving around. The wide range of games were mostly fighting games, even having a CVS 2 tournament that weekend, but still had a few video games there that were different like Super Mario on the Nintendo or even some DDR games. Overall game room was good, nothing that really stood out, but it was relaxing to sit down and play with someone without having to stand in line to play a game.
As I walked in the dealers room it was again crowded, but enough to move around. A wide range of anime stuff was tempting me to buy from brand new hats to the latest in figurines. Nothing really that any other convention had, but what stood out to me when I was walking around was that they had put in the corner of the dealers room a spot for cosplayers to pose at and for photographers to take pictures. It was a white background set up like you would go to the mall and get your picture taken with your family. It was nice to have that set up in the dealers hall, as most of us that are cosplayers or not ran into issues of people walking in the dealers hall only to cause some traffic because someone wanted to take a picture of a cosplayer. While this didn't quite eliminate that problem, but it was headed in the right direction and something I would like to see other conventions take advantage of and maybe even expand upon it more. This made the dealers hall stood out a bit more then your normal convention dealers hall in other anime conventions.
I feel the way they set up the artist alley really hurt them in AOD. The artist alley was set up on the bottom first floor of the Hotel Kabuki next to the panel rooms. The problem was that when people got out of the panel rooms or at the peak hours of the convention this is where it was most crowded. It was hard for some people to go from one artist booth to the next without running into people or had to wait for some people to move. I am not sure how much the artists made those two days, but I feel that the artist alley should have been or had their own room to go in and check out. Having it next to the panels where it cause traffic jams didn't make it any easier for the artist to sell their stuff when people were taking their time looking at. Hopefully in the next AOD this problem would be taken care of.
Overall I had a lot of fun at my first time at Anime on Display convention. While I feel that the anime convention needs to move to a bigger venue since the attendance was high enough to warrant it, I also feel that AOD did a lot of good things as well. The panel was the heart and most impressive about the convention that I really enjoyed. I was not able to attend to some of the gatherings, but I have to say quickly that the convention did benefit a lot for being next to Japantown. Not only was it culturally fitting, but the food in Japantown was great and affordable if you know where to look. Not to mention I am sure all the businesses in Japantown got a boost in sales over that weekend where fans that needed more stuff to buy went to Japantown to buy more anime goods. Again this was my first time at AOD, and hopefully this won't be my last.