This past weekend The D20 Girls traveled to Northern California for FanimeCon, located in beautiful downtown San Jose. Fanime, now in it’s 21st year, has been ranked the fifth largest anime convention in America. Come memorial weekend each year, geeks and nerds from around the world fore-go camping and barbeques, and flock to The Bay to instead celebrate all things anime, manga and Japanese culture related. This was only my second year attending this con, but I can honestly say it is one of my favorites, and I’ve been to San Diego Comic Con.
One of the biggest perks of attending Fanime is that when you purchase your badge you aren’t merely gaining entrance to one con, but two. Clockwork Alchemy runs during the same weekend, and for the past few years both conventions have been working together and allowing fans to attend both cons for the price of one. And to make things even more convenient, they provide a free shuttle service between Fanime and Clockwork Alchemy; so you don’t have to worry about maneuvering through an unfamiliar city(and in my case, not have to pay for convention center parking).
Let’s talk about cosplay! With such a high caliber of talent turning out for the weekend, the cosplaying at Fanime is reason alone to attend(sometimes the best part of a con is the people watching). There are an abundance of cosplay gatherings for attendees to choose from, and a cosplay hangout center, where cosplayers can go to kick up their feet and relax, touch up their make-up or wigs; and if they need to, make repairs to their cosplay. The Cosplay Spectacular is also a must see event. While masquerades at other conventions may consist of participants merely walking on stage and posing; at Fanime, the performers are encouraged to go all out. They even give out awards for best dramatic and comedic skits, as well as best dance performance.
Neither Fanime nor Clockwork Alchemy are short on interesting and enjoyable events. The Black and White Ball run by Fanime is a formal dancing event where patrons are encouraged to dance in ballroom style, and dressing to the nines(cosplay or otherwise) is strictly mandatory. The ball is such a fun experience, and you don’t need to worry over having a date; people were switching dance partners throughout the night, so there is fun to be had for all! Over at Clockwork Alchemy I attended the Steampunk Fashion Show, now in it’s second year. This for me was one of the highlights of the weekend. Audience members were treated to an array of historical gowns, dapper gentleman’s attire and some spectacular avant-garde ensembles. The show was hosted by the hilarious “chap-rapper” Professor Elemental(who did a surprise performance), and we were serenaded by the hauntingly beautiful Unwoman.
Other events at Fanime included the Chopped! Cosplay competition, a casino night in honor of Fanime turning 21, three Karaoke contests, Game shows, the Anime Music Video Contest, speed dating, various musical and dance performance acts and plenty of dances and raves all weekend long.
The dealer’s hall at Fanime is pretty much what you would expect from any anime convention. Lot’s of manga, t-shirts, figurines, Japanese imports(so much Pocky!), and anime. Basically, your run-of-the-mill con fare. The Artist Alley did not disappoint this year, and it was full of original prints, interesting fan art, and unique accessories from a wide variety of artists and artistic styles. Wandering through the Game Room at Fanime is always an interesting experience. Gamers from all walks of life can play tabletop, console, and even classic arcade games, join tournaments, or even just hang back and watch others play. And if you’re really hardcore, you can get in on a game of Giant Jenga(as in you need a ladder to play this sucker), or get all your buddies together for some Human Cosplay Chess.
Fanime is such a fun and exciting convention, and if you haven’t gone before I highly recommend you put it on your list for next year. This con is chock-full of amazing cosplayers, cool panels, more events than you have time for, and the entire community of Fanime attendees is warm, welcoming and just plain awesome!