Some of you might be thinking, I’ve heard of comic conventions like San Diego Comic Con and the like but what is FanimeCon all about? And for those of you who know, bare with me while I make an attempt to describe Fanime for those who have never been before. I promise I’ll talk about some of the cool stuff I checked out this year too.
Fanime, in one sense, is all in the name. It’s a convention created by anime fans for anime fans. It’s the largest anime convention in Northern California, boasting upwards of 34,000 con-goers, but more than all this, it’s a place where geeks and nerds from all walks of life can come together and appreciate their shared passions.
Fanime has a TON of things to do, and like any convention, you’ll have to make some hard choices. Here are the main attractions:
A large hall where talented artists from around the country bring a wide variety of art from prints to plushies to ceramics. You can find artistic interpretations of your favorite characters from all kinds of anime, animation, and popular culture. This is always my favorite place to go to at conventions. I spent an hour or two on Saturday and Sunday just walking around looking at all of the art, trying to resist the urge to buy it all. If you want to see some of the amazing artists from this year, check out our 2019 Artist’s Alley features here.
Black and White Ball
Time to get fancy! The black and white ball is a chance to put on your best dancing shoes, dress clothes, or even better, dress cosplay! And the real kicker, they have dance lessons every day of the convention for many dance styles like the waltz, salsa, and Tokyo polka. I didn’t attend the black and white ball this year, but I am really looking forward to going in the future. I’d love to take advantage of those dance lessons!
Cosplay Gatherings and Events
Fanime attracts the best cosplay. These folks are very dedicated. I loved walking around the steps outside the convention center and in the entrance hall. It’s a natural gathering for hundreds of cosplayers, photographers, and fans. It’s a great experience meeting people who share passions for a certain character or show. Whether you are in casual clothes or cosplay, that experience of running up to someone cosplaying as one of your favorite characters always brings an incredible rush of nostalgia, human kindness, and excitement. At its core, this is what Fanime is – a diverse community of fans bonding over shared passions and creating new ones.
Beyond that, the folks running Fanime organized cosplay gatherings for different groups like Overwatch, My Hero Academia, and Game of Thrones cosplayers to name a few. On top of that, they’ve got cosplay contests and even a version of cosplay chess where the cosplayers are the chess pieces doing battle! Think Harry Potter wizard chess. Check out our cosplay article for some of our favorite cosplays from 2019 here.
This is where you can buy lots of merch. They’ve got posters, scrolls, swords, Funko Pops, T-shirts, character models, toys, vinyl decals, DVDs, manga, art books – pretty much anything your nerdy consumer heart has ever dreamed about. If you’re a collector or an enthusiast, this is a fun place to go broke. Interested to hear more on the Dealer’s Hall?Check out our post here.
Fanime has screening rooms that play anime television shows and movies. What’s really cool is that they will usually play shows or movies that feature some of the special guests at the convention. This is a good place to chill out and watch your favorite anime or check out one you’ve been meaning to watch.
While Fanime isn’t a gaming convention, anime and gaming are deeply intertwined, so it is awesome that they have a huge hall dedicated to gaming. You can sit and watch League of Legends players on the stage battling it out, enter in a Super Smash Bros Ultimate tournament, or rent controllers and play games by yourself or with friends. But that’s not all, they’ve even got a whole section dedicated to tabletop games. I spent some time in the gaming hall this year and I’d love to share more of that with you over here.
Are you a huge fan of a particular anime, artist, musician, character, director, etc.? Well, this is your chance to meet the artist and get something autographed or listen to them discuss their work. I was lucky enough to see and meet Toshihiro Kawamoto, who is best known for his work as the animation director and character designer for a little old anime called Cowboy Bebop – maybe you’ve heard of it? If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and go watch Cowboy Bebop. It’s a classic! Here’s Toshihiro drawing Cowboy Bebop on a stage smack dab in the middle of the convention:
I also was able to meet Jad Saxton, who has been a voice actress for several beloved characters like Carla from Fairy Tail and Faris in Steins;Gate. Being the Steins;Gate fanboy that I am, I was excited to meet one of the voice actresses. One of my favorite interactions was with a stranger in this line. He looked to be in his late-thirties and we were discussing how we first got into anime. He said that his family didn’t really understand this part of his life but that he was so happy to be able to come to a convention like this and be able to share this passion with others without being judged. This was probably the moment that made FanimeCon 2019 for me.
On a more practical note, something I didn’t do this time but highly recommend is to check out the guests ahead of the convention and make plans to purchase merch online beforehand in case you can’t find the thing you want at the convention. Of course, if you’re like me and forget, you can always look for merch in the dealer’s hall, not to mention using the autograph pages thoughtfully provided in the FanimeCon program booklet.
FanimeCon has a ton of hour-long panels that are located two blocks away at the Fairmont Hotel. The panels are on the second floor, with two rooms being quite large and the rest smaller depending on the popularity of the topic.
There’s a huge range of topics with 11 different panel categories:
- Guest of honor
- How To/Demo
I attended a couple of panels this year, but one called The Ghibli Alternative was particularly engaging. The panel was focused on discussing the directors Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), Makoto Shinkai(Your Name), and Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue) and their most famous works. The panel was very informative and at times quite funny too. The panelists engaged often with the audience asking them to weigh in on different movies. This was only one great panel out of many really interesting panels on subjects as far ranging as The History of Anime Tropes to How to Wig with the Wig Doctor. I highly recommend making time for a few panels during your con. They’re fun, informative, and it’s a nice break from walking through the crowds of the convention.
These are, in my humble opinion, the main attractions of Fanime, but I am by no means an expert. And I can also say for a fact that there are a ton more things to do that I left out such as attending MusicFest, where you can see a variety of musical artists in concert; karaoke, and game shows. Fanime is truly one of the most diverse conventions I have been to because it focuses on many different subcultures that are linked in some form or another to animation and the culture surrounding it.
While you might get more out of Fanime as an anime fan, cosplayer, or gamer, I truly believe there is something for everyone at Fanime. Come to Fanime, a place where you will be welcomed, and let your nerd flag fly.
Want more FanimeCon 2019 Coverage? Check out the rest of our FanimeCon 2019 posts below:
- Artist’s Alley @FanimeCon 2019
- Dealer’s Hall @FanimeCon 2019
- Gaming Hall @FanimeCon 2019
- FanimeCon Cosplay 2019
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