This year’s Fanime convention was more tiring for me than it had been in the past. Maybe it was the over two-hour long wait to get my pre-reg badge on Friday afternoon (Thursday night had reports of six hours, thanks to a power outage) or having trouble killing time in between panels I wanted to see.
The main thing I did on Friday night was go to the Swap Meet. It took place in the Fairmont hotel this year instead of the convention center and was split into two different ballrooms: a smaller one and a larger one. I think this was a good move because it allowed for better crowd control and more space than how it was previously: in the same hall as the 24-hour arcade/tabletop/video games.
What I brought home were Slam Dunk vols. 1 & 2 for $10, Hare + Guu DVDs 1 & 3 for $13 (I think), and a gold coin Doraemon for a buck.
The only panel I saw on Saturday morning was irc#anime, which was about the #fanime @ rizon.net channel. It was cool to have the channel on screen during the panel and have some people in the room chatting on it but I almost left a few times because it felt like the panelists were stretching to fill the hour.
DMP: Kickstarting Manga started off with some history of successful campaigns for the Platinum Manga label like reprinting Swallowing the Earth and funding the publication of Osamu Tezuka’s Barbara. They talked about what had been standard rewards and asked for suggestions on rewards for future campaigns.
There wasn’t a lot of news announced at the Viz Media panel, though I was happy to hear that Case Closed (Detective Conan) would start being sold soon through their digital app. I also learned that Excel Saga was already available through that.
I originally thought that Old Anime for Newer Fans would be presented by Gilles Poitras like it had been in previous years. (I should have looked again at Gilles’ pre-show post). It was instead hosted by Jared Griego from Scarlet Rhapsody. He did a good job of profiling 80′s and 90′s series from different categories like End of the World (Akira, Silent Mobius, X) and Space series (Crest of the Stars, Infinite Ryvius, Irresponsible Captain Tylor).
Tumblrin’ at Fanime was mostly people getting up and telling stories about how the community helped them through hard times and stuff like that. I felt a little out of place when they started talking about different fandoms like Supernatural.
I ran into some friends inside the gaming hall and ended up playing a game of Pandemic. It was the first time for most of us so we slowly learned the rules and tried to work together to stop the spread of disease throughout the world. We lost because we ran out of cards to draw from but it was a fun experience.
I closed out my night by watching some of the Banzai Arcade competition and chanting “MAXIMUM BRIEFCASE PUNCH” along with the audience whenever a 10 was rolled.
I only attended one panel in the morning – History of Lupin III – before starting the long drive home. It was run by the same Jared who did the Old Anime for Newer Fans on Sunday. He talked about the history of the franchise in the US and sorted the movies/OVA’s/TV specials into the best (e.g., Mystery of Mamo) and the worst (e.g., Green vs. Red). He didn’t think favorably of the current Fujiko-focused anime, saying he didn’t like how the characters were being used (he specificially mentioned a moment between Fujiko and Zenigata). I liked the style & direction of the show from what I’ve seen, which unfortunately remains stuck at 3 episodes due to some inexplicable inertia.
As I was driving home, I was thinking whether I would return to Fanime next year or at least be willing to drive to it again. Taking Amtrak would solve the transportation problem but my deeper issue is whether I need to go each year as sort of a Northern California tradition of anime fandom. Sure, I got Hiroyuki Yamaga to sign my program guide but that was something I did because I heard the line was short, Patz was getting Honneamise signed, and I had nothing else to do at the time (no offense to Yamaga).
I did like having the opportunity to present a panel this year about a subject I’m interested in (sports manga) and maybe I’ll be in a better mood next spring. I am still looking forward to attending Anime Expo & Otakon this year and meeting certain people again. The people element seems to be overtaking the content (panels, guests, merchandise) as the main reason why I go to these things at all and I don’t think that’s entirely a bad thing – better to be with a group of people than navigate a convention center feeling alone all weekend. Perhaps it was just an off weekend for me.