FanimeCon 2009 Day 3
by Evan Miller, May 27th 2009
Quote of the Day
"No, and get away from me."
- a friend of mine,
after someone with a "HUG ME" sign started running toward them
This button describes how I felt on Sunday morning, tired and worn out after a day of running around, writing stuff, and scouting artistic talent for that other thing I write. Which reminds me, thanks to Audra and Scott for giving me this button and chatting with me as I aimlessly wandered the Dealer's Room.
Before we get to the "other stuff" for the day, let's talk briefly about two of the big events that happened Saturday: the Masquerade and the AMV contest. Feedback for the AMV contest was, as expected, mostly positive, especially in the comedy category. The Masquerade was another story; depending on who you asked, you were told of how wonderful the dancing pokemon were, or how the skits ran too long again this year. I still haven't located a list of winners, but should I locate one, I'll post it here. In the meantime, let's move on to two areas of the con that are all about taking your money!
The Dealer's Room
While it certainly doesn't rival the size of the massive, corporate display-oriented show floors of Expo, Otakon and San Diego Comic Con, the Fanime Dealer's Room did yield a few surprises. Ironically, the most crowded booth belonged to another convention: Yaoi Con, who held giveaway contests that drew a sizeable circle of fans to their booth the entire weekend. Other offerings in the room included the usual deluge of anime and manga retailers, toy vendors, and people charging insane amounts of money for Pocky (apparently there is still a large section of the otaku population that doesn't know what an asian market is). Conspicuously absent were some of the companies and retailers that are based in the area. I know that Fanime isn't huge, but one would think that Viz Media, Gaia Online and the metric ton of video game companies in the area would at least consider having a booth at a convention that is almost the same size as the New York Anime Festival (where many of these companies have had booths in the past).
The most oddball piece of dealer swag I found - and apparently, other conventions have started selling these as well - is a sword with the FanimeCon logo printed on the blade. I'm not sure how some more traditional katana makers would think about their handiwork becoming promotional fodder for anime conventions, but hey, the canoeing world didn't collapse after those vile "uke/yaoi/yuri" paddles became a fad, so I think we'll all survive.
It goes without saying that I spend a great deal of my convention time in Artist's Alley. Yes, I'm biased, but as someone who lived in Japan for three years, I know that I can usually find whatever the dealer room has cheaper somewhere else, and quite honestly, starving artists need your hard earned cash more than someone charging four bucks for a box of Men's Pocky. Personal convictions aside, there's another reason the Alley at Fanime is special: with close to 280 tables, convention staffers claim that it's the largest Artist's Alley in North America. That's a lot of art, and fortunately for the artists, traffic in the alley was pretty good.
Trendwise, artists selling fan art still seem to be the majority, with a few artists using their fan art to draw people to their booth while their original work is hidden near the back of the table or in the pages of a portfolio. Still, there seemed to be a decent selection of original stuff, and many artists have noted that Fanime has a little more original art for sale than other cons. One thing that is certainly on the rise is the sale of crafts - keychains, boxes, and other stuff that sometimes has little to do with manga. Whether this is a good or bad thing is something I'll let you guys debate in the comments, but it's hard to deny that a lot of artists are expanding their selection beyond just prints and fan magazines.
The faces of exhaustion
D'awwwwww. Although if I had to nap in the middle of a convention, I'd go with the pillow over the box. Still, it looks like both of these tired congoers are comfortable enough, so who am I to criticize?
YAY to the programming staff, who took paper surveys of the attendees of every single panel that happened at the convention. It's nice to see the feedback of the fans taken so seriously.
NAY to the same guy who allegedly purchased 14 tables at Otakon last year - exceeding the table limit by 10 tables. He was at Fanime, and it looks like he had four tables. While two of the tables were run by someone else, the art was the exact same style - more than just a little suspicious. The table limit, according to the FanimeCon contract with artists, is two. Was he in the wrong this time? Did he draw the art at the other table? It's hard to tell, but one thing is certain: he should probably be in the Dealer's Room if he wants to sell his stuff that badly.
Special: Midnight Madness
Despite the popularity of anime music videos, another fan-created video project, fan parody dubs, have been in decline for a few years now. Still, parodies still pack video rooms at conventions across the country, and although many fans may not realize it, they have FanimeCon to thank for many of the popular parodies in the anime fan community.
Fanime's Midnight Madness, a late night screening of the most hilarious (or hilariously bad) parody dubs in existence, is a convention tradition. The event is run by one of the creative team behind the first parody dub ever created, the Project A-Ko parody Fast Food Freedom Fighters. FanimeCon is also the home convention for the fan parody group Studio Sokodei. After Sokodei debuted their parody of the Evangelion movies, Evangelion Re:Death at Fanime many years ago, the parody caught fire in the fan community and was screened at countless anime and Sci-Fi cons across North America. Sokodei's next project, Fanboy Bebop, became just as successful after it debuted to a huge audience at Fanime; a remastered version of the parody was shown at this year's Midnight Madness at 3am and still drew the huge crowd that it's been drawing for years.
Next up: a review of the con weekend and more pictures in the Day 4 report!
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