FanimeCon 2011 Day Four
by Evan Miller, May 31st 2011
Like any other large anime convention, the end of Fanime's third day was like a descent into madness. According to spectators, everything from the masquerade to the hentai screening attracted a full house, the formal "Black and White Ball" was at capacity, and the halls of the convention center were busy way past the day's events closed. To top it all off, someone pulled the fire alarm at the Marriott just after midnight, causing part of the hotel to be evacuated. I hope whoever pulled the alarm enjoyed it, because I'm pretty sure half the hotel wants to punch them in the face.
The fourth and final day of FanimeCon was short on industry panels, but there was still some life left in the schedule. Noted anime researcher and Bay Area local Gilles Poitras held court with fans at his panel, while local publisher EigoMANGA held their own how-to panel about digital art.
With little to cover in terms of panels, I spent the last few hours of the convention circling the Artist's Alley, Dealer Hall, and convention staff hangouts to ask about how the convention went. According to some staff I asked earlier in the weekend, estimates had this year's attendance between 18,000 and 20,000 attendees; when I asked Monday, staff confirmed that the 18,000 mark was passed, but that attendance might not hit 20K. Still, the number still represents positive growth for the convention.
Fanime has a reputation among some fans as always being a little disorganized here and there, and this year was no different. The lack of a printed schedule was a major complaint, and I overheard a few people badmouth this year's Masquerade for running long. While those problems are both something the convention can fix, there was another one I noticed that might prove more difficult to fix: many of the artists and dealers I spoke with told me that sales in 2011 were overall slow, which is a pretty bad sign considering that attendance went up.
To me, the weekend served as a strong reminder of how the priorities of anime fandom have shifted - in terms of what fans spend money on, what they line up to see, and what they consider to be the most important part of a convention to be. Going forward, it is likely that FanimeCon will continue to have the occasional problems that every fan-run organization does, but the fans will still come out to enjoy the convention they love, whether they've been attending for just a few years or were there when the con was nothing more than a giant meeting between fans.
The last batch of photos is below. Enjoy, and we'll see you at the next convention!
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