Linus Lam Network News
convention coverage report of
Fanime-con 2014!

Welcome to another edition of Linus Lam Network News for 2014!  This news report covers our trip to Fanime-con 2014 for a huge weekend of anime and manga enjoyment and a whole lot more!  Held at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California over the weekend of May 23-26, Fanime-con 2014 saw lots of attendees ready to party on with a bunch of dedicated artists, live performances, gaming events, cosplay fun, and plenty of opportunities to hang out with fellow anime and manga fans. Our exciting trip to Fanime-con 2014 starts here!  Coverage you can count on, here at Linus Lam Network News!

Highlights: Various live programming events kept the attendees well-covered throughout the weekend. Guests of Honor included Home Made Kazoku, Raj Ramayya, Hiroyuki Yamaga, Noir, Takami Akai, Hiroyuki Kanbe, J Michael Tatum, Kira Buckland, Gilles Poitras, and Chantel Strand.  Main events included Stage Zero, FaniMaid Cafť, Fanime Music Video Contest, Speed Dating, Game Shows, Black and White Ball, Cosplay Spectacular, Cosplay Swimsuit Contest, and Karaoke Contest.  Panels and workshops included Katana Workshop, Japanese Archery, Leather Working, Karaoke Gong Show, Riichi Mahjong, Nico Nico Dance Tutorial, Voice Acting in North America, Gaia Online Experience, Brief History of My Little Pony, Awesomely Bad J-Music, Artist Alley 101, Bad-asses of Japanese History, Beautiful Backgrounds of Anime, Better Cosplay Photos, Comedy Club, Cosplay Intro to Armor, Cosplay Mold Making, CosFit, Crowdfunding 101, Dark Side of Magical Girls, FanFiction, Fanimad Libs, Female Characters in Anime, Figure Collecting, Tokusatsu, Hetalia Historical Party, History of Sports Anime/Manga, Intro to Cosplay Photography, Learning Japanese with Hentai, Magical Girlís Journey, Nerd Courting, Mario Paint Workshop, Philosophy in Anime, Planning Your Trip to Japan, Religion in Anime, Sewing Lolita, Starship Design for Sci-Fi, Weird Manga, Wig Styling, and much more.  Video Themed rooms and events included Anime Hell, Best of Anime Abandon, Robot Armageddon, Video Game Movies, Nostalgia Anime, Omake Films, Anime Music Videos, Midnight Madness, Hentai Nights and much more.
Cosplay: This year's trip to Fanime-con saw lots of inspired costumes from numerous anime and manga characters and more! Chart-topping displays for this year included characters from Kill la Kill, League of Legends, Dangan Ronpa, Evangelion, Pokemon, Frozen, Sailor Moon, Final Fantasy, Attack on Titan, Vocaloid, Kiriko no Basket, Utena and much more! 
Please check out more cosplay photo coverage from our Fanime-con stock convention archives!
Report: Fanime proved to be a come-back success this year with a much-improved registration process and newly renovated convention center. With new digs and friendlier staff, Fanime looks to not repeat the major problems seen last year and look towards improving attendance efficiency for future years.

Registration was fast fast fast. Its location was at the lower level of the new SJCC annex and it should hold up for future years as Fanime grows in attendance. As attendee, I clocked an average of five minutes to one minute for pre-reg badge pickup in the middle of each day and at-con badge processing about five to ten minutes. Pre-reg was supposed to open at 3pm on Day 0, but they soft-launched at 11:30am to eliminate the earlybird crowd. The result was virtually no line and fast traffic flow at the official opening time of 3pm. Similar results were seen for each day and numerous staffers and attendees were posting Facebook captures of the non-existent line to encourage people to come in and get their badges picked up. Registration infrastructure improvements included new QR scan codes and quick badge printout all in one station. Each station had an efficient entrance/exit process to expedite smooth and open traffic flow. Backups plans were already in place in the event of a power outage or loss of Internet access. Lanyard and bag pickups were located at another table.

Peace-Bonding and Weapons Policy tables were located at the base of the SJCC hall lobby and rovers were mostly polite encouraging cosplayers to check in their props to their badges. I didnít see any ridiculous grievances regarding prop tags. Line and Crowd Control for Dealers Hall and main events seemed to go fairly well. Staffers were mostly polite in getting some degree of formation to open up traffic and allow people to pass through areas that could be a possible bottleneck, typically around Stage Zero and the corner of the Dealers Hall. Not surprisingly, the Cosplay Swimsuit Contest saw a huge long line with even a standby line at the end.

Dealers Hall seemed to lack any KPop merchandise this year which was curious for me since Fanime played tons of songs at Stage Zero. However, alpaca plushies were everywhere and plenty of big names like Animate, Nikaku Animart, Kinokuniya, ABCToy4Me, Anime Palace, and others showed up with plenty of new offerings taking advantage of the success of Sailor Moon and Attack on Titan. Going through the booths, the trends seemed set on Sailor Moon, Attack on Titan, Vocaloid and Evangelion. There was a bounce house in the back of the hall but I never saw it being used. It felt like a few less vendor booths this year but all in all, the usual large array of anime/manga goodies. Artists Alley had a new home on the second floor of the SJCC across from the Dealers Hall. A decent crowd and good traffic flow allowed many potential sales and Iíve heard from a few artists that they quickly sold out on their most popular items by the end of the second day. Panels and Workshops were located in the Fairmont Hotel and was able to sustain large events like the Cosplay Swimsuit Contest, Anime Music Videos, and numerous workshops. It was also the location of the Fanimaid cafť though I didnít have a chance to look into that; Iíve heard it was fairly well-run and always a success. Speaking of Fanimaids, I did catch the Fanimaids live event at Stage Zero and it looks to be quite popular with maids dancing to J-Pop and K-pop songs.

The Cosplay Spectacular (also known as the Masquerade) ran nice and smooth at the usual Civic Center Auditorium. It started a bit late around 5:30pm but ended on time around 7:30pm. Cosplay entries seemed pretty happy with the outcome. The new Coordinator was very nice and accommodating to the Backstage Press Photo Area and staffers made sure to direct cosplayers in for photos. The Coordinator was also very adamant about resolving issues entrants may have experienced in the past and had cool ideas about next year.

Although I did not attend the Swap Meet, I could see a long line for it at the Civic Center Auditorium. From what Iíve heard it was a mixed affair of good sales and halfway decent sales. Nothing terribly outstanding outside of reports that Swap Meet reservations werenít online until a week or so before the convention. Gaming Room had a great mix of e-Gaming areas, card collectors, and the usual console-style and dance arcades. Information Booths could be seen in more locations than last year and had better signage for Cosplay Gatherings, Code of Conduct, Maps, and Schedule of Events.

General layout of the SJCC after renovations were completed in late 2013 has definitely put a positive spin on Fanime 2014. With more room for events lines and more areas for cosplay gatherings, the confusion and disarray of last yearís nightmare seemed like a mere footnote best left in the past. Nearly every single department benefited from the renovations with generally less headaches.

Website problems are the constant monkey on Fanimeís back. It continuously seems to not be consistent with the official Facebook/Twitter feed and was very slow to announce hotels until after they were mostly sold out. The text seems barely minimal and it just seemed like an afterthought when compared to many anime conventions that put a lot of work into making sure their websites are up to date with lightning speed. While the publishing of Shuttle route times and schedule of most operations is appreciated, if Fanime can get their website up into the 21st century, I think they would get a Perfect 10.

Overall, Fanime gets an A for effort. Still recommend it for fun and escape. Just make sure you are on the ball for updates from Facebook and Twitter in case the website fails again. Other than that, I look forward to next year.

Come check out more cosplay and events photo coverage from our Fanime-con stock convention archives!

Be sure to visit the next Fanime-con!

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