So Fanime is one of the largest anime conventions on the continent and the one I generally have the most fun at(it also being the event I started doing photos at 2 years ago, so anniversary!). People from all over come ranging from the eastern states, Canada, and I even talked with a Dio Brando from Hong Kong! So it's established and has all sorts of crazy and call things. So here is my experience of it all, but more so about the culture I see that goes along with it.
So let's start off with general things I noticed at the con. The line management for registration cut back greatly on the time people spent compared to last year, but there ended up being a problem with reg at the Clockwork Alchemy venue so while times were down, people were unable to get their badges there, or at least on day 0. I do know there were problems with the swap meet starting late on Thursday night, and I saw some people waiting in that line for two or three hours, but it did stay open later to compensate for the issue. I also ran into the problem of having dropped my lens hood and the staff at Lost and Found helped greatly with that, even asking questions about what it looked like, any markings on it, and to see that it even fit on my camera before letting me claim it. The other really nice thing this year is since the construction on the convention centre is done, artist alley isn't around the block but just across from the exhibit floor! It was also a decently sized room which is really nice, just wish I had checked it out more since it had a lot to offer compared to other events I go to. Also with the new construct, you have reg on on the bottom in addition, a balcony up top which many used for photos before it was locked down(I assume due to people drinking and such up there, a group of inebriated youth were sitting next to the shoot I did up there Day 0).
So outside of what most people would generally say about the convention, I'd rather focus on the culture I witness with it. Say you wake up and wander around at most other events, it's really cramped crowded and feels a bit like a rat race to get to this panel or booth on time for a giveaway or signing. Big brands label banners, signs, and the convention guide/badges. Sounds like San Diego Comic Con or Anime Expo, right? Not so much for Fanime. There is a small industry presence, but as my friend Hectec says "It's more homegrown and social." which I entirely agree with. It's easier to approach people who have similar interests because there aren't a million chaotic things and big pushes from companies to do this or that. Also unlike bigger events, you aren't constantly being told to move because of reasons other than breaking fire code.
So it's kind of euphoric to go to Fanime really. You can easily run into all the people you know and chat or meet entirely new people and do some really amazing things. In my case of being a photographer I got to do a lot of working with new and old people. With things so relaxed you can easily talk about whatever is currently trending, get a shoot in, and a short walk away find something decently priced to eat. Try that at some of the other events and it will just be a chaotic mess seeing as their size leads to bigger venues in bigger or just overall congested cities. The city of San Jose if I were to contrast it with San Diego where I'm currently located is really laid back and it reflects on the how the con is managed a well. People are generally far more willing to work with you, from both staff to attendees. There's not a constant rush to get places and do things, I mean even on the way to shoot locations the people I was working with would get stopped and they would apologize to which I'd just say how it was cool and I wasn't in a rush.
So without time being a major constraint, people get to do things at a leisurely pace. I got to speak to all sorts of cool people from across the country(and from out of it) who do all sorts of cool things! Meeting everything from Community managers for gaming companies, graphic designers, and independent artists! You never know what will happen in a conversation after you take a picture and hang out. The whole calm atmosphere around the con just makes it possible. Technically I should meet far more creatives at the bigger events, but just because I do doesn't mean I get to know them or can have dinner with them! And that's not just to say that's all you can do. I ended up having some drinks with a good many of my friends too. But I'll save the nightlife bit for a moment. If anything the event's venue choice, majority of their staff, and the welcoming air of the city have culminated into probably one of the easiest events to go to for someone who is new or just used to smaller conventions. It's not so in your face with everything that you will be scared, it has enough new and old blood that you can find where you fit and make a lot of new friends, and also has the perfect size to show that even with a lot of people things don't ave to always be a crowded mess due to pre-planning(even if it's not the most efficient, it can keep everyone from clotting a major area.
So if anything, let's also talk about the nightlife of the con. Word from average attendees will say it's a debaucherous drunken affair, which it can be just like any con, but it has far more than that. San Jose has quite a few things that go on around the same time as Fanime. Some people will hit whatever the new blockbuster premier is(this year being a new X-Men movie), while some will go to a bar/room party, and then there are also the many who will go to the dances or game room that the con has. The event itself is 24 hours, stopping for nothing short of disaster, and even then they'll try to work around that. People also organize their own little gatherings of sort around the convention centre with like minded groups, so you might see a group of cosplayers sitting around for late night games as if they are the characters from their favourite media. Not everyone chooses to drink, so it's not that parents and younger folks would have to worry about it. Even for most of the people who do drink, they generally keep to hotel rooms and have a good time with their friends, a thing my own usual group does while playing Cards Against Humanity or Werewolf. So this alone shows not everyone has to get wild to have fun at night.
So is there much more I can say? Sure there is, but you probably have other things to do(especially if you read all of that!). Fanime is the like the family member who tells you about their cool adventures and brings you along, letting you choose your own destiny. Compared to Anime Expo, it's far more about the fan experience than trying to overload you with what major companies wish to push. It's there to give you an alternative, a really good alternative. It brings in people from all over who want to go have fun and be social. Cosplayers, photographers, and all other sorts come and probably think of Fanime like a vacation. I know I have to thank it for kind of shaping how I do a lot of thing, being the event I first started doing photography at two years back and I'll surely keep going back. So thanks to the Fanime press staff for dealing with my onsite registration, the cosplayers who allow me to work with them, and for any of you who actually took the time to read this or just look at my worth. It's been two years of fun, but it's a blip on a map compared to Fanime's 20.
For more of the cosplayers in my photos you can check out their pages for those have have them:
Burning Cosplays as Nudist Beach Gamagori and Mako
PiggyNukka as Punk Sailor Moon and Mamimi
Tenleid as Punk Sailor Mars
Kyle Mistry as Quiet
Yirico as Squall
I'm still going through photos, but I'm mostly posting them on facebook until I'm done, then I'll upload them here. Again, thanks for reading!