As some of you know, a few months ago I did a mini report on A-Kon 26 and mentioned that I would also be going to AnimeFest. I am surprised to say this is the first time I went to AnimeFest, and it’s also the first time I went to an anime convention twice in one year. Eeek!
AnimeFest took place during Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4-7), as it usually has in the past. In comparison to A-Kon, AnimeFest is a smaller convention (*Turnout 2015: AnimeFest had 10,090 to A-Kon’s 29,383 “warm bodies”). While A-Kon moved into a bigger venue 3 years ago (the Hilton Anatole), AnimeFest is still at the downtown Dallas Sheraton. I will admit it was very nostalgic to roam around the rooms like I once did during A-Kon.
Cosplaying for the first time
There seemed to be a lot of firsts for me that weekend. Not only was this my first AnimeFest, but it was also the first time I cosplayed.
Of course, it would seem appropriate that my first cosplay would be fairly simple and easy to put together. I went as Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service.
I will admit I had a lot of nervous energy (along with sweaty palms, heart palpitations: you name it, I had it) since I didn’t know what to expect. My nerves simmered down once I got to the artist alley and internally squealed with happiness when someone asked for a picture. Trust me, there were plenty. At one point, I bumped into a bunch of other people cosplaying as Studio Ghibli characters, and we all quickly got together to do a massive group picture. For some reason, I had a different sort of energy after the whole ordeal (a natural high of sorts): there’s nothing quite like knowing your hard work paid off and that people were excited to see your cosplay or wanted to take pictures of you.
Here are a few of the panels I was able to go to and the personal experiences I had.
History of Lolita Fashion:
This panel went over the history and evolution of Lolita fashion. The panelists broke down each subcategory and gave a brief overview on how they came to be. This was a cute and very informative panel. I hope they have this one again next year.
Takashi Miike Bites the World (18+):
Takashi Miike is a Japanese film director well known for his controversial films ranging from the violent and bizarre to dramas and family-friendly fare. During this panel, the crowd was able to choose which type of clip they would like to see: Torture or Insanity. The further you went into either category, the worse it got. This panel was not for the faint of heart and was trigger-inducing. While I am a huge fan of thriller/fright films, it wasn’t long into the panel until I had to leave; I hit my limit rather quickly. While some might find pleasure in and an appreciation for this type of genre, I personally do not. If they have this panel again next year, be warned and proceed with caution.
A Day in the Life of a Mangaka:
World famous mangaka (manga artist) Arina Tanemura, who wrote the very popular shoujo manga/anime series Full Moon wo Sagashite, as well as Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne and The Gentlemen’s Alliance, had her own panel! What a delightful lady!
If I’m correct, this was her second time at AnimeFest, and she seemed so happy with the panel’s (BIG) turnout. During the panel, people were able to ask her questions about her daily life as a mangaka while she drew artwork for the con’s auction.
At the end of the panel, we all got together to take a group picture, and she ended up sitting right next to me, which set my fan-girl mode off at a ludicrous speed and cued some rather uncontrollable internal squealing. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one squealing: all the girls that surrounded her were just as beside themselves. As a big fan, I was rather ashamed that I didn’t have the forethought to bring one of her works for her to sign. Thankfully, in the Dealer’s Room, I was able to find the first volume of Gentlemen’s Alliance! While the wait for her at the autograph booth was rather ridiculous (missed most of the semi-formal ball, womp, womp…), it was well worth it. ^_^
Animating for Studio Ghibli & Others: (Atsuko Tanaka, Hiroyuki Aoyama, and Hiroshi Shimizu)
Each artist shared stories of their interactions, fun times, and struggles in working at Studio Ghibli, especially with director Hayao Miyazaki. Tanaka-san shared her collection of original animation cells that had notes from Hayao Miyazaki written on them. While Miyazaki-san wasn’t happy about keeping the cells (“Let go of the past” one note said), he joked with Tanaka-san a lot about picking them out of the trash. This was the last panel I managed to go to before heading home.
I only purchased one item in particular for myself (besides the Gentlemen’s Alliance manga). I’ve been on the lookout for a Sailor Moon figurine to be a companion for my Sakura on my office desk. I tended to move back and forth among the different sellers in order to compare prices before finally making my purchase.
Below is a little video I put together with the footage I captured while I was at the con. Enjoy, and feel free to thumbs up and subscribe to the Official Yatta-Tachi YouTube channel if you want to see more videos like this one!
I’m going to do a little bit of a breakdown of the pros and cons I experienced at AnimeFest 2015. As always, the experience differs from person to person, so this is based on personal experiences/preferences and is not intended to reflect on the convention overall.
- Downtown Dallas nightlife.
- Food trucks.
- Less crowded (compared to A-Kon).
- Several food courts.
- Unique Panels.
- Big names from the Japanese anime and manga industries along with local English voice actors. (Since I typically watch anime with subtitles, I didn’t look into who was at this con. Sorry about that!)
- Decent-sized Artist Alley.
- Badge “pick-up” was rather quick. Since the badges were mailed out, I just had to go and pick up my lanyard and program book.
The Not So Good:
- Freezing rooms (like nose dripping, bone chilling cold).
- Many restaurants are not open past 9pm despite being downtown.
- Scheduling panels next to the Convention Dance (couldn’t hear the speakers).
- *Power tripping volunteers (typical in most conventions).
- *Poor organization (lines intertwining, causing disorders).
- Smoking at the entrance of the hotel/near food trucks. (I don’t mind smoking too much, just as long it’s not around where I eat/get food. In this case, it was right next to food trucks so it made my stomach upset while I was waiting for my food.)
*There are a few generic points that you should expect at most conventions. I will be covering these further in my future article prepping you for your first convention.
While it may not have been the greatest convention I’ve been to (I’ve definitely attended some rather terrible cons), it was still enjoyable and I would still recommend for everyone to go. While it appears this year’s atmosphere was different from past years’ (heard this a lot from previous con-goers), it was a lot of fun for a seasoned con-goer like myself. I highly recommend this convention if it’s your first time going to one. It’s small enough that you won’t get lost, but big enough that you get a good feel of how most conventions are. The chances of me going back next year are pretty high. They changed the dates so it won’t be during Labor Day Weekend (it will be August 12-15, 2016) which I am thankful for. I like to have 3-day weekends to relax.
Below you will see more pictures from the convention. If you see yourself, feel free to leave a shoutout in the comments. I’ll add your info into the caption!
What’s my convention stop? I’m eyeballing Anime North Texas (November 20-22) in Fort Worth, Texas. If I do end up going, this will be my last convention of the year. This convention is very young (only 2 years old), but I’ve heard great things about it, so don’t mind if I do!
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