Fanime Con, is a popular anime convention in Northern California. It has found a home at the San Jose Convention Center, as well as the Fairmont & Hilton hotels nearby. It is a huge event that doesn’t just cater to those who are fans of Japanese animation and manga, but has events for people who appreciate video games, podcasts, karaoke, and even has a few rooms for people looking for love. The Con is all about the fans, as one can see in it’s motto? “By Fans, For Fans.”
The sheer variety of things to do at this convention are what set it apart from most of the comic book and pop culture conventions I’ve attended and written about about in the past. This is not your senpai’s convention. (yeah, I winced at that reference too) There is a whole different feel at Fanime Con, with a vibe and atmosphere that’s hard to articulate, but easy to feel when you’re there. You quickly realize, it’s a whole new world. A dazzling place, I never knew.
For instance, the cosplay is important at a convention like this, and I’m not going to lie, I had NO idea who half of those people were. “What makes this different from other conventions?” you may ask. I just know there are a lot of school uniforms and dancing at this convention compared to the others I’ve been to. A lot of choreographed, cute dancing.
Anime is just a geek sub-culture that I know little about. I’ve watched my fair share of anime and read my fair share of manga, but these folk eat, drink, and breathe the genre. This show is tailor made for the fans, and that’s what Fanime Con prides itself in. It tries hard to bring a little of the Japanese culture & fandom to California. Which means that despite the gaming room with its array of console, PC, arcade, and board games, you may not get much out of this convention if you don’t love Japanese Animation. You may not understand why you’d want a body pillow of a scantily clad anime girl, or know what hentai is, and why they’d have late night showings in their screening rooms…
The adult content at this convention is interesting. Panels have age restrictions, and as I mentioned, they show some anime at night, that…I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with. I don’t know how to feel about it, but they do relegate a lot of the adult content for the night time and overnight crowd. Yes, there is an overnight crowd, as this convention, technically doesn’t close. There is always something going on, 24 hours a day, for all four days of the convention. I have no idea what goes on after 8pm. I’m an old man, I need my sleep.
There is so much to this convention, that it’s hard to put it all in one concise little write up. There’s a maid cafe, where women dress up as maids to eat and play games with patrons. The line for this maid cafe? Up to 4 hours. All for a bite to eat and to sit with a maid.
At the convention center, one of the main attractions was a stage where dance troupes and groups would dance to music, or lip sync to popular tunes. There were rooms where folk taught weapons and self defense classes and ballroom dancing classes for the convention’s big black and white formal, where you had to dress very proper. There was a karaoke room where you could sing your heart out, and yet another room for speed dating. So much to do for four days, so little time.
I suppose I should also mention why I even attended Fanime Con in the first place. The folks over at the No Ordinary Nerd podcast, who were kind enough to adopt me into their fold, asked that I be a part of their panel on mental health and mental illness. As someone who is familiar with both, I had to jump at the opportunity, and what a worthwhile experience it was. Despite it being the last panel on the last day of the convention, on a holiday no less, people were kind enough to come by. Connecting with those who attended, of which there were quite a few, and sharing our stories of struggles and healing, was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long while. We wanted to help people who fight with these demons every day, and I feel like they may have helped me, more than I helped them. The No Ordinary Nerd crew were incredible, telling their heart wrenching stories, and giving of themselves, in hopes to show that those who attended, were not alone, and that there was light and love at the end of the tunnel.
Fanime Con. A convention even for us geeks who aren’t all that familiar with Anime, but especially made for those who are. It’s an event worth checking out, with welcoming fans, talented artists, and, of course, worthwhile panels.