Fanime 2013: Then and Now


So the first time I attended Fanime was back in 2007. A lot of things have changed for this convention since then, one being how many people actually like anime enough to go to a convention like this, which makes it more fun and just a little more frustrating not to ragequit when you want to see certain panels or events.

California Republic of Bronies
California Republic of Bronies

Every year, FanimeCon, or simply Fanime if you please, is held in San Jose, California. It’s run by the Anime Resource Group (ARG) and it’s the largest anime convention in Northern California. They’ve got all the usual con goings-on. This year, Anime Diet interviewed some of their guests of honor; notably Takahiro Omori, director of Hell Girl, Natsume’s Book of Friends, Durarara!!, and others, along with Yumi Sato, his producer for those titles and more. We also talked to Hiroyuki Yamaga, who’s been attending Fanime before any of us had ever heard of it. He works for GAINAX, so he’s kind of a big deal and you probably like most of the anime he’s worked on. That interview will be relevant to your interests.

And do you like Power Rangers? Because we also talked to Tsuyoshi Nonaka about mecha and Iron Man’s suit design. Check out those interviews, which will be posted soon. Fanime receives some pretty impressive guests of honor every year—that much has not changed since I last attended.

Didn’t see them at the dance, which is unfortunate, they’d have given the raving furries a run for their money.
Didn’t see them at the dance, which is unfortunate, they’d have given the raving furries a run for their money.

What has changed is the number of panels and the topics their panel guests cover. Adam Cullen, whose panel “Nerd Courting” was hands down my favorite, is definitely a new panel guest that started around 3 years ago and has been a popular returning guest. I didn’t even notice it was 3 hours long; neither did the packed room. I’ll be talking about his wise words and my experience with speed dating at a convention in a separate article, so keep your eyes out for that if you’re curious.

One of the more interesting things about Fanime is that it seems to have incorporated more variation in their panel topics, not necessarily related to anime, yet still within the scope of an anime convention. There was a panel called “Diversity in Cosplay” that looked interesting; it covered convention sociology and diversity within the cosplay community. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to that one, but if any of you did, tell me how it was in the comments. The cosplayers who attend Fanime are the best I’ve ever seen IRL; it seemed like more than half the con was cosplaying. I also noticed the new phenomena of “crossover cosplay,” where two anime characters are combined in one costume. Example: Sailor Moon crossed with Pyramid Head (who we caught dancing in the game room).

Does this count? I think so. Photo credit: Michael Santa Maria, @robotmikephotos
Does this count? I think so. Photo credit: Michael Santa Maria, @robotmikephotos

Some of the things I remembered were still there, only they’d been upgraded: the 24 hour rooms showing anime were still there, but now there were categories from nostalgic titles, new ones, and “you have to see this one.” The karaoke rooms were still there, but now there was a maid cafe! And Yaoi Bingo now had one for the young bloods and one for 18+. The late night dance parties still happened, only now there was a line to get in. With bouncers. And Artist’s Alley was so big, it was now in a separate building. Everything was now bigger, and better. Which meant lines. Womp womp.

When artists are inspired by oldschool art, you get some awesome results. Artist: Jennifer Cox
When artists are inspired by oldschool art, you get some awesome results. Artist: Jennifer Cox

My only complaint: a separate network for press would have been nice. As I was trying to do my social media thing throughout the day, I was having problems uploading pictures and tweeting, to the point I just gave up. #pressproblems

Yet this convention is still my favorite I’ve ever been to, and I think it’s because the people in attendance are the best part. I talked to a lot of people who said they’d been coming for years. Even though it has grown massively in the past couple of years, they still love being there, even if there are now lines for everything. That’s a fan.

Author: gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.

3 thoughts on “Fanime 2013: Then and Now

  1. Looking forward to Takahiro Omori’s interview. Since 2007…that’s a long time. Truly a fan.

    Yup, AX had network for press. For that size of con, they should have had a separate network for press. But with that many people at one place network gets slow down. Network jam at con. So, I prefer more humble cons, too many people is stressful and not relaxing like Tokyo subways, so I like more relaxing and a laid back con. But these humble cons, press also have to pitch in.

  2. Yeah, 10 years ago you wouldn’t even see 1/4 of convention goers cosplaying. Now it’s really “the thing to do” to get in the spirit of the con.

    I’m excited for that speed dating article!

  3. I also had issues with uploading photos via Twitter.. so i can only count that as a issue on their end or just the fact that so many people were using their phones for social media.. that things like this occur?

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