Sunday, March 27, 2011

Anime Conji 2011 Convention Report

Taiwan from Hetalia
Anime Conji 2011 - Year 2 of AC
Venue: Town and Country Resort, San Diego

Sourthern California is a place with lots of anime and manga fans concentrated in a small area. The large concentration of anime and manga fans in such a small area means that there is quite a bit of anime conventions to choose from. Over at Anime LA, I was talking to some representatives from another convention, Anime Conji. As a fan of Anime Conventions and of the cosplay culture that makes it so rich, I jumped at the opportunity when I found out about another anime convention to attend. San Diego is a long drive, but a convention to attend that is drivable from my house in under two hours makes it a no brainer. Here is a short convention report from my perspective as a person who has only recently started attending the smaller local anime conventions.

Bang, she got me!!!
As a person who tries to be as green as possible, I asked all my friends if they wanted to go and if they did they can ride with me to save on gas. Unfortunately it seems that the people in my circle of friends didn't want to take a risk and go to an anime convention that they are not familiar with, so many of them opted not to go. Nick, a fellow photographer met me at my place and we left at around 8:30am. As we drove down to Anime Conji, I was a little worried because on the way there we encountered some light rain. We hit the convention center at around 9:56am and parked in the parking lot. As the chair of the Research and Development Committee for the SPJA Board of Directors I spent around 1 hour canvassing what attendees are there with a small convention survey. The reaction in general was positive and I got quite a bit of surveys done in short period of time. After that I waited in the registration line, which took around 30 minutes. I didn't mind the wait because I became quick friends with a set of Hetalia cosplayers waiting right behind me, they were very colorful to say the least.

After getting registration done I started walking around the Town and Country resort over at San Diego to determine what would be the best places to be to get cosplay pictures (I am a cosplay photographer after all). The venue had rooms that were indoors, but to walk between the various rooms you had to go outside. As a cosplay photographer I noticed one thing immediately, the venue is full of interesting backgrounds that would make it great for cosplay photography. As I walked around, I noticed two main areas where the cosplayers tended to congregate, the pool deck and near the music stage.

Swimsuit Selvaria, as a Selvaria fan I liked it.
Throughout the day, I walked back and forth between the spots and got lots of great cosplay pictures. I stumbled on the Final Fantasy cosplay gathering, which is something I have been doing quite a bit. Before Anime Conji I stumbled on the Final Fantasy cosplay gathering at Pacific Media Expo and at Anime Los Angeles. Let me tell you, after doing the Southern California convention circuit it feels quite nice to see the same set of faces again. Some of the cosplayers recognized me, and there were many who didn't (am I that bland and unnoticeable?). As I was heading off, I saw a Selvaria cosplayer. I have taken numerous pictures of her in the past and naturally I took pictures of her there. She wore a swimsuit for General Selvaria from Valkyria Chronicles that was never seen in the game, but was famously added in the anime due to character designs of her in this swimsuit in the official artbook. I always seem to have the worst luck I had to cut the photography session short since I had a Board of Directors teleconference meeting.

After the meeting I resumed the walking circuit to do cosplay photography. I took a break by going into the dealer hall, it was a neat little dealer hall. After that, I headed off with Nick to eat late lunch/early dinner. We had to walk to a mall next to a resort and then walk a couple of blocks to go to the food court (inconveniently placed in the middle of the place). The food selection was like in every other food court, so we decided to eat in a Teriyaki place since we are at an Anime Convention. As I was eating, I was recounting stories from convention's past and telling my new photographer friends more about me. It was really easy to make friends with the photographers and cosplayers in the convention because in general we are all nerds who like anime, manga, cosplay, and video games so there is already a common denominator with everyone there. After I arrived I did my one and only official photo shoot with a Gin Cosplayer from Bleach. She was lots of fun and I hope we can do another photo shoot in the future. Even if I only had one official photo shoot, I still got a lot of great pictures. Even if there weren't a ton of cosplayers, I did like the intimate atmosphere because it gives you a chance to know the cosplayer and it gives more chances to know them better.

After that, we got in line for masquerade. In fact we were one of the first people to line up so we got some great seats. The other photographers I was with (Nick, Nick Canon, and Fremen) have never seen a masquerade. That to me is a shock because ever since Anime Expo 2005 it has been my tradition to always see the convention's masquerade. Instead of judging Anime Conji's masquerade by comparing it to other conventions that have been there for far longer, which is completely unfair, I will judge it on its merits. The convention's masquerade had the host Tadao Totomatsu, one of my favorite Masquerade hosts. He was funny and interesting as always, with a quick wit and infectious smile. The skits were great, the first skit had a whole famly cosplaying Gurren Lagann, which was very charming to say the least. There we other highlights like the anime rap, anime toy story (which had me laughing way too much), and old snake. The halftime show was by Anime Conji's maid cafe. It was a great halftime show with lots of cute and infectious songs. It was split up between the girls in maid outfits and an asian dancing crew. Masquerade was a lot of fun, and I hope that my fellow cosplay photographers enjoyed it so much that they will attend Anime Expo, Pacific Media Expo, and Anime Los Angeles's masquerade.

After that we hung out in the rum party, which was pretty interesting. Nick so aptly described it as a mix of Maid Cafe and Pirates, which was completely true. After that we hung out  in the dance floor before heading home.

Anime Conji was a great experience, I love the venue. I had such a great experience that it will be part of my yearly convention circuit. For Anime Conji's second year, the convention was great. I could see Anime Conji being a much larger convention in the future. I certainly hope that more people in my circle of friends can join me next time to enjoy the experience.

Here are my pictures from Anime Conji, these will be deleted the next time I go to an Anime Convention. So by Anime Expo or Fanime (long shot) it will be gone. The pictures on my facebook are permanent.


Axelai said...

Hahaha~! Those Hetalia cosplayers you met were me (Axelai), Melodicanth, and Tsukie XD Thats cool that you mentioned us! I'm glad you had fun at the con!

KrisZ said...

You guys were awesome, what can I say? It was lots of fut waiting in line with you three.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you had fun. I wanted to go, but didn't have time. But another informative blog post sir, keep up the good work.

Tom the Alicia fan!

KrisZ said...

Yeah, I had lots of fun, it was quite a convention.

KrisZ the Selvaria and Rosie fan! :P

Angie Ricci said...

Hey Kris, this is Angie, I was the one in the maid outfit behind you guys in line for the masquerade. Just wanted to stop by and let you know that it was nice meeting you and that your pictures look great! Hope to see you around at more cons :)

KrisZ said...

Angie, it was nice meeting you. I will see you around the anime cons.

handballjn said...

XD omg that miku is me that soo cool! ty for pick my cosplay cuz there where so many other miku's you could have chosen from ^^

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