Anime Conji 2012
Town and Country Resort
March 16 -18, 2012
Specialization is a buzzword that is known in the world of business. This word is attributed to how an organization can find its niche and develop it well. Anime conventions when they first started were novelties that were far and few in between. Fast forward to now, where anime conventions have become so ubiquitous that it is not unusual to have several conventions running in a weekend. The number of conventions have increased so much that conventions have to find their specialization or niche that they get very good at doing. In Southern California, Anime Los Angeles has built a reputation as a very popular party convention. Anime Expo is known for its great guests of honor and for its massive size. Anime Conji has built a reputation as a great San Diego convention with one of the most beautiful venues in the con world. I started attending this convention last year, and 2012 marks my second year in Anime Conji, a convention that only started in 2010. Here are my thoughts on this convention.
Saturday was a very wet day, I started my day leaving the Inland Empire and driving down to San Diego. As soon as I arrived, I found a rather unpleasant surprise, a sign in front of the convention center that said that the hotel parking was full and that it was open only to overnight guests. I proceeded to enter to ask the hotel where can convention attendees park. The response was rather tepid, with the parking attendants saying park where a spot was open around the hotel. A rather vague answer that left me frustrated. I drove around the hotel area, noting that mall parking was not welcome to hotel guests and with threats of towing strongly outlined. After driving around the convention center for an hour, I drove back to the parking attendant for hotel parking, clearly frustrated. They let me park in the hotel area where I was able to find a decent parking spot. I am outlining these frustrations since parking for this year’s convention has been horrific, and my anecdotes matched many of the attendee’s experiences. I do not blame Anime Conji for this because the fault mainly lies in the venue of Anime Conji, the Town and Country Resort. The venue triple-booked the venue and had three conventions running concurrently which made the parking a total nightmare. On top of that, the venue does not have a relationship with the mall parking so they cannot recommend it as overflow parking. The tight-lipped attendants combined with no alternate signage and having three concurrent cons made the parking situation a terrible experience.
There were several times when the rain stopped, and in those short periods, I was able to get lots of photography done in the convention. The venue was gorgeous and it was easy to move from one location to another and get a different feel for the pictures. Due to the heavy rains, what shoots I had were hampered due to a limited variety of areas to photograph since most of the photogenic areas were outdoors. There was a cosplayer who did not mind the rain and we went all over the convention center. Unfortunately, the rains also reigned in my shoots with some cosplayers cancelling, arriving late, or forcing me to do photos in an area that does not do the cosplay justice. Instead of taking 2,000+ pictures of random cosplayers, I only ended up taking around 500 of them.
|Tadao Totomatsu, MC for |
Due to the heavy rain, I was not doing as much cosplay photography as I was socializing with convention attendees. From industry to cosplayers to cosplay photographers, I always saw a familiar face in the con. I spent time hanging out and catching up with old friends, sharing stories and hanging out. Moments like that is what makes a con like Anime Conji so great, even if I was not doing photography I was still going around and catching up with friends while making some new ones. I even had a chance to hang out with cosplayers who cancelled their shoot due to the rain.
|Angel Hearts cosplay|
Anime Conji is a great convention, still one of my personal favorites. It is just unfortunate that the convention was dealt with bad hand after bad hand. A much larger convention moved to Southern California and placed itself on the same weekend as Anime Conji. Weather was not kind, giving California the much needed rain during an outdoor convention. The venue parking officers made my arrival miserable and they put me in a terrible mood, and they likely created negative experiences for many people. The volatile weather also reared its ugly head by almost killing me on the way back home. With that said, I had a lot of fun in the convention. The photoshoots I had were amazing and I got even better at my photography skills. Anime Conji’s Masquerade was a short and sweet event, highlighted by my friend Tadao and the awesome girls of Angel Hearts. I also had lots of fun socializing and hanging out with old friends, while making new ones. I will continue to go to Anime Conji since I felt that the convention is a great convention. I just hope that the weather cooperates next time and does not try to kill me so I can continue to enjoy this con for a long time to come.
Kris Zoleta started working in Anime Expo as a staffer in Manga Library. He worked in Staff Service in Anime Expo 2006 and became the manager of Manga Lounge from Anime Expo 2007-2010. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the 501(c)(6) non-profit behind Anime Expo and is one of the most recognized cosplay photographers in the West Coast.
Anime Conji 2011 Con Report
Angel Hearts Cosplay