FanimeCon once again made its yearly appearance in San Jose, California at the San Jose Convention Center in the heart of the “Silicon Valley” over the Memorial Day weekend. FanimeCon is a celebration of Cosplay, Anime and popular Japanese culture. FanimeCon first began in the year 1994 on the grounds of the California State University in Hayward, California. The convention has grown dramatically since its humble roots and this year’s event filled the convention center and also portions of nine hotels with inventive Cosplayers and appreciative fans.
The convention started off with a dramatic mishap involving a capacitor that violently exploded and cut off power throughout the first night as attendees were attempting to check in early! The fans took everything in stride despite having to endure the dark and the long wait of over seven hours as the convention presenters were scrambling to restore power and soothe nerves!
FanimeCon’s guest list is always interesting and impressive. This year was no less than intriguing with the inclusion of a performance artist named Igaguri Chiba. Chiba’s act can be described as a modern day absurdist musical performance with rather humorously eccentric routines that drew wild applause from fans who attended his Saturday night concert. Also performing on the same night was petite singer and voice actress, Mai Aizawa whom appeared to lack confidence as she performed.
The dealer’s room is always popular at this convention and proved to be even more so than last year’s event. Several times throughout the convention, one could barely walk the entire floor because of the sheer amount of fans creating a near tempting situation for any fire marshall that wished to walk through also. The impressive, yet quite polite mob of fan shoppers contributed to the almost tropical climate which was even more amazing considering that the dealer’s room was very spacious and has a high cieling. Fans could be seen buying objects such as colorful Anime wigs, Anime pillows and various action figures. Perhaps the most fascinating booth to be seen was the so-called Yaoi booth with a gentleman that appeared to be vaguely dressed in Nazi inspired clothing! The notion of Yaoi is that of so-called beautiful men or boys whom the mainly female based fanbase wish to see in Manga or Anime indulge in somewhat homoerotic behavior. The booth was festooned with Yaoi inspired books, DVD’s, clothing and flags!
FanimeCon is also a non-stop convention that does not close its doors until the fourth and final day on the actual Memorial Day itself. It is alternately inspiring and touching to see some fans literally beginning to pass out as they fight the number one enemy of Cosplayers everywhere-sleep. The convention has twenty-four hours of programming from start till finish on Monday! Scheduled events included screenings of obscure Asian films and Anime. A FanimeCon event is not complete without music in the form of the Rave parties and the beautifully elegant, “Black and White Ball”. Fans who had the energy after a day of running around at the con could be seen wildly gyrating to the the beats of the various mixmasters in two seperate each night. Cosplayers who wished for a dance that was more refined could be seen dancing to traditional Salsa, Mambo or Swing in the impressive Tech Museum.
All these activities next to the real reason most will venture out to this convention-Cosplay! The level of talent and enthusiasm was literally breathtaking! Perusing through the slideshow portion of this story will undoubtedly reinforce that notion. Impressing all those who were fortunate enough to see and experience them-two Cosplayers dressed as a bird and a pony stunned many speechless with their incredible movements and attention to anatomical details. Although Anime Cosplays will always be in the majority, this year the influence of “The Avengers” movie could be keenly felt and seen. The sheer numbers of those that chose to portray characters from the “Marvel Comics” universe was dazzling and even several gender bender versions were to be seen also!
FanimeCon is deemed to be the largest Cosplay convention in Northern California. Although most heard similar such claims about other conventions, there can be no doubt that the statement is true. Another item of interest is that Cosplayers outnumbered those that were not in costume of some sort. These facts and the sheer numbers of attendees bode well for next year’s convention and fandom in general. It is a source of concern for any group of fans that fandom in general is static and not evolving. This convention shattered that notion and has solidly established Cosplay as an increasingly popular and growing expression of fandom that goes beyond merely viewing and reading the genre, but by actively physically participating in a tradition that has been with humanity since the first man placed the skin and horns of a fresh kill in order to reenact the hunt!