Fanime Con 2002: Zig’s Notes

In April 2002, Zig and Carolyn spent the weekend at the Westin hotel in Santa Clara, surrounded by about 5,000 other otaku. We had a fun time, watched some anime, browsed through a few dozen vendor booths, and were thoroughly impressed by many really really good cosplay outfits.


Ebichu: the Housekeeping Hamster

I actually woke up at 4am Saturday morning and dragged my semi-conscious butt down to the video rooms. I had read over the video room schedule, and with nothing more than show titles to go on, I just had to see a show with a title like Ebichu: the Housekeeping Hamster.

This was the funniest show I’d seen in a while. Also the most vulgar. Thus the 4am viewing time. No little tykes awake at that hour to see all the sex jokes or the frequently bloodied hamster as it gets dropkicked and flattened. But if you want to learn new Japanese words that you would never use in a class....

The Costumes

Wow. There are some amazing costumes out there. There were a couple Himemiyas and Utenas that I swear were the real thing. Some of the kimono were absolutely stunning.

Double-Plus Unfun

Waiting for Elevators

The 14-floor Westin hotel is barely equipped to deal with 5,000 conventiongoers. The 4 elevators are completely swamped after a session ends or at checkout time: expect to wait 10 minutes for an elevator.

Standing in Line

5,000 conventiongoers and a 600 seat theatre. Oops, who decided to put the opening ceremony and the cosplay show in the tiny 600 seat theatre? Hopefully next year they will move all large events to the large ballroom, which can seat thousands when enough dividers are removed and seats lined up. Erect a small stage and a few video panels for the folks in the back, rather than have your entire convention-going population stand in a long line. Outside. In the cold wind. In a skimpy sailor suit costume.


Some of the costumes were embarassingly bad. Having lame costumes sitting next to amazingly good ones made the lame ones that much worse. And halfway through the con, I was actually sick of short skirts. Apparently even an old lech like me can have his fill of pretty legs. I guess I can never be Happosai.

The Shows and Sessions

Friday, April 26, 2002

What? Matt Miller canceled? Aw, bummer. He was the English voice of Tenchi, one of the few titles we actually watch dubbed. We were looking forward to hearing him speak and perhaps even getting an autograph. Oh well. Such is life when dealing with actors: if they get an actual paying gig, they cannot make it to the convention. Happens all the time.

Love Hina Spring Special

A guy and a bunch of girls run amok on an island looking for turtles. Wackiness ensues. More Tenchi than Tenchi. I liked the show, and was thinking about picking up the newly released Love Hina TV on DVD, this show clinched it.

Japanese 101

Use the polite phrase, not the familiar phrase you know from anime and manga. The familiar phrase implies relationship where none exists.

Ways to say I:

Watch out for masculine and feminine sentence endings. Everything but da is feminine. For example, throwing yo around is feminine. And yo is not really the exclamation point you think it is. It is more of a here is information you did not have before or here is news to you. ne is also feminine. Used solely as is that so?, ne is valid for both men and women. But slapped onto the end of sentences willy-nilly, it is more analogous to like or some other affected speech pattern, plus it is feminine.

Opening Ceremonies

This was a lot of fun. It really set the tone for the convention. I remember the little hairs on the back of my neck rising as I realized Hey! That’s Ikuhara-san down there! That’s the man behind Utena! The first several rows were filled with voice actors, cosplayers, and US and Japanese anime producers of one form or another.

Swap Meet

Fans, not vendors, sell off their stuff. Mostly it was people getting rid of older or less-loved parts of their collections. Many VHS and Laserdiscs. I picked up a region 2 DVD of Utena here (eps 21-25, the Mikage saga). Also saw a fantastic Fushigi Yuugi cosplay group and a Ranma group. The Akane outfit was really good. I was wearing the boy-type Ranma shirt at the time, btw.

Ebichu: The Housekeeping Hamster

This viewing was at 4 in the morning, so I was still pretty groggy. But this show was funny. Lots of really vulgar sex jokes. Lots of hamster abuse. All good clean fun.

Saturday, April 27, 2002

Kokoro Libary

Cute little girls running a library, wearing ridiculous maid outfits. Kowaii kawaii.


Kanon? Cool! I am a big Chiho Saito fan from Utena, and I’m reading her Kanon manga right now. It’s worth getting up early for this!

This was not Chiho Saito’s Kanon. It was a story about little tiny kids with huge eyes doing something cute and childish. Damn! Tricked again by a language of homonyms. I suspect I was not the only person fooled. An Utena cosplayer was also in the early morning audience.

Kunihiko Ikuhara Q & A

I really wish I had taken Zig-like notes for this session. Given my unhealthy worship of All Things Utena, 45 minutes of questions and answers with the man responsible for Utena would be bliss, right?

Well, sort of. I lacked the heart to ask Why the car wash? I knew it had been asked a million times before, and he has actually answered it. Transition from childhood to adulthood, trading youthful fantasies for grim responsibilities, putting Himemiya in the driver’s seat to swap roles with Utena. We’ve heard it. So now what do you have left to ask?

When Utena was a car, was she stick shift or automatic?

Kiryuu Touga: boxers or briefs? Briefs

How to break into the anime business? I am the wrong person to ask. Most people get into the business by just hanging around a studio long enough and eventually they get some work. But I actually went through channels, took the art test, and worked my way up that way. Originally wanted to be a graphic designer, but not strongly.

Next time I bring a TiBook. Or at least a pen and paper. And a camera. And a poster for him to sign.

Love Hina TV 7-8

More chasing of turtles. Hilarity ensues.


Only caught 15 minutes or so of this. Something about a monster-looking creature Betterman and a bunch of crash test dummies that turn sinister.

Japanese 102

Jon Baumgardner gave us a lot of Japanese for the anime and manga fan.

Use the polite term. Period. All the impolite terms you know and love from manga and anime are improper. If you go up to a Japanese person and start using boku and kimi you are likely to:

Probably darou (impolite), desho (polite)


Get an onomatopoeia dictionary. It will greatly enhance your manga reading time.

Der Cosplay

I was in a rather foul mood after waiting 2 hours in the cold. Ironically, I had just decided to abandon the Cosplay and go watch some anime (after 2 days at the con, I’d only seen a few hours of anime, and that’s just not right). Then the line started to move. When we get into the main theatre, we learn there will be even more delays. Technical problems delayed the show for 90 minutes. But somehow, everything was okay. It was fun. The crowd would get into the music. Or chant silly things. Or laugh it up with Dieter, our harried Master of Ceremonies.

Most of the acts and costumes were, well, amateur theatre. Some good, some less so. But some costumes were amazing. The Jin-Roh pack were right off the animation cel.

There is a long-standing tradition at Fanime Con to chant Chair! Chair! Chair! No, I do not know why. But when our MC pointed out that there are plenty of empty seats tonight and he doesn’t want to hear anybody whining tomorrow about how they could not get in, the chanting began. Later, whenever anyone left a prop or a part of a costume onstage, we would chant it out. But the best was when a cosplay group for the Seele obelisks from Eva came out. Yes, that’s right: people were cosplaying featureless black obelisks. The costumes were just coardboard boxes painted black. Box! Box! Box! After the Seele group left (they were funny), MC Dieter pondered How strange is is that here in Silicon Valley, the center of high technology, you all are so impressed by a simple cardboard box?

The music videos were good. The one set to Van Halen’s Right Now was fantastic. The fan behind me said it best: All of anime fandom summed up in five minutes. I really want to get a copy of that video.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Utena TV 1

I figured this was exactly what the show guide said: Utena TV episode 1. An episode I have memorized. It was. So by the time we got to "Saionji....sempai." I was done and ready to head back to the room with breakfast.

Digi Charat 2000 Specials 3-4

Finally I get to see the characters that Megatokyo refers to all the time. Finally I get to see the show that spawned a thousand nekogirls. I need to see more. Now I understand the Gamers store where Piro works. I understand Piro’s costume.

Gate Keepers 1-2

High school kids with special powers save Japan from another unseen invading enemy.

Gainax: Abenobashi Maho Sotengai


This one was hot off the boat from Japan, nobody has had a chance to fansub it yet. No subtitles? And it’s from Gainax? I loved how the volunteer staffing the door phrased it: We don’t know what it is, but it’s Gainax, so we know it’s messing with your head. After 5 minutes of understanding very little, we decided to choose a more relaxing show.


Okay, not so relaxing. Two female assassins infiltrate a house and kill...everybody. And by the way, the volunteer had the video misconfigured so the subtitles were only a few feet off the floor. Unreadable with all the heads in the way. Even for me. Of course, there was little dialog, most just a lot of shooting. So it was pretty easy to follow.

More Otaku no Video

This was the last show we watched before heading home. It was the perfect show to end on. An endearing look at the whole otaku culture in Japan. Okay, not so endearing. Sad, really. A lot of people with no lives.

The Swag

Fanime Con 2002 Registration Pack

Spending is the Mind-Killer

Mantra from the Fanime 2002 info booklet. Very funny (if you are a Frank Herbert fan):

I must chant the mantra of the otaku.

I must not buy. Money is the mind-killer.
Spending money is the little death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my spending. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past
I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the money has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Swap Meet

This was by far the best aquisition-oriented portion of the show. Yeah, sure, the vendors room was huge and packed with neat stuff, but it was booth after booth of the same neat stuff. The swap meet had items notcarried by Planet Anime. Old LaserDisc sets of shows. Vinyl, yes vinyl, soundtracks of Urusei Yatsura from long before CDs ruled the record stores. I picked up a region 2 Utena (5 episodes of the Mikage saga) for $15. Carolyn found a cool Ranma postcard pack. I wish more folks had participated: the large room was less than 20% full. But those that were there were great.

PenPals Gift Station

Anime, Sanrio stuff. We bought some cute lapel pins. Looked at but did not buy some cute plushie Hello Kitty and Totoro.

Phuong-Mai Bui-Quang

She was one of many artists with tables set up in Artists Alley. She had a really cute watercolor of Ryo-Ohki that she sold us for $20. She also has a 16-page self-published comic Tea Club that she was giving out/selling. Fun. Check it out. I hope she makes it big.

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

She has some stunning fantasy scapes. Beautiful dragons. Forests. Ornate emblems. Carolyn bought some cards and bookmarks.

Ben Seto/Black Sheep Comics

Another independent artist self-publishing a comic. He had an article in the local papers a while back. We picked up Waterfall issue one. He even signed it.

Doujisoup 2002-2003

A self-published book with about a dozen different stories.


Bay Area Artists Unite Comic Anthology.

Planet Anime

What visit to the vendor room would be complete without a stop by my favorite online anime store? They had tons of DVDs and stickers and manga there. They had Super Milk-chan on their banner: it comes out on region 1 DVD in a few months! Yay! Tiding us over until then, I picked up Jin-Roh: Special Edition, Metropolis, and Love Hina TV 1.

Stone Bridge Press

We bought Japanese Beyond Words, by Andrew Horvat for $12. 150 pages. Looks like it gives a good background to the stuff they don’t teach you in class. All the cultural nuances burned both into the spoken and unspoken language. They have a pictograph-oriented 1,000 Kanji book, too (which we did not pick up).

Anime Jungle

These guys had some para-para playing at high volume all during the show. Infectious 140bpm stuff. I love techno. I love trance. I love 140bpm and faster. The faster the beat, the faster the coding. When I heard the Urusei Yatsura end theme coming out of the speaker on Sunday, I finally caved in and bought all 3 volumes of the para-para set imported from Japan. $90 for 3 hours of anime tunes set to dance speed. The really sad thing is that I haven’t seen most of the shows that go with the tunes on the discs. All that battling robot theater and space opera. Ugh. Snappy tunes, though. :-)


We picked up some flyers for other cons and Anime clubs.

No Name Anime

The San Jose anime club that I also chatted with at the Metreon con in 2001. Nice guys. Asked about where they get the shows for the cons that are not commercially available in the US. Turns out that they mostly just get them straight from Japan and fansub them for the club. They like to show things that either aren’t available here, or that are but that nobody seems to know about yet. Reminds me a lot of the old BMUG days when BMUG was basically an unpaid marketing and support arm for Apple. The anime DVD production houses appear to understand this and use the anime clubs well: a quick glance down the list of next month’s shows includes things like provided courtesy of FUNimation. Cool.

Meetings in the Santa Teresa library way down in south San Jose down by IBM and Cottle Road. Ugh.


August 29-September 2, 2002
San Jose, McEnery Convention Center

The 60th World Science Fiction Convention: these are the folks who dole out the Hugo Awards.

Heart Quest

Fantasy roleplaying in the worlds of shojo manga

Catgirl Self-Defense Lessons

The funniest flyer I saw, especially after all the cat-eared women walking around the con floor.

Learn brawl and ButtonMen!

Demos take only a few minutes!

Help catgirls to make the work a better place by beating people up!

Catfight! In two easy to learn, fast playing flavors, can teach catgirls to defend against:

Dice Hurling:

Card flipping:


Buy direct from Japan. Bid on Yahoo Japan Auctions with Rinkya. No Japanese necessary: Rinkya does everything for you!

Manga Screener

The place to screen manga. A site to read a place to read scanslations of one piece (Japan’s #1 manga of September). Read it here!

Anime Prime

Reports on edits for the North American market. Fanfiction. DVD Case Covers.


Not really a flyer, I just wanted to note their URL here in case I forget to list it anywhere else. These professional cosplayers from Japan had stunning costumes. The Asuka from Eva It looked real. Amazing. Makes you wonder if maybe there is a real Tokyo-3 somewhere....

Valid HTML 4.01!
Valid CSS!

This document adheres to web standards.