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Zig's Amazing Fanime 2005 Notes

Memorial Day Weekend

May 27-30, 2005

San Jose Convention Center

San Jose Convention Center facade


Every year, Zig and Carolyn go down to San Jose for an immersion in anime. This was our fourth trip to Fanimecon. We tried unsuccessfully to give away a couple year's worth of DVDs and manga on Friday, bought stuff in the Dealers Room on Saturday, and watched a little anime and Der Cosplay on Sunday.


Space Cruiser Yamato Retrospective

Tim Eldred, the filmmaker, presents Space Cruise Yamato: The Making of an Anime Legend

We were lucky enough to be in the audience at the world premiere of Space Battleship Yamato: The Making of an Anime Legend. Tim Eldred, the filmmaker, was there to give us a brief introduction, answer a few questions, and present the film. Star Blazers was on TV during my teens, and I watched it often. My brother was a die-hard fan, and the film showed many posters and books which I recognized from his bookshelves and walls.

In addition to a little nostalgic twang, hearing the old Star Blazers theme and watching some old footage, there was plenty of new material, background on the state of the anime marketplace that created Star Blazers, and discussion of the marketing and distribution channels that were created in response to Star Blazers fans both in Japan and abroad. It was a fascinating and educational two hours, and we're glad we had a chance to see it.

Tim Eldred didn't have stacks of the DVD to sell right there at the convention, but I ordered one through the website the day I returned from the convention.

Pocari Sweat PSAs

During Der Cosplay, there were numerous public service announcements, ostensibly sponsored by Pocari Sweat. These were pretty funny. They poked at all of the anime fan stereotypes. "This one's for you, Mister Unwashed Convention Attendee." "Here's to you, Mister Shoujo Manga and Anime fan. Because magical girls and sailor suits is your idea of entertainment."

I hope somebody offers MP3 files of these, because they're definitely worth saving for posterity.

Fairmont Hotel

I've stayed in the Fairmont before, back when Apple Worldwide Developers Conference was still in San Jose. Always a great place to stay. I'm surprised they lowered their rates down to Fanime levels of $100/night. The room was huge, quiet, and a welcome oasis when we needed a break.

Fairmont Hotel: Nice logo impression in the ashtray sand Fairmont: There is no 13th floor

There were a couple things about the Fairmont that amused me. First, the ashtrays outside the main lobby were always kept clean and tidy. The big "F" logo stamped into the ashtray sand was a nice touch. Second, I forgot that many US buildings do not have a thirteenth floor. Room 1424, where we stayed, was on the 14th floor, but since there was no floor labeled "13", in reality, we were staying on the Thirteenth Floor! We were very careful to avoid ladders, broken mirrors, and black cats for the entire weekend.

Video Programming Schedule

Great layout. Seeing an entire day at a glance helped for planning. After I added a few notes for the live programming tracks, I could instantly see everything that was going on at any one time. Switching to a landscape layout from portait layout was a good idea.

Nice selection of shows, too. Many shows I'd never even heard of. I'm surprised and bummed that I made it to so few showings this year.

Anime Fans

Anime fans rock. I'm not just saying that because I watch anime. Compare the behavior of an 18-year-old cosplayer at a con to that of a 35-year-old silver and black cosplayer at a Raiders game.


Swap Meet Too Full

The line for the swap meet... ..stretched around two corners

You all missed out. Yeah, you, the person who paid $80 to buy all 8 volumes of Marmalade Boy manga. Because I had two full boxes of manga and anime that I planned to give away for free. Yeah, free. My shelves are piled high with DVDs and manga that I've seen once, and will never revisit. I need the shelf space, and you need something to read. I would like to pass them on to someone else who would enjoy them. I made a special effort to be home from work early on Friday, drove all the way down to San Jose, and stood in line at the Swap Meet. Over an hour later, literally at the door to the Swap Meet room, I was told that they were out of space, and that no more sellers will be admitted. Some sellers would probably vacate their spots and then I could go in, if I wanted to wait around for a couple more hours.

Maybe next year, they could be a little more organized. 30 minutes before the doors open, measure out the spaces in the room and mark them with duct tape. Walk down the line handing out numbers with their space assignments. Inspecting for bootlegs? let sellers them set up, and inspect the entire room with a quick walkaround.

Redeath Too Full

After spending Friday evening in line in an unsuccessful attempt to give away free stuff, it was too late to get in line for Studio Sokodei's Eva: ReDeath showing. That line was even longer than the Swap Meet line.

So Friday just kind of sucked in general. We went back to the car and drove home. If it weren't for our deposit on the room at the Fairmont, we probably would have stayed home and skipped the rest of the convention.

Sinus Cavity Too Full

Carolyn had a cold, and by Sunday, I was starting to catch it, too. Whee.


Dealers Room: The Schwag

Dealer's room, with 20-foot-tall T-Shirt booth on the right Dealer's room was quite busy Dealer's room: Badtz Maru working slowly towards a Hello Kitty booth Fanime 2005: The Schwag

We always love the dealers room. This year was no exception.

We had a few shopping goals this year

We went 3 for 4 this year, with Maria-sama being the strikeout. I'll just have to remind myself to want everything that I have more than to have everything I want.

Earilier this year, we looked for a Puchiko cap in the Akihabara store of Anime Gamers in Japan <> but came up dry. Luckily, the Los Angeles store <> brought some with them for their booth at Fanime. Yay!

A very contented Carolyn in her Puchiko cap.

Also while in Japan, I kept an eye out for Godzilla. But The Big Guy never made an appearance, even when we were at Tokyo Tower. What I really was looking for was a cloth, huggable, Godzilla, about a foot tall. I had seen one before, probably in the geek store that took over most of Bandai's old space in the San Francisco Metreon. Turns out the item is a US toy, so it would have been surprising if I did find one in Japan. This one even roars and his eyes light up when you squeeze him.

Godzilla has the remote!

I'd been in the market for a Myth bag for a few years. This year I finally was able to hold one in my hands, convince myself that a 15-inch PowerBook will fit (just barely), and that the padding will be adequate (just barely). So goodbye, WWDC 2000 bag, hello, Lain. The wired is calling.

Every year, there is a booth where a guy has some impressive paintings of various anime females. He usually has a nice Utena or two, but I already have more Utena than wallspace. He did have a lampshade with a cute scene from Azumanga Daioh with Osaka and Neko-Coneko. It is the perfect size to replace one of the lamps in our bedroom.

At the Infinity Studios booth, I took a chance and bought a copy of Witch Class 1. I read it later that night, and it was quite charming. Witch Class 2 comes out in June 2005, I'm looking forward to it. <> Warning, as of May 2005, the Infinity Studios website contains gratuitous flash graphics in the header which pounds my CPU and makes it unpleasant to navigate the site. The entire site is flash-based rather than HTML, and thus impossible to shop without the offending header, which makes it impossible to shop. I know I want to buy more of their books, but I think I'll wait until they redesign their site before doing so.

Bought a Koge Donbo Di Gi Charat book from the Studio Ironcat booth. We need more Di Gi Charat. I look forward to the original shows finally being officially subtitled and sold here in the US.

Viz publishers had stacks and stacks of manga sampler books. Fall 2004 sampler. Genius! Bring home a book, read through one chapter each from a dozen or so stories, and then rush out to your local neighborhood bookstore to purchase the ones you like. Kinda like what Animerica Extra was for me, before they shut down. Hopefully what Shoujo Beat will be like: its first issue comes in June 2005.

At the <> booth, I saw a great "iCephalopod" T-Shirt at the show, but they were sold out. So I bought a "KFC: Kids for Cthulhu. Tentacle licking good" shirt instead. I'll probably order iCephalopod over the web later today.

I almost stopped by the P.M.B.Q. Studios <> booth to pick up a new Tea Club Stealth shirt. But I didn't. And now they're all gone. Waaaaah!

Once again, there were a couple porn models in booths. But this year, there wasn't a crowd of drooling fanboys. Candace Kita <> was nice and said hi as the spouse and I were walking by. I think I blushed.

W Wish

Finally made it to an anime viewing rooms to look for new shows.

Ew. Underage twin siblings expressing overly possessive attraction towards each other. Not really my thing. Time to go find dinner.


We actually spent the entire morning bouncing from video room to video room, and managed to take in several hours of anime.

Space Cruiser Yamato Retrospective

Fascinating, educational, and already talked about in the Highlights above.

Maria-sama Haru


We hadn't seen Maria-sama on a big screen in a while, so we stopped in to watch the first two episodes of Maria-sama ga Miteru, Haru (season 2). Rosa Gigantea's driving is always a delight.

My HiMe

Teen angst with some magic or monsters or something thrown in. We were actually following along until the monsters started. Then we got kinda bored, and after about 10 minutes, left for...

Jinki: Extend

Oops. Battling Robot Theatre. We're outta here.

Maison Ikkoku

Ah, much better. Thank you Rumiko-san. Godai struggles against snow and time to find a rock he left on a train. It's important to the manager, Otonashi, so it's important to him. The episode ends with a long walk home through a pretty snowfall.

I really should add more Rumiko Takahashi works to the GreenCine queue. My shelves are already bulging under the load of old Lum manga, box after box of AnimEigo Lum sets, and far too many Ranma discs. At least 1/4 of the "stuff to give away" pile is old Ranma manga 1 through 18. Maybe I should reconsider. After 2 years of Japanese lessons, I'll probably catch a few more jokes if I reread them now, even in English.

Der Cosplay

Der Cosplay: Audience before the show Der Cosplay: Some little witches

Der Cosplay seems to be the main event for us at Fanime, and we were once again looking forward to some amazing costumes, impressive dance numbers, and a couple hours of excruciating amateur theater.

There was a pack of little witches at the con every day, and they appeared on stage at Der Cosplay. If you squint real hard, you can almost see them in the photo above, right.

The fans in 18th Century French costumes, and their skit describing the French Revolution and poking at Rose of Versailles, were all wonderful.

Der Cosplay: Gotta Catch 'em All

However, our favorite costume had to be the Pikachu. Again in an 18th century hoop skirt, but this time with a yellow lightning bolt tail, big yellow ears, and a cute Pikachu soundtrack.

A lot of anime fans boo Pikachu, perhaps because they were recently Pokemon fans themselves, and associate the show with their own embarassment over once being younger than they are now. Perhaps they boo the popular, and yet, they don't boo Eva, Dragonball or Naruto, so that surely can't be why.

We loved the Pocari Sweat PSAs. "Inventor of Pocky Sticks, this one's for you. You figured out how to cover a thin wheat cracker with an artificial flavor, creating the perfect snack food."

Our Master of Ceremonies, Dieter, got in a several good barbs. After one slow skit, "You keep wondering when something is going to happen, but nothing ever does. It's like Lain." "You keep hoping it will get better, but like Boogiepop Phantom, it never does. You just keep watching and watching." "Like you, I was thinking about 'what else could I have been doing instead of watching that skit?' Well, you could have gone 5 miles on the Light Rail."

Der Cosplay: Happy Zig and Carolyn

One thing that kind of baffled both of us: we didn't recognize any of the shows portrayed on stage. Apparently we're not watching the correct shows or playing the correct videogames, because we certainly didn't get most of the jokes this year. To further baffle us, the audio was a tad rough this year, so most dialogue was unintelligible. And yet, we still had a lot of fun.

We missed the Anime Music Videos (AMVs) and the second half of the show. It was already late, we were both sick, and if we didn't recognize any shows from the cosplay, we probably wouldn't recognize any in the AMVs, either.

Theatre Photos: Auto and ISO 80 Bad, ISO 400 Good

I still haven't quite gotten the hang of my camera. From way up in the balcony, it's hard to get good photos of a dark stage. Zoom in, and the picture blurs. Zoom back, and it's tiny. I did mess with the film speed a bit, and next time I'll try manually setting the sensitivity. ISO 80 = dark, ISO 400 = light. Maybe next time.

ISO80 ISO400

Miscellaneous Cosplayer Shots

I didn't see all that many costumes this year. Mostly it was just people in Army-Navy Store rethreads with Naruto headbands, making Naruto the most overdone costume of 2005. Pretty impressive for a show that isn't even on DVD yet.

I saw two Cardboard Tube Samurai at the show. I managed to get a shot of one. I also saw a Strongbad in the Dealers room.

Cosplayer: Cardboard Tube Samurai Cosplayer: Strongbad

I saw this trio walk by and it took a second to register. It's Utena, Himemiya, and Juri from Chiho Saito's Halloween illustration! Very cool.

Cosplayers: Halloween Utena, Himemiya, and Juri Halloween Utena Cover

These two were posing for pictures out in front of the convention hall, and the image was cool enough for me to take a picture, too.


While walking along an upstairs hallway, I caught this scene from the window. A massive multicosplayer photo shoot, with the cameras across the street.

Group photo time. Count the Narutos. Group photo time, from 30 feet away Group photo time, wide shot

Conclusion: Our Final Fanimecon

We will be taking a break from Fanimecon for a while.

We tend to like shows that bore the average Fanime attendee: Maria-sama, Azumanga Daioh, Kaleido Star, Princess Nine, Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar, Chibi Maruko-chan. Unfortunately, these shows do not sell well. The dealers room offers little or no merchandise for our shows. So we arrive at the conclusion that we're just not the kind of mass-market fan to whom Fanime caters.

How will we find the next Maria-sama if we're not at the cons? Especially if US distributors aren't making enough sales of our kinds of shows? We'll continue to rent DVDs from which stocks a wide variety of anime and other shows. We'll continue purchase copies of the ones we fall in love with, as long as there are US distributors willing to sell them here. And for cases like Chibi Maruko-chan, we'll just buy the Japanese Region 2 DVDs and fumble through them with our limited Japanese language skills.