AnimeFest is not your typical anime convention. It’s four days long (the advantage to being on Labor Day weekend). It prefers to stay small, hence no day passes this year. There are two nights of cosplay contests: one for walk-ons and one for skits. It also insists on staying true to its name— panels and guests must be related to anime.
One may think that AFest is a little too focused to provide enough material for four days, but the definition of “anime-related” can be very broad. The panels covered everything from plushie-making to h.Naoto (Ibi was a special guest) to “How to Talk to Girls”. I got to sit in on Digital Painting 101, led by the entertaining Amelie Belcher, and for part of Steampunk 101 with the Celestial Rogues.
The panels might not have been great in number, but they had something for everyone. There was also gaming, a semi-formal ball, a singing competition, and an interactive game based on The World Ends with You. The viewing rooms showed a wide-ranged of anime— both subbed and dubbed— as well as the films Summer Wars, Tekken Blood Vengeance (of which there was a panel featuring the writer, Dai Sato), and Trigun: Badland Rumble.
Cosplays too have moved beyond being strictly anime and video games. In fact, much of what caught my eye came from various genres of Western media: Adventure Time, Harry Potter, Homestuck, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Repo the Genetic Opera, and Scott Pilgrim.
This year has demonstrated a major shift in the most commonly-cosplayed series from the Shounen Jump favorites to a more diverse collection that includes Doctor Who, Axis Powers Hetalia, Vampire Knight, and Vocaloid. There was a lot of Gainax love with the sizable number of Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt cosplayers and the attention they attracted. Older anime series, such as Trigun, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Sailor Moon, were popular as well.
Fashion didn’t have as strong of a presence outside of the dealer’s room and Bizarre Bazaar (a.k.a. artist’s alley). There was one Lolita panel and one steampunk panel, and I only spotted a handful of each. However, it turns out that neo-Victorian males were sought out for their vests and slacks, an item on the scavenger hunt list.
The most impressive part about AFest for me was the interest in charity. The con hosted a blood drive and a charity-literacy auction. I spotted several tables supporting earthquake/tsunami relief, local libraries, and local women’s shelters. Amidst the chaotic gatherings and massive spending, it was nice to see anime fans get together for a good cause.
For more photos, click here.
Listening to: “What Are the Roses For?” by Angela Aki