San Japan this year was a blast for me personally. As well as the 11,077 fellow attendees that joined me for the panels, video games, artist alley, anime viewing and dealer’s room. I arrived early Thursday to get my room and badge early. There were a few cosplayers out and about. One woman in the elevator asked, “Are you here for the conference they are having tomorrow?” I had my badge and was bringing things to my room. “Yes, I am.”
“Is it going to be big?” She asked.
“Very big!” I replied.
“Oh, Then I’m glad I’m getting out early.”
“Yes, it’s going to be very busy and crazy this weekend.”
And it was. Guests, cosplayers, and all around fanboys a plenty. I would say this is the most diverse San Japan I have seen as of late. Sure, you have you classic cosplays (Goku, Vash, Naruto, etc.) and your popular cosplays (Attack on Titan, Panty and Stocking, etc.), but this time I saw a lot of “other” non-anime cosplays. As well as the content to support these attendees. From Marvel/DC heroes and villains, Whovians, Sherlock, Supernatural, even Game of Thrones; nearly every branch of fandom was represented. Panels, meet ups and late night content were available for them.
For the steampunk fandom, the majority of the panels were headed by crew of the Airship Constantine. The Airship has 5 panels to do, some overlapping as another group was to handle them but couldn’t make them unfortunately. Being a member of the Airship Constantine, I was glad to help out with the extra overlapping panels, a majority of them on Sunday. It was interesting as the panels were dealing with social issues in the community to poetry reading, and even storytelling and character development.
I hosted my own panel late Saturday night, “Super Sketch Art Fight Turbo” which was a drawing format game-show. I would have audience members divided into teams. They would have to draw as a team, a picture which the content was picked at random from the audience. To keep time, I would have the remaining audience perform sing along songs. Very funny and fun to watch and participate in.
As good and fun as the convention was there were a few things I didn’t like and a few complains I heard from attendees. One was concerning the seating for the guest Q&A were Gold Pass members didn’t get the priority seating they paid extra for as the panel was seated early allegedly. I, Myself was not fond of the separate entrances for the dealer’s and artist alley. The Artist Alley had one huge entrance that was up front while the Dealer’s room entrance was in another side of the building. It was very confusing and inconvenient. There were exits leading to the artist alley from the dealer’s room, but not vice versa. And speaking of blocked off exits, the hotel decided to block off a door that lead direct to an entrance to the HBG center where the rest of the con was happening. So attendees had to walk around the front of the hotel. The hotel had to do this since that was their bar/dining area and several minors would be walking through and loitering.
But the few hiccups didn’t take away from the overall grand experience, but there is room for improvement. The highlights from San Japan for me include: the Maid Cafe, hanging out in the hallways talking with fellow anime fans, Catching an “Attack on Titan” parade, and even a cosplay marriage proposal. The Maid cafe’ had a $5 dollar fee to attend, which is the least expensive maid cafe I’ve heard of in Texas so far. And it was totally worth it, I would say it was worth twice as much. I caught a maid cafe session every day of the con. Hot tea and the entertaining dancing show from the maid never got old. San Japan was quite the positive shouldn’t be missed.
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Sergio Garcia Rill of SGR Photography for his amazing photos of San Japan 2013, including the photo used as the feature image. Click here to see more of his work!