2007 Anime Conventions & My Ever-increasing Pile of Debt


…is exactly how I felt when I looked at my credit card bill this morning…

whitehatazn-48.jpgAfter attending Unicorn Table in concert at the New York Anime Festival, I have finally completed my list of conventions I was willing to attend this year. I already mentioned before that at the end of this past weekend, I would’ve attended five conventions. Here were the conventions I attended:

  • AnimeNEXT 2007 July 6th – 8th (Attended July 7th), Secaucus, NJ
  • Zenkaikon 2007, October 13th, King of Prussia, PA
  • Shikkaricon 2007, October 27th, Newtown, PA
  • TandokuCon 2007, November 9th – 11th (Attended November 10th), Philadelphia, PA
  • New York Anime Festival 2007, December 7th – 9th (Attended December 8th), New York, NY

This year was actually the first year I started going to conventions. I wasn’t able to go attend cons previous years as I was particularly stingy with my money (as a broke college student). Now that I have graduated and became a working member of society (woot), I can actually pay to go to cons and buy a reasonably good amount of dealers room stuff. Here are some of my thoughts about the cons I went to:

AnimeNEXT 2007 – My first con and probably personally my favorite con from this year. It’s New Jersey’s own major con in a solid venue. The Meadowlands Exposition Center and its local hotels provide the con events in a traffic-free secluded plaza with many shops within walking distance although there are signs that the venue itself is reaching its limits. It’s a very fan driven con with some industry presence. I remember back then I was complaining for more industry presence. But looking back now, I really enjoy the fact that the growing con still maintains the fan-centric experience.

Zenkaikon 2007 – A second year con since the merger (this con was formed from an even smaller anime con and a sci-fi con, although this con has become quite anime-centric). My first chance to experience a small con (<600 attendees). Another con with a solid venue (near my alma mater). The Valley Forge Convention Center still has room to grow and is near a major shopping area (the King of Prussia mall). The con hosted a good number of fan-run panels and a respectable dealers room for a small con. I actually surprised myself with how much fun I had.

Shikkaricon 2007 – Another second year con. This con was even smaller than Zenkaikon (<400 attendees). Venue was very lacking even though I was expecting that. Still had a good time specifically with the anime karaoke lounge. They had quite an impressive list of anime songs to karaoke (YURIA’s Look at Me from School Days was on the list).

TandokuCon 2007 – A first year con in a major city. It was the return of a con to a major venue in my city, Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Convention Center is an amazing venue in a very good location within the city. Although they used only one of the wings of the center, they have solid potential expand. Impressive dealers room and had a many solid English voice actors as guests. But I saw plenty of the signs of a first-year con’s inexperience (plenty of delays, not enough volunteers, mismanagement of panel rooms, etc…). Hopefully, this con can expand with this venue and I can make this my home con.

New York Anime Festival 2007 – A first year con in a major city with tons of industry presence. Hosted in a really good venue in the Jacob Javits Center yet the immediate area is a bit lacking (we ended up walking to near Madison Square Garden for dinner). With a professional company running the con, it was hard to find many major first-year mistakes. But they weren’t perfect (30min delay for the last concert on Saturday). Interestingly, I didn’t have as much fun as I expected. Bandai Entertainment’s panels and booth and the Unicorn Table concert were probably the only things that I really enjoyed. (bro has more of a complete review on NYAF Sat 2007)

Looking back at this year’s con experience, I was able to make some comparisons and match them to my own personal preferences. Here are some thoughts:

Con Size (Big vs. Small) – I was particularly surprised with small cons. Mainly because despite being small, there was some element/event that make them stand out. I like small cons. Yes, they do lack the major guest and dealers rooms are small. But, they are usually good with creating fan events designed by fans for fans. They have a kind of community experience that you just can’t get with large cons. I got a chance to really get to know the staff and the local dealers at the small cons. Since small cons are usually quite young, you get a better chance of influencing and expanding these cons.

Structure (Fan-centric vs. Industry-centric) – This comparison was particularly with the NYAF against everything else. I surprised myself at the NYAF. Even though it had plenty of panels, dealers and what not, it just wasn’t particularly as interesting to me. My conclusion is the way NYAF was constructed. It’s just too industry-centric. Someone in another blog appropriately named it a “trade show.” The con felt like it was reduced to one large commercialized marketing effort. There was exceptions specifically Bandai Entertainment who embraced their Haruhi, Lelouch, and Konota loving fans (I personally felt like they did the best out of the companies this weekend). Only when Unicorn Table rocked it up that night is when I really enjoyed coming.

One of the good things about my con experience from this year is that I attempted to experienced many different cons without any preferences or expectations. With that I was able to do things. One, I was able to take each con and their circumstances as a combined event. And second, I was able to take some major element from each con and have fun.

My suggestion to all of you: Support your local convention no matter how big or small. It’s one of the ways to spread your anime fandom and build up the anime community. There are more conventions out there than ever and they are growing at a tremendous rate. It shouldn’t be hard to find a convention to make your own.

So onward to 2008. What cons will I attend? I’m not too sure yet. I’m actually planning to run my own game show at a few of the small cons. But the other details, I haven’t figured out yet. I will say this to all cons: If any North American convention gets YURIA, Nana Mizuki or Mami Kawada as a musical guest, I’m so there.

… now back to managing my bills. I haven’t started Christmas shopping yet…


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