And so, another Fanime comes to a close.
The Day Before - 5/27 (Thursday)
I arrived at the SJCC around 5-5:30PM, after having done last-minute packing up and eating lunch. Got to my room, paid my friend my share of the bill, then descended back down to the prereg line. I was tempted to switch into my Wriggle Nightbug costume but decided it would be better to wait out until Sunday.
I normally get to the prereg line around 3-4 PM, when the line is still sane. This time, however, when I arrived, the line was so big that it was going out the west entrance (the one on the right relative to the front entrance). To keep myself busy, I had my headphones, music player, and my DS on me.
As I moved to the part of the line where it zigzagged, I started to see some familiar faces, as well as some people already in cosplay. Took a few pics, did some PictoChat, etc. Eventually got to the front of the line at around 7:30-45PM (after about two hours of waiting) and picked up my badge.
Afterwards, I went for the gaming room. Like last year, the arcade machines were turned on and the room was open to everyone (not just those with badges), and the Swap Meet was open. I was excited to see that Fanime finally has a DJMAX Technika machine, even if it didn't have Platinum Crew (the absence of which I expected anyway). Managed to get in a few rounds.
Other arcade games of interest inclused Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 (not even 3 DX? Son, I am disappoint), Mushihime-sama (the shitty first one, not Futari, Para Para Paradise 2nd Mix, and pop'n music 14 (which I actually didn't play at all during the con). There were a few console games set up, most notably Mushihime-sama Futari; I saw a friend from Shmups Forum demonstrate Futari Black Label God Mode's holyshit30millionin5seconds scoring system, then gave a few shots of the different modes.
I aimlessly wandered around the Swap Meet, hoping to find something of interest. I found a copy of Hotel Dusk: Room 215. It was going for $20; I hesitated and the dealer offered to lower it to $15, so I then made my purchase.
Went back to my room around 11:30PM to secure bed space, as well as play some Hotel Dusk and Devil Survivor. My roommates seemed to enjoy messing with me in ways good (tickling, offering to dress me up) and bad (trying to spoil Persona 4 for me).
The 1st Day - 5/28 (Friday)
Costume: Pop'n Music - Alphonse Michel
I got up around 7-8AM. Perhaps not the best time to wake up on the first day of Fanime, but then again I had errands to do that involved heading out to Walgreens. Normally a long distance from the con center (Santa Clara & 1st), but I was able to use the light rail (my Eco Pass doesn't expire until 1 month into the next semester) to quickly move back and forth.
On my way back to the room, I had to do a little hoop-jumping to figure out what time each cosplay gathering I was going to was, as that would determine what costume to wear for each day. So I got in my michel costume; I may retire that soon.
Since I started my day proper at around 9-10AM, there wasn't much to do besides go in the gaming room. Went in, and saw someone playing Border Down, which I finally got a chance to play (fuck paying $200 for a copy). Border Down. The border gimmick, sadly, held my attention for all of 20 minutes. Not worth $200.
We did a few roulettes on DJMAX Technika, many of which failed horribly. XD
Later I stepped into the Dealer's Room just as it opened. Searched far and wide within it hoping to find a booth that sold games (in particular, Espgaluda II), with no success. My initial trip was not without merits, however. Picked up some snacks at Wizzywig and that "Asian Grocery" place, came across the awesomeness that is the mydjsobad booth (where I picked up Crevice, a J-core CD consisting of Touhou remixes), and played some DeathSmiles, which I'm very glad I preordered. I also noticed that Fakku had a booth (as they mentioned on their homepage), but was surprised to see that they weren't selling any doujins; it was mainly humorous T-shirts among other SFW things.
If I'm not mistaken, I also came across Jo Chen's booth. I had seen her at Yaoi-Con last year, and wanted to buy one of her illustration books, but couldn't because I idiotically spent my money on other things in the artist's room there. Fortunately, this time was my chance; I got the deluxe box, which comes with one of the books, a sketchbook, and then some. Chen's artwork is really nice; very glad I put down $65 for it.
For lunch, I went out of my way to Iguana's, and used my student discount to get a mini burrito for $4. Not a bad deal. As I went back to the con center, ZOMG PROTESTERS IN THE FOUNTAIN AREA BREAK LEFT BREAK LEFT AKA GO INTO THE SIDE ENTRANCE
The Swap Meet happened again later that night. Chun helped me sell a lot of crap I no longer wanted; special thanks to him. Also, in Console Gaming, someone got Espgaluda II running to I tried that. I'm looking forward to getting Esp2, especially since the game's mechanics have a bit of a learning curve.
H-room was around midnight, so I went to that. For those who haven't been to Fanime's H-room, the point of going to one isn't exactly for obvious reasons. Rather, it's the hilarious MST3K'ing that takes place, and the infamous HAND CHECKs. (In order to achieve this, some of the series shown are stuff that is hard to watch, even by H standards.) As always, good times were had, though the novelty tends to wear off after about an hour or two.
After another trip to the gaming room, I went to bed.
The 2nd Day - 5/29 (Saturday)
Costume: Ace Attorney - Apollo Justice
Saturday of Fanime is typically when things really start to happen.
Cosplay chess boards were set up in the gaming room. I think I joined for one round before I had to leave for the Ace Attorney gathering.
Sadly by the time I got back in the gaming room, Espgaluda II was gone; the only shooter available at the time was Ikaruga, and I don't like Ikaruga, I think it's one of the more overhyped shooters around. (Though it's probably just my disdain for playing Ika for score speaking.) Every other TV was used for fighting games, Smash, etc. It's a little disheartening that Fanime's console gaming is becoming the same as those of smaller cons: nothing but fighters, Smash, and maybe a Rock Band or DDR setup. I've used the gaming room in Fanimes past to try out games I've wanted to play but haven't had or never had the chance, and it looks like I might not be able to do that anymore in future years because 5 games is all a con gaming room needs nowadays.
Also Kenchan didn't bring his supergun due to a lack of owning arcade boards this year. :(
Ran into the Pearl cosplayer who set up the gathering (I was surprised to have seen her at Sakura-Con; how often do you see someone from around town at a con two states away?) and followed her and company to the gathering spot. To my dismay, the protesters were doing their thing again; fortunately we were up against the front wall so we had quite a bit of distance.
Saw a lot of familiar faces (as in people from '08 and '09's AA gatherings). It was okay, nothing too awesome sadly. '09 and '10 have so far failed to top the awesomeness that was '08's gathering, there was only AA Investigations cosplayer and, most disappointly, no Edgeworth cosplayers. We met up later at a table in the east wing of the con center, and talked about random stuff for a while.
It was here that I also saw the Pokemon gathering, which I should've taken pics of, because the day before I saw a shitload of Team Rocket grunt cosplayers in the gaming room--as many as 15-25 of them! I presume there were even more at the gathering.
I had a late lunch (5-6PM-ish) at Peggy Sue's. A little overpriced (then again I'm used to In-N-Out's prices), but a teriyaki burger for $7 isn't bad.
The other thing I was looking forward to that day, Banzai Arcade 2, was at 10 PM. Banzai Arcade had gotten so popular that Kajet put out a sequel; this time, instead of two sides competing to reach a goal on a game board, the entire audience cooperates to complete what is a cross between a JRPG and a trivia game. Although BA2 had a lot of bugs, the BA crew were pretty good sports about it ("ALPHA VERSION!"), and the game still turned out great; many questions, smoother flow, and 150 minutes to complete the first three boards followed by the final boss put some pressure into the game. Looking forward to seeing the BETA VERSION next year!
I had intended to go to bed right away after, but H-room (and yaoi room) lulz and gaming room shenanigans (Soukyuugurentai!) kept me up until 4. I ended up sleeping on the floor. In a crowded room.
The 3rd Day - 5/30 (Sunday)
Costume: Touhou - Wriggle Nightbug
Finally, a chance to cosplay as Wriggle! This was also what I call "Touhou day", because there were THREE TH-related events that same day: the gathering (2 PM), the "WTH is Touhou?!" panel (3 PM), and "Touhou Hijack LOL" panel (9 PM).
The Aksys booth in the Dealer's Room no longer had an arcade stick hooked up to the 360 with DeathSmiles; apparently people were abusing it. As someone who has yet to play a Cave shooter with the piece of shit that is the 360 controller, I decided not to play any more DS for the rest of the con, and just wait for my copy to arrive in a month or so.
For lunch, I had curry at Hydration. Ran into Ming-Sum there, but ended up spending more time than I wanted (thanks in no small part to having to wait maybe 20 minutes for food) and almost was late to the Touhou gathering. On my way back, I ran into an Aya Shameimaru cosplayer who also happened to be going there.
The gathering itself wasn't too shabby, though I was surprised that there were FOUR other Wriggle cosplayers, quite possibly the most of any Touhou character who isn't a main character at the gathering. Now, 99% of the TH cast that has had screen time is female. There are male cosplayers who want to do Touhou cosplay. The result is what is known as "Brohou." This is probably why Wriggle was a popular character to cosplay: since she wears pants and looks very much like a boy, that makes her a lot easier to cosplay, in terms of comfort and amount of guts needed.
We started by doing photoshoots of characters by game (i.e. TH06 characters only, then TH07 characters only, etc.). A nice touch was someone bringing pillows with TH powerup designs (one "P" (powerup), one 点 (ten, lit. "point"), one "B" (bomb), and one "1up". The gathering got so big that we had to go off to a side area of the con center outdoor area to do part of our photoshoot. We resumed by doing photoshoots of stage bosses. Most notably, every Stage 2 boss cosplayer was a Cirno cosplayer, and every Stage 1 boss cosplayer was doing a character from "Team 9" (a fanmade group of weaker and less mature Touhou bosses).
Right after the gathering, many of us headed for the "WTH is Touhou?!" panel, which attracted an audience so big that the seats maxed out. Poor people who didn't get there on time. Russell was in charge of this panel, and started by explaining what doujinshi, bullet hell, etc. was to those not familiar with such terminology, before diving into the main subject of the panel. He explained the game's premise, its author, its massive amounts of fan works, etc., and did a gameplay demonstration using UFO [Normal] Stage 4. A little difficult for someone who hasn't seen a bullet hell shooter before to keep up with, but the demonstration was still pretty straightforward, with him explaining all the gameplay mechanics and such. The last part of the panel discussed memes, a very big part of the Touhou fanbase (TV Tropes has an entire page dedicaded to Touhou memes, after all.)
After the panel, we parted and I went about my business for a while (Touhou Hijack wasn't for another 5 hours). Stopped by the Artist's Alley, and picked up HOME: A Touhou Project Fanbook (a TH doujin compilation by miluda, Lisu, and other Touhou fanartists). I remember getting annoyed because I had trouble finding the info desk (it wasn't where it was on Friday, and there was no pointer at its former location to the main info desk). I went for more rounds of cosplay chess LIKE A (STAGE 1) BOSS; I was lucky enough to have a few rounds where there was a Remilia Scarlet cosplayer also in, though sadly she couldn't make it to Touhou Hijack. Some of the people there (that guy in green with a spoon in his mouth, the Resident Evil cosplayer known as "Wesker") were pretty awesome, made being stuck in one place because the player on my side wasn't moving my piece more bearable.
Touhou Hijack was at 9 and, for those not familiar with it, it's described as "Touhou hijacks academia." For those who still don't get it, someone did a project for Japanese class on Touhou and its references to mythology. A worthwhile stop, for those into that kind of stuff.
I spent my last night mainly screwing in the gaming room, which was still short on console games that weren't the usual crap, Ikaruga, or Trizeal. (Trizeal sucks.) I did, however, run into the Brohous, who set up their laptops to play Touhou Hisoutensoku and EoSD on, of all things, a dance pad. Also had a chance to hang out with Renko, Miluda, et al. Also got in a round of DJMAX Technika or so.
Went back to my room around 1:50AM because I wanted bed space for once.
The 3.5th Day - 5/31 (Monday), Early Morning
Costume: Touhou - Wriggle Nightbug
Since we had to start packing up around 9-10AM so we could check out on time, some of us contemplated staying up all night and just catching up on sleep on Monday. I tried that, taking a shower and switching white shirts so I could cosplay as Wriggle again (instead of doing my Keiichi Maebara cosplay that I thought would be boring to do), left for the con center around 4:40AM.
Stopped by the H room (as they would be going until 6 AM), and cripes, they showed dubbed hentai. You can see why hentai dubs have a bad rep. XD
After that, I flopped over to the gaming room to get in my last rounds of DJMAX Technika. But as I waited, a sleep spell was overcoming me and that's when I realized that being up all night would be a bad idea, so I just played one round. I tried to get Area 7 TP on Heartbeat set. That failed. Then I failed Colours of Sorrow TP. FML.
THEN I got some sleep. A little more than I wanted but that was okay.
The Final Day - 5/31 (Monday)
Costume: Once more, wrigbug
Cynthia, you are never using your cellphone alarm to wake me up again. :(
I was surprised to see that the cosplay chess folks were still trying to more rounds. I would've joined had I not been waiting for Technika, but I heard they couldn't finish anyway due to a player shortage.
I was hoping for a few deals in the Dealer's Room but that didn't happen. Picked up one more CD from mydjsobad, this time being an original CD and not Touhou remixes! It was Crimson Hardcore by REDALiCE. An okay pick.
Went in the Artist's Alley and made a few passes, including getting an "Is that so~?" button keychain from the loltouhou booth.
Closing Ceremony was pretty simple this year. No contest winner announcing or anything, just parting words, thanks, and audience talking about their favorite experiences from Fanime this year.
After closing ceremonies, I chose to hung around for a while, as I was not ready to leave the land of cosplayers and like-interested nerds yet. I observed a few rounds of Ninja, got in a round, but lost. I also lost The Game.
Overall, Fanime 2010 was a great experience. A few downer parts, but nothing that made me wanna ragequit the con. However, Console Gaming needs to do something about the huge ratio of fighting games to other games (preferably non-competitive) that is present at any given time, and there were a few issues with management (apparently there was a When They Cry gathering, but they neglected to notice when I asked them personally, for instance). I also felt like I didn't meet a whole lot of new people compared to last year or the year before. My main source of new friends are gatherings and the gaming room; I did get to know some of the Brohous, I didn't really meet anyone new at the AA Gathering, and I think I've met all I need to meet at the gaming room.
Hopefully, next year will resolve those issues. Will I get to make new awesome friends (AND keep in touch with them)? Will there be a more diverse selection of console games to play? Will I have to wander all over the con 300 times just to find the info desk? All this and more when I see you all next year!
~Ray / Rei / gs68