Out of all (three) conventions I go to each year, this is the only one that leaves me wanting more. WonderCon gets one day so that I can raid the half-off bins and catch a panel or two. I’m not going there to gorge myself, that’s what Comic Con is for. Yet after four days (and a preview night) of that, I’m ready to head home and decompress from it all. Fanime offers lots of panels run by fans on a wide variety of subjects, plenty of anime to watch, and a dealer’s hall/artist’s alley that offer lots of interesting stuff to buy. More than those other cons, it offers me the chance to get away from it all as I actually have to fly out to San Jose. By the time I have to head to the airport on Monday, I’m wishing that the con lasted an extra day. So while this con is over with (and now the wait begins for next year’s), here are some highlights from the 2015 edition of Fanime:
Dark Horse Manga: For the first time in four years, Carl Horn returned to fanime. Sadly, he was just hosting this panel instead of talking about the early days of fansubbing or his long, strange path to having a career as an editor and localizer of manga. The panel itself was fine as we got the Cliff’s Notes edition of Dark Horse’s history of publishing manga and a look at their upcoming titles. That was somewhat redundant after the announcements out of Anime Central, but it was nice to get a closer look at “I Am a Hero.” What made the panel experience a highlight was that Carl stuck around after the panel to raffle off swag, take questions from everyone, and talk to John and myself at the very end. He’s a really personable guy and had a lot to share regarding his thoughts on the industry and specific titles. Best of all was the fact that Dark Horse is “considering” releasing the last volumes of “Eden” in some kind of omnibus form. I’m not sure if that’ll actually happen, but I let him know I liked the idea. Easily the high point of the convention for me…
...if you don’t count my star turn giving voice to the main character’s spoken words in an ero-game.
Cringeworthy Game Cutscenes: The woman hosting this gave us “Hilariously Awesome Bootlegs” last year and I think she topped herself with this one. It’s a panel that almost takes care of itself, but her insights (and I hate the fact that I can’t remember her name or what site she writes for -- I’m an awful person for that) definitely added to the experience. As for the games featured, they included: “Last Alert” for the Turbo Grafx CD, “Golden Nugget” from the PS1, “Time Crisis” from the arcade, and the “laughing” scene from “Final Fantasy X.” The highlight for me was the game she started off with: “Castle Shikigami 2.” Imagine a translation done by Babelfish and voiced by whoever was in the publisher’s office that day. It is a majestically awful thing to behold. Our host said she could’ve done the entire panel with just clips from that game and I believe her -- having seen it in action myself.
Badasses of Japanese History: That should be pretty self-explanatory. Come and learn about the legendary exploits of Benkei (died standing up after being stuck with a hail of arrows), Oda Nobunaga (used every dirty trick to win), Miyamoto Musashi (history’s greatest troll), and a couple guys who managed to cut off their own heads. This was hosted by the guy who also does the “Cthulu For President” and “Hentai Music Video” panel/event (no, I can’t remember his name either) and this was an improvement over his initial effort with this last year. Even though he’s a funny guy with plenty of charisma, the man came better prepared with more historical knowledge to back up the badassness of his subjects. While most of the people featured in this year’s panel had been discussed in the previous year, I may still come back next time because the presentation was so great.
Also, the “Hentai Music Video” event was better this year too. There was only one bad entry in the bunch: While spotlighting a series where people turn into sex zombies set to a dubstep remix of the theme from “The Walking Dead” isn’t a bad idea in theory… making it six minutes long is. The winner, “Jiggles and Giggles” was genuinely funny and very well put-together. It also featured NO NUDITY OR SEX, which made me wonder why it was even admitted to this competition. It could’ve been entered in the regular “Anime Music Video” competition (which was better than usual for Fanime).
There were disappointments: You’d think that their video crew would make sure all of the subtitles on the live-action movies were timed right before screening them, but then you would be wrong. Same goes for making sure that there are no issues with the audio setup when you’re trying to play an anime that has actually been released in the U.S. We also did the maid cafe experience at Steve’s ironic urging and found the forty-five minutes we spent inside to be a pleasant time with a charming maid. It wasn’t worth the two hours we spent standing in line to get in. Now that we’ve done it, we can say that we did and never bother with it again. I’m also sad to say that “Midnight Madness” is now just “Anime Hell: Extended Edition.” No fandubs have been screened here in three years. It’s fine for what it is, but just call it that from now on.
I could go on about “Anime Hell” itself, the “Anime Music Video” competition, finally seeing “Wolf Children,” or my annual sit-down at the “Nostalgia Critic” block. Yet I think you all get the idea by now. This is a fun con and after my thirteenth visit, I’m still very much looking forward to my fourteenth. John and I also continued our tradition of recording a podcast while we’re up there, and Steve got to suffer along with us this time. So stay tuned for one last part of the Fanime experience when we talk “Buried Garbage of Manga” tomorrow.