As I have mentioned once before, if you are into anime, even just slightly, you should go to at least one convention, just to see what it is like. There is a calendar of events on the internet that you can get to, showcasing all the cons around the nation (and Canada! Yes, they like anime in Canada, eh?) both big and small, although I do recommend trying out the smaller ones first, so you get a better understanding as to what they are like. Don’t want to jump into the deep end too quickly. The lifeguard might not notice and you could sink to the bottom pretty fast.
In my neck of the woods, we have Fanime!, which is a problem when you type it in too fast. It can easily come up as ‘famine’, so instead of getting snaps of people cosplaying as Dragon Ball Z, you see photos of starving people and cracked lands and many degrees of unpleasantness. (Curse you, SpellCheck!) Now, this one is run by fans, for fans, and that is nice, in one sense, as you certainly get a huge amount of zeal and enthusiasm that is sometimes lacking from the larger venues. But that can work against you as well, for no amount of passion can make up for a non-understanding of logistics.
I attended this one a few years ago (I am a strong believer in doing one convention a year. Aside from the sheer cost of it, you may lose a bit of the zing around it going too often), but I was chagrined at the lack of the aforementioned logistics. Timing is everything at a convention, and it really helps to be able to get them shows started on time. Tick tock. Tempus Fugit. Cave Canem. Otherwise, you get a domino effect, and people on the current panel get irritated that they weren’t able to do their whole thing, because the panel before them ran long, because the panel before THEM ran long because the panel even before them started late. It creates unnecessary tension with things and lots of heated arguments with the volunteer staff who have little to no control over the events. And getting into fist fights with them results in you being expelled. Not a good move, especially with tickets at $65 a pop. That can buy a lot of beer. Or anime.
The other problem I had is that they never could produce a printed schedule of events. What? How can I figure out what’s going on? What good is the informational table if they have no information to dispense? Well, you could go to their website. Har de har har. The last time I went, I didn’t have a laptop or a smartphone or a pocket nerd to help. The only reason I succeeded is that when I sat down at a table to eat lunch (well, ‘lunch’ is an elusive term at these venues; more like Something Burnt on a Plate for $8.99), the previous tenant had left their printed schedule there, along with a massive mustard stain. Wipe, wipe, wipe. Here’s to hoping they got the kinks ironed out and upgraded the food service.
This one was going to be a bit different in doing the sign-in from normal times. Aside from the fact that I would be going in as Press, it would also be what I call a Hot Push. Normally, like when I do the Anime Expo, I take off two weeks and head down to the Citadel of the Angels for vacation time. They start mid-week, but I am already there, so I can afford to cough up that wait time in line. For Fanime!, since this happens around Memorial Day Weekend (and I can never get the time off officially for this one), what I do is forego the standing in line the day before approach, get down there early enough when it opens the day of, so I can get through quickly and still get to some of the first events.
Besides, the wife has discovered frugality and is not going to tolerate the nonsense of me driving down there the night before and doing this, since I’ll be driving down there the next day. And you can FORGET getting the room a day earlier. Oh, yeah, that part of it.
It is critical that whatever venue you go to, you commit early. You see, a lot of them have deals with the local hotels for some pretty decent room rates, but they usually open those up about six months before Go Time. If you decide late, you will easily lose out on the cherry rooms and have to get something a bit further out….like we had to. And my travel agent friend was unable to secure any great deals or whatnot at the locations that I had hoped for (and since I don’t give plugs to these places, they shall remain nameless). They did open up a few near the airport, but that’s still three to four miles away. Yes, they kinda have shuttle services from convention center to hotel, but it’s still a hassle to time those buses properly and no matter how ‘safe’ an area it is, you still don’t want to be hoofing it at 3am, right? Well, you didn’t have to try and take in ‘Hot Hentai Nights’.
The more fun part was trying to get that Friday off from work, so I could take it ALL all in. As a wag wit of mine once noted, “You never know how worthless you are at work until you ask for a raise. You never know how valuable you are at work until you ask for a day off.” Jacob wrestling with the angel had it far easier than I did and I ended up have to deal in subterfuge. Look, I didn’t have to play the rat if you didn’t have to play the rat. Can’t we all just get along? Well, it doesn’t matter. I (think) I have all my ducks in a row and I will be splitting out of here dawn Friday so we can do the deed. Do you know the way to San Jose?