Last weekend I was at Animazement! In the first part I talked about the panels I attended, so today let’s dive into the full experience, because there’s a ton to take in beyond the panels.
First of all, of course there were tons of cosplayers dressed up as a million different anime and video game characters.
Naturally, I didn’t even think of taking pictures until the final day of the convention, so I don’t have any pictures of the amazing cosplay I saw except for this wonderful Totoro, who was all too happy to have a million pictures taken of them. They were a total hit on Sunday, constantly posing for photos – I hope they got to do everything they wanted to do before Sunday, since I don’t think I ever saw them go very far before being asked for more pictures.
I also saw the most amazing Edward from Full Metal Alchemist – his jacket was the coolest thing I saw at the entire convention, and I wished it hadn’t been the first day and I wasn’t too shy to ask to take a picture. I saw Honey and Mori from Ouran High School, and Mori even carried Honey piggyback-style! It was really cute, and you could see that kind of passion, attention to detail, and love for these characters and series all over the convention. From people dressing up in full suits of fabricated armor, to simple but exceptionally polished costumes, to people just doing their best with what they have and the skills they possess, it’s wonderful to see and a lot of fun to be around all day.
There were events I didn’t participate in at all, like video game tournaments, and showings of anime episodes and movies all day for each day of the convention, with different games and different shows/movies at different times each day.
But I just wanted to explore. I was restless from sitting most of the day on Friday, so I spent most of my time walking around the largest rooms of the convention: The Dealer’s Room and Artist Alley. Click through the pictures to see just how huge both rooms were – I couldn’t get either space in a single photo, even from the highest point I could find!
My first visit was to Artist Alley, because I really wanted to see what independent creators had come up with, and because I didn’t know where to start, so I just sort of… went. I didn’t get many good pictures of the space, unfortunately, but I did come home with tons of business cards – thankfully, nearly ever artist at the convention had cards to take with you so you could find them online!
In Artist Alley, I also spent most of the money I brought for spending at the convention, and got two little charms – Growlithe and Arcanine, two of my favorite Pokémon – that now have a place on my backpack, as well as a trio of bookmarks (one can never have too many bookmarks) featuring San from Princess Mononoke, the original trio of starter Pokémon, and Lucina from Fire Emblem: Awakening. The charms and first two bookmarks were all made by Melissa Francis, while the Lucina bookmark was made by Michole Miller.
Artist Alley also had an art show, which I only took a picture of from high-up – it looks empty, but that’s because it’s the last day so bidding was basically over and the displays were mostly gone. There were tons of displays showing off special art pieces that you could bid on. I didn’t bid on any, or take pictures of any, but there were some really impressive pieces, and it was a neat addition to the place.
Artist Alley had an open, airy vibe to it, and was quite relaxed most of the time, even when it was fairly busy, or even crowded.
That wasn’t the case for the Dealer’s Room.
The Dealer’s Room was jam-packed at all times of every day, filled with people and noise and very slow-moving traffic. And it isn’t hard to see why! There are tons of things to buy here, including a lot of import collectibles from Japan. Naturally, there was a ton of anime – shelves and shelves and shelves of it, with a ridiculously wide selection to choose from.
There was also a comparable amount of manga, with many different displays and shelves showing off the vast variety of books to pull from.
One even had a novelization of one of my favorite movies, The Boy and the Beast!
As I said in the previous post, I attended a panel about Gunpla (Gundam Plastic Models), and the Dealer’s Room was stacked with them. When I went to take pictures on the last day, somehow I could only find one of the Gunpla dealers, but there were three major ones, with several other dealers including Gunpla as part of their displays. The little (and not-so-little) models had a huge presence.
I wouldn’t dare get into the high level of Gunpla building, but some of the smaller, simpler ones are appealing to me, like this little blue guy, or the “Momokapool.” I like the cute ones, though the cool ones, like the “Converge ex 04” are pretty exciting, too (but probably more intricate than what I’d want to commit to).
Speaking of cute things, they were heavily represented, as cute things frequently are in the anime world. Places like Sugar Bunny Shop had a strong presence, as well as other dealers of original works.
And when it comes to original works, I found out about a neat shop called Boomslank. Their goal is to focus on original, anime-styled merchandise, and I was quite taken with their art style.
While there was a huge variety of anime merchandise, I was surprised at the strong presence of older franchises. Dragon Ball Z had arguably a stronger presence than its newer sequel series, Dragon Ball Super. I picked up a shirt with the Super version of Future Trunks on it, and I love it! Sailor Moon also had a strong showing, proving that some of the older series are evergreen, always popular and appealing to those into anime.
Pokémon is always an evergreen franchise, and had a super strong showing. I picked up a Bulbasaur notebook (one can never have too many notebooks, and Bulbasaur’s my favorite Pokémon) from an import dealer, as well as another Pokémon charm in the Dealer’s Room: an Umbreon that is double-sided, with its blue shiny variant on the flip side!
Figurines and collectibles were a big part of the Dealer’s Room. You could find figures of such a wide variety of characters, it was overwhelming. Some were small and cute, others large and intricate. Some were highly detailed, others simpler. There was a tremendous variety in franchises, sizes, quality, and price. I spotted figurines from Full Metal Alchemist to Love Live, Haikyuu to Ouran High School, and so many more. On the one hand, I’m glad I only budgeted a small amount of money for spending at the convention. On the other, now I know I should save ahead of time for my next convention, as there are so many amazing things all in one place!
Along with figurines, there were also many, many keychains and plushies, of which I only got a tiny amount of pictures (I’m fairly certain there were more plushies in the Dealer’s Room than there was actual anime).
And of course there were tons of posters to buy! The only picture I took of poster displays was this one, simply because of its scale – the entire display was more than twice as tall as me, and I couldn’t even get enough room to take a picture of the entire display! Very impressive.
Besides all this anime stuff, there were also some interesting vendors of a variety of other wares. What I was surprised to see (and didn’t take pictures of, naturally – I should have taken far more pictures!) were how many vendors were selling retro video games! I was really amazed to see a cartridge of Ogre Battle 64, a little-known N64 strategy RPG that is one of my favorite video games.
There was also a surprising fascination with steampunk merchandise. I didn’t get the best pictures, but I made sure to take a shot of a display rack covered with various goggles, after a girl in front of me shouted “Goggles!” very excitedly, veering off of her original course to check them out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so excited about goggles, but after taking a look at the many different kinds, I can kind of understand why. They’re neat!
A vendor focused on “tiny top hats” had a man dressed as the Mad Hatter from Tim Burton’s take on Alice in Wonderland, and he was really quite a trooper for being on his feet the entire day, dancing and engaging with customers. That same shop also had a display of pocket watches for sale, which I was intrigued by – after all, Caleb from Greysons uses a pocket watch as his Talisman – but I didn’t see any that were quite the right size and color. They had an impressive selection, and if I’d been willing to spend more money, I probably would have walked away with a watch despite that.
There was a shop selling board games, and I took pictures of two of them because they looked really interesting! I’m not a huge board game player, but I was recently introduced to just how much can be done with board games. These two – Bunny Kingdom and Unearthed – look really fun to me.
Several shops also sold Japanese items like clothing – kimonos, dresses – as well as Japanese style umbrellas, and some really gorgeous wall scrolls.
And finally, I was delighted to see that there were tons (at least half a dozen, probably more) of vendors selling SWORDS! I have to put that in all-caps because 1) I love swords, and 2) that’s how I labeled all of my pictures of swords, conveying my excitement. I could have (and would have, if I hadn’t waited until the last day to take pictures) taken dozens of pictures, but alas, I only snapped shots of a small sampling. Many of them were absolutely gorgeous, and there was a wide variety of sizes and styles, though I mostly focused on the standard size and style katanas.
And that is all I have, at least in pictures, to share about my experience at my first anime convention: Animazement! The name is apt, as I was, in fact, amazed at so many things. The panels were wonderful (for the most part), but it was really the whole experience – the huge numbers of people, the vast array of cosplay, the ridiculously gigantic Artist Alley and Dealer’s Room, the incredible amount of merchandise and collectibles – that was amazing for me. On Friday, I mostly attended panels. Saturday and Sunday, my focus was on walking, exploring, just taking it all in.
And I had a total blast.
I’m not used to being around such a love of anime. My sister is, of course, a huge fan (she’s the one who invited me to come to the convention with her, after all), but I’ve had very few friends who were into anime, and I haven’t been to stores that focus on anime and manga for their selection in a really long time. And, as I said, this was my first anime convention. I spend so much time enjoying it in isolation, that it was exciting just being surrounded by people who were as excited about all of this stuff as I was.
It was weird, of course. Anime’s freaking weird, and the fans are freaking weird.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.