words and pics by Mike Flores
80 degrees out and girls are running around in skimpy costumes and cat ears? Then it must be winter in Sacramento, CA!
Early this month I was able to attend SacAnime Winter 2014, held in the Sacramento Convention center and the Sheraton Grand across the street. The reason for the winter distinction is because SacAnime is one of the few cons I know of that has both a winter and a summer version. Having previously been impressed with one day of the convention last year, I felt I needed to check out a full weekend and take in all SacAnime had to offer. Like most conventions, SacAnime has the usual trappings of any other anime con, but what I experienced this year was above and beyond what I had come to expect.
The guests this year were a nice mix of voice actors from the world of video games and animation. Guests included, the Halo video game franchise with the voice of Cortana – Jen Taylor along with the voice and motion capture actors of Master Chief – Steve Downes and Bruce Thomas respectively.
On the animation side, the stars of the Nickelodeon Air Bender series (Avatar:The Last Air Bender and The Legend of Korra) Dante Bosco and Janet Varney made appearances as well as one of the stars of Adventure Time – Jeremy Shada.
Guests also included some of the anime world’s biggest English dub actors, Vic Mignoga, Steve Bulm and the previously mentioned Brina Palencia. Even the voice of Mario himself Charles Martinet was there.
If you missed one panel with them that’s okay because they were sure to be on another panel the next day. Missed the Friday autograph session? There were multiple opportunities throughout the weekend. For people who’s main thing is meeting and seeing voice actors SacAnime is a fanboy dream come true. Each and every guest seemed so happy to be there and was more than generous with their time. Something that is missing from the much bigger cons.
The panels were really good too. There were your standard Q&A’s and then there were unique panels I had never seen before. Some of the more memorable panels covered things from the feminist themes of the very popular anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica or focused on the history of a single Pokemon character like Pokemon Magikarp!
And there’s always plenty of seats. The beauty of this con is, while you might have to wait in a long line to get in, you will get in! Even for the most popular panels, you can just walk right in and find a good seat. Even if you were late to it.
The night time at SacAnime 2014 could easily be summed up by Music, Gaming and Anime.
Music was abundant and performances that stuck out were from all girl rock group Nylon Pink, Japanese rock group Kazha, and singer/composer Raj Ramayya who sang the opening from the very popular Cowboy Bebop: the Movie.And of course those crazy kids and their electronic music had their late night dance party (for legal purposes don’t call it a rave!) in the main hall to end the day.
Much of the gaming, both tabletop and console was held in the Sherton Grand, as was the anime screening rooms. They took over that hotel, so much that when I was at the hotel bar to watch a little football during the day, the sports fans were a bit shocked at all the kids running around in costume; unlike the San Diego residents that must be used to the con scene by now.
I have to say they picked a great line up for the screening room. For the first time ever at a con I spent a lot of time in there. I discovered a new favorite fan service anime Walkure Romanza, got to see the Sword Art Online movie that just premiered a few days earlier, and a complete run of super popular series Kill la Kill, that ran late into the night! The programming was great, such a diverse group of guests and events that I never had any down time during con.
Now there are three particular events that are a staple of any good anime con. The cosplay, the maid café, and the AMV’s. So, I didn’t get to check out the maid café which is called Café Hoshi here, but I hear it was great and always packed. The Cosplay around the con was awesome. Such creativity and skill was put into each costume that I was impressed and I’ve seen lots of cosplay through the years. Since there were so many gaming fans there, there was a nice mix of new costumes to break up the hundreds of Attack on Titan cosplayers. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE Attack on Titan and its cosplay is going to over take Star Wars storm trooper cosplay some day; but it’s nice to see something original now and then.
It is a shame though that the cosplay contest, more commonly known, as the Masquerade was so poorly participated in. The staff at the con put on a great show, no doubt, but when there are maybe 4-5 skits and then just a bunch of walk bys, it’s no fun for anyone. The host even had to encourage those few that did attend to “step it up” for next year. Another sparsely participated in event was the Anime Music Video contest or AMV’s as it is more commonly known. This is my favorite event, so I was disheartened to find out there less than 15 total videos and some of those weren’t even IN competition, they were just filler to make the event last a whole hour…even though it was blocked off in the program guide for 2 hours!
I just assume that lack of participation in contests is part of the growing pains of a mid-sized con. However, Sac Anime can’t be considered mid-sized for long as its attendance has been growing every year. It was announced a few days after the con that this years attendance was over 10,000 and it had brought in over half a million dollars to local business (according to their Facebook) which I’m pretty sure is a significant increase over their summer con held in the same venues just a few months earlier in August. I look forward to coming back and watching this con grow. The staff is top notch and judging by their past programs they are not content with staying the way they are. They always seem to want to top themselves from summer to winter, year to year. SacAnime is growing and I think at some point this will become a must attend con for any anime fan. It already is for me.
To see all of Mike’s pics from SacAnime Winter 2014 check out this LINK here to see them on our Moron Life Face Book page. And to stay up to date with our latest coverage and news be sure to like our page and follow us. Thanks.