Warning : picture heavy post ahead
Ezra and I LOVE attending cosplay events. The very first one we went to was the 6th Philippine Toys, Hobbies and Collectibles Convention (ToyCon) back in 2007. Kurt dressed up as Tezuka and welcomed us to the world of cosplay. Since then, we’ve attended the ToyCon every year, along with a few other events (Otaku Expo, Ozine Fest, etc.) It’s been a dream of ours to attend a cosplay event outside of the Philippines and see what the similarities and differences are. So when Kurt told us that he would take us to Fanime last May, Ezra and I could barely contain our excitement 😀
Fanime takes place at the San Jose Convention Center, which is about a 6 hour drive from Los Angeles. We left Ninang’s house in the early afternoon so we would make it to San Jose by dinner. We were a little sad about having to leave so early because Ate Zsa Zsa and her family arrived from Las Vegas earlier that morning.
We wanted to stay and play with cutie MacKayla
But we knew we had to get going before it got too late. It was Memorial Day weekend so we knew traffic was going to be bad.
I got quite excited when I saw this sign because The Big Bang Theory had an episode called The Bakersfield Expedition 😀 Supposedly Star Trek filmed a few scenes here.
We passed by this area with lots of cows. Even with the windows closed and the air conditioner on, it was VERY STINKY~ It was so bad that Ezra, who was sleeping in the backseat, woke up just to complain about the smell.
We made it to San Jose at around 10pm (we had a couple of stops along the way). Originally we were planning on staying at a hotel but my aunt offered us her place, yay! It’s a good thing too because I heard that getting a hotel room during Fanime weekend is almost impossible unless you book weeks in advance.
The next day we were up bright and early, excited to go to the event. We don’t usually go to these things in costume (meaning we don’t dress up with a specific character in mind), but we do like dressing up.
I was a random witch girl
And Ezra dressed up as a typical anime school girl. Although she and Kurt could probably pass for an AKB48 member and her manager
Saw these signs on the way to the convention center. So excited!
Full body shot of my outfit. I’m lucky that we were staying with my aunt because I left my shoes in LA! I only realized that I forgot to pack them when we were about 3 hours away. Fortunately, my aunt is as kikay as me and she had all these boots to choose from. Most of them have really high heels so I just chose the comfiest looking one. They’re a little big on me, but I stuffed some tissue in them so they would fit better
After finding a place to park the car, we lined up to register for the event
There were lots of people there already
The line leads to this building
We thought this was the entire line and that we’d be good to go once we made it inside – WE WERE SO WRONG! We were in line for 6 excruciating hours! Some people even started calling the event “Line Con” instead of Fanime Con. One blogger/reporter described it as “a nightmare of fubar-like levels“. I’m not really sure if this is a regular occurrence for anime conventions in the US, but from the reviews I read online, Fanime is just know to have a terrible registration process. Kurt has attended a couple of anime conventions in the States before, but he’s never had to wait in line for this long.
The three of us kept staring at this window on the 2nd floor because we could see cosplayers looking down at us. We thought that they were people that already made it through registration and were mocking those of us who were still in line. Turns out this was still part of the line!
Of course, when you’re stuck in line for that long, what else is there to do but take pictures?
There were a few volunteers who made sure the line remained organized. They were people who registered the day before so they understood the pain we were going through. A volunteer cosplaying Yuki Cross (Vampire Knight) told us that she was in line for 7 hours the day before.
The dude in his underwear must have been freezing. It was pretty cold that day
After about 2 hours, we made it inside the building.
We saw this sign, and thought “Cool, we must be close”. WRONG AGAIN!
The line wrapped around the entire 2nd floor hallway
We tried to make the best of it by keeping each other entertained
I was so hungryyyyy by this point. I had very little for breakfast since I was too excited for the event T__T
Saw this half eaten chocnut on one of the pots in the hallway and though “there must be a Filipino here”. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat it, even though I was very tempted to.
We made it to the window we were looking at earlier. Our turn to look outside and make people jealous 😄
Check out that line
Hello Ms. Pacman
There were photo shoots happening all over the place
Adorable little Captain America
The pink haired volunteer we saw earlier
Poor Sailor Moon was cold. Tuxedo Mask to the rescue!
Finally after about 2 more hours, we were allowed to go inside this ballroom, where Line Con continued. (I like how this one guy on Yelp described it as “Apparently Fanimecon staff heard we liked lines, so they decided to make us wait in a line for a line for a line.“)
We got tired of standing so we made ourselves comfortable on the floor. We passed the time playing Words With Friends, Icon Pop Quiz and Game of Nerds.
Saw this macho/sexeh guy there
We made friends with this guy who was in line with us. (I forgot his name though, I’m so sorry.) He came alone and after about 4 hours of having no one to talk to, he started a conversation with us.
He was really nice and friendly, and he got excited when he learned that we were from the Philippines. He told us that we were the first foreigners he met. He asked us a lot of questions about the Philippines and we gladly answered them 🙂
Finally, after 6 agonizing hours, we made it to the front of the line
We got the one day pass. I can’t remember how much the tickets were, but I think it was between $50 to $60 for one day. (The event lasts for 4 days)
After registration, you have to get your badge
Personalized badges, cool~ In the Philippines we usually just get a stamp on our hand 😄
Got goody bags which contained the program and some brochures
Another friend we made in line. She was behind us. She came alone too, so we started talking to each other after 3 hours. She started the conversation by asking me if I made my costume. I forgot her name (I know, I’m a horrible person), but I remember her telling me that she’s from San Francisco and that this is her first anime convention. She had a friend who was already inside waiting for her.
So what was the first thing we did after getting our badges? Look for a place to eat of course! We were famished! I survived the 6-hour wait because I remembered that my aunt made me pack a small sandwich in my bag that morning after she saw how little I ate for breakfast. She knew about my hyperacidity so she told me to bring some food just in case. Thank you Mama Darling! You saved me~
The closest fast food place we found was Johnny Rockets.
The place was packed! Luckily Ezra managed to get us seats at the counter
We browsed the program guide and brochures while we ate
After we finished our meal, we walked around and tried to look for the Dealer’s Hall to see the goodies they had for sale. It was in an entirely different building, and we couldn’t figure out how to get there based on the map they gave us. We got turned around a couple of times, but we didn’t really mind. There were lots of cosplayers walking around the area and we enjoyed taking pictures of them as we looked for the building.
(At this point we wondered if we could have skipped out on the entire registration process and just waited to take pictures of the cosplayers outside since a lot of them were just wandering around the city.)
Kurt got excited when he saw the Queen’s Blade cosplayer
We came across this group of foreign cosplayers. I think they were from Taiwan. They didn’t seem to speak that much English.
Ezra found FFX-2’s Yuna
We saw some cosplayers getting coffee
Poor Magikarp got caught by this Pokemon trainer
I spotted this girl across the street and zoomed in because her costume really stood out. Not sure who she is though.
Zack. Waiting for Aeris. Or Cloud?
We saw this moogle girl while we were waiting to cross the street. I love her costume. I should try going to an event dressed like this sometime.
Look at the details on her armor!
We finally made it to the convention center by following the other cosplayers
Inside we found this group from Wreck it Ralph. I want that car!
Kurt was excited to see Catherine
Check out Vanellope’s awesome dress
I love her boots!
That little Minecraft dude is so cute. No wonder these girls were fawning over him
Good thing we just ate because her costume would have made me even hungrier
Finally made it to Dealer’s Hall. You weren’t allowed in without a badge, so I guess the registration was worth it. There were lots of cool things to see inside.
There were colorful wigs
Cute pins and keychains
Lots of clothes
Ezra really wanted them. They were totally her style
I wanted this piano dress! But it was $50 and I don’t like spending that much on clothes…
I wanted that pink hoodie too
They also had lots of great costumes
It’s a Squall hoodie!!
There was a lot of artwork being sold there too. Many popular dA artists attend these events. I got all giddy and excited whenever I saw piece being sold that I knew was part of my Favorites on dA.
There were also mangas and art books
We found a lot of cute plushies
I was seriously considering getting this adorable moogle plush.
There were cute bags and pouches
And lots of action figures
I was quite interested in the accessories
I had to get a picture of his horse mask because I see it all the time on 9gag 😄
Necomimi! They’re cat ears that respond according to your brain waves. The ears stand up, droop down or wiggle depending on your thoughts. I didn’t believe it at first so the guy let Ezra and me try it out
From what I saw, it has two sensors – one on your forehead, and another one that clips on your ear
It works pretty well. I looked it up and supposedly they use some kind of brain wave sensor. According to Wikipedia it works by measuring your scalp’s “voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current flows within the neurons of the brain“. Cool~
Looks like Ezra found her happy place
Kurt found his happy place too
We also took some pictures of the cosplayers we saw wandering around the area
Yuna from FFX
We saw Yaya Han! She was being interviewed in her booth so we waited for it to be over before asking her for a photo. She was so sweet and accomodating. In the Philippines it’s difficult to get a photo taken with a well-known cosplayer (especially of her caliber) because they would be surrounded by so many people. We didn’t think we’d be allowed to get our photo taken with her, but when we asked her she was so nice and even stepped out of her booth for us!
Thanks Yaya Han! 😀
Not sure who she is but I thought she looks a bit like Ezra at first glance
Awesome Edward and Van Hohenheim cosplayers. It’s funny because they didn’t know each other before this. They were walking around the hall and when they saw each other, ‘Edward’ yelled “You’re not my father!” then started to pretend to hit him.
After they were done, he saw Kurt with his camera and he asked “Did you get that?” LOL
Chi from Chobits
Ezra and I were sitting down at the snack area when she got all excited. Turns out it was because she spotted this SeeD cadet a few tables down from us
Of course we had to rush over there to ask him for a photo. He was just about to sit down down and have a snack with his buddies, but he was more than willing to pose for us.
SeeD salute! He was surprised that we actually recognized his costume. Apparently not a lot of people these days are familiar with SeeD uniforms. That’s crazy! How can people live without knowing the awesomeness that is FF8! It may be old but it’s still my favorite game up to this day.
Pretty elf girl
Amazing Cammy cosplayer (Street Fighter)
I want that armor!
Saw these guys on the first floor. Are they Pokemons?
Kurt got really excited when he saw this guy with Steadicam gear. His dream is to someday upgrade his video equipment to this.
A mecha exploded here
It was getting a little crowded inside so we decided to go outside for a while
We found Fang from FF13
And this fabulous Mad Moxxi cosplayer
I’m not familiar with the character she’s cosplaying but I think she looks fantastic
Ezra was happy to see Happy 😀
Asuka from Evangelion
I ran into a group of friendly Stormtroopers
And introduced myself to Vincent Valentine
Ezra found Nana and Yasu wandering around
*GASP* It’s Cloud with his awzum hair!
Of course we had to ask him for a photo
Kurt saw these lovely girls from One Piece
Back inside the convention hall, we found a karaoke room!
We told Kurt that he should go up there and sing, and he agreed
Looking for a song to sing
There were lots of people who signed up before him, so we sat around and watched the other performances first. It was also a good chance to rest my feet since they were beginning to hurt.
Cute girl who sang Suteki Da Ne
Yukio (Ao no Exorcist) cosplayer has a nice voice
This girl had a voice that would be perfect for Disney!
Ooh, it’s the Taiwanese cosplayers we saw earlier that day
After about 20 minutes, we realized that Kurt was still a long way down the list, so we went outside to look around some more
Samus Aran in a bikini (Metroid)
Tomodachi Sukunai cosplayers
We found some kigurumi
Princess Zelda graced us with her presence
I was in the bathroom when Ezra ran in and asked me for my camera. Turns out she spotted Merida
Ezra’s a big Brave fan so she was really excited and was worried that Merida would get away before I returned
Hats off to this amazing Dark Sora cosplayer
I think these are characters from League of Legends
We ran into our line-friend and her cute Pikachu friend again inside the convention. She told us she volunteered to help out with the event to get her money back. (People can volunteer and get a full reimbursement of their entrance fee. According to their site, you can get your one-day pass reimbursed in exchange for 5 hours of volunteer work, or you can get the entire Fanime pass for 20 hours.)
Hello there Captain
Kurt disappeared for a while. Ezra and I found him in the crowd taking videos of this
No wonder Kurt left us
Ezra found this super tall girl!
And she ran into Dark Alice. (It’s a different cosplayer from the one we saw earlier though.)
Pretty Harley Quinn cosplayer
We found another Captain America. He was talking to someone so I had to wait for their conversation to be over before I approached him for a photo. They must have been talking about something really interesting because I had to wait a long time. I kept leaving and coming back every couple of minutes to check if they were done. But it was worth it. He’s so dreamy~
We went back outside after this to look for more cosplayers
More photoshoots happening. The guy went all out and even bought his own lighting equipment 😀
Ezra – tired but happy
We hung around the area for a bit, but since the sun started to set, a lot of our photos turned out blurry. Plus it started to get chilly so eventually we went back inside.
Spotted this Gothic Victorian couple
I love her little wing!
We found Daisy and Mario sitting around, chatting with each other. We figured they were old friends, but apparently they just met each other that day. They became friends through their shared love of the game.
While they were posing for us, another pair of Mario and Luigi showed up and joined them.
I love how people can instantly connect in these events 😀
Finally, we went back to karaoke room since it was almost Kurt’s turn to sing
This girl sang Girls Generation’s “Gee!”
While these guys danced
We saw this elderly couple there. They were wearing costumes! How adorable is that!
I wonder if they also lined up for 6 hours to register for this event. I feel kinda sorry for them if they did. But I notice that the lady’s badge is blue instead of red. I’m not sure if that means it’s a weekend pass, or if she’s part of the Fanime staff.
Finally it was Kurt’s turn!!!
He chose to sing 1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou from Rurouni Kenshin
The karaoke screen was a little glitchy, but luckily he had the lyrics on his phone
Of course Ezra captured the whole thing on video
After Kurt’s performance, we decided that we should probably start thinking about leaving. We wanted to stay longer but my aunt was waiting for us and we didn’t want to keep her up too late.
On our way back to the car, we passed by the place where we lined up earlier. It was empty and it looked beautiful!
We decided to stop for a while and take some pictures and videos, since we spent quite a bit of time here that morning
After this we dropped by Denny’s for a quick dinner before heading back to my aunt’s place.
So, now that I’ve experienced Fanime, what are my thoughts? And how does it compare to Anime conventions in the Philippines?
- Costumes. The costumes at Fanime were jaw droppingly good! I know that we have a lot great cosplayers in the Philippines too, but we are limited by certain factors. The climate, for example. It’s extremely hot and humid in Manila, so not a lot of people are willing to put on layers and layers of costume and makeup for one event. Plus, a lot of our conventions take place inside shopping malls, where it’s extremely crowded, so bulky costumes are usually not a good idea.
- The venue. Fanime is HUUUUGE! Like I said, most of our cosplay events in the Philippines take place in shopping malls (Megamall, MOA, etc), so it gets extremely crowded. The San Jose Convention Center was very spacious. Plus, a lot of the cosplayers wandered around outside, so it felt like the whole city was the venue for the event.
- The price. The entrance fee for Fanime is more than 10 times the regular entrance for most cosplay events in the Philippines. You can get in most events in the Philippines for less than P200 (~$5), which is super cheap! Also, a lot of the merchandise being sold in the Dealer’s Hall were pricier than what I’m used to in the Philippines, like the clothes and accessories. Accessories and novelty items are SO much cheaper in local conventions. In fact, one of the main reason Ezra and I go to these events is to shop, because we can usually find amazing deals in cosplay events. But to be fair, the accessories and clothes being sold at Fanime appear to be of better quality than the ones I see at local conventions. As for the action figures, mangas, and artbooks – they seem to go for the same price as the events in the Philippines.
- The people. Others may disagree, but I found that the people at Fanime were much friendlier and more approachable. And they seemed to be having more fun too. We’d find groups of people randomly dancing, or singing, or just having fun with each other. Most of them have never met each other before the event, and yet they’ve created this bond through their shared interests. I think it’s amazing. But that might just be a cultural thing. Most Filipinos I know are friendly, but we’re not the sort of people who randomly talk to strangers. In general, I find that Americans are more open to small talk while Filipinos tend to mind their own business.
- And lastly, THE LINE. Oh gosh, where do I even begin? This was definitely the worst part about the whole Fanime experience. I have NEVER experienced having to line up for an event for this long. Usually it takes us 15 minutes tops to get our tickets in the Philippines. Granted, this is a much bigger event and there are more con-goers, but that just means that the staff should be more organized and efficient. There are thousands of people attending this event, but there were only about 10 registration booths, and one table for badge pickup. No wonder it took forever.
Given these points, would I attend another Fanime event? Probably not. I had an amazing time, and I’m glad we got this chance to go, but I think once was enough. First of all, San Jose is too far from Los Angeles. Kurt was willing to drive us this time, but I’m not sure he’d be willing to do it again this year. Secondly, THE LINE! We spent practically half our time waiting in line that day. Fanime is great, but I’m sorry, our vacation time is very limited and just too precious to waste on something like that.
Nevertheless, Ezra and I did have a lot of fun at Fanime. After we got over the fact that we just spent 6 hours sitting around, we really did enjoy ourselves. Thank you very much Kurt for taking us! I’m very thankful for this experience. I would love to go to another anime convention in the States this summer, but preferably a more organized one closer to Los Angeles. Kurt has been searching online for such an event, but so far no luck 😦 Hopefully we’ll find one before summer is over. In the meantime, I’ll leave you to enjoy another wonderful video that Kurt made of our Fanime adventure.
Make sure you watch the entire thing, even after the “credits” 😀 Also, please excuse my awkward twirling from 3:20 onwards. I love the effect of the lights and how Kurt captured the place, but I had to ruin it with my klutzy spinning. It looked cute when Ezra did it, hmf.