FanimeCon 2016 Review - Costumes, Anime, Craziness

I was at the FanimeCon convention this weekend (May 27-30, San Jose, California).  FanimeCon is a convention where people celebrate primarily "anime" (Japanese animation), but the theme spills over to include animation of all varieties, comics, movies, costuming, and more.

Within the convention there are some main areas/themes: a dealer's room, costuming, panels, video/film, art gallery, major events (masquerade, and more), and the registration line.

The dealers room is a colorful, crowded, sometimes cartoonish mix of over one hundred dealers, offering comics, t-shirts, art, hats, swords, candy, clothing, jewelry, books, DVDs, and more. Much of the merchandise is imported from Japan (or China), but much is local ... some is handmade.

Held in one of the largest rooms of the San Jose Convention Center, the dealer's room was packed. The staff would sometimes impose flow control restrictions (e.g., stopping entry into the room until enough people had left to make room for more people). 

Dealer's room

One popular item is clothing, particularly T-shirts, both old-fashioned and electronic.

Lokisa T-Shirts

EFM illuminated T-Shirts

Towels, washcloths, pillow cases aren't forgotten, either.

Seams Geeky towels

Since many anime characters have, well, "interesting" hair, it was good to have wigs available:


Few costumes are complete without accoutrements of some kind ... a selection of jewelry and weapons abounded:

Jones Bones swords

Jusscope jewelry

One popular anime collectible is a "plushy", a stuffed toy (generally an animal, like a teddy bear).

More plushies

Sometimes the line between clothing and plushies blurred.

Panda hat

Statuettes and models are quite popular, both of anime characters and comic characters.

Hobbyfan's statuettes

Iron Man illuminated

Model kits

As well as larger items.

Hammers and swords

Several dealers carry food specialities from Japan, particularly popular is Pocky.


In the food court at the back of the dealer's room is sushi, as well as Psycho Donuts.

Psycho Donuts

Some of the more unusual items include flags for the clans from the "Game of Thrones" TV show.

Game of Thrones flags

Maneki-Neko, the Japanese figurine believed to bring good luck.


One high-tech item is a service from Duplicant. They'll do a 3-D scan of you (presumably in your favorite costume), and sell you a a 3-D printed statue of yourself! (You can also buy just the data from the scan, if you want to print it yourself on the 3-D printer you picked up at last weekend's Maker Faire.)

An attendee being scanned (on the left), and the 3-D data plot on the right.

Duplicant: real & 3-D

Some authors / illustrators are selling books with their own comic strips.  Brian Foulke, author of the web comic "Flipside" was selling printed copies of the collected strip.

Brian Foulke

One of my favorites was the posters from Tee Turtle, including some with attitude (note: some are a bit crude).

Tee Turtle posters

One dealer had attendees testing a new anime oriented playing card game.

Testing new card game

Everything was available ... even trinkets.


Costumes. It's all about the costume. It seems like about a quarter of the attendees are in costume. Costumes vary from professional grade to home made with duct tape, papers, and scissors.

Wearing a costume is participating in "cosplay".  According to Wikipedia, "Cosplay" is a contraction of the words COStume rolePLAY, and is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character" (usually an anime character, but not necessarily).

The majority of the costumes are from Japanese anime, but there are still a lot of DC and Marvel comic book characters (e.g., "The Flash", "Wolverine") as well as Game of Thrones, Star Wars, fairy tales, and self-imagined creatures, even some "furries"


Jaime Lannister, Cersei Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen from the "Game of Thrones"

Game of Thrones costumes

Comic books are represented as well, including both DC and Marvel.

Harlequin and Poison Ivy

Harlequin and Poison Ivy

The Flash, from DC Comics, arrived in a whirlwind.

The Flash

Just as well, there are a lot of robots around

Two robots

Not to mention several Marvel heroes.

Wolverine and Colossus

People frequently ask costumed attendees to pose with them.


Some costumes had anime accessories, like Alice with her Totoro iPhone case (Totoro is from one of the best animated movies of all time, "My Neighbor Totoro", by Hayao Miyazaki, sometimes called "The Japanese Disney".)

Alice with Totoro phone

Walking around in costume, and posing for pictures, can be tiring


There are often masses of costumes inside:

Posing indoors

and outside:

Outside the Convention Center

Panels are grouped into categories: Guest of Honor (where an invited guest is the focus of the panel), Industry (where the panel is chaired by people from the Anime/comics industry), Cosplay, Entertainment, Gaming, How-to demos, Informational. There are about sixty panels ... many running simultaneously, so you can't possibly attend them all.

Some panels titles, to provide an idea of the variety: Official SAILOR MOON Panel; The Career of Daisuke Sakaguchi; Yokai: Kitsune 1 Introduction; Destination: Tokyo!; Working in the K-Pop Industry; An Engineer's Guide to Cosplay; Basics of Cosplay Armor Making; Cthulhu for President!; Fire Emblem Appreciation Panel; Anime to See Before You Die; Anime's Fiercest Females; Cosplay, History, and You!; and Creating Your Own Card Games.

The video programming presents about 250 videos (movies, TV shows), split across seven different venues. This means that the most a single attendee could possible watch in their entirety is about 35 items!

Some of the videos, shown late at night, do require proof of age (18 or over), with ID being checked.

A few titles, selected at random, include: Astro Boy; Card Captor Sakura: The Movie; Fairy Tail (Tartaros Arc); Gatchaman The Movie; Hansel and Gretel; Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?; Karate Girl; Library War; Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro; Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise; Sailor Moon Crystal.

The "events" category includes the major, one-off events like dances (a Black & White Ball, a costume dance), a masquerade contest, a game show, karaoke, and the opening and closing ceremonies. Just the major events alone comprise over a dozen hours of programming.


When arriving at the convention, an attendee must pick up their membership badge ... this gets them admittance into the various rooms and functions. At noon on Friday, the line for registration went about two times the length of the convention center.  My estimate was that it would take two to four hours. The moral: get your registration done earlier or later (or use the secret mentioned later).

Line for registration

I was impressed with how well the staff and volunteers organized and ran this very large convention.

If you've read this far, you've earned a secret reward: a tip on how to get your registration materials without waiting in line for hours. Purchasing a membership in FanimeCon gets you entrance to the Clockwork Alchemy convention, held the same weekend (about 4 miles away). And, vice versa. If you buy a Clockwork Alchemy membership, and check in at Clockwork Alchemy, it's quick. Very, very quick. When I checked in at the busiest time, the wait was 15 minutes. Your Clockwork Alchemy badge gets you into the entirety of FanimeCon. Of course, you'll miss making new friends while waiting in line!



Photos by Stan Sieler

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