With SacAnime coming to a close in this, its eighth year of service to the community, we draw a close to the curtain left open at the Woodlake Hotel and prepare for its next installment which will be held at the long awaited Sacramento Convention Center. To many con-goers, SacAnime was a time of many mixed emotions; for some, somber… others, joyous; and to others still, as a time of merriment with a despondent air to it all.
For those unaware, many con-goers were cursed with the sudden realization that a close friend to all, Harison Randall, had passed on some time prior to the convention, in mid-July. On July 16th, Harison, Gemily West and the four dogs they were walking were the unfortunate victims of a hit-and-run accident which had caused the untimely death of the four dogs they were walking as well as severe damage to Harison who had tried to save Gemily by pushing her out of the way. From what I’ve gathered, his last words in the hospital were “Let’s get this show on the road” before passing on peacefully in his sleep. I for one would like to take his last words and live them out; have fun and to try and not dwell upon the past. Knowing Harison, if he saw a con-goer sad for whatever reason, he’d probably kick them in the ass (figuratively) and tell them to loosen up and enjoy themselves. After all, cons are few and far between.
This in mind, Harison’s family and a collective of several SacAnime regulars set a memorial up for him in which people could come up and say their piece, let loose tightened heartstrings and dedicate the convention to him and his memory. The memorial service itself was relatively lively; with a couple hundred people all talking amongst one another and of course to the crowd itself about memories they’ve shared with Harison. In a weird mixture of both light-heartedness and seriousness, the memorial service provided a time where several could come together and just let loose. Through some attendees’ testimony, they felt like Harison was trolling the people at the con, as locks of white hair were found around the front row of attendees’ chairs and in some peoples’ laps. Neither to my knowledge nor to anyone else’s has anyone found out where the hair came from.
For an avid gamer such as myself, the game room was one of the first few things that I had checked out when at the convention. Consistently throughout the weekend, the entire courtyard in which the game room and artist alley were held at was fully packed with cosplayers and gamers abound who just wanted a place to let off some steam and to just kick back and relax from the festivities from the convention itself. Even though I didn’t participate in any tournaments, the gathering that I saw for it was rather impressive. They had tourneys for Super Smash Brothers: Brawl, Skull Girls and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, and I have to say, to those competing, I’d like to thank you guys for the entertaining show. It was difficult to keep track of everything, especially given the small room in which they were held, but altogether, it was a lot of fun.
In the free gaming area, which also doubled as a retro game sale section, there were plenty of games there for casuals like myself to enjoy. Of the games there was one Muscle March game that was rather… interesting in design. A Japanese game, the player is supposed to move the Wiimote and the nunchuck together in various poses in order to fit through certain holes that the leader creates. As the player gets closer to the leader, they have to try and catch them by shaking both apparatuses. Muscle March may have been a bit strange in its design, it was still a fun game and I suppose more of a niche audience draw. Other games held in the “casual” room included Brawl, Dance Dance Revolution, UMvC3 and a set of NES games, to which one of my friends had exclaimed that he scored sixteen perfect rounds in Duck Hunt and that his eight-year old self could go suck it.
While I didn’t linger for too long in the Artist Alley, I was able to get a full glimpse as to what the locale had in store for potential consumers such as myself. As I was checking out the AA, I noticed that the Alley was surprisingly bare in comparison to prior years. From SacAnimes past, I do remember the room in which it was located initially filled to the brim with artists trying to make a profit on their works, but much to my surprise, only half of the room was actually filled with vendors, and of those, sadly only one of them caught my eye. Of all the vendors present, the only one that really stood out was an artist who had a set of every gym badge on display for prospective Pokémon trainers like myself and had them available for purchase. If one so desired, they could have purchased the whole lot of them along with a stylish shadowbox case and if I recall correctly, a faux silk backing for $240. Had I not spent a rather large deal of cash on some things the night prior, I would have bought it myself.
The vendor’s hall, as usual was met with little to no change with hundreds of potential consumers perusing the vendors’ wares and whenever possible, striking up bargains and deals via haggling. The vendors’ selections were pretty diverse this time around; with a rather large draw to Tiger and Bunny, Evangelion and Fate Stay Night themed products abound. Even though the vendors wereplaying to mainstream and current products, I do rather wish there were more products to cater to fans of the classic animes such as The Slayers, Lum the Invader (Urusei Yatsura) and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (a Miyazaki classic), they did have products that catered to everyone with a relatively heavy lean to figures of all sizes.
To handle more personalized interests, a swap meet was held late at night on Friday and Saturday of the convention between the hours of 9 PM and 12 AM, as per custom since 2007. At the swap meet, many items could be found with rather low prices; and some less than so. Haggling may have been a much more feasible approach to many there (and to be frank, one of the staple means of commerce there), but that may be in part to how the venue itself sadly felt more limited than it did at prior conventions. Not to discount what items could be found there, my only qualms with the event was with how small it felt; but it is understandable that there are crowds new and old and the likelihood of people willing to sell off some of their own products is rather varied.
Personally, I walked off with a fair transaction for a statue of Catherine, the titular character from the game Catherine at a cool $140 and four volumes of manga for another $10. With all of the things there, I’m sure that plenty found their own attractions in it. I thought it was rather enjoyable and for those planning to sell again in future cons, I might consider suggesting banners to draw more eyes to your wares. Totally optional, but I think with a couple flags or something, I know it’d definitely catch my eye.
To continue into other late night activities handled by the convention crew, I’d like to bring attention to the raves that were handled on Friday and Saturday night. As usual, the Saturday night rave did fare better than the Friday night one, but I’d like to give an additional round of applause to DJ Hellsing, The Random DJs and everyone involved who made the shining gem of the night-time activities possible. With some new tracks to get a bit more tuned in to more mainstream music (i.e. various dubstep and other synthesized rhythms and music patterns), the whole event was a lot of fun and hell, I even got on stage for a while on Saturday night (haha). There’s really not much more that I can say other than the entire event was a lot of fun and it was a GREAT way to unwind from a rather hustled and bustling day. I’d also like to bring to attention that whoever had the idea to take the glow stick liquid and pour some into inflated balloons, it definitely made the night a bit more interesting. Something I’d never have thought of, I thought it was pretty kick-ass to just have these floating balls of colour just flying around; not to mention that they shined brighter than regular glow sticks.
Last but not least, there was the masquerade; the mecca of prospective actors during any con’s weekend. Unfortunately, I was only able to stay through the first half of the event, but for the skits I was able to see, they were all handled rather well, but unfortunately the songs ‘Gangnam Style’ and ‘Call Me Maybe?’ were rather recurrent. Of the more original skits that I saw was a group Pokémon skit in which a group of cosplayers dressed as Blue, Green and Yellow from Pokémon were on stage where they had their own song and dance number (parodying the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic theme song) before being interrupted by Team Rocket who also had their own routine, accompanied with signs and attacks emblazoned upon their surface.
All in all, I was really impressed with how everyone took the event this past weekend and what impressed me more was how everyone attending seemed so much more… friendly this time around. For SacAnime’s fifth through part of their seventh year entertaining in the summer, it felt more disjointed and otherwise unattached to the fun that it used to bring. I’m thinking remembering Harison had a good deal to do with it, as he wouldn’t allow to see someone not enjoying themselves, but in all honesty, SacAnime this time around was a lot of fun and I’m glad I attended. Things are going to be changing in the next few months and I can’t wait to see where things go once it hits the Convention Center here in Downtown Sacramento. In the meantime, enjoy yourselves and stay golden, fans.