Fans came to play, wait in long lines for autographs, attend panels and workshops, view an array of tables selling Asian pop-culture merchandise, attend dances and concerts, and enjoy a fun filled weekend with friends.
SacAnime made its second appearance at the Sacramento Convention Center and brought thousands of fans to an expanded venue.
SacAnime scheduled dozens of events during the Labor Day weekend. SacAnime also shared the venue with this year’s 50th annual Sacramento Greek Festival.
Larger rooms for activities and expanding to the third floor of the convention center gave the event a larger venue to hold different activities.
During the past three years that I’ve attended this event, I’ve been impressed by SacAnime’s ability to organize the event. Besides acquiring a larger space for the summer event, it is very attentive to fan, vendor and community feedback.
Noting that several anime events take place at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel, SacAnime changed the venue to accommodate smaller and quieter activities to appease other hotel guests.
Registration, workshops, card games, a photo booth and karaoke were some of the activities held at the Sheraton. Many SacAnime fans from out of town spent one to three nights at the hotel, and for the most part they followed hotel rules and policies.
Each year SacAnime asks for feedback, and I believe these suggestions are looked at in earnest and it tries to incorporate suggestions that help protect the safety and comfort of its many guests.
In addressing fan feedback, one can look at last year and the issues with food venues, or the lack thereof, around the convention center.
Many restaurants around the convention center were informed of the quantity of guests who attend SacAnime. Even though they were advised in advance, many restaurants were still caught by surprise and ran out of food. This year an insert was included in the SacAnime program, listing dozens of restaurants, and some of these offered discounts and longer hours.
Also this year, SacAnime and the Sacramento Greek Festival shared a venue, and many anime attendees patronized the eateries within the Greek festival. Although SacAnime addressed the food issue, there were long lines waiting for affordable food at nearby restaurants and convenience stores.
This is but one instance were I’ve witnessed firsthand what SacAnime is willing to do to incorporate fan feedback into their con.
Speaking from personal experience, SacAnime has some of the best fans around that do their best to follow rules and policies as they look forward to each and every SacAnime and Sac-Con.
Vice chairman of programming Jason Bellofatto welcomed guests during opening ceremonies. While delivering his remarks, Bellofatto gave a quick snapshot of what this summer’s SacAnime was going to encompass.
Before Bellofatto began to address the audience, he brought guest relations director Chris “Topher” Nguyen to say a few words.
Nguyen introduced special guests to the convention, bringing them to the stage. The four members of Power Rangers Samurai were introduced, and the cheering welcoming them to the stage quickly got louder as they tossed T-shirts and other gifts into the audience.
“Hello, it’s a me, Mario,” said voice actor Charles Martinet as he came to the stage. The audience wildly cheered when he spoke as Mario, the popular game character.
This was the first time featured guests were introduced during opening ceremonies, and it added a special touch to the official opening.
Other 2013 guests introduced at the opening ceremonies were Bryce Papenbrook, Cherami Leigh, Ashley Johnson, Nolan North and Johnny Yong Bosch with other members of Eyeshine.
Bellofatto shared some changes to the summer convention indicating that a giant vendor hall had been expanded to twice its size. He also noted that the entire third floor of the convention was now open for anime activities. The popular Cafe Hoshi was also expanded and included more maid shows.
Basically everything was larger, including workshops, the Starlight Ball, featured events, and console gaming. He mentioned that arcade gaming was bigger and panels grew from seating 80 people to 500. Bellofatto dared fans to fill up these events and eventually someone shouted, “Challenge accepted!”
The concert series brought back akai SKY and Eyeshine.
Several dances were scheduled, and SacAnime offered workshops on ballroom and other types of dance.
A SacAnime Guidebook was available for downloading to smartphone users, where they could get information on panel and autograph sessions. It also allowed guests to upload photos that could be viewed on the Guidebook.
A job fair was also offered to fans interested in volunteering. Staff held the fair on Sunday and would follow up with further interviews at a later time. The event, that I did not attend, gave information on available spots, and volunteer perks were also discussed.
Sharing the venue with the Greek Festival created a partnership where guests with a SacAnime badge could get into the festival for free and enjoy Greek food and culture.
SacAnime was packed full of activities that made it impossible for anyone to make it to all the workshops, panels and special events. I tried to choose a handful of events, and I was tired every night when I made my way home.
The Exhibitor Hall/Artist Alley housed more artists and vendors than before, and taking advantage of early entrance for VIP guests and the press, I toured the hall with a small crowd.
Traditionally the first day of the con falls on a Friday, and a smaller crowd gathers on this day. As I walked the hall, I stopped at stations occupied by Tim Meunier, director of the Sacramento Horror Film Festival, Carlyfornia Love, Anthony Leano, Jessica Thao, Jason Dube and artist Billy Martinez.
Wonderful designs are always showcased at the J-Fashion Show, and during the Friday show, these designs were nothing short of amazing.
Designs by Prince Noir, Hill Tribe, Juicy Sweets, Carly Michelle Breslin and others rocked the runway, delighting the audience with the many looks showcased. Several of the designers also had booths at the exhibitor hall, selling some of their designs and accessories.
At the Artist Alley, I stopped at Dube’s station where Scattered Comics debuted “Panda Days #5.” Several of the Panda Days characters were on hand to pose for photos, sign comic books and other merchandise.
Next to the Scattered Comics booth, artist Billy Martinez worked on a piece of art. As he worked on the art I was able to talk to him about his visit to Sacramento.
Martinez has attended the last three to four SacAnime conventions. He’s also been a featured artist at several Sac-Cons when he used to live in Sacramento. He’s been a friend of Dan Houck, SacAnime founder and convention director for several years.
Martinez is the publisher of Neko Press Comics and has several works to his name, including “Wildflower” and “Kickass Girl.”
“Each girl is different. They have different personalities and story lines,” said Martinez, describing the art he was working on. “I have my own art school and also do several art shows up and down the coast, group shows and solo shows.”
When asked about his inspiration, Martinez quickly responded, “Jack Kirby. I think I was about 5 years old when I got my hands on one of his comics. As a true artist, Martinez’s passion continues, and he also did a couple of workshops during SacAnime.
Some guests have already been announced for the winter SacAnime and are already posted on the website.
SacAnime was a success and continues to grow. Based on numbers, Bellofatto, at closing ceremonies said, “Attendance was over 9,000, roughly around 9,500, and was very close to breaking the magic number of 10,000.” What’s to be expected at the winter SacAnime? “What was here in the summer will be back in the winter, and it will only grow from here,” said Bellofatto.
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