The winter SacAnime convention started off with a bang this year breaking the 10,000 attendee mark. The official attendance for the Jan. 3-5 SacAnime con was 10,132.
SacAnime also raised $4,694 during its charity raffle that will go to help rebuild the Caroline Wenzel School playground that was burned down this past summer.
The Sacramento Convention Center and Sheraton Grand Hotel hosted the event but other surrounding businesses and hotels benefited from the con attendance. Thousands of hungry fans patronized the eateries on J, K and other streets surrounding the Convention Center.
SacAnime is a three day event that draws fans from many parts of California. Many of these same fans gather at other cons scheduled throughout California each year. The event has grown annually and it has outgrown the Sunrise Mall where it all started, the Scottish Rite Center and the Radisson/Woodlake Hotel through its 10 years of existence.
SacAnime, I believe, has become one of the most popular cons in the U.S. and holding the event twice a year has not diminished attendance. As a matter of fact the con continues to attract wider audiences.
Much of SacAnime’s popularity can be attributed to bringing in popular vendors, artists, performers and special guests. Guest have also let it be known that SacAnime is one of their favorite destinations and the biggest reason they site? Their adoring fans.
At this con I wanted to get more information on why fans like to attend SacAnime and what keeps them coming back. I conducted an survey targeting an anime Facebook group to report some of the fan responses.
Jason Wade has attended SacAnime since 2008 as well as Sac-Con the year before. “The reason I have been going so long is the fact that I love all things anime and love the energy that cons have,” noted Wade.
Many people who attend SacAnime design and create their costumes and spend many hours trying to perfect their outfits. Wade stated, “I have not had much experience cosplaying but in the past few years I have designed my own outfits and have dressed as Raver and as of lately Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto. My newest creation that’s making its SacAnime debut is a cross between Itachi and Sasuke. I normally bring two or three outfits to the con. Sometimes I borrow friends’ cosplay outfits. I have cosplayed a few times and love when people want to take my picture. It is the best feeling in the world.”
Another cosplayer sharing their thoughts was Kendra Shelly who has attended each SacAnime since summer 2012. “I like attending because its a safe haven for cosplayers, video game, anime and manga lovers. We’re all a huge family,” answered Shelly when asked about her SacAnime experience.
“I make and alter all of my cosplay outfits. What I can’t make I look for something similar at thrift stores, take it apart, and remake it the way I need it. I usually being three different cosplays depending on how many days I stay,” said Kelly. She summed up her experience saying, “The best experience I’ve had is the support we get from each other. Everyone is nice, uplifting and it makes it hard to leave.”
SacAnime provides a safe environment and support giving attendees a feeling of belonging. Katrina Llanillo attended one day of last summer’s con and swore she would attend a full weekend this time around.
When asked why she enjoys attending the con Llanillo said, “I love attending SacAnime because I can be who I want be as an anime or game character. I am also able to be myself at SacAnime without anyone judging me when I dress up. I also love being with my friends, we get to do things together that we can’t do outside of the con.”
“I am an amateur cosplayer, so most of my cosplays were ready-made. However, this year I made my own Sasha Braus cosplay out of used materials. It was so much fun but also stressful. I also made the nine tails I’m wearing on Sunday for my Ahri cosplay from League of Legends. This time I’m bringing three outfits to the con. Boy, am I excited,” said Llanillo.
Talking to other cosplayers one can’t help but admire the passion fans exhibit for their characters. During SacAnime many of the characters show up to several cosplay gatherings scheduled each day of the con. This is the time when those attending the gatherings share their experience with each other and talk about the next character they want to portray as well as catch up with each other enhancing the SacAnime experience.
Not only do fans return to SacAnime but special guests return more than once.
Charles Martinet, known for doing the voice of Mario for Nintendo games was one of those special guests returning. According to SacAnime founder and Communications Director Dan Houck, “Martinet had so much fun last summer, he wanted to return for the winter show.”
SacAnime brought in other celebrity guests that included Steve Blum (Spike Spiegel, Wolverine), Janet Varney (Diner and a Movie, On the Lot), Dante Basco, (Hook, Avatar: The Last Airbender) Jeremy Shada (Adventure Time), Vic Mignoga (Full Metal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Trinity Blood), Brina Palencia (Dragon Age: Origins, Summer Wars) and Jen Taylor (Halo, Super Mario’s Princess Peach) among others.
Guests also spent hours signing free autographs for fans. Several hundred fans formed long lines to meet their favorite voice actors and it was hard to find anybody in line who complained.
Live music was provided by popular SacAnime performers Kazha. Who had released their newest CD Evolution. Kazha recently changed their lineup a little as Kazuha Oda did her usual lead vocals and also played bass. SacAnime was the first time she’s played bass in front of a crowd. Joining Oda on stage was Hideki Matsushige on guitar and Masaya Kondo on drums.
Nylon Pink, an all female edgy pop-rock quartet based out of Hollywood made its first appearance at SacAnime. Playing without their lead singer who was ill Nylon Pink took the stage and delivered an impressive set.
Raj Ramayya also played but I missed his performance.
Japanese DJ Kenta Maruyama, DJ Helsing and DJ Jinrei shared the stage and kept fans dancing at the late night electronic dances. The late night dances are always a popular event and security at hand did a fantastic job keeping the event from getting out of hand.
One event that was not scheduled for the winter SacAnime, and that I enjoy, was the J-Fashion show but the event is scheduled to return in the summer.
With so many activities going on during the three day event it was up to the SacAnime staff to keep things organized and moving. Staff stepped up to the challenge and provided a safe and nurturing environment.
The way the event is organized is one of the most impressive things about SacAnime and I believe part of its growth can be attributed to its staff, volunteers and organizers.
The popular cosplay masquerade did not have as many participants as expected but nonetheless it was well attended. An unexpected occurrence took place during one of the skits however that made it different from other SacAnime cosplay costume competitions was when a couple got engaged on stage making it a romantic event. Although it was hard to hear they kissed so I’m guessing the bride-to-be said yes.
SacAnime returns to the Convention Center on Labor Day Weekend 2014.
More photos of SacAnime can be found here.