SacAnime, originally known as the Sacramento Anime & Manga Show, is a three-day anime convention held in Sacramento, California semi-annually. Each year there is a Summer and Winter convention and despite the three digit temperatures in California I bravely attended SacAnime in the name of Lusipurr.com as well as in the name of Persona 5 merchandise. But this editorial is not just about my experience at SacAnime, but instead a condensed summary of the event as a whole examining all the activities and events offered each day.
SacAnime has consistently grown in attendance over time, proving itself to be popular not only in Sacramento but in the larger Northern California region as a whole. As such the convention has branched out to a different venue which is shared between the Sacramento Convention Center along with the Sheraton Grand Hotel across the street from the event. One improvement for SacAnime Summer 2017 in this regard is that the Sacramento Convention Center was not shared with another event. In the past, SacAnime was held concurrently with another event in the same venue, whether it was a homes and gardens show, or a cultural festival. The two events would often intermingle in humorous ways ending up with people in cosplay partaking in dances to live music. But the fact still remained that the convention center was becoming more and more cramped with each new event. Thankfully this time the convention center was fully SacAnime’s for the taking and the areas that were usually reserved for other events were instead used for panels and autographs in order to keep more of the main attractions on the ground floor.
The very first event on Friday morning was the Cafe Hoshi breakfast show at 10:00AM. Cafe Hoshi being a maid cafe where guests are sat down in groups to be taken care of by delightful hosts who serve small pastries and refreshments for about an hour or two depending on the showing. Buying a ticket to attend Cafe Hoshi is separate from the convention however, as a ticket can range anywhere from $12 to $15 depending on the event (though a SacAnime badge is still required alongside this ticket). In total there were five Cafe Hoshi events on Friday, one breakfast show, three normal shows, and one special 18+ show that will be covered more in depth on Saturday.
The Main Events of SacAnime started at 12:00PM kicking off with a guest panel starring voice actors for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. These guests included Patricia Summersett (Zelda’s VA), Elizabeth Maxwell (Urbosa’s VA), and Bill Rogers (the King of Hyrule’s VA). After this there was a guest panel for Steven Universe fans starring Zach Callison (Steven’s VA) and Grace Rolek (Connie’s VA). Then there was an Overwatch panel starring Josh Petersdorf (Roadhog’s VA), Feodor Chin (Zenyatta’s VA), and Gaku Space (Genji’s VA) where everyone answered questions and voiced their characters talking to each other. Last but not least was a guest panel with Trina Nishimura, a Sacramento native who has since then branched out to voice act in many anime including “Attack on Titan,” “Sgt. Frog,” and “One Piece.” Each of these panels lasted for an hour and afterwards most of the guests were available for autograph sessions in a seperate area.
Running simultaneously as the Main Events were the Featured Events which also included a medley of guest panels. The first of which being a “Power Rangers Dino” panel which featured five members of the main cast including Brennan Mejia, Camille Hyde, Michael Taber, James Davies, and Claire Blackwelder. This was followed by a panel with Brina Palencia who has a wide variety of voice acting roles on her tool belt, some of the most famous being Ciel from “Black Butler,” Chopper from “One Piece,” and Mad Moxxi from the “Borderlands” franchise. Keeping up with the big name voice actors, J Michael Tatum hosted a panel after Palencia. Tatum of course being known for roles like Sebastian from “Black Butler,” Kyoya from “Ouran High School Host Club,” and France in “Hetalia: Axis Powers.” After this there was a Mass Effect Reunion panel which featured Ali Hillis (Dr. Liara T’Soni’s VA) and Courtenay Taylor (Jack’s VA).
I was lucky enough to attend the “Jojo’s Bizarre Fan Panel” where fans talked about the anime, manga, and the series of video games as well as answered trivia questions about the franchise. There was also a section of the panel where the audience could strike poses for potential prizes. Unsurprisingly, this was a very entertaining panel to witness even though I am still dreadfully behind on “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure” as a whole. Roger Craig Smith also hosted a panel so attendees could ask him questions about his array of work in the voice acting industry ranging from Sonic the Hedgehog himself all the way to Batman in a few video games and films. In SacAnime tradition the next panel was Sam and Liam After Hours where voice actors Sam Riegel and Liam O’Brien hold a no holds barred panel intended for mature audiences only where the duo can say pretty much whatever they want in terms of harsh language. No nudity was allowed though, sorry! Closing out the night was Toshio Maeda who comes to SacAnime quite frequently and is often credited as being a pioneer for Hentai. Maeda was joined by Japanese artist Makoushi and both talked about their respective stories in the industry and answered questions from the audience. Needless to say this panel was also restricted to mature audiences given its more adult subject matter.
For those not interested in the guest panels, SacAnime also offered a variety of fan-led panels on Friday ranging from tips and tricks for new cosplayers to a panel about a California State Unversity, Sacramento graduate and his work in the manga industry. The first of these fan-led panels was a Homeworld Gems’ Q&A session where Steven Universe cosplayers donned the roles of some of the most powerful characters in the show and took questions from fellow fans. A similar cosplayer’s panel was hosted afterwards but for fans of “Love Live” who were not only treated to a Q&A session but also a performance from the cosplayers. Another exciting panel held on Friday was the Legends of Everwing panel where the creators of the Facebook game Everwing spoke about their success and also gave fans a sneak peek into the future of the company. After this, two passionate cosplayers hosted a panel known only as “Naruto vs. Sasuke! Long Time Coming!” where Naruto and Sasuke reminisced about their constant fighting throughout the series. The next panel was a Q&A session between fans about recent developments in the “Sword Art Online” franchise including the most recent film along with Season 3. A panel on tips on tricks for new cosplayers was then put on by a few veteran cosplayers which I was in attendance for. Unfortunately, while the idea of the panel was a positive one, the overall execution was sloppy at best as the hosts (of which there were more than five) consistently talked over each other, showed up late, and got off-topic. That is not to say that the panel was not educational, but it could have used a bit more planning out rather than being run as a sort of messy Q&A session with bits of helpful advice sprinkled on top. Another highlight of Friday was the panel titled “From Midtown To Tokyo: A CSUS Grad In Japan’s Manga Industry” where Glenn Kardy from the graduating class of 1987 talked about his launch of Manga University in Japan and its success. Homestuck fans also had their own panel known as “You Can’t Fight The Homestuck” where cosplayers not only hosted a Q&A panel but also invited attendees to play a game of truth or dare with them in addition to hosting a raffle. There was also a “Black Butler PJ Club” panel later in the evening where “Black Butler” cosplayers hosted a Q&A in their pajamas and encouraged those in attendance to wear their pajamas as well. The last fan-panel of the night was “Al’s Animation Station Festival 2017” where MediaArt Program students from the Art Institute of California, Sacramento screened the animations they had been working on this year along with some of the most popular animations of the previous years.
The night of Friday was when things at SacAnime really got wild with the SacAnime Late Night Electronic Dance with DJ Shawty, Liquid86, and DJ Jinrei (all real names) which lasted for over three hours. Meanwhile for those looking for a quieter place to hang out that night, there was also a swap meet going on in the new Cosplay Longue on the second floor of the convention center. In the Cosplay Longue cosplayers had the opportunity to take a break from the chaos and relax while admiring each other’s costumes and during the swap meet cosplayers were able to swap items with each other. Just as Gandhi once said, “A Keyblade for a Master Sword makes the world a better place.” An AMV contest also took place later in the day for fans of anime and video editing to show their skills and possibly even take home the title of winner. But if video editing was not a fan’s forte there was also a karaoke contest Friday night for those who love singing their hearts out in front of tens of other aspiring karaoke masters.
That just about wraps it up for Friday, not forgetting to mention the fact that during all three days there were a couple rooms that were almost always open including a room for playing video games and participating in tournaments, a room for board games and card games, and a kid zone sponsored by the Sacramento Public Library for children and younger siblings of convention-goers. In addition, a viewing room was open for a few hours each day so that attendees could watch different anime and possibly even catch up with what is popular at the time. I was also able to make it to a few Cosplay Meetups on Friday, the most important of them being the Dream Daddy Simulator meetup which made me remember why I play video games (not really). But now, to Saturday!
Saturday was chock full of events including guest panels, fan panels, wrestling, wrestling in cosplay, video game tournaments, and dance battles! Starting off with the Special Events there was a panel dedicated to “Game of Thrones” where actors Kristian Nairn (Hodor) and Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne) answered questions about the show. I was lucky enough to attend the ANX J-Pop Battles on Saturday too and was treated to a handful of teams dancing to popular J-Pop songs with impressive choreography and costumes. That being said, the J-Pop Battles unfortunately do not hold a candle in terms of overall energy to the KPop Battles which occurred just a half an hour afterward. The other Saturday-exclusive Special Event was the Cosplay Masquerade where cosplayers competed against each other by performing skits, dances, and comedy routines to see who would reign supreme.
Now onto the Main Events of SacAnime on Saturday starting off with a guest panel starring Livvy Stubenrauch & Eva Bella about their portrayals of young Anna & young Elsa respectively titled “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” A Geek Fashion show also took place on Saturday where attendees interested in different aesthetics anywhere from steampunk to superheroes could show off their costumes to other passionate fans. Kira Buckland also had her own panel where she talked about her many roles in tv shows and video games including Bloody Marie in Skullgirls, and Lola Rembrite in Huniepop. After this a group of voice actors shared a panel, these voice actors being: Roger Craig, Liam O’Brien, and Sam Riegel all at the same panel answering fan questions.
There was definitely no shortage of Featured Events on Saturday with a whopping seven in total. The first being a panel hosted by Adrian Paul about his career as Duncan MacLeod in the long-running “Highlander: The Series.” Next was John Ratzenberger of “Cheers,” “Star Wars” and “Pixar” fame, who hosted a panel all about his extremely varied career. Hynden Walch also hosted a panel talking about her roles like Starfire on “Teen Titans” and “Princess Bubblegum” on Adventure Time. After this there was another star-studded group of guests including J. Michael Tatum, Brina Palencia, and Trina Nishimura who all hosted a Q&A panel. I do regret not being able to go to the Cosplay Wrestling Federation BLKOUT: Conquest because the very idea of seeing a bunch of people in cosplay suplexing each other onto the stage sounds like a good time for everyone involved (except maybe for whoever is being suplexed). Thankfully, if some attendees were unable to attend the Cosplay Wrestling Federation like myself, Supreme Pro Wrestling also took place at SacAnime later on in the evening! Yes, an actual Battle Royal happened at SacAnime where someone won the title of SPW Extreme Champion. Maybe next year Reetin can come down and see what it takes to become a professional wrestler, just like he wanted to be as a kid.
Saturday also included a large number of fan-led panels throughout the day starting off with a panel all about Lolita fashion aptly named “Lolita Fashion 101” where panelists taught attendees about the history of Japanese street fashion, where to shop, and how to start their wardrobe. A similar panel to the tips and tricks for new cosplayers panel was also held all about stopping “con crunch,” where cosplayers begin to rush their costumes before the event, and teaches them how to better their time management skills and also how to expedite the cosplaying process. A-J Connections also hosted an extremely informative panel known as “Alternative Idol: A Look Into The J-Pop Underground” which was all about popular J-Pop bands and their history. Hetalia characters were also able to run their own panel titled “Chibis of Hetalia” in which they almost assuredly discussed peace among nations in the year 2017 and not anime or shipping. A “Gravity Falls Q&A” also took place where Dipper and Mabel cosplayers answered questions about their adventures in Gravity Falls. Another interesting panel that took place on Saturday was “Living Dystopia: Bioshock” where panelists examined political propaganda and theories and applied them to the city of Rapture from the “Bioshock” franchise. There was also a panel about the “Fire Emblem” franchise where cosplayers dressed up and competed for the affections of the audience by performing challenges and doing dares given to them by viewers. Believe it or not, but I was also inexplicably absent from “What’s Cooking At Manga University,” a panel about the award-winning “Manga Cookbook” and the recently released Volume 2, coupled with real-life demonstrations of recipes from the book. “Voltron: Legendary Defender” cosplayers also hosted a panel about the characters being back on earth and what being space was like for so long. A panel dedicated to Sacramento’s indie developer movement also occurred later in the day where aspiring video game developers, filmmakers, animators, etc., got together and reviewed the current state of the movement in Sacramento. Unfortunately, no one at the panel was interested in adapting Lusipurr’s Final Fantasy VI radio play to a multi-million dollar movie franchise, but do not lose all hope yet. A “Seraph of the End” panel was also open to those looking to play truth or dare, ask questions to characters from the anime like Yuu and Mika, or those wanting to answer trivia questions to win prizes. Fans of the FX show “Archer” were also given the gift of a panel where cosplayers not only answered questions but also acted out scenes from the show.. And to wrap things up for the fan panels was the “Ouran Fan Service Commoner Style” panel where “Ouran High School Host Club” cosplayers treated those in attendance to a miniature host club and Q&A session.
The Cosplay Lounge was also host to two fun events, the first of which was the “Maechalon Dagorhir Foam Fighting Demonstration” where fans of all ages could practice fighting each other with foam weapons to get all the fun of LARPing with all the safety of a psychiatric ward. Adrian Paul also hosted an event in the Cosplay Lounge where he taught attendees a little bit of what it is like to train on a Hollywood set after his many years of being in the business for a small ticket fee.
But if there was one thing that stood out to me on Saturday, it was my going to the 18+ Cafe Hoshi beach party. At 9:00PM on Saturday night those who bought tickets were grouped into tables of ten, each table equipped with an extremely rude but hilarious host. Those at the table competed for small prizes by playing games like coming up with the worst answer to a Cards Against Humanity prompt or “adult”-themed trivia questions. The event was also packed with a multitude of dance breaks where the hosts all got together to perform routines which were actually extremely impressive given the length and amount of people involved. A variety of gelato was also available for sale which was really tasty and helped numb the pain of my host calling me a virgin (true story). Cafe Hoshi’s beach party as whole was definitely an acquired taste as evident by the song choice including a remix of the song “Cooking by the Book” from the children’s show LazyTown mixed with the extremely explicit “Step Yo Game Up” by Lil Jon. For those who did enjoy attending however, they seemed to really enjoy it. The two hours flew by and it is more than likely I will be going again with a larger group of friends to experience chaos and self-humiliation tantamount to me working at Lusipurr.com for just $12. Or maybe next time I will try to keep my ego intact and just go to the breakfast show instead where I can cry into a pastry instead of gelato.
Now to close things up with Sunday, when everything dies down and there are less events to go to and more time to sleep-in after two hard days of…sitting at panels. Really, Sunday is the perfect day to do some shopping not only in the vendor’s hall but where food is sold too because prices are slashed and there is much less going on panel-wise too.
Starting off with the Main Events of Sunday, there were two unique panels for attendees while the rest were repeats from previous days in case anyone missed them. The first unique panel being Men of Voice while the second was, believe it or not, Women of Voice! Men of Voice featured J Michael Tatum, Liam O’Brien, Sam Riegel, and Roger Craig Smith and Women of Voice featured an even larger assortment of panelists with Trina Nishimura, Brina Palencia, Ali Hillis, Courtenay Taylor, and Kira Buckland.
Onto the panels of Sunday starting off with a screening of a documentary called “The Weeaboo” coupled with a Q&A with the director, Jacob Lacuesta. The documentary was a culmination of Lacuesta’s year-long adventure of attending multiple anime conventions, universities, and Japan itself as he attempts to analyze “weeaboo” culture. Afterwards was a PG-13 panel for the “Danganronpa” franchise with the cast of Season 1 and Season 2 as they participated in a Q&A along with asking a couple trivia questions to the audience. Another fun panel was “Kana De Manga: The ABC’s of Japanese” where attendees were taught how to write their own name in Japanese by attending a session of Manga University. There was also a “Mystery Shack Kick Back” which is more than anything a panel for people to just kind of hang out in at the end of SacAnime for a bit of well-deserved rest. Fan-fiction also got its time to shine at SacAnime with a panel named “Fic W(rec)k” that did an in-depth examination of fan-fiction as a movement and how it has influenced fandom culture. Closing out the fan panels was a live recording of the “Videogame Bang!” podcast which is known as Sacramento’s number one gaming podcast. Not only do fans get to see the podcast being recorded live, they also get to participate in the podcast as well either by bringing up their own topics, or asking questions directly to the hosts. The end of the day was marked by the closing ceremonies where fans can learn more about Winter SacAnime 2017, see the winners of the AMV contest, and also give feedback about SacAnime as a whole.
But before this write-up closes out it is time to get into the most important part of the write-up, learning about my misadventures. In reality, there were not many either because I actually stayed away from trouble or because I did not don my now iconic Geraldo Rivera garb. That being said, a major highlight of SacAnime for me this year aside from Cafe Hoshi was seeing a Sonic cosplayer run around the Vendor’s Hall telling other attendees they are “too slow!” Aside from that, sanity was maintained at SacAnime by both myself and others for the most part and I just wish I could have gone to more panels! There were so many interesting ones this year and while I am glad to have attended the ones I was able to, I still wish I had time for even more. SacAnime is constantly improving and this year was no exception. Once again I can not wait until the Winter show in January 2018 and I highly recommend the event to anyone in the nearby area. Until next year!