Apologies for not coming out with another post last week. The last days of college and preparations for my long-awaited (and needed!) summer vacation have been keeping me rather busy. Because I haven’t been able to watch or catch up with any anime at all the past week, I’ll instead share my musings on a staple event that every anime fan knows of: anime conventions.
Anime conventions are large gatherings of anime fans, hosted over a series of a few days at conventions. It is in these conventions where a great trove of treasure and knowledge lies for anime fans. Anime merchandise, guest speakers, idol events, video screenings, art galleries, game arcades. All together in one location for people to gather with one common love: anime. An experience not to be missed, any anime fan would surely have a big blast at these conventions, right? Well, that’s not quite so for me…
The first anime convention I attended was Fanime 2010 in San Jose, California during Memorial Day weekend. The anime club at my high school was preparing to go to this ani-con, and I decided to go with them. There was a feeling of tension and excitement in the vans as my fellow club members’ parents drove us to San Jose. We knew we were close when we began to see various groups of cosplayers walking on the sidewalks all in one general direction: toward to San Jose Convention Center.
I’ll spare you the full details of how my day went at the anime convention, but I ended up leaving way earlier than intended. No, it was not because that I didn’t have the physical endurance needed to stay there. Rather, it was the lack of accessibility that made me leave earlier than intended. As it turns out, there were various obstacles that popped up just from my deafness alone. The convention’s atmosphere was, of course, crowded and noisy, so this made it so very difficult for me to be able to hear and understand what was being spoken. There were no use in attending guest panels or workshops as the voices simply drifted through one ear and out the other with no coherence. Contests and ceremonies were held, but I could not, for the life of me, understand what the hosts were saying at all. At least the idol event was still very entertaining with Momoi Halko singing!
Utterly confused by the noisy atmosphere, I fled to the Art Gallery and Dealers’ Hall. There, I finally had the most freedom. I went through the booths unimpeded, admiring the various artists’ works until there were nothing else to view. Off to the Dealers’ Hall I go. Now it is here where my instinct as an anime fan rose up to an all-time level high. So much anime goods! With only $100 to spare for the Dealers’ Hall, I enjoyed myself browsing through the inventories for 2 full hours. In the end, I left the convention with 2 volumes of Mahou Sensei Negima, 1 volume of Chobits, a Haruhi Suzumiya artbook, a Kannagi artbook, and various other freebies & souvenirs. Not a bad haul, I suppose.
The same thing happened to me for another convention, Anime on Display, that I attended in San Francisco a year later as well, and once again, the most enjoyable aspect was the dealers’ hall. I really have to wonder if guest panels or contests are worth attending because they’re not so easily accessible for me. I could try requesting an interpreter, but somehow I think it would end up being more troublesome since there are so many events and it would be a big burden on the interpreter. The same applies for friends, since I really do not want to have to intrude on their own fun. So, the problem here is how can I fully enjoy the true experience of an anime convention when most of the events, panels, or workshops are nearly inaccessible to me?
My experiences attending anime conventions so far have been generally okay, but to be honest, I’m already starting to get tired of not being able to understand the hosts or guest speakers. This year I’ve been thinking about going to Fanime 2012, but I’m not even sure if I’d like to experience the same disappointment all over again despite the huge treasure trove of anime goods. I have no clear-cut solution for this inaccessibility problem, but I suppose it can’t be helped; I’ll manage somehow. Plus, I still have yet to meet any other deaf anime fans, so I can’t exactly compare or relate to anyone else.
For those of you who have attended conventions, I’m very curious to know: what has been the most enjoyable aspect for you attending an anime convention? And was it well worth it?
P.S. Anyone going to Fanime 2012? Now could be the best chance to convince me and you just might be able to meet with me there…