This weekend Sacramento fans can get their fill of everything anime during the 5th annual SacAnime Convention at the Radisson Hotel.
The event has increased in popularity since its inception in 2004. In an e-mail interview director of console gaming and press liaison Jason Dube said last year’s event was attended by several thousand people. This year the numbers are expected to be even bigger.
According to SacAnime’s website the convention began as an extension of the Sac Con show, an event geared more toward comic books, toys and collectibles. In 2004, the manager of Waldenbooks at the Sunrise Mall store approached founder and convention organizer Dan Houck and his Sac Anime volunteer staff with the idea of holding an anime convention at Sunrise Mall. The team took him up on his offer and SacAnime held its first convention that July.
Since then, the number of bodies attending has increased so much, said Dube, that the convention moved to the Scottish Rite Center in 2007 and finally to this year’s largest location, the Radisson.
The event will feature a plethora of different activities throughout the two days and take place throughout the entire hotel, said Dube. Vendors will show their merchandise in the main banquet hall and art from contests such as Manga and Amateur Art will be displayed in the Small Press Zone, which will run along the hallway. Live music from artists Tanuki Suit Riots, Buranden, and akai SKY will entertain attendees in the outside pavilion.
Saturday will have events such as the "Free Hugs: A Guide to Conventions" discussion panel to educate and answer questions of first time attendees. Storyboard artist Brandon McKinney will be leading the "Storyboarding for Animation" panel, which will review the process of creating storyboards for animated television shows and movies.
There will also be special appearances by accomplished voice actors, writers, artists, and directors such as Alyson Court, voice of Lydia Deetz (originally played by Winona Ryder) in the animated adaptation of the 1988 film Beetlejuice and Claire Redfield in the video game Resident Evil 2, Liam O’Brien, Paul Mercier, andRoger Craig Smith, who will be available for discussion in panels such as the "Resident Evil Panel."
An aspect of SacAnime that is particularly well-received is "cosplay," or costumed role play, said Dube. The event will feature two cosplay displays, a masquerade on Saturday and fashion show on Sunday.
Cosplay is not just for performers, according Dube many of the convention’s attendees engage in cosplay.
"It’s a remarkable spectacle to see. The most amazing part is it doesn’t have to even be something in anime," Dube said. "I’ve seen people in costume from Batman, Dr. Who, and Johnny Depp’s character from his ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.’ The only thing that seems to be an unspoken rule is to be in costume."
The popularity of cosplay not only contributes to the colorful atmosphere of the convention, but also facilitates a celebratory and social vibe, Dube said.
"People love to interact with each other in costume," Dube said. "I’ve seen the attendees get very excited to jump into spontaneous dance circles or line dancing."
The Sacramento anime scene itself is an exciting thing to be around, Dube said. The fans’ energy and passion is representative of why SacAnime has had such growth over the past five years.
"I would characterize the scene as being on fire, wild and growing every year. The Sacramento anime fans have a spirited passion for the genre; the likes [of which] I have never seen before," Dube said.
And what of those who are new to anime? Is there room for them at SacAnime?
"The community is the most friendly and welcoming," Dube said. "As long as you are there to have fun and make new friends, you’re going to have a blast."
For more info, visit SacAnime’s website
WHAT: SacAnime Convention
WHERE: Radisson Hotel. 500 Leisure Lane
WHO: all ages
SAT ONLY: $25
SUN ONLY: $15
BOTH DAYS: $30
10 a.m. – 2 a.m. Sunday morning
Vendors Room:10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Registration opens at 9 a.m.
Anime Viewing Room: TBA
Console Gaming Room: 10 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Cosplay Masquerade: 6 p.m.
3pm Concert with: Buranden, Tanuki Suite Riot and akai SKY
Sac Club Rave w/the Random Dj’s: 10 p.m. – 2 a.m.
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Vendors Room: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Registration opens at 10 a.m.
Anime Viewing Room:10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Console Gaming Room: 10 a.m – 5 p.m.
Photo Credit to Jason Dube