If there is one thing that Fanime 2012 will be remembered for, I am going to bet the general registration line is high on many people’s lists. While I understand that there was a power outage on Thursday, it was still a great test of patience to wait in line for five and a half hours simply to hand over your money to get in on Saturday. There were more than a few families who in the end decided to forego the line and simply spend the day outside the convention. It was my first Fanime, and I am sure that given the mass of people who waited in line with me, pre-registration was likely an afterthought for newcomers. If nothing else, the staff and volunteers were for the most part gracious, though it does nothing to change the disaster that was their pitiful logistical effort. To be fair, the Fanime staff didn’t want a power outage, but poor planning meant that a lot of people who toughed out the line ended up wasting the better part of the day. If I was a parent, such a poor show of forethought would certainly dampen my enthusiasm on making Fanime an annual family outing. If nothing else, Fanime can pat itself on the back for having hammered home the point that pre-registration is the better route.
I suppose for the average fan, who is over eighteen, the wait was more than bearable since waiting in line seems to be the norm for autographs. Speaking of autographs, it seems that there was little point in arriving early since right before the session started, another group from the previous day was already designated to go first. Apparently, they did not get autographs the day before and were promised a reserved spot. Why staffers waited till the last minute to announce this confused and frustrated me and other attendees. In addition, it is advisable to not have your heart set on a sketch of a specific character because guests apparently get to pick which character they want to draw first, and anyone who wants that sketched gets to cut in front of everyone else. Never mind that half of those people might not know who the character is, the point is, honest people who just want a quick sketch of their favorite anime hero get to twiddle their thumbs for a lot longer than they might have otherwise. It’s not the staff’s fault for catering to the whims of their special guests and trying to please shafted fans, but judging by the typical reaction of people in the lines, these bits of convention protocol were not well communicated.
The printed convention guides that were handed out, one big and in glorious color and another smaller pocket book, served as another logistical hiccup. Both were well made but sadly not every event listed had a time and/or location. Perhaps it is a consequence of Fanime being relatively small, but it was the first time I had seen such poor attention to detail for a convention I paid to attend.
The convention was not a complete waste of time though. For the most part, I enjoyed my time there and at least got a few sketches. The game room was well run even if the logic of the sign out sheets was a little suspect. Hopefully they will be going over the sheets to find out which games were the most popular and bring more of them next time. Having Settlers of Catan was nice, but having one copy for the whole convention was a bit of an oversight. The dealer’s room offered plenty of goods to delight all but the most particular fan. Cosplayers were out in force, and I guess that is the primary reason why people go to anime conventions: the chance to dress up and not look out of place is just too much fun for only Halloween.
I look forward to going again next year, there wasn’t a crush of people and the lines, while arduous, weren’t lapping the block. Maybe next year I can go to more panels and see more of the convention if the lines move more briskly. I was told that this year was an aberration and that prior Fanime did not have marathon lines that last almost a third of the day. I’ll take it on faith that next year things will be different. I hope that the Fanime staff isn’t just going to write off the power outage debacle and will be aiming to perform better in 2013 than they did in 2012.