In honor of our founding fathers, we at T-ONO had the opportunity last President’s Day weekend to do something special that would have made both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln squeal with otaku delight: attend local family-friendly convention Animation on Display (AOD) in San Francisco, California!
Now in its ninth year, the weekend-long event featured numerous industry professionals such as Neil Kaplan (Starcraft II, Star Wars: the Old Republic) and Ian McConville (Spiral Knights) in addition to the anime voice actresses Stephanie Sheh and Cristina Vee. Additionally, there was a surprise for all of those “bronies” out there. No, Twilight Sparkle and her pony pals from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic did not make a special appearance in the fourth dimension, but rather one of the lead creative supervising directors, Jayson Thiessen did. Remember just because it has ponies of the fuchsia variety does not mean it's solely for little girls.
Although it's nearly impossible to compare a smaller convention such as Animation on Display with its larger more industry-oriented brethren, there's a unique charm that's impossible to resist when you attend more intimate cons. Namely, the camaraderie and fan friendliness of the entire convention. From their emphasis on providing local artists the best possible location to display and sell their wares to their compact dealer's hall featuring all of the latest goods from Japan, including Dakimakura covers and its latest figures, being able to interact with everyone on a one-on-one basis without having to worry about getting from one end of the hall to the other in timely manner was a very welcome experience.
My only personal gripe, which can also be a positive depending on how you look at it, was that there were too many people in the hotel lobby which crowded all the walking room between the Japantown mall and the registration area. Although this is a very good sign that the convention is growing at a steady rate, one has to think that they'll eventually outgrow their current location and will have to move into a larger location as they've done in years past. In the end, though, the organizers behind Animation on Display did a great job with their limited resources and we definitely look forward to seeing them take the next step in becoming an even more successful convention.