This year was a very important year for Sac-Anime as it delivered exciting news and, unfortunately, very tragic news. The good news is that Sac-Anime is growing and it will be moving to the Sacramento Convention Center starting next winter, which is a big step for any convention. This move means more space, more events, and simply more fun for attendees. Since Sac-Anime began in 2005 at the Sunrise Mall, the convention has been steadily growing each year and Sac-Anime 2012 unofficially saw 7,700 attendees.
This milestone is something that most fans wanted to see, and this brings me to the sad news of Sac-Anime 2012. One particular fan won’t get to experience Sac-Anime at the Sacramento Convention Center. Most people who have attended Sac-Anime might have seen Harison Randall cosplaying as Jiraya from Naruto, and if they had met him they would say he was nice, friendly, and just full of energy. Sadly, he was struck by an allegedly drunk driver on Monday July 16, 2012 at 10pm, and later died at the hospital. Harison, who was twenty one years old, was walking with his girlfriend and their four dogs when all of them were hit by the car. His girlfriend lived, but the four dogs died on impact. During the convention, a table was set up near the front entrance by Team loveHATE to take donations for Randall’s family to help with hospital expenses, and they raised around $1,800.00. They also had a car with custom itasha pictures (car decals commonly featuring cute anime girls) of Jiraya composed of a collage of Harison.
One of my main goals for the convention was to show my support for Harison because I believe all anime fans share a bond, and by the way people spoke of him, it felt like he was not gone. Just like Jaidin Lockhart said on Facebook, “…at Sac Anime we’re small and we’re close,” and everyone will remember Harison and the others that have left the Sac-Anime family. This is one reason why Sac-Anime 2012 was really special to all attendees regardless of whether or not they knew Harison, and especially for his family who got to see how far Harison’s love and friendliness reached. Just like the decal said on the hood of the car, “Gone but not forgotten,” and that is how everyone feels.
Team loveHATE is a Northern California based auto club that has been promoting the art of Itasha in the US. Itasha is a hobby from Japan which involves decorating the bodies of cars, motorcycles, and bicycles with anime, manga, or video games characters. It is done to show one’s passion for a particular character, or just how much one loves their car. Plus, the extra attention is not bad, especially when it attracts cute girls, right? Team loveHATE showed off their cars at Sac-Anime and held a panel in which they answered questions from fans. They shared what they considered the hardest part of creating an Itasha, which for them is getting an artist to create the custom art design. This is due to the graphic’s dimensions and how the piece would wrap around a custom car. Itasha enthusiasts must therefore plan the graphic in three dimensions.
The following challenge, after completing the printout, is to precut the paper which can be difficult because it must be done carefully with an x-acto knife.There are three layers of the printout: the top layer is a clear coat, then you have the actual print, then the bottom layer is white paper. You have to cut through just the white part and actual print because you will need to transfer it to the car. If you think that sounds hard, the printout is actually a mirror image which may confuse new hobbyists. It can take forty to eighty hours to just cut the design. Of course, the length of time depends how complicated the design is and whether or not the design is one piece or separate pieces.
loveHATE talked about how they do anime designs, but they want to make Itasha with American Comic characters, so I asked if they ever thought of combining Eastern and Western art forms. They said they loved the idea, but it would be hard to get the rights to the characters signed off. (If they ever obtain the rights and want to do a combined Itasha, I volunteer my car. Team loveHATE, give me a call if you want to get this project started!) They have chapters in Colorado, New York, Vegas, and of course, Sacramento. They enter their cars in competitions and present them at some charity events. For more info, visit their Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/Itashakings, or website, http://teamlovehate.blogspot.com/ One of the cars that I got to see was the Panty and Stocking themed 2003 Infiniti G35 which was amazing. Check out the picture below!
The convention had an AMV contest, Karaoke contest, artist alley, dealer’s room, and live music concerts. The AMV contest played on Friday and was repeated on Saturday. The AMV were mostly nice, but some just blew me away with how well the music and scenes matched up. The only problem I had was that the projector was small for the size of the room, but hey, that’s why they’re going to a bigger venue, right? As for the Karaoke contest, it ranged from amateur to professional sounding. Some of the songs were hard to sing, let alone remember. Some participants sang without help from the screen: they memorized the songs and did not skip a beat. The songs included “Calling into the night” from Metal Gear Solid, “Be Your Girl” by Chieko Kawabe ED from Elfen Lied, “I think I can” by The Pillows, “Magia” by Kalafina ED from Puella Magi Madoka, and “Lacrimosa” by Kalafina ED from Black Butler, just to name a few.
The Guest of Honor panels were interesting, but the one that was the most fun took place on the last day when all the guests got on stage and answered questions from the fans. This panel was more exciting due to the fact that the guests all fed off of each other. For example, by request from a fan, all the male voice actors sang “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by the Righteous Brothers towards Laura Bailey, a fellow voice actor, and it was great to see everyone just having fun with it. I enjoyed the song because the voice actors were off key and they knew it, but was just so much fun having them on stage singing to Laura. At one point, a fan asked everyone on stage to share their worst story about recording inside a booth. It began serious enough with Jennifer saying that during one session, she had just come out of a minor surgery with mild anesthesia. She still went in to record, and that day all she had to do was grunt. The sound guys kept saying, “can you do it again, but this time make it sound more painful.” She laughed and said, “I am in pain, how much more realistic do you want me to get?”
After that, all the stories began to include bodily functions, so every once in a while Johnny Yong Bosch or Roger Craig Smith would make fart sounds while others were speaking, which made the fans laugh. Another funny story involved Laura Bailey and Travis Willingham who talked about how Dragon Age was making Travis jealous since Laura plays it every night. The issue was that Laura’s character was in a relationship with one of the characters in the game, and Travis hears him wooing her every night. Travis then said if he knew who the voice actor was, he would sock him. Laura replied nervously, “I know his name, and he is with our agency.” Travis just cracked his neck, said ,“Oh really,” and everyone laughed.
The artist alley and dealers room were two places that I really wanted to see. The artist alley was not as small as I thought it would be, but some tables were empty and I was looking for some very specific drawings. Eventually, I found one that was good enough for me. Next stop was the dealer’s room, but right outside the entrance was a swap meet where I ended up finding some really rare figures at a decent price. After nabbing my figures, I finally made my way into the dealer’s room which was really crowded and had very small aisles. I found one figure that differed in price by $30 from one side of the dealer’s room to the other. So, even though you might see a figure you want as soon as you step in the dealer’s room, don’t buy it, walk around and do some recon and you might save enough to buy another.
The live concerts in the grove amphitheater were out in the open air which had Akai SKY and Eyeshine who rocked the convention attendees on Friday and Saturday till 10pm. It was great because at night the weather was nice and cool, and putting the concert outside seemed to be more fun than an indoor event. The songs were great and the music traveled well in the open air. This was the same location where the open microphone memorial for Harison Randall was held on the last day, and a lot of people attended and told their stories about Harison.
Lastly was the Masquerade about which I had some mixed feeling to begin with. The room was a good size, but the audio was having some difficulties. Also, close to the end when the winners from the karaoke contest came on stage to sing, the organizers had to remove some lights so it was hard to see the winners singing even from my seat in the front row. Overall, the acts ranged from ‘amazing’ to ‘WTH.’ In the middle of the show, there was a cosplay parade in which a lot of talented people showed off their skills. Right before the end, Dan got on stage and showed a video commemorating Harison Randall.
Sac-Anime is more than just a convention: it is a gathering for friends who are like family so much that if you skip even one year, people will notice your absence. I saw many people just having fun, hanging out and enjoying their time with each other. This atmosphere was the same from the anime gathering, karaoke contest, and masquerade.. People were happy just to see random people cosplaying as their favorite anime characters. I enjoyed seeing the cosplayers and taking some pictures with them. I really enjoyed the Stormtroopers, Poison Ivy, Bane, Scarecrow, and a group of Predators who were totally amazing. The costumes ranged from anime, superheroes, sci-fi, games, and even custom made characters. I enjoyed this Sac-Anime, and I hope to attend when they move to their new home next year.