Animazement 2008

The Monarch's Henchmen

Animazement 2008 happened this past Memorial Day weekend – May 23 through 25 – at the Sheraton Imperial in Durham, North Carolina.

Since this was my first anime convention experience I don’t have anything to compare it to. It’s a sea of fans, some dressed in costume and others in street clothes. The lobby and grounds of the Sheraton were literally overrun with otaku for most of the weekend.

Looking at people is one of the big draws of any convention and Animazement ensured there were plenty of safe outlets to get your gawking done. The cosplay talent show is the most visible event of this type but other events like the Loli fashion show gave more outlets for people to show off their costumes and craftsmanship, as well as be seen.

The most impressive part about Animazement was the dealers room. I had thought the halls of the hotel were crowded but in the dealers room you truly get an idea of how sardines feel. Besides the throngs of people, some trying to move around with cumbersome wings on their back, the dealers room was packed with anything and everything imported or anime related. Swords, kimonos, figurines, movies, posters, music, comics, plush dolls, gashopan and video games plus many other types of merchandise filled the cavernesque room.

The guest lineup was equally impressive. American voice actors Kara Edwards (Goten and Gotenks from DBZ), Caitlin Glass (Winry from FMA and Triela from Gunslinger Girl), Kyle Herbert (Narrator from DBZ and Sosuke and Ganju from Bleach) and Vic Mignogna (Edward from FMA and Virgil from Trinity Blood) were on hand all weekend running and participating in seminars and panels as well as signing autographs.

Pyramid Head from Silent Hill

Also present were a good number of Japanese industry professionals and seven well known seiyuu (Japanese term for voice actor). Keiko Han (Lala Sun from Mobile Suit Gundam and Luna from Sailor Moon), Akira Kamiya (Ashram from Record of Lodoss War and Roy from Macross), Takeshi Kusao (Parn from Record of Lodoss War and Trunks and Gotenks from DBZ), Kotono Mitsuishi (Jean from Claymore and Excel from Excel Saga), Ryuusei Nakao (Mayumi from Bleach and Freeza from DBZ), Jouji Nakata (Alucard from Hellsing and Giroro from Sgt. Frog) and Kumiko Watanabe (Sgt. Keroro from Sgt. Frog and Shippo from Inuyasha) also graced the con with cultural panels, autographs and inside looks at how anime is produced.

There were so many panels, seminars and events at this convention I don’t know where to begin with them. During any part of the day there were usually five con sponsored activities happening at once. For example, Saturday at noon you could have been in the middle of a kendo panel, finishing up a table-top gaming session, going to the Inuyasha panel with Kumiko Watanabe, attending a panel on how anime movies are directed or a cultural panel on kumihimo (braiding). And even if you can’t find something interesting to do with all of these choices you can always go back to the dealers room and gawk at everything in there.

With so many people at the convention (5,300, 900 more than in 2007) lines are a cumbersome necessity. Many of the popular events like cosplay, the traditional shamisen concert by Maya Yamao or Anime Hell were also incredibly crowded. Despite all of this I didn’t witness a single outburst or break down once at the convention. The staff were professional and the guests were courteous. I’ll admit I prefer a bit more chaos in my cons but the positive attitude and general friendliness of nearly everyone ensured that I’ll be back again next year, maybe in a costume this time.

One thought on “Animazement 2008

  1. Good stuff. I always enjoy seeing the cosplay folks at the comic conventions. The really good ones are cool to see and the really bad ones are good to laugh at. 🙂

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