SacAnime is a semi-annual three-day anime convention held in Sacramento, California that has been re-occurring since 2004 when it was known as the Sacramento Anime & Manga Show. Often, there is a Summer event and a Winter event, this write-up will cover SacAnime’s Summer 2016 show and the events that transpired. This write-up will cover all three days of my expedition at SacAnime, including panels as absurd as explaining why the 5th Generation of Pokemon simply is not Pokemon, and dressing up as Geraldo Rivera and interrogating innocent Greek women. All this and more will be covered in what will surely be one of the greatest write-ups written by an obese Mexican child. So, read on to find out more about the awesome anime convention that is SacAnime Summer 2016!
In the past, SacAnime has been host to over 10,000 attendees, and that was back in January of 2014. Since then, the attendance has only grown so it is entirely possible that SacAnime could have had as many as 12,000 attendees this year which would be entirely believable as both the convention center it was held in as well as the hotel attendees resided in were absolutely packed. The hotel in question is known as the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel, which includes a special deal for SacAnime attendees who book a hotel room for all three days, giving them a reduced cost on their badges as well as VIP status to get into special autograph sessions. The Sheraton also hosts some of the smaller rooms and events associated with SacAnime such as ticket registration, an anime viewing room, gaming tournaments, and an anime karaoke room where attendees can belt out their favorite anime opening (maybe even the German Naruto opening). No matter the time or place it is always a delight to see the refined business people trying to enjoy their dinner in the hotel’s restaurant as they sit sandwiched between the enthusiastic cosplayers. Some take the cosplayers’ presence as a delightful addition to their day, while others are much less enthused and view them as possibly deranged individuals. However, in the past there has not been much conflict between the seemingly outside world and those ecstatic to be with their peers. The most interaction between the two is often a Christian protester quite literally standing on a soapbox, or some other stool like object to gain height, with a large sign usually speaking in the name of the Lord. Funny enough, I was there where one of my friends convinced an attendee dressed as a Shy Guy with a sign that said “Hail Bowser!” to stand in front of the Christian protester.
The first day of SacAnime, my group of friends and I visited two panels, the first entitled “5th Gen Isn’t Pokemon,” and the second being the “My Immortal 10th Anniversary Live Reading.” Unfortunately, due to poor planning but also a genuine lack of interest, we missed out on a “Power Rangers Turbo Reunion” panel which included six of the main cast doing something “Power Rangers” related most likely. Although the masked men and women fighting for our safety were not exactly our cup of tea, those who did like Power Rangers seemed to be very enthused when the announcement was made over the Vendor Hall, which is a good sign. Besides the “Power Rangers” panel, not much happened early on in the SacAnime Friday schedule aside from one panel that was “Anime, Cosplay, Conventions for Parents” and another titled “Developing Awesome Characters.” The former was specifically for new parents who had never attended an anime convention before and were quite possibly stuck at SacAnime in order to keep their child safe, and the latter was a panel to help strengthen attendee’s original characters so they can write their self-insertion fan-fiction that much better. Though, even if some of the panels might not be super intriguing to some, it is nice that SacAnime always tries to hold a large variety of panels so that everyone has one or two panels they want to go to each day. But now, it is time to talk about the unholy experience that was “5th Gen Isn’t Pokemon,” and the hilarity that ensued.
Based on title alone “5th Gen Isn’t Pokemon” stands to be a controversial topic, criticizing the Pokemon featured within Pokemon White and Black Versions to the point where the panelists simply state that all of the Pokemon in the two games are simply not Pokemon. Starting off, the situation was tense as the crowd of people entered the room silent, filling all the seats and some choosing to sit on the floor like monsters. It was almost as if literally tens of Pokemon fans were about to charge the panelists before the panel had begun, but we all had a great laugh as the projector was malfunctioning. This led to the slides the panelists surely spent so little time on to be projected as an image about the size on an index card the screen. This made the rest of the panel very humorous as they frequently had to direct the audience to look at the slides, only to once again giggle at their failure.
The panelists themselves looked like two normal guys dressed up as Team Rocket employees. Not any employee in specific, just two men wearing black shirts with a red R in the center, one of them choosing to rock the bold fashion choice of a “Make Pokemon Great Again” hat. So, once the failing projector was accepted by the panelists and the audience, the two men informed the us that supporting the fifth generation of Pokemon is akin to behaving “like a 5-year old.” The panelists then instructed us to take off our nostalgia goggles, despite the fact that the two games released in 2010, and the panel began. Immediately, they began with the two Pokemon everyone uses to argue against the originality of Pokemon designs, Trubbish and Vanilluxe. They made fun of them for a bit and then told us their three main points that they have against generation five. The three points being: abominations for designs, power creep (the process in which new content slowly overtakes previous content in power similar to Yu-Gi-Oh!), and fire-fighting. Yes, the third point was literally just the dual type of fire-fighting because they felt as if it was overused. Sane men might have left the presentation at that moment if not sooner, but I gritted my teeth and allowed the presentation to continue. An amusing highlight was when they began to complain about the designs of the third generation of Pokemon, and said, “I guess Hoenn might not be Pokemon either, but that’s a different panel.” Because what even is Pokemon any more? Speaking of which, I have to quickly mention that 3D-printed Pokemon were hidden around SacAnime and I had the pleasure to find, and then re-hide a 3D-printed Eevee, which was a nice added bonus that a dedicated attendee obviously took the time to create.
The panelists then showed the audience comparisons of the “original” Pokemon and their fifth generation lessers such as Machamp vs Conkeldurr. Because they are both in the vein of a strong man, the panelists view it as laziness on Game Freak’s part to approve Pokemon like Conkeldurr who has better base stats than Machamp, thus making the latter useless. A graph was later displayed where the panelists insisted that they polled 200 SacAnime attendees but they were only able to calculate 100 of the entries. Folks, if you are not splitting your polled audience by half, the data just is not accurate. The graph was also completely illegible so we were just trusting that their results were both accurate and there which was a leap of faith on our parts. The panelists then began to complain about the Stealth Rock ability introduced in the fourth generation, but blamed generation five for not fixing it, and the panel quickly de-evolved into memes and chaos. No, really, at one point one of the panelist made a suicide joke and about 5 people just went and left the room. The animated television show “Jackie Chan Adventures” was discussed, Mr. Mime was brought up only to be called a “date rapist” and the audience then began discussing the gender politics of Mr. Mime. This all sounds as if it was made up, but the saddest part is that it was not. The only point against generation five in the hubbub was just that all the animated movies starting with generation five took a dip in quality, while one could surely argue it was before generation five. To sum up the credibility and content of the near hour-long panel, I present one final quote by the hat-wearing panelist, “I’ve [only] seen the American Godzilla movie with Mathew Broderick.”
Wrapping Friday up, the next panel we attended was a live-reading of the infamous fan-fiction known as “My Immortal.” A lengthy Harry Potter story starring a self-inserted character known as Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way (her Christian name), and her adventures throughout Hogwarts as she hooks up with Draco Malfoy only to find out he had been romantically involved with Harry Potter himself, who changed his name to Vampire. We stayed for about one and a half hours only to leave as it was getting dark and the fan-fiction becomes grating after so long, no matter how wonderful the voice actors may have been. They truly got into character, and it was evident that had gone as so far as to rehearse this performance and their energy shone through. By the time the live reading was half an hour in, each time a new chapter started the entire audience would chant together “lots of x’s, 666, lots of x’s.” Why? Because it is how the author introduced every single chapter, except for one mistake in which it is actually “lots of x’s, 667, lots of x’s.” Unfortunately, it is very likely that not even a portion of “My Immortal” will never be read aloud during a podcast, so it is recommended that readers check it out and feast their eyes on true horror.
Saturday began with a cosplay meeting up at the terrace of the convention center, where a large groups of approximately 50 or so people were gathered to take pictures in their “Gravity Falls” cosplay. Obviously if you attend an anime convention you must attend a cosplay meet-up, so I decided to check out the gathering for one of my favorite shows. To give a brief run-down on the show for cosplay context, “Gravity Falls” is a Disney animated television show (not an anime, but let it slide) starring twelve-year old twins who visit their Grunkle Stan in Gravity Falls, Oregon. In this town a large amount of mysteries and anomalies occur, ranging from as basic to a group of gnomes stacking atop each other to pretend to be a teenage boy, to a giant head attached to a hand voiced by Louie C.K. politely asking people to climb into his mouth. So, the cosplays ranged drastically from the two protagonists of the show, to actual triangles with legs strutting around adorned with top hats and canes. The ages of the cosplayers ranged drastically from small children, to grown men cosplaying as the adult characters. Once the gathering was over, I was able to witness the beautiful image of a Grunkle Stan walking side by side with another attendee in a full fursuit, as they talked with each other. This is just one of the miracles of anime conventions. The two panels that were being shown during the cosplay meeting up were entitled “Cosplay is not Consent” and “Over 30 Cosplay.” By their titles their subject matter is evident, as there is a history of sexual harassment at not only SacAnime (thankfully not seemed to be reported at this convention to my knowledge) but most anime conventions across the country, and there are of course lots of people over the age of 30 who still want to cosplay like it is 1999.
Afterwards, I decided to take the heroic duty of putting my own three dollars into entering a Mario Kart 8 tournament. During the two practice rounds I admittedly did terribly, coming in almost last both times. But some supernatural force awakened within me once the tournament had actually begun, and I was able to place second overall, coming in a resounding first place in the two of the races I took part in. Unfortunately though, due to poor performance during the third race, even if I had come in first place during my final race, it would have only gotten me enough points to tie with first place. So, I took my second place victory in stride and decided to tweet about it to make myself feel better. None of my friends aside from dedicated reader SebastianPeak cared, so I hauled myself over to the free autographs line as I waited patiently in order to get a “Black Butler” poster signed by Brina Palencia (VA of Ciel Phantomhive), who was very nice. I was also able to take a picture with Courtnee Draper who voices Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite which brought to life my terrible selfie-taking skills. While the waiting in itself was not too bad as I had podcasts to listen up on, what was aggravating were the people I had to stand next to. If we are all being honest, we know that conventions of any sort can attract annoying people who talk too much and do not bathe whatsoever. Some of them also decide to sit down in the middle of a moving/standing line and do character impressions to random people. These same people will also attempt to engage in conversation no matter on if the person they are talking to had both of their headphones in, an obvious sign that they do not wish to communicate. Not that I am bitter or anything. Sadly, I had to skip out on two other reunion panels for “American McGee’s Alice,” and “Cowboy Bebop.” I also was unable attend a panel called “The Furries of SacAnime,” which just sounds like a good time for everyone.
At the end of the day, when I was being picked up, I swear to God Dante Basco walked right past us. My friends and I casually said “Hey, Dante Basco,” and he kept on walking. The next day we debated on whether or not it was actually Dante Basco and once I saw a picture of him on his Twitter from SacAnime I was 100% certain that the man who passed us was in fact, Dante Basco. So thanks for snubbing me harder than you snubbed Jin as Zuko in “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
The last day of SacAnime is usually when the events dwindled down and everyone begins to take a sharp focus towards the last-minute sales in the Vendor Hall and hang out with their friends. But not I, said the fly, I once again braved the dangers of the free autograph session early on. This time, I was on a mission to collect the autograph of J. Michael Tatum (VA of Sebastian Michaelis) and retake my selfie with Courtnee Draper who was very nice and let me since there was no one else in her line. In my absence the only events I missed out on were an Aladdin Reunion (also not anime, but we decided to let it slide) and a “Men of Voice” panel. But by that time I was done with voice actors as I had already met enough up close and personal, and they were nice to me, so there was no point in ruining that with interrogating Dante Basco at a panel.
Instead, I decided to grab a quick slice of pizza at 7-11, and switched my Steven Universe cosplay to a Geraldo Rivera cosplay. So, along with my friends, I was able to venture through the convention holding a microphone that was connected to absolutely nothing, asking people random questions and giving them candy as a thank you. Two of the best interviewees happened to be one man in a extremely realistic Colonel Sanders outfit, who agreed to give me one ingredient listed in the secret eleven herbs and spices Kentucky Fried Chicken is famously known for, in exchange for a candy. The Colonel was able to inform me that salt was one of the ingredients, and I warned that there just had to be 10 more conventions before I cracked the secret recipe. At this point, the good Colonel threatened that in response he would be forced to add more spices, therefore making the chicken “even more flavorful.” After this light-hearted conversation, we found out that Jesus was in attendance. Jesus, unsurprisingly, was very nice to all of us and informed us that he is “chill with gay people.” Which is good, because SacAnime had a large amount of yaoi being sold along with cute anime boys adorning the walls. Although, there was no chance they could possibly outnumber the amount of anime girls which covered the Vendor Hall almost entirely, posters, plushies, body pillows. The anime tiddies were everywhere and it was almost too much to take all of it in at the same time.
Of course, by the end of three days, the attendees began to seem normal and familiar to me, so I decided to re-immerse myself/Geraldo Rivera with the real world by attending the Sacramento Greek Festival that was being held in the same convention center. Those who already spent their money on a SacAnime pass were able to enter the festival for free, which was actually really fun. Of course, I asked many Greek women what they thought of the cosplayers and they all responded very favorably and welcomed them to embrace Greek culture, which is pretty damn heart-warming. By the end of the night, I had handed out, a Zhu-Zhu Pet, a raw egg, two pieces of string cheese, and about fourteen pieces of candy. Admittedly, I felt pretty accomplished, as everyone who had received the items seemed very enthused to get a gift, as they should have been.
But in all seriousness, if there is one image that summed up the entirety of SacAnime Summer 2016 for me, it was watching girls dressed in elaborate Lolita dresses in a circle with Greek women as the two came together to dance to the live band performing. As it was approaching the end of the night and SacAnime was being closed up for shop, many of the SacAnime attendees decided to move into the Greek festival to keep the party going. Both those originally attending the Greek Festival and SacAnime joined together in a large audience as they watched everyone dance in a circle together. And, although I joked about it before with a tweet about the Grunkle Stan and the furry walking together, that is effectively what SacAnime is about: unity. Even though it is really easy to make jokes, and there is nothing wrong it, there is this feeling of warmth at SacAnime where everyone just seems to be friends with each other. SacAnime from its conception, has grown out of hotels only to moved to full-on convention centers. Since then, SacAnime has blossomed from something outsiders giggled at to a important event come both Summer and Winter in Sacramento, bringing local newspapers to take pictures and write stories on what they see. SacAnime has become something magnificent in the past decade and I can not wait to attend it again this Winter, and could not recommend it enough to those in the near area.