Anime Matsuri 2015 Con Report
Written by Chris Kwock (@kwock)
Since Anime Matsuri Hawaii is coming to my local scene later this year, I decided to check out their home state con in Houston, Texas during the weekend of April 3-5 at the George R. Brown convention center. It was my first time going to Texas and you know when they say “everything is bigger in Texas”? That is totally true: the lanes were wider, I ate the biggest piece of chicken ever, and their convention center seemed pretty big. They had a nice park right outside where cosplayers and photographers met to take photos, attend meet ups, and hang out. The park was open to everyone and with it being right in the middle of downtown it was fairly busy, not only was there those around for Anime Matsuri, but also people walking their dogs, enjoying the park’s small lake, church groups, and a group doing parkour.
During this time, the convention center was undergoing construction along the main road facing the park so you couldn’t just use any door to get in. This won’t be an issue since it should be completed by next year, just in time for Anime Matsuri’s 10th anniversary. With the construction, people could still access the convention from the Hilton skywalk which was adjacent to the convention center. We stayed at the Hilton so this was incredibly convenient! Because the convention was so big, it had a lot of space; it was also really long, so it felt a bit too spread out. It was nice not being sardined between people, but when I walked from one end to the other at times it felt was somewhat bare. With having a huge convention center, the the other rooms were being rented out to other events which only allowed their attendees access to that section. This ended up causing Anime Matsuri con goers to mainly use the 2nd floor to get across the length of the convention center. Despite that, I got to where I wanted to go without any hassles. Plus, the con staff, convention staff, and security were all really polite and helpful especially during this time of construction.
There weren't a lot of close choices for food in the area. Aside from convention food, the Hilton had a really nice restaurant (but with really nice restaurants comes with a not so nice bill), a couple small eateries, and then a dozen or so food trucks to satisfy your cravings. They were around until midnight or so too for those late night munchies. I was super busy running around everywhere so I only got to try the taco truck and the waffle truck, which both were super good!
There were many events going on over the weekend and a bunch of interesting panels too! My friend, Cinnabunny, hosted a panel performing anime and video game music. There were so many people in the room and all of their songs sounded so awesome! God Save the Queen Fashion had a panel on leather working and Volpin Props had one on prop making and wreathing techniques.
Anime Matsuri is more than just anime, they partnered with Mayday Garage to bring in import cars exhibit. There were some pretty cool looking anime inspired paint jobs such as Cl’annad, Miku, strike witches gracing the sides of these sweet rides. There was even a lolita wedding that took place during the convention!
I had a chance to do a bunch of photo shoots with cosplayers that I follow on social media, such as local Texan cosplayers Firecloak and Dinobunny cosplay. I even got to work a little bit with Stella Chuu who was a guest there. Anime Matsuri had a giant exhibit hall which housed 10 photo sets that anyone could use ranging from a Japanese classroom, to a city under siege, to a frozen theme. Of course some photo sets were more popular than others, like the Castle and Victorian marble in particular. I do wish that they had more of Asian themed sets, like a pagoda or bridge or even like the typical old Japan side streets. Maybe next year!!
Some of their events started a bit late which was a bummer since I missed things that I would have gone to if it had ended on time. I wanted to hit up Disacode’s autograph signing, but since Nerdlesque started late I didn’t get a chance to go. Others who had the same back to back event schedule like mine decided to leave before it finished so they could make it. I guess it’s just like every other con, can’t fit everything you want to attend into your schedule.
There were a lot of people in their cosplay contest, if you haven’t seen my photos of it yet you can find them here. I give credit to those who went up on stage and having their cosplay judged by that caliber of judges (Goldy, Vampy bit Me, God Save the Queen Fashion, Volpin Props to name a few). I only imagine how nervous they were strutting their stuff for them. The winner got a free trip to Hawaii to attend Anime Matsuri Hawaii happening later this year. A special surprise was when Reika and Kaname came up on stage to sing alongside Nylon Pink. I knew about their awesome cosplay abilities, but I didn’t know about their singing and stage performance on top of all that! I also attended Stella Chuu’s Nerdlesque which was just awesome. I’ve seen videos but to see her perform in person cannot be described in words. If you ever get a chance to go, I highly suggest you attend.
If music and concerts are more of your thing, Anime Matsuri brought Anna Tsuchiya for her first performance in America and Disacode where AKIRA is the vocalist. Can you believe that Anime Matsuri had something going on til 4am??? I couldn’t either, but the rave on Friday and Saturday night (morning?) went from midnight to 4am; everyone was incredibly energetic all night and was having such a great time. I went to one of the raves and left at 1:30am but it was still going strong with people still walking in.
I had a good time checking out the convention this year. It was hectic running around to the different events and the photoshoots. I only knew a couple people going in and by the end of it I had made a handful of new friends. Looking forward to what Anime Matsuri will bring down to Hawaii this November 27-29, 2015.