How was my Easter weekend you ask, or don’t ask? It doesn’t really matter because here I go. I went to an anime convention located in The Woodlands, Texas about 30 minutes north of Houston, Texas.
Anime Matsuri is a large convention that is held on Easter weekend every year. I was really scared to go back this year. I had had issues with this con for many years in a row, both as a volunteer and as an attendee. In fact I skipped the con in 2011 for the reason that I felt I was going to be wasting money. Boy was I right. The stories of Anime Matsuri 2011 made me glad I didn’t go. However, I decided that 2012 is the year of second chances. I booked a room and purchased a ticket.
The convention was held at one of my favorite hotels of all time, The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. It is an awesome place near the Woodlands Mall. It sits on the waterway and is near many restaurants and stores. I think that it is the perfect place for a convention. The convention center alone is 70,000 square feet and has 27 meeting and conference rooms.
Well okay Noelle; we really don’t care about that. We want to hear about the convention itself; the con staff, the hotel staff, the hotel, the volunteers, the guests, and the cosplay. Okay, I’m on it. I’ll start with the convention staff. Let’s dive in!
Generally, I try to avoid working with con staff for the fact that they are usually stressed beyond belief. Back in the day when I was a volunteer I hated the convention staff. They were snappy and rude and it caused me great levels of stress and anger. I had a job that was basically a man on a power trip being on a, well power trip. I didn’t need that same treatment in a place that was supposed to be enjoyable. Anime Matsuri 2012 seemed to have a nice staff. I didn’t really interact with any of the staff members so I can’t say what mood they were in.
Almost as important as the convention staff is the hotel staff. I have never really had a problem with them in the past, and that remained so. They were amazing this year. They seemed to enjoy all the people and the costumes. A few even knew a couple of the characters.
The hotel, like the rest of the convention center, was amazing! The rooms were big and comfy. There was enough room for my five roommates and I to be completely comfortable. We each had around two suitcases and duffle bags. I personally just had two duffle bags, which was more than enough. My roommates had at least three cosplays each. Aside from that I learned some cool things. There is this cool feature that few know about and utilize. There are no room charges for children 17 years old and younger who occupy the same room as their parents or guardians, using existing bedding. I know right? Awesome if you are a con-parent with a kid under 18! All rooms are non-smoking. That is great for those of us who like to, you know, not smoke. Oh and just to blow the mind of those Houstonians who did not know this; the hotel is linked via sky bridge to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, a major concert stage. There is an ATM inside the hotel, which I feel is a great perk. Con-goers who are there to buy things generally carry cash, and lots of it. I always feel like I feel safer using an ATM within the convention center, instead of walking blocks to find one.
The volunteers seemed nice. They were extremely helpful when you had a question. I didn’t get the chance to really talk to one until the end of the convention. They said that food was not provided, which I was confused about. I figure one would feed their volunteers. They said that crash space (rooming for cheap with lots of people you don’t know) was provided. Of course it was limited to the first few 24-hour volunteers. Some things never change.
The guest list is the first thing I look at when it comes to looking for a convention to go to. I was excited to see old friends and meet new ones. I was excited and a bit surprised to meet Maile Flanagan. She is the voice behind Naruto Uzumaki. Some other guest included Mike McFarland, Matt Mercer, Yaya Han, Ami Reeder, Tomomi Nakamura (Alice and the Pirates Designer), Masumi Kano (Baby, The Stars Shine Bright Designer), Akinori Isobe (CEO and Founder of Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and Alice and The Pirates), Troy Baker, Luci Christian, Vic Mignogna, Shinichi ‘Nabeshin’ Watanabe, Stephanie Young, David Brehm, Clint Bickham, Alexis Tipton, and many more. It seemed that all the guests were enjoying their time there. Highlight of the guest fun things? I got to see Stephanie Young and her husband David Brehm preform with their band. What else happened? Well, someone gave Vic Mignogna a goldfish. We named it Sushi. I am babysitting him.
Onto other things! Were there any notable cosplay there? Yes, always. There were a few cosplay that made my jaw drop, including the Pokémon trainer with a 15-foot Dragonair. There was also a Pokémon trainer with an Onix that was about the same length as the Dragonair. There was a pixelated Final Fantasy 6 cosplay that blew my mind. You have the cosplay guests, Yaya Han, Becky Young, Kathryn Griffin (who I just call Rynn), Sparkle Pipsi, and prop maker Bill Winans.
So I’m bringing this up because it is super close to my heart. Photography. There were at least 50 professional photographers and just as many semi-professionals and hundreds of amateur photographs. It’s a little intimidating as a semi-pro my self. I have been in this field since I was twelve and I felt intimidated. Unfortunately for me, my camera broke on day one.
I met a few photographers, but there are two in particular stood out. They were fun to talk to and I want to give them a big awesome thank you! There is MiKE BOiKE, from the Houston area. His work can be found on Flickr. I am not sure if he has Anime Matsuri work up yet or not, but go check out his stuff. The second is The Artsy Image with head photographer Alyssa Fluty. She is located in Troy, New York and her work can be found on Facebook.
So overall how do I rate this years Anime Matsuri 2012? It was good. I had fun, mostly because I was with friends, but I had fun. It was 1000 times better than the last times I went. I’ll give it a 8 out of 10.
Until next time…. Happy Conventioning!
PS. I did find the dealer room to be a bit lacking, but that is probably because they didn’t have what I was looking for. Oh well.