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San Japan X review

 

It’s really hard to believe that San Japan has been around for ten years, eleven if you count San Japan: Zero Day Anime. It went from a humble one day convention at a university in the Westside of San Antonio, to one of South Texas’ largest anime cons in the heart of downtown San Antonio. For it’s tenth year, the theme was fantasy/adventure with the main motif taking inspiration from Final Fantasy. So has San Japan aged gracefully like a fine wine, or did it stink like month old leftovers? Let’s find out. But first we’re going to address the couple of elephants in the room (or in this case, convention center) that were hanging around the convention weekend first before we get to the good stuff.

No effect

Less dealers/artists than expect- A week before the start of the convention, Hurricane Harvey made landfall near the coastal area of Texas. The storm ripped through cities as far south as Rockport, to all the way up north in the Houston area, where people took the brunt of the storm. No only did they have to deal with the initial devastating flooding that the storm brought, they had to deal with a second wave of flood due to the emergency opening of levees that were in danger of being over-flooded if they weren’t open. This made it extremely hard for anyone inside of Houston to travel if they weren’t already near higher areas that weren’t flooded. So if you were walking around the dealer’s room or artist alley and felt that there weren’t a lot of dealers or artists, that’s why. And on a side note: if you happen to be an attendee who was in Houston at the time of the hurrican and couldn’t make it to San Japan, keep an eye on the con’s Facebook community page. They will be detailing how you will be able to either get a refund or roll the ticket over to San Japan XI.

Badge design- The other hot topic that was blazing up on the San Japan’s community Facebook page during the convention was the badge design. Here’s what it looked like in general:

 

 

The badge itself was an oval shape, being contained in a rectangular clear plastic pouch. The reason for the odd shape was to help deter counterfeit badges. While it did help in combating counterfeits, the badge was a bit too small for the pouch as it would fly out of it if turned upside down. This had the unintentional side effect of having a number of con goers losing the badge itself when walking around the convention center. Some even lost the whole thing altogether. This had con goers angry, as they had to pay to get it replaced. I won’t go into too much detail about the whole fiasco, but the con staff manage to alleviate their troubles by replacing their badges for free if they lost it the first time around.

 

Too spread out-  As San Japan grew over the years, people would complain about not having enough space. Now that the con is in the Henry B Gonzales convention center and its winding down renovations/construction, those same people are saying that everything is too spread out. During the first few years at the convention center I didn’t notice it much. This year however it did noticed how far apart the hall that the majority of the con is held from other panel rooms, especially with the autograph lines. I’m guessing this was done so to prevent overcrowding of key areas. Having things so far apart from each other caught some people off guard, I know I did. Even with using the Guidebook app to keep track of my schedule, I missed out on other panels due to being in line for an autograph, in line for tickets to ticketed events or being in a panel and not wanting to be “that guy” who leaves early.

Was Super Effective

Wide range of musical entertainment- As in previous past, San Japan always manages to up the quality and variation of musical entertainment for con goers. While this year was no different, several of the musical acts were some of the biggest and exclusive acts to be held. J-rock group ALL OFF held their last performance before going on break at San Japan. Japanese Dj and EDM producer TeddyLoid was the headlining Dj for the EDM dance. A New World: Intimate music from Final Fantasy held an exclusive for the convention. No matter what your tastes in music, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

Expanding programming- Each year San Japan expands its programming to give con goers something to part take in and have fun. Just now I mentioned three different musical events that attendees could have gone to. There was also a fashion show, the cosplay contest, several new and returning panelists, arts & crafts, a manga library, late night gaming, karaoke, and so much more that it was really tough to decide what to go to. This is a good problem to have and I hope this trend continues.

Ticket refunds/roll backs for hurricane affect areas- Usually badge refunds are all sales final and no returns, transfers or roll backs. However with the devastation that Hurricane Harvey brought to the Texas Gulf Coast, San Japan is allowing people in the affected areas a couple of options. Option one is a full refund, which is understandable since people affected will need all that they can get while they wait for things to return to a somewhat normal state. The other option is that they can roll back their badges and apply that to next year’s San Japan. I don’t I’ve seen or heard any convention do this before, but I’m glad that the people of San Japan understood and were willing to work with those who couldn’t come. This shows that San Japan doesn’t just see people as con goers or attendees, they see them as family. I hope other conventions, both anime and non anime, follow San Japan’s example.

 

Looking back, I was about 19, 20 years old when I went to San Japan 1.5. It was my very first convention, and over the years I was lucky enough to be able to attend every single one. I was able to watch San Japan grow from being held at the Tropicana and in the basement area of the Municipal Auditorium to being held in the Grand Hyatt and HBG Convention center. I remember the water ninjas that were spread around the area making sure everyone was hydrated. I remember meeting new people that I would often see around the local con circuit. I was able to interview some really great guests and meet some of my favorite industry people. It might sound bias the way I’ve talked about San Japan over the years, but it holds a special place in my heart and memories and I’m sure it does too to fellow anime fans in San Antonio that wanted a place to be themselves and talk to others who have the same likes. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call out their mistakes and not be critical. Its that feedback that will make San Japan better. This year was no different. So here’s to you San Japan, thanks for a great ten years and here’s another ten more.

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