Saturday morning of August 19, 2017, I had a bumpy start for my departure to Dallas. I was initially planning to leave the day before to join the activities Friday night but I had to finish some work before heading out. After wrapping up my work, I crashed for the night and planned to pack and make my way to Dallas to partake in the AnimeFest convention that was being held over 4-days at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. I packed my things and was about to head out when my car died, jump starting it wasn’t successful so I ended up taking my wife’s car, as I also had an appointment in Dallas that morning. Everything was pushed back, and come to find out the battery was completely dead and bad.
Once I arrived in Dallas, I made the stop at my appointment following a quick stop to grab some food before arriving at the Sheraton hotel. Next, a journey to find some parking as the hotel parking garage was full. I parked a few blocks down and made my way to the hotel to the convention. I was not ready for what I was walking into. This was my first time at the con, I found out about this con in my quest of searching online to find more. The halls inside the hotels were filled with hordes of cosplayers and con goers. I was amazed at how many people were there as I walked into the hotel mid afternoon. If I had arrived much earlier in the day, I probably would be ok with seeing the crowds build up, but it was a great sight to see. I made my way to grab my badge so I would start walking around and checking out the different activities and rooms. Included in my badge was a little booklet with the schedule of activities and the map on the back, so I could easily flip the badge to see where I wanted to go. I started off with a check peak on the third floor of the convention center section of the hotel, checking out the rooms where they had Anime shows playing on the screens. I continued down to the main floor to check out a panel that was about to start, Human Anatomy 101. It’s been a few years since I did any kind of sketching and drawing, so it was a good panel to watch which made me want to pick up the hobby once more. The panel host, Amelie Belcher, was hilarious throughout the duration which made it quite enjoyable.
After the panel was done, I walked around for a bit before retreating to my room for a quick break. I guess the drive and heat made me more tired than I thought. Somewhat energized, I returned to the con to start snapping photos of the cosplayers… and there were plenty. I merely captured a portion of the cosplayers there. There were a plethora of cosplayers I missed and wanted photos of, either they moved too fast for me to get them or they were busy. Also, there was just so much to look at since this was my first time, I strolled around the dealer’s room and then the artist section admiring everything there. I continued wandering around for the rest of the afternoon until it was time for the cosplay contest to begin. With my new found passion for the cosplay contest, I didn’t want to miss out. This was the first time I attended a con where the contest wasn’t held in the same venue but it’s wasn’t far at all. I hopped on the shuttle to the Majestic Theatre which was right down the street and I wasn’t the only one… the shuttle was packed. Once I arrived, I made my way straight to the front of the theatre to get a good spot to capture the contest which there was a little area blocked off just for media right in front of the stage.
First up was the standard cosplayer contest portion where various cosplayers walked across the stand in character showing off a few moves. Once each category was completed, the cosplay skits and performances followed, in which everyone did a great job. Once the contest was over, it was time for the judges to leave and make their final decisions. Since the act that was supposed to follow the contest was canceled, the contest host had to stay on stand and entertain the crowd as we waited. It must have felt like forever for him, but he did a great job of telling jokes and stories to help pass the time. Sorry, I am terrible with names or I would mention him, couldn’t find it online either. After some time had passed, the judged came on stage to announce the winners. At the end, the winners were asked to stay on stage for a moment longer so the spectators could come up to snap a photo if they wished to do so. It was time to return to the shuttle and head back to the Sheraton for the convention.
Once I returned to the hotel, I wandered around for a while before heading out in search of food. I just ended up moving the car into the hotel parking garage and ordering pizza, as a lot of the places nearby were already closed for the night. I returned to my room and relaxed for the rest of the night as I waited for my day 2 of the con. Once I awake that morning, I packed my things and began my adventure in the con. I didn’t really have any other panels or activities I wanted to check out for Sunday, so the plan was mostly to walk around capturing photos of the attending cosplayers. After a few hours, I returned to my room to move my belongings to the car as it was approaching time to check out. Once I was done, I returned to the convention area to continue my task of taking photos. As usual, the crowds on Saturday were much bigger than on Sunday. but there were still plenty of people here. I stayed just past the closing of the dealer’s room and took photos of more cosplayers as they exited the room. A little while later, I began my journey back home. I understand there were some changes to the schedule which left some of the staff not knowing answers to some of my questions and leaving others unhappy, but for my first time attending it was a great experience. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the hotel and my stay there as it was a less than favorable experience.
If you didn’t already know this, AnimeFest is completely run by volunteers and is a non-profit organization for Anime fans which they host an annual convention at the end of summer. The mission of the organization is to educate the public about Japanese anime, comics, music and related pop culture. I wasn’t aware of this when I first walked in, but it helped me appreciate all the work that was put into the convention. Honestly, I quite enjoyed the con and plan to return in 2018, hopefully with more time set aside to attend… till next year!