Apologies for the tardiness of the report as MagFest 2016 the weekend after really knocked the wind out of me (but more on that later).
Animation on Display is one of the most recognizable San Francisco-based animation-based conventions left in the Bay Area. Starting as “Anime Overdose” several groups later combined to form AoD around the time it moved to San Francisco’s Japantown in 2010. In 2014, the convention moved to the Hyatt SFO in Burlingame, which gave it some breathing room while maintaining its close proximity to their home city. For 2016, the convention moved to Santa Clara Convention Center, the former homes of both Fanime and later Japan Expo USA.
I must admit I was not a fan of the move since it was much further out and there were fewer food options in the area than at the Hyatt. The location is somewhat remote as it is near Great America and the new Levi’s Stadium, so it is quite the trek on Public Transit or even for parking. For some reason the convention-rate hotels were located at the Biltmore Hotel & Suites which is several miles away instead of the nearby Hilton and Hyatt. Apparently this is because the convention center was actually triple-booked by AoD, a body building symposium, and a large Kindergarten through Adult Dance Event that took the majority of the convention center, leaving AoD with the 2nd floor area and a small corner of the center. That, along with the time conflicts with Valentine’s Day, the Deadpool movie (kidding, though I did find it funny), KatsuCon in Maryland, and Galifrey 1 in Los Angeles lead to a feeling of a diminished turnout.
Despite these obstacles, AoD still managed to bring a lot of good to those who got badges. Those at the con seem to manage to enjoy the various performances of Timi, Hello Musume, and especially the huge Lotus Juice performance on Saturday Night helped bring people to the convention. Special guests such as Yuu Asakawa (Rider/Medusa from Fate/ Stay Night as well as Priss Asagiri from Bubblegum Crisis) and Hsuna Hasehura (Spice and Wolf) along with Western ones like Adam Harrington (Walking Dead / League of Legends) were in attendance. While the Exhibitors brought the usual suspects for sale, there were a lot of Artists who brought some unique wares. The convention had limited space, but at least they used it well, having the panels, autographs, and the Tea Time Cafe upstairs while the mini stage, main stage, video game room, and Exhibit Hall/Artist Alley in the first floor area. Despite being cut in half, the con managed to get along ok with the non-AoD attendees as there were clear lines of separating between AoD and everywhere else.
Overall, it wasn’t the best showing and there were lots of room from improvement, but I felt that it was mostly a logistical challenge to get a time and place at all within an area that it was still accessible enough. At least it wasn’t the San Mateo Events Center (also referred to as the “Anime Convention Graveyard”). Still, better timing to avoid larger competition or being triple-booked as well as more activities on Sunday would be welcome for next year. This would apply whether or not the convention remains in Santa Clara or moves back to the SFO area.
– Convention was run well, but the timing was rather poor.
– Due to extenuating circumstances, I’m on the fence as to whether it was worth going.