Con Report: Anime St. Louis 2015

So, you may have noticed that I sort of went silent this weekend (late on yet another Blood Blockade Battlefront post >_>)—well, there’s a good reason. I left Friday afternoon to trek down to Saint Louis, Missouri, where I met up with some friends, went apartment hunting, and went to Anime St. Louis 2015. This was, coincidentally, the convention’s tenth anniversary, which coincided perfectly with my status as a…first-time con-goer. Having only been watching anime for about three years, this was really the first time I had ever had the opportunity and interest to attend a con and it was a pretty interesting experience! What follows are some of my thoughts on the experience.

Anime St. Louis

The most important thing I need to note here is a huge thanks to Nate Ming from Crunchyroll (he leads their customer service team), who made the whole thing possible for me. I needed to go down to Saint Louis anyways for apartment hunting, but Nate’s invitation to the con played a huge part in actually motivating me to come. As most of you know, I do some writing for Crunchyroll’s Newsletter (announcement related to that coming soon!) and Nate got me into the con for free as a member of Crunchyroll’s staff. See the “Dealer” designation there on my badge? Yup, it made me feel a bit more important than I really was walking around with that—not that anyone was paying that much attention.

I got to the con in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, met Nate and Victoria Holden (@sailorbee, who is one of CR’s six brand managers) at the CR booth, and then made my way to the Crunchyroll industry panel, which Victoria presented along with Miles (@MilesExpress999), who is another one of CR’s brand managers. I actually live-tweeted that panel, so here are the important highlights:

No big announcements came out (not too surprising for a small con like Anime STL: ~5000 people), but it was fun listening to which spring season shows got the biggest cheers. To my ears, the hierarchy went something like this: DanmachiOregairuFate/Stay Night UBW. Anything else that got cheers was just scattered…or just a single, lone crusader of good taste repping the moegirl comedy shows.

I also met Miles personally later on in the day and actually got a chance to talk to him for quite a while before I jetted off to Qdoba for dinner, as I hadn’t eaten lunch. The restaurant was out of the normal con food loop, which was a great decision because it meant no lines and no crowded seating. Also, Qdoba just has great food, so it was a nice way to recharge—which was something I also needed to do with my phone, so I stopped by the Crunchyroll Premium+ member lounge in the con hotel for a bit before the staff left for dinner. I had a couple hours to kill between there and the rave, so I hopped around to a few panels, including a Japanese fashion show (lots of lolita variations, everything else was pretty limited) and a panel on making visual novels. The rave was…well, I felt a little too old to dive into a crowd of gyrating teens making out with each other, so I talked to Miles for about an hour in the CR VIP section. And that was the end of my night because I had to drive 45 minutes across the city of Saint Louis to get back to where I was staying.

I came back on Sunday afternoon to pick up one last merch item I’d had my eye on and go to Nate and Victoria’s panel on working in the anime industry. Big takeaways there:

  • It’s about who you know.
  • You don’t get paid just to sit around and watch anime. Except sometimes.
  • If you’re a creative, always keep producing stuff. Never stop. CR has picked up talent (the CR mascot, for example) from contests before.
  • CR employees start their days at 10 AM, but things really kick in at 5 PM when the JP companies starting waking up.
  • You don’t have to know Japanese to work in the American industry because most of their people know English.
  • It’s a lot of long hours, but it’s pretty rewarding.

Shirobako Shirobako

But what do you guys care about that? It’s the stuff I got there that you’re interested in, right? Above, you’re looking at the third item I picked up, which was a Shirobako poster CR was giving out at their booth. As you can see, I’m working on flattening out the edges after I let it stay rolled up too long. But it’s a great poster—might frame it when I get into my new apartment. Incidentally, CR ran out of almost all of the other posters they had, but Shirobako was left at the end. Bad taste is real, and it’s out there.

Related to that point, I spent quite a while prowling the dealer’s room and really only found one booth, Home Circle Media, that had stuff that really appealed to me. Most of the merch available was pretty mainstream (PokémonAttack on TitanNaruto, as well as a lot of Ghibli and Gundam stuff). It was an interesting reminder for me that I really do fall into the “hardcore” crowd category, not the “casual” category, despite how I don’t really see myself as such.

Anyways, the first thing I ended up buying from Home Circle was a Haruhi artbook (anime-style, not light novel-style, although they did have those). I got the autumn-winter edition and resisted the completionist urge to get the spring-summer edition.

I do apologize for the bendy pictures; I just didn’t want to break the book’s spin yet. Anyways, the nice thing about this edition was that I had a lot of art from Disappearance, as well as from the TV series. I’m also more of a fall fashion fan myself, so scares and jackets are more what I like to look at. I haven’t really gone through the whole book in detail yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

I also grabbed a set of Haruhi playing cards because I like things I can actually use. This was kind of a nice addition because the cards include a lot of the images from the spring-summer artbook, so I felt less like I was missing out on stuff. Sadly, I probably won’t be able to use them with non-anime fan friends thanks to the lewder pictures…is solitaire with anime playing cards super sad or…?

HaruhiHaruhi

The last thing I got (the thing I went back for on Sunday) was a Hanekawa keychain charm thingie. I think I’ve finally come to acknowledge that Hanekawa is my favorite character from Monogatari. She’s really had a long tail in my headspace since Monogatari SS, while Senjougahara’s mesmerizing influence was more or less confined to Bake.

Anyways, I think that’s pretty high power level stuff (Miles told me he thought the con was a bit low key for what he assumed my power level to be via Twitter—yikes…), but my car keys were super boring, so I wanted to get something to make them prettier and that would be kind of fun. I couldn’t find Love Live! nendroids (no Love Live! merch anywhere to be seen, besides Weiss-Schwarz cards), so this was the next best thing.

And yeah, that’s pretty much all I have! I really do want to say thank you again to Nate and Miles, as they made my first con experience a really cool deal. This experience also taught me that if I ever decide to go to a bigger con—Anime Central would probably be the next most likely candidate—that I’d need to either go with a friend or make sure some people from Anitwitter were going to be there for me to hang out with. I don’t mind going around by myself at these sorts of things (especially through the Dealer’s Room and Artists’ Alley), but I think I would’ve ended up being pretty miserable if I hadn’t had a couple people just to stop and chat with in between doing things. I don’t know if this is unique to Anime St. Louis, but there didn’t seem to be all that many solo con-goers—most were in small groups.

Thanks for reading to the end! Sorry the pictures of my cool stuff aren’t better. I need to figure out better ways to photograph my physical collections; screencapping has spoiled me. Oh, and I apologize for not having taken any cosplay pictures or pictures of me and the CR guys! I’m really not much of a shutterbug at all and, although I did see some good cosplays, my first instinct was always to admire—never to (ask to) take a picture.

26 thoughts on “Con Report: Anime St. Louis 2015

    • It was fun! My biggest piece of advice is definitely to go with a friend or two, or at least to have someone there you can meet up with to go around with some of the time.

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  1. Glad your first con experience was a positive one! Yeah, I wish someone told me that it’s best to go to a con with buddies or at least people you vaguely know because going solo is pretty tough. I went to a con in London a few years back…my first one and since I happened to be in the area, I thought, why not? While there was a ton of interesting merchandise and art and some cool panels to check out, it does feel pretty isolating to chill by yourself (not to mention I obviously stuck out as a foreigner and an anime noob who knew mostly mainstream stuff).

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    • Ooo boy, I can only imagine the feeling about being by yourself and also being a visitor in the country. Glad I didn’t have to deal with that—although the con was fascinatingly diverse in terms of ethnicity!

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  2. Now I’m really annoyed CR wasn’t at Sakura-Con… I lust after that Shirobako poster. As far as the dealers room goes, it’s probably as much that it’s a tiny con as you being ‘hardcore’.

    Glad you had fun, cons are _very_addictive.

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    • From talking to the CR staff, it sounds like they’re still trying to expand the number of cons they’re going to, so maybe Sakura-Con is on their list for someday…

      And yeah, the con being small was definitely a part of it, although if I wasn’t a ‘hardcore,’ I think I would’ve been pretty thrilled at the offerings.

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      • CR was at Sak the last two years, they announced they were going to be there this year, and then pulled out. (Much to the annoyance of the con staff, I was far from the only one ask at the dealer room info desk where CR’s booth was.)

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  3. You’re completely right that it’s the people you hang out with at a con that make it worth it, I’ve been having to semi-solo all of my cons since I moved (except Otakon) and it makes them a bit less fun, thank god Hazukari has also been at AUSA/Katsucon for me to go up to and say “Hey I’m just gonna follow you guys around for a while and also when are we eating?” Thankfully I should be meeting up with local friends for my next con and then it’s ~Otakon~ with like half of all anime fans I know going.

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    • One of the bummers of living in the Midwest, I guess. Too far away for coast people to come, also kind of a long trip to get to them myself. I imagine I’ll eventually spread my wings a little further once I’m graduated, though.

      I’m thankful this was just a little con, though, because I think I would’ve been less happy going solo to a large con.

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  4. Congrats on surviving your first con! Haruhi swag is always a good pickup (the Yuki Nagato poster on my wall just nodded in silent agreement). Those playing cards look pretty sweet!

    I’ve been to plenty of other cons – Harry Potter cons, comic cons, work-related cons, even a classic arcade game con out in California that I attend almost every year (and combine the trip with visiting my parents, who live nearby), but I haven’t been to an anime con yet. I was thinking about doing Otakon this year, since it’s literally only about 20 minutes down the road from where I live, and I have friends who’d definitely want to go with me, but I already have other plans that weekend. Oh well, maybe next year.

    And yeah, it doesn’t matter what type of con it is, going with other people you know always makes it a better experience.

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    • The cards are awesome! I’m looking forward to using them eventually!

      This con actually had kind of a medley of anime and related fandom stuff (Zelda stuff, etc.), which was a bit disappointing, but I think that’s just another effect of it being a bit smaller in size.

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  5. Oh yes, cons are more fun with people. I went to a winter-con last November myself, and while I loved looking at all the merch and weaving in and out of cosplayers, it wasn’t quite as fun as when I’d gone with my sister.

    As an anime viewer who doesn’t keep up with the big shows like Fairy Tail, Pokemon, Naruto, it is frustrating to see so much merch for them in comparison to other shows. I hope the next con I go to (the Phx comic-con next month) that I’ll find some merch for the shows I like. 🙂

    ~Jamie

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    • It’s certainly interesting to realize how much we simulcast watchers are even niche within the anime niche. I knew to expect a lot of Attack on Titan stuff and the like, but it was more the utter lack of less mainstream stuff that surprised me. Just need to go to a bigger con next time, I guess!

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  6. I have been taking my boys to cons for the last couple of years and they can be really fun. Taking pictures of the Cos-players has never been a problem, if you ask they are usually really happy to do so. We cosplayed at Anime Milwaukee this year and had a blast. I hope you go to more. Like everyone said…probably more fun with a group.

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      • I was guilty of that during the cosplay contest my son entered. We were surrounded by all these amazing cosplayers and I didn’t take any pictures…I kind of kick myself now because some of them did outstanding work on their costumes. Do you plan on going to any other conventions?

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  7. Glad you enjoyed Anime St. Louis. I’ve gone on and off since its third opening (this year was the 10th anniversary) and it’s changed a lot. Most of our club admits that this year was the weakest since its inception, so I was a bit nervous when I saw the title to your review. Yes, it’s a pretty low-power convention, since there aren’t any major communal entities that help power up the locals, but that’s what you get especially in the Midwest.

    You definitely have to go to conventions with friends. The larger conventions are more of a mess if you go alone, while small conventions like ASTL tend to be incredibly boring.

    Poke us when you’re in town – I swear, we don’t bite.
    WashU Anime Club – anime@su.wustl.edu

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    • Well, I had nothing to compare it to, so it seemed pretty fine to me! I was bored a couple times, but nothing too serious.

      I am moving down to STL soon, so maybe I’ll pop by sometime. 😉

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