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FanimeCon celebrates 20th anniversary

Twenty years of hosting an anime convention is something to celebrate;especially if it happens to be the largest anime convention in the Bay Area. FanimeCon had its humble beginnings in 1994 as a gathering of local anime clubs before blossoming into the Santa Clara Convention Center in 2000 and now taking its current venue in the San Jose McEnery Convention Center since 2004.

Most giant robots from "Mobile Suit Gundam" have been an iconic staple of anime and cosplay.
Most giant robots from "Mobile Suit Gundam" have been an iconic staple of anime and cosplay.
Michael Tonthat, used with permission.
FanimeCon welcome decoration found at the floor of a hotel near the San Jose Convention Center
Michael Tonthat, used with permission

FanimeCon has definitely grown in size through the years from having 200 attendees in 1994 to over 25,000 in 2014. FanimeCon has featured a variety of guests from local anime companion author and librarian Gilles Poitras to voice actor J Michael Tatum. Musicl acts included Home Made Kazoku and Raj Ramayya. With a motto of “By Fans, For Fans,” FanimeCon always manages to have a little something for all of its attendees such as fan-run panels, a dealers room selling a variety of anime goods, dances, and cosplay events like the Cosplay Spectacular where attendees could see cosplayers show off their talent in fashion and performance.

Throughout its 20 years, FanimeCon has added some newer events while in San Jose such as the Fanimaid Cafe. Akin to the maid cafes of Japan, attendees can take a break from the convention to enjoy some refreshment courtesy of the hostesses in maid cosplay. In addition to the food & beverages, the cosplaying maids provide in table entertainment through board games and the occasional song & dance show. The Parkside Hall in San Jose hosted the Fanime Black & White Ball where attendees could dress to impress in formal attire while ballroom dancing the night away.

Whether at the old college days of FanimeCon to its bigger San Jose location, some things remain constant. Cosplay from classic anime series like “Sailor Moon” and “Mobile Suit Gundam” continue to dot the convention hall among newer series like “Attack on Titan.” Lines of attendees fill the halls though those lines have moved from registration to swap meet to other populated areas of FanimeCon. And attendees will always have some way to meet fellow attendees to enjoy their love of anime.

To honor the 20th anniversary of FanimeCon, the City of San Jose and Team San Jose declared May 23 to be “Fanime Day.” This is in appreciation for the business FanimeCon has given the city through the years as thousands of FanimeCon attendees generate an economic impact of $10.5 million by spending money on booked hotel rooms, entertainment, food, and shopping in San Jose. San Jose has grown to be a good fit for FanimeCon as the anime convention grew.

“Twenty years is a pivotal milestone for us, said Milton Le, the director of communications and Marketing of FanimeCon. “And as one of the last three remaining Japantowns in the U.S., San Jose is a perfect location for our convention.”

Who knows what new and so old it's new again features that FanimeCon will have in its 25th anniversary.

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