Anime Matsuri is the biggest anime and Japanese culture convention that Houston has to offer. I cannot safely say what their home base. Over the past six years, the convention has been held in the Woodlands, the George R. Brown Convention Center, Crowne Plaza near Reliant Stadium, and this year it was held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston. The preference, however seems to be in favor of the Woodlands Waterway.
Honestly, I would not prefer the Woodlands because it is not technically in Houston. It is in the Houston area. I am also tired of great things such as this convention also being on the North side of Houston. The George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency are both downtown, and I'm definitely not a big fan of that. One way streets, paying for parking, and crappy streets, no thank you. Crowne Plaza, for some odd reason was held same time as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Massive chaos amongst the rednecks and the geeks. Enough said. If both events were not occurring at the same time, then it would have been great. Now, the convention has been held during the Easter weekend for the past two years. I believe it is a drawback. Some geeks actually do want to or are forced to participate in non-Otaku related activities for Easter. I believe more people would attend if the convention is held on a non-holiday weekend.
There were also more guests this year than the con has ever had before with the exception of one, and I wouldn't even call them guests. The should have been called Hollywood Trolls. They were at Anime Matsuri to film footage for some upcoming film that I believe is called "Cosworld." It's irritating to fellow otaku that have been waiting to savor the con to be inconvenience by some areas that were automatically being filmed. There were signs posted around certain areas of the con to inform people that if they did not want to be filmed they should stay out of that designated spot. I know they apologized on the signs, but the filming crew should apologize for their deplorable behavior. I've already heard to many stories of otaku getting shoved out of the way, onto the street no doubt, kicked out of the hallways, and talked down like we are nothing. One of the stupid blonde bimbos in the crew decided to 'politely' tell me and my band members to stop playing our songs in the hallway that we were in first. They could have waited. They also knew that we had been playing there... looking us up and down to see if we were worthy of being in there stupid movie. Hey... guess what...
Now, back to the good stuff. Kelly Hu and Johnny Yong Bosch were awesome, and I hope they return in the following years of the con. Kelly Hu is hot and very welcoming when I went to the bar with my friends. I wish I did have time to attend her panels, because she is a great down-to-earth representative of Marvel. Johnny Yong Bosch's panel deferring to his days as the Black Ranger on Power Rangers really was nostalgic and fun. The artist gallery was huge and amazing. I was not disappointed there. I definitely liked it better than the dealers' room. I hope that will be the last time I make that comment.
I don't understand why the dealers' room had to be in the basement of the hotel. A lot of the dealers that I have grown familiar with over the many cons I attended last year were not there with the exception of one. I'm starting to wonder whether it was because of more important cons or because of the fact that it was the Easter weekend. Heck, RikRic Otaku Cafe was not even there!
The artists gallery, however was a breath of fresh air. There were Lots of Esty artists. It was like seeing a quality part of the website itself. Star Wars bags, Pac-Man earrings, cupcake rings, My Little Pony drawings, the list goes on and on.
The gaming tournament had less fanfare than past years. Instead of the finals being displayed on a huge screen where the concert was going to be held later in the night, it was sent to one of the quieter floors along with the Maid Cafe. Speaking of which, the only time I will ever attend and pay for a maid cafe is if it actually has Japanese maids from Akihabara. Not Houston girls. Sorry. It would be great if we can keep this as authentic as possible. I am glad that they had the Dance Dance Revolution machines there along with other Japanese arcade games considering the fact that Planet Zero is no more. I'm glad the chairmen kept those out of all the games they had to offer. I am also glad they got rid of the Para Para machines. They were useless.
The surrounding eateries that provided vittles to us demanding otaku were very hospitable. I do not think I would be able to handle a crowd of that magnitude, much less smile and chat it up with us. To the people at Benihana, Shula's, and especially Einstein Bros. Bagels...
YOU DID A PHENOMENAL JOB!
Overall, was it the best con ever? Not by a long shot. Was it the worst con ever? Hardly. I have been to worse. I'm looking forward to Anime Matsuri staying here for years to come and not falling into oblivion like Kamikaze Con. This con is going to be a special one for me bar none. It was my daughter's first con (where she dressed up as Haruhi Suzumiya), my boyfriend was considered by many to be my husband and my daughter's stepdad (now he's stuck with us), and Easter weekend was the first con where our band got considerate attention. We have hopefully added another member to our band, someone taped us and placed it on YouTube, and we are hopefully going to perform at other otaku hang out spots throughout the Houston area. So keep an eye out for Otaku Acoustic. We will be coming to other cons later in the year, especially the big Kahuna, A-kon 24.
Like the fact that I plugged our band? Here's the link to the video on YouTube:
A couple singing anime songs at Anime Matsuri 2013
It is crude, but hey, what do you want from me? Now get outta here and watch it!