COAF 2017 Review

Hey everyone, Carebear here to share my experience from Colorado Animefest 2017. This is the second year for the convention and you could see some growth and improvement all over the Con. This was also the second year for it to be held at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver, a small but in my humble opinion well setup hotel. So, let’s get started with the review. I’m going to start by talking about the things I went to see on each day and then I’ll talk about some of the other things that were happening throughout the weekend.

Friday started off light, with plans to only do a few things but the energy was good. We started the day off at Opening Ceremonies where Kieran Strange hosted the event and even shared a parody song he and his bandmate came up with that not only fit convention life but also had this Backstreet Boy fan dancing a little (I rarely dance in public). We got a glimpse of the weekend ahead and got to see some of the guests that were there. After opening ceremonies, it was time to head off and explore some of the great things ahead. I didn’t see many of the Friday panels, keeping it light on purpose, but I did see the Cosplay and Fitness panel. In this panel, the presenter talked about his own journey with fitness and the steps that he took. He also covered some of the types of exercises like aerobic and anaerobic. He talked about the stages of change and how they relate to getting into shape. For those that aren’t aware the stages of change is what someone goes through when they want to change a behavior. These stages are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. He also covered a few different terms (FIT, OPSRC) and gave advice on things to eat to help get to what your goal is whether it was to slim down or bulk up. Overall, I thought this panel was well done and needed. I’ve been going to conventions for about a decade and hadn’t seen many panels that focus on physical health so this was a welcome new addition. It helped me remember that I am trying to take better care of myself as I get older and even provided a little internal motivation on my part and reminded me about the mental health care I promised myself. If you read my previous Animefest blog you’d know that this weekend I personally was going to take care of my mental health so that I didn’t feel overwhelmed and anxious the entire weekend. If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you to do so as some of the things I said I was going to do to take care of myself this weekend can be used in a variety of other situations. Fridays are always so exciting, and overwhelming; while walking around and seeing many things I was starting to feel a bit like running for the hills and all before I had even gone into this panel. I quickly reminded myself of this and allowed myself to sit somewhere and listen to my iPod. Remembering these things I also allowed myself to go home and rest when I wanted, yes there were many more things to see on Friday, including the AMV’s but my health was more important so Friday ended on a quieter note.

Saturday was an earlier start than I initially wanted but since we like to take photos of cosplays, and Saturday is typically the biggest day for this, we set out early. I saw a variety of panels on Saturday including, Japanese Foods in the US, an Aikido demonstration, A Cowboy Bebop (and beyond) panel, and the Cosplay contest. The first panel, Japanese foods in the US covered the evolution of some foods we consider Japanese and its acceptance in mainstream society. The panelists discussed the types of foods they grew up eating and the things they love today. They also talked about how sushi in the US changed from just being sashimi and nigiri, to rolls with additions and ingredients not found in Japan. I personally was hoping they would highlight a few more restaurants than they did so that I could find some more places to try, maybe a good noodle house? But, there was just not enough time for more than a couple of places. The next panel I saw was also a part of the culture track for the convention. I got to see the Aikido demonstration put on by the Denver Buddhist Temple Aikido group. The presenters talked about the history of Aikido in Japan and then provided a live demonstration of some of the techniques. This group also had audience participation that was very popular. They covered several things in the live demonstration after the audience portion ended including the use of real weapons and what a competition might look like since their style also has competitions. They have two different locations in the Denver area and offer a few classes a week for those interested. After this panel, I went to see Steve Blum and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn talk about their experience on Cowboy Bebop and many other titles that they have lent their amazing talents to. The also highlighted the struggles that many voice actors are having being treated appropriately in the booths and getting compensated when something they do is successful. Lauren Landa also came in for a few minutes and shared stories of how she met each of them. It’s clear that the voice acting community is close and they all care about each other and want everyone to succeed at doing what they love. These panels, the voice actor panels are the ones I love to go to the most because it provides an opportunity to “see behind the curtain” and relate to our favorite actors. The last event I saw of the day was the Costume and Cosplay Contest. This year saw 36 different entries on all levels, Novice, Beginner, Intermediate, Masters, and Skits. Every convention I go to I am consistently surprised and impressed by the skill I see on all levels; this contest was no different. I won’t go into too much detail since Chris, or Assimilator will have pictures and winners announced in a separate write up but I will say, I can’t wait to see what people do next!

On Sunday I only made it to one panel, the Queer Geeks and Our Allies (LGBTQ+/SAGA panel) hosted by Kieran Strange. I chose this panel to educate myself professionally since I consider myself an ally to those that identify as members of this community. In this panel stories were shared as well as knowledge around challenges this community faces each day in and outside of the anime community. I found this panel informative and welcoming and plan to do what I can to continue to provide this population support to feel comfortable to be their true selves.

Over the years conventions have evolved and changed to include many different things for attendees to do if they haven’t found a panel they want to see, or if they just want something different to do. This convention was no different. Attendees could attend a concert on Friday, a Rave on Saturday, and Cosplay chess or a charity auction on Sunday. They also had a video game room, tabletop gaming (a personal favorite, you should see my collection of games), a manga library, maid café, an anime bar, and a quiet room in addition to all of the vendors and talented artists in artist alley. They also had dedicated space for photo shoots since the main hotel itself is a bit small. I got to see most of this and was happy to see dedicated space for people to do things they enjoy outside of anime. The only thing I was unsure about was how the quiet room was because the door was closed and locked (I assume someone was inside and you had to knock but was too nervous to try that), but I hope next year this will change because the idea of a quiet room is amazing to me and needs to keep being a part of all conventions,

Overall, I enjoyed this year and hope that this convention continues to grow. I hope you all enjoyed my little review. I didn’t cover much, but honestly I am focusing on my mental health right now and could not get myself to do more than I did.  My hope is by StarFest that I’ll have more energy and can bring more stuff to you, our awesome readers. Please let us know what you think and what you might want to see next. Game on!