The 64th World Science Fiction Convention (aka L. A. Con IV) took place on August 23 to 27, 2006 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA. For many American otaku, this is the former home of Anime Expo. Typically, the convention changes venue every year in a different city in the world. We heard about this event through our colleagues in the Bay Area who had nothing but positive remarks to say about World Con. We were persuaded into attending World Con during that year because it would take place in Southern California. Swayed by the excitement and the hype, we decided to give a day to World Con.
This is a report that was originally was going to be posted on Traveling Valentine shortly after World Con. Because this was one of the worst convention experiences, we decided not to give the convention further publicity. Because friends who attended World Con 2011 had a similar experience, Scarlet Rhapsody decided to pull out the report notes and share this tragedy of a convention.
At the time of World Con 2006, I was in my early 20s. Granted I was a lady otaku who appreciated other science fiction and popular media titles, I thought World Con could be the be all end all, as my colleagues have hyped it up to be. However, being a college student, I also could not afford the $200 plus five day ticket, let alone the $75 one day ticket. However, for $25 one could sample the con for three hours. I had to wonder why the convention was asking so much money. Granted this was the time when Comic Con and Anime Expo were only $50 for four day at the door.
I went to World Con on Saturday hoping to see what the entire buzz was all about. I arrived to the Anaheim Convention Center and it was virtually empty. There were hardly any people in the hallways or the courtyard. In addition, there was hardly anyone in costume. If I were to describe the average attendee of World Con, it would be a white male in his late 40s dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts with a beer belly sticking out. Size of beards can vary.
I looked at the panel listings. I was hoping that maybe a few Star Wars authors could show up considering I preferred expanded universe over the prequel continuity. It seemed that a majority of the panels had to do with high fantasy from the 1950s and 1960s. I was hoping for more modern programming of science fiction I grew up with. With no such interests in panel programming, I went to the dealer’s hall.
The dealer’s hall was pretty interesting. I did like the exhibits of various statues, replicas, and vehicles from various popular media. However, they were also chagrining if you wanted a photo with the Delorean from Back to the Future. Considering that this convention cost $200 for the weekend, I declined. As far as dealer’s hall content, it was mostly paper back books from the high fantasy genre. To give you an idea of what it was like, I could not find Star Wars or Back to the Future memorabilia. In the anime fandoms, not even a mention or sighting of Robotech or Sailor Moon. The only anime or video game piece of merchandise I saw was a localized DVD from Kitty Films.
I went back to registration to turn in my badge since my three hours were already up. Feeling that I was ripped off, I went to the Oasis Café at the Anaheim Hilton to spoil myself with a juicy burger. I felt that if I wanted to get books, I could always go to Borders or a second hand store. I was utterly disappointed in the lack of costumers and the lack of variety in the dealer’s hall. I started thinking that if World Con wanted to continue existing, they need to seriously consider that there are mature, grown up anime fans who are interested in attending conventions outside the anime circuit. I am not saying that this is a con for the 14 year olds who want to hang out and karaoke with friends, but there are 20something cosplayers who would like to have a much more mature and adult environment. World Con has a long way to go to reach out to the otaku’s seeking a break from the usual anime convention grind.
While I do not encourage ghosting (or going to a con without paying for a badge), I decided to watch the masquerade. I was going to get my money’s worth. It also should note that the three hour time frame for the $25 sampler badge does not include evening events. I will say that the masquerade was one of the better costume contests I have seen. There was something from every genre of media; Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Trinity Blood, Dancing with Celebrities from the Stars, and more. The costumes were unbelievable and even the original creations were quite a sight to look at. I had no regrets sneaking into see masquerade because then I could see what all the hype was about.
However, the halftime show was the most tedious excuse for a halftime show I have seen. I thought the performance was going to last for a good 45 minutes. The halftime show was essentially took the premise of Moulin Rouge (or La Boheme, take your pick) and used characters to reenact a re-imagined version set in space. While the premise was interesting and it made for some great conceptual costumes based on popular media, it was dragging on for far too long. I can even recall a few of the actors having the script in their hands during the finale and anytime I see a cast still relying on being on book, I always see it as a slap in the face to the audience. The musical halftime spectacular had nice vocals and choreography, but the show ran for a sold two hours. I began to doodle a Snakes on a Plane themed web comic about these reptiles taking over various vehicles as they conquer the world.
We stuck around for the awards. As far as I was concerned, it did not matter who won because everything I saw on stage clearly shows that the costumers put in immense work and effort into their art. The Best in Show winner was the Trinity Blood group. The group had also won the Best Anime Presentation award, though it should be noted they were the only anime entry. The masquerade utilized ICG guidelines in which “excellence” should be awarded.
World Con also has a reputation of having some of the best late night parties. I did stop by a takoyaki party for some free food. The night life at fantasy and science fiction conventions are often regarded to being very top tier classy drinking parties. However, from the parties that I was exploring at the Anaheim Hilton, most of them were asking to show your badge. Most anime conventions I attend do not ask for badges at room parties since they are independent of the convention. Given that I was leaving for Las Vegas the next day, I decided that I would have a better time there than the con.
As mentioned on the report, in my experience attending science fiction and fantasy conventions, little is done to reach out to anime fans who are also interested in other mediums. There are anime fans who would like to try out new conventions sharing space with mature attendees. Though I was a college student at the time of World Con 2006, there are otaku (myself included) who do not mind spending the money for a nice hotel and an event, but the event has to show that it is worth our time attending. We are not asking for A-list celebrities, but we are looking for events that appeal to the Generation X and Generation Y. If you are an anime convention regular curious about World Con and want to check out a multi-genre themed convention with an older crowd, you are better off checking out Dragon Con in Atlanta.
Pictures are copyright by Scarlet Rapsody. If we took your picture, feel free to use it on your cosplay gallery. While you're here, do sign the guest book. The site was brought to you by the font Manga Temple. This website was made possible by Dreamhost, Picasa, Photodraw, and Dreamwaver.