When I heard that San Diego was getting a brand new anime con, I had questions. Granted, San Diego had Anime Conji years ago at the legendary Town and Country Inn, but that came and went. Sure, Anime Impulse had a show in San Diego, but there’s no plans of Anime Impulse bringing in their voice actor zoo to America’s finest city. First year cons are hit or miss. Some first year cons can fill up a hotel, others have a handful of dedicated weebs and wallflowers. San Diego Anime Con’s first year was completely sold out. Lines on day one were spilling outside the Handerly Hotel. This con was already showing its potential.
Our cosplay group, Cosplay Wrestling Federation, was invited to perform on the first day. Jay T. Greek ended up co-hosting as Reno from Final Fantasy VII. To him, it was nice that people finally recognized his Reno cosplay after only wearing it at comic book and pop culture conventions. I entered as the Fallen Angel Yohane vowing to send everyone to Idol Hell if I got the champion belt. Given that I love performing in cosplay and I love comedy, this was new territory for me and i had a lot of fun getting the audience to chant, “Idol Hell!”
After performing for Cosplay Wrestling Federation, I decided to check out even more programming the con had to offer. I went to Weeb Feud hosted by Lamar the Con Guy. Before the con, he crowdsourced his socials to fill out a survey for his game show. Our colleagues at CWF entered as a team and were pressed by questions such as “Who is anime’s worst parent?” and “What is the first Japanese word you ever learned?” This was fun show to watch!
I also peeked into a few panels such as the history of anime and the history of 80’s and 90’s j-pop. There were few programming rooms. We had the game show room, informative panels, and live performances and demonstrations. I checked out the light saber kendo demonstration because it looked cool. Sunday had a few idol performances such as Kikiitorii that brought her magical self and kawaii energy to San Diego.
There was also convention nightlife on Saturday, but it was quiet. The dance had a few people awkward dancing to “Peanut Butter Jellytime” and karaoke was ever so present. There were more people in the 18+ room tucked by the pool. The 18+ room had a Vtuber meet and greet and some games that we probably can’t mention in detail on our website. Drinks in the 18+ room were served in the evening hours.
The biggest highlight of San Diego Anime Con was the many vendors that were scattered through the convention. There had to been about five vendor rooms. Normally, at conventions, the vendor hall would be a ballroom or some portion of the convention hall. This small hotel used the main ballrooms and a few conference rooms to house vendors, artists, and voice actors. It was difficult to find the second floor of vendors and I felt sorry for the vendors on the second floor because they didn’t get as much foot traffic as the main floor.
The vibe of this con was definitely an all ages event. Even though the 18+ room was hidden by the pool, families brought in their children cosplaying together whether it was Studio Gihibi, Demon Slayer, or Chainsaw Man. People were generally friendly. People generally mingled either in the entertainment hall, poolside, or at the gazebo garden zone. I feel the convention has already outgrown the Handerly Hotel within their first year. Who knows, they might be already ready to move next door to Town and Country Inn, but a girl can dream.
Overall, this was a well run first year convention. I’m not sure if the convention was anticipating this big of a crowd. Not only this fulfills the lack of San Diego weekend anime events, but SoCal has been missing a hotel party con. San Diego Anime Con may simply fill this void, especially if they move themselves to a larger hotel. The vibes were generally chill. I do appreciate the invite for Cosplay Wrestling Federation – any opportunity to perform is awesome to me! If you do have time and if you are a SoCal local, do check out San Diego Anime Con for the weekend. This event shows a lot of promise!