Convention Review: Anime Matsuri 2012
Anime Matsuri is the biggest Japanese pop culture convention in Houston. It covers anime, gaming, j-fashion, j-pop and j-rock, cosplay, car shows, and the Japanese culture in general. It is hosted by a local arcade called Planet-Zero, which is also unlike any other arcade in Houston with the games they carry and events they put on. This is my experience going to the Convention only Saturday and Sunday.
So to get things started off, let it be known that I have attended every year of this convention, 2012 being their 6th convention held in Houston, TX. This year, they had a total of 10,422 attendees through Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Registration: I registered early with just a normal 3 day badge, costing me a total of 45$ for three days even though I only attended two, which was a fantastic deal and well worth the money. It grants you access to all the panels, the concert, raves, car show, dealers room, maid cafe, and free play arcade. They also offer a Super Pass, which is significantly more expensive, but has VIP perks such as getting in to special autograph sessions, getting into certain places like the dealers room early, etc. There was no line for me to pick up my badge, as I picked it up on Saturday morning, but from what I heard from other Con-goers, the lines weren’t bad regardless. The Con did take place over Easter weekend, which didn’t affect me because I don’t celebrate it, but I feel it might have been bad for business as Sunday morning was very slow for the Con.
Convention Center: This year it was hosted at the Woodlands Marriott Waterway hotel and Convention Center. THANK GOD, last years venue was terrible, but that’s a completely other story. I absolutely loved this hotel when they held it there 2 years ago, and its close to my house so I just drove up both days. It is in a central location, the Mall is right around the corner, and there is plenty to do, see, and eat outside of the convention. Being a Marriott, I’m sure the rooms were nice there, and they do offer a special convention rate. They had plenty of parking so I had no problem finding a good parking spot. I heard from other attendees that the hotel staff was rude, however I did not have any trouble with them.
Panels: To be honest I usually don’t even go to any of the panels, but this year I went with friends so I pretty much did what they wanted to do. We attended Voice Actors all out, Sleeping Samurai(a foam sword competition), The Cosplay Contest, Cosplay Chess, AMV Contest, and the Maid Cafe. I had a very good time at all of them, and was very amused to say the least. In past years, AM has had problems with not running on time, but all of the panels were on time and well organized from what I could see.
Guests: The guest list this year was killer, I enjoyed all the voice actors, and even though I was not able to attend the concert with FLOW or the fashion show with BABY THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT, I have heard nothing but great things about how well both of them went.
Gaming Tournament(Showdown): We will be doing a seperate review on this from one of our members who participated in the tournament.
Arcade: They had all the same games that they do at Planet-Zero on freeplay, EXCEPT for the Purikura machine which they actually charged extra for. I can understand why, It’s an expensive machine and they don’t want people screwing around with it if they don’t know what they’re doing. There were power outages which I believe was the hotels fault, but I never got a clear answer. Quite annoying for anyone in the middle of a heated tournament battle.
Volunteers: All of the volunteers were actively checking badges, were polite, and if I had a question most of them had enough information to answer me, which is also an improvement from previous years.
Artist Alley and Dealers Room: Everything was well spaced, I could navigate easily, and there was plenty of diversity of different products and all very fair pricing.
Cosplayers: For the most part it is a family friendly convention, there were maybe one or two risque cosplayers, but for the most part everything was very professional and tastefully done.
Overall I would highly recommend coming and seeing this convention if you haven’t yet, and if you have been previous years, they really have been listening to their customers and improving what they failed at before. I had a blast!
You can check out more detailed information about the convention at www.animematsuri.com and also register for 2013.