FanimeCon celebrates 30th anniversary at San Jose Convention Center

FanimeCon brought thousands of anime fans to the Convention Center in San Jose this weekend. The four-day event also marks the 30th anniversary of the convention, which organizers say continues to grow.

Cosplay is a huge part of the conference, with people dressing up as their favorite anime and video game characters. There were dozens of panels, vendors, fashion shows and entertainment for some of anime’s biggest fans.

"I started back in 2004 when it wasn’t really known, and it was kind of just like Halloween. But it’s really grown into something that’s kind of like a place for fans to meet," said Leaf Nin Cosplay, of San Jose. 

FanimeCon brands itself as the premiere conference by fans, for fans of anime. Celebrating 30 years of holding the conference, organizers say bringing anime fans of all ages together is their top priority.   

"A lot of the people that came originally, all have kids, and now they bring their families. So now we’re a huge family-oriented event as well," said Steve Yong, FanimeCon Director of Marketing. 

Transforming themselves into their favorite anime, comic book and video game characters, organizers say about 30,000 people are expected to attend the conference during the four-day event. Anime is hand-drawn and computer-generated animation originating from Japan. Fans say cosplay or dressing up as characters allows them to escape reality for just a little while.

"We just have a lot of fun being in the environment with people who are like-minded and enjoy the shows and the video games," said  Jack, of San Jose. 

"I feel like part of it is an escape, but also, part of it does also teach good skills. I know how to do some leather work now. I learned to sew because of cosplay," said Daniel Hollinger, of South San Francisco. 

Fans were also able to watch interactive video game sessions and participate in free gaming tournaments. In the grand ballroom, vendors sold food and character-driven items that fans may not find anywhere else.

"For example, you have Sonic the Hedge Hog, but it’s the ice cream that you might remember from the ice cream truck. We also so have some Pokémon, and that’s from a very popular show that’s been around for over 20 years," said Kim Cosplay, of Artisan Studios in Anaheim, CA. 

The Black and White Ball was held at the Marriot in downtown San Jose on Sunday night. On Monday, the convention center will be open from 10am until 1pm, and the closing ceremony will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.