Anime Central 2015 Review

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Anime Central 2015

May of 2015 marked Anime Power Level’s 3rd consecutive year of covering Chicago’s own Anime Central and once again the feeling of sadness filled our hearts as it came to an end. The Midwest holds many great conventions, but there are few are as revered and beloved as ACen. This year was simply amazing, with a fantastic line up of guests such as SCANDAL (the hit Japanese pop-rock band) a great line of of voice actors (Cristina Vee, Amanda Miller and Richard Epcar) and not to mention the panels, raves, burlesques show and the Anime Central Prom. A line of up of events and guests like this made it impossible for us not to have a good time!

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Location

Anime Central was once again hosted at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont, IL and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Attendance this year peaked at 31,113, surpassing last year’s number of 29,674, and D.E.S. continues to be the perfect location. If you couldn’t get a room at the Hyatt, the neighboring hotels such as the Double Tree, Hilton and Embassy provide good lodging in the vicinity of the convention. Of course if you wish to stay anywhere near the convention you must book your room 6 – 8 months in advance. Like always, it’s best to plan accordingly to get the best access! If you couldn’t book a room in time you  and decided to drive down the surrounding hotels and the CTA offer paid parking. If you do not want to spend your money on gas and parking, you can take the CTA blue line which is a short walking distance to the convention center for the local crowd.

Registration

With a convention of this size, registration lines are always expected to be out the door! One way to bypass the line is online registration, which is as simple as visiting the ACen website, purchasing your badge and receiving it in the mail. Will-call services are also available if you prefer onsite badge pickup, which could be done day of the convention. Thanks to these latest advances in ACen’s customer service, this year lines were the shortest we have ever seen and a lot more organized than previous years. Staff were well informed and able to guide attendees to their destination and help in every other way.

Video Game Room/Table Top Room

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The Video Game Room was located in the ground floor basement of the Hyatt. This year gave us a section of games ranging from retro games to modern titles.  As soon as you entered the room you could see many people playing a wide range of titles such as Halo, Street Fighter, Starcraft, Pokemon Stadium and Super Mario Brothers. Attendees who had time to spare at 4 in the morning could find easy enjoyment in the gaming room with it’s 24 hour open schedule.  No matter what your gaming genre preference, there was something for everyone to play. If you wanted to test your fighting game skills, our friends at I Play Games hosted a number of fighting game tournaments. There was also a separate room for the classic arcade cabinets, pinball machines and of course Dance Dance Revolution.

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If video games are not your cup of tea you can always check out the Table Top Toom. Board Game Library is back again to host this year. They did a good job in supplying you with most popular board games to play. Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon and Vanguard trading card game players are always welcome here!

 

Dealers Room

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The biggest attraction Anime Central always offers is the Dealers Room, located inside the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. The Dealers Room is packed with a plethora of anime and gaming merchandise. You usually find the vendors selling the standard convention merchandise like T-shirts, plushies, key chains, wall scrolls, sci-fi related goods, and more. Returning once again was Japanese hobby legends Good Smile Company who always bring their top figures. Unless you visited Good Smile on day one, then you most likely missed the sale of their high end products as they are in very high demand.  A few other big name booths this year were Viz Media and Aniplex of America. Viz media had a robust selection of manga ranging for classic like Ranma ½ to currents like My Love Story. Aniplex brought a huge selection of fan favorite animes such as Bakemonogatari, Durarara!!, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, The Garden of Sinners and Blue Exorcist. Also joining the Dealers room is the biggest artist alley in the Midwest area. The artists showcased their work and products for everyone to see and purchase. Anime Central kept the dealers well organized, having one main entrance and many exits to kept the flow of the crowd moving.

 Masquerade

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The masquerade is one of the biggest event Anime Central has to offer, and this year it lived up to that reputation. The masquerade opened with an amazing dance number! Our very own con adviser Anthony was part of the opening act. The cosplay walk-on’s is where the masquerade really takes off and this and this year they were something to behold. All of the walk-on’s did a fantastic job in their cosplay’s and each one deserved a big round of applause. Some of this years skits were funny and kept the crowd entertained, while others just fell short. All in all we had a great time at the Masquerade!

Panels

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This year we had a wide variety of panels to attend, ranging from family friendly to 18+. If you were free before a main event started you had many selections to choose from! Typically, ACen holds a majority of the panels at the Hyatt, but this year most of them were at the convention center. Since the panels were not as close by, travel was often time consuming.

 

Rave/Concert

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Line still went around the building, no matter what time it was, but moved fairly smoothly. Due to the “fire drill” incident, the guest Japanese Synergy had to move their time slot to Saturday to resume their performance. If you couldn’t make it inside the the rave, people took it upon themselves to created their own rave outside of the Hyatt.
SCANDAL Performed at the Rosemont Theater which is less than one block away from the convention center and was also the same venue that Kalafina performed a few years back. The venue has yet to disappoint, bringing out the best quality and experience of the concert. The only issue was attendees stood through out the show, unable for everyone behind them to see the concert from the comfort of their seat. It can’t be helped if fans are excited and hyped for the concert, in this case, hopefully the venue will allow an open pit spot for standing fans. In order to attend the concert, an Anime Central badge was required. Seats were first come first serve, but attendees had also the option of purchasing premium seat tickets going for $10-$15, giving them assigned seating in the sections closest to the stage on the main floor. Fantastic concert by SCANDAL giving it their all on performance and enthusiasm!

Edit Update:
This year Anime Central hit a 31,113 unique member attendance and 85,295 gate attendance! A huge head count in comparence to last year attendance! 😀

Closing Remarks

•Press interviews were rescheduled with no notifications. Staff members were excellent and helpful. Dealer room is yet again excellent and spacious.

•Is was smart and nice of them to put the artist alley before the main dealers giving them some exposure, as they’ve been put behind everything past years.

•The lines to panel and main events have to be managed a bit better, other than that everything was well organized.  I had a great time this year can’t wait to go back.

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