This year Anime Central celebrated their 20th anniversary, being the strongest, biggest midwest convention there is. Fans from just about everywhere come to this milestone anime convention, to share their passion for anime, cosplaying, hobbies, arts, games, interests, and just about everything a convention can have.
Since 1997 the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Rosemont Convention Center, has been Anime Central home, giving it 18 year at this location. Acen (for short) is still expanding and making the most of the space from both venues. With tons of hotels surrounding the Rosemont Convention Center, you don’t have to worry about Acen being booked, but if you are looking to room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, you will need to book the day they are released. That’s right, this convention is so popular, the main venue hotel sells out within minutes! You want to be sure to stay connected to #AnimeCentral social medias to recieve up to date posts.
If you are not rooming in the hotel and you’re just a local, the option of taking public transit train is a block away. If you are looking to drive there, parking was available just about everywhere, from hotel garages to train station parking. Driving to AnimeCentral, your best bet would be to park at the Blue line train station, not only is it cheap but, you are able to leave and come back when you want. Unlike the garage parking provided for the hotels, once you’re out, its risking finding the same parking spot or being full.
Wasn’t thinking about packing food for the weekend? It’s ok! the Hyatt Rosemont has 2 restaurant, 1 being the bar/grill and the other being a buffet restaurant. Need something really fast and don’t want to wait for your food? They have that too! The Hyatt offered a discount for Acen attendees on Lunch and Dinner tables, where you can grab what you like and pay at the register. Didn’t like what they offered? Just outside the Hyatt, food trucks were also available, with staple foods like: hot dogs, burgers, tacos, salads, ice cream, pizza, etc. If non of this fancies you, taking a drive out or if you prefer walking within 2 miles, Chain restaurants were also available. If you need food now and don’t want to leave your hotel room, the Hyatt provides menus for places in the area that deliver to the hotel, and bring it to your room! You can never go hungry at Anime Central.
This year registration ran smoothly with some enhancements into place. People lined up hours in advance to pick up their badges, or to purchase at the door. They had everyone sectioned off in groups, pick up badges, buying a badge with a debit/credit card, buying a badge with cash, will call, and people that had their badges mailed to them. Giving everyone many ways to getting in and out of registration with out guessing what-is-what and “where am i suppose to go?”
We purchased our badges in advance and waited at the will call line. Once at the booth you were greeted with a staff member asking for an ID and a barcode, which was given to us via email at purchase. They scanned your bar code and Handed you a beautiful badge with your name sticker on it. Landyards, guidbooks, and bags were being handed out in front of registration, but theses weren’t just any grab bags, these were limited edition convention backpacks! Sentai Filmworks was also handing out these colorful bags to the first 10 thousand people who attended Acen.
This was the first time a convention of this size handled registration so well in our experience! We hope other conventions take note on what Anime Central has going on. 😉
A convention is not complete without a dealer room, which Anime Central perfects so well each year. Bringing the veteran and new set of booths to the con for attendees to surround. Upon entering the dealer room, we are in Awe with big named companies. Big booths such as, Crunchyroll, Aniplex, Funimation, Good Smile Company, Sentai Filmworks, Sekai Project, Kotobukiya, Viz Media, and tons more. Anime Central merch booth was located in 2 areas of the dealer room this year. The usual booth located by the entrance of the dealer room, and the newest addition was located towards the center of the dealer room. Showing off all of Acens merchandise in glass cases from old to new. Providing a media deck giving the best bird eye view of just about all of the dealer room. Under it were backdrop of their mascots photo-ready for everyone that likes to take selfies and group pictures to remember this amazing event!
This years dealer room was set up a little bit different, as we mentioned the bigger companies at the entrance, but the right side of the dealer room upon entering was the artist alley. Rows and rows of unique work done by the artist themselves, in one room! Given the location of the artist alley, it was set up to have its very own entrance as well, giving attendees easy access right into the artist alley. Towards the end of the artist alley, Visiting convention booths were available for attendees to purchase advance tickets to their convention. Up next, was a section for cosplayers! Anime Central provided photo scenes for cospalay gatherings as well for their attendees. We hoping Acen provides more photo scenes to the venue all around for other photo gatherings, this something we have not seen at any other convention and love the idea.
Right next to the cosplay photo scene, was a company that was a first for this years convention, called Bang-Zoom! With a medium size stage, as well as seats and tables for people to enjoy the show. This wasn’t just any show, Bang-Zoom! is actually a big deal for people that are interested in voice acting. They offered auditions for an anime called March Comes in like a Lion. Yes you heard correctly, Bang-Zoom! is giving the chosen winner tickets to fly to California to their recording studios to help dub the anime. Hoping this isn’t just a one time opportunity, we would love to see more of Bang Zoom! coming to Anime Central, giving inspiration to anyone attending the con and those around the area the chance to fulfill their dreams of being a voice actor.
To the right of their stage, you are faced with tons of Exhibitors with just about everything you can think of to purchase. If you are a figure collector, like ourselves, the exhibit hall is just for you. Sellers with old and rare to find items, as well as new and must have things. Aside of figures, sellers catered to just about everyone, from furry accessories,K-pop merch, Swords, Anime posters, kawaii plushies to hentai.
Held at the Rosemont Convention center, the venue provided lots of food, beverages, alcoholic drinks, and desserts. If fast food wasn’t your thing, within the convention hall, their restaurant was open for you to sit down and enjoy.
We truly love and enjoyed the convention hall, the dealers, the artist alley, and the photo scenes provided, and full heartily recommend checking out the dealer room on your next visit.
A Convention isn’t a convention without Panels! Every year Anime Central is loaded with panels, with just about any subject you can think of, even non anime related discussions. Panels such as: Godzilla vs Anime, Her legs are how long?, How to make you’re very own video game, Anime improve comedy, Waifu Wars 3D, Whose Line is it Anime, Sports Bras Over Athletic Cups, and tons of others including 18 plus panels, for the adults that enjoy the entertainment.
With over 200 plus panels going on through out the weekend at Anime Central, it can be hard to decide what to do. For new attendees we recommend checking out main panels like the Masquerade, where talented cosplayer walk on stage and show off their work and craftsmanship to bring the character to life.
We noticed something might have changed this year regarding the panels held at night, there weren’t any panels scheduled to start after 1am. Previous years at Acen had held panels going on almost all night until the next morning. Leaving you the option of checking out the video programming, video game or board game room if you were looking for late night activities.
Our favorite main event at ACEN has always been the Masquerade and this year’s was special in its hosting format. In a tribute to the legacy of ACEN on its 20th anniversary, the event rotated between several sets of MC’s during different stages of the show. This was a wonderful way to convey the love and dedication that the staff has had for this convention and it’s attendees for the past two decades. It was wonderful to see familiar faces and meet some new(older?) ones to get a grasp on how ACEN came to be and has continued to grow through the years as the reins were passed down to newer generations.
Once the show got started proper, the walk-on section started and we were able to see the best-of-the-best cosplay on stage! Right out of the gate there were several larger cosplays from Escaflowne, Gundam and Pokemon to get everyone excited. They were quickly followed by droves of smaller but no less impressive costumes with a few notable standouts from Overwatch, Suisei No Gargantia and Metal Gear Revengeance (personal favorite!).
Next up was the performance section which is comprised of many skits for attendees to show off their creativity. As with every year, there were some cleverly designed plays dealing with the hottest crazes in the anime and gaming scenes and a couple of misses. That said, it was easy to tell everyone on stage put forth their all into every song, dance or play making the entire experience enjoyable as a whole. A good time indeed!
There was also a performance piece and memorial video done specially to honor a member of the ACEN staff that had passed earlier in the year to honor her love and commitment to the cosplay scene and conventions.
All in all it was a fantastic reminder of all the things we love about ACEN and the people that make it happen. We’ll be patiently waiting to see what pops up next year!
Leading into the Video Game Room, Acen has surprised us this year with a massive game room brought together by 3 companies for all the attendees at Anime Central!
Tokyo Attack providing all your favorite rhythm games like Dance Dance Revolution, Taiko Drum Master arcade, Dance Evolution, Pop n Music, Sound Voltex, Jubeat, Pump it Up, Beatmania. As well as other arcade games such as, Fighting Climax Ignition, Silent Scope Bone Eater, Initial D Arcade, and Super Table Flip.
World 9 Gaming provided consoles dating back to Atari to current generation consoles, PC LAN gaming, and a vast library of games.
Lastly Pachinko Fever, who brought about a dozen of Japanese pachinko machines for the attendees to try.
Sounds like a lot? It was! Which is why the game room was moved to the Rosemont Convention Center. Taking the walkway from the Hyatt hotel, it was just towards the very end on the left entry where you would find the game room, there is no way you can miss it, music and lights were booming as if there was a dance party going on. Upon entering you see a hallway of arcade cabinets and a few pinball machines. Moving forward you enter the mother load of all games, with retro consoles, the PlayStation VR, tons of DDR games, Rock Band with a dedicated stage, 3 projectors showing the tournaments going on, almost at each corner.
This years game room was by far the best we have seen out of all convention we’ve been to the past years. We highly recommend checking out the game room when attending Anime Central!
Anime Central brought phenomenal guests this year, which featured:
• DJ Amaya
• Daniel Coglan
• Jillian Coglan
• Crispin Freeman
• Toru Furuya
• Gacharic Spin
• DJ HeavyGrinder
• Eric Maruscak
• Helen McCarthy
• Emily Neves
• Final Fantasy – A New World
• Tony Oliver
• Micah Solusod
• John Swasey
• Alexis Tipton
• Shinichi Watanabe
• Lisle Wilkerson
• Mamoru Yokota
A huge combination of international and local guests, to bring us the best of the best! Our highlight was seeing Crispin Freeman, which whom we haven’t meet in a very long time. He is a voice actor known for many roles such as popular series, Naruto, Hellsing, Ghost in the Shell, Big O, Slayers, Chobits, Last Exile, and Witch Hunter Robin. Not only is he well know in Anime industry, but in the Video game too! You can hear his work in Diablo 3 as the male wizard, Helios the Sun God in God of War, and in Transformers: War of Cybertron. He is a very knowledgeable and down to earth kinda guy, and is happy to give advice to just about everyone seeking a career in voice acting.
Another guest we had targeted this year was the craziest of crazy! A man who made an anime with himself as a character in the show called Excel Saga, non-other than Shinichi “Nabeshin” Watanabe. He directed Excel Saga, Nerima daikon Brothers, and Puni Puni Poemy. Just like the anime he produces, he aims to make the audience laugh and have fun, he is approachable and fun to be around, though his English isn’t great, he tries to communicate to his fans and does his best to make you smile. He also held a panel showing off some of his work and some we didn’t know he was a part of.
Our next guest we were super excited to check out was Teddy Loid, a music/DJ artist who performed his work at Hardcore Synergy, also known as the Friday Rave. Very timid kinda of guy in person, but as soon as he gets in the notion of his performance, he shines and shows his rhythm. Which brings us to our next topic to talk about it, the rave!
One of most popular event at Anime Central is the Rave, like the previous year, Acen sold separate Rave badges for those that were only interested in dancing, listening to music or just enjoy the light show. Every single year the line for the rave just gets bigger and bigger, people lining up hours in advance just to be up close to the stage where you can check out Acens guest as they put on the best music they have created. Bringing DJ’s from Japan like TeddyLoid! Best known for producing music for Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Mekakucity Actors, Popular video Me! Me! Me!, Mugen ***Knights, and Wrecking Crew Orchestra. Another guest of honor is Taku Takahashi, who is part of another group called M-Flo. The group escalated the popularity charts by selling 2 million copies of their soundtrack. Given already the fame, Taku is well known for remixing music for prominent artist across several genres!
We were lucky enough to experience Japan awesome DJ’s all in one roof! The rave is an main event to not miss!
We thank Anime Central for giving us the opportunity to enjoy the convention as members of the Press. The opportunity to talk in a more intimate setting with their guest of honor is always the best part.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time and experience at Acen, and every year we are given something to “wow” about. We can not wait to see what Acen will be bring us next year! 🙂
Please be sure to check out our Anime Central gallery for more photos on the event!
Anime Central 2017 Convention Experience:
A total of 30,221 attendees for 2017