I stopped by Day 1 of Animazement at the Raleigh Convention Center on Friday early afternoon, and already the 3-day anime-centered convention was well underway.
Even before I made it inside the Convention Center doors, Fayetteville Street was awash in Avengers (for a scheduled mass photoshoot on an external stairway) and all manner of other cosplayers:
Inside, most pre-registered attendees had already long since made their way through registration, but there were still some crowds milling about including people coming back from lunch — what must the Krispy Kreme up the street look like this weekend? Naruto and original glazed doughnuts? — and the staggering in of pre-registered people and a line of people buying their passes in person.
Also milling about around registration, I met Faith O’Neil, an associate editor from Maryland-based GeekInsider, down herself from Virginia to cover the event. It was her first time at Animazement, and the Convention Center had already made a good first impression. “It’s an excellent, massive venue, a great place to hold it,” she said. “It’s huge.” GeekInsider is best known for its technology coverage and gadget reviews, and this was also the first time not just covering Animazement, but anime conventions in general; the site has been covering anime under its Lifestyle coverage since April. “It’s our first anime convention,” O’Neil said. “We’re trying to branch out.”
Thanks to Animazement volunteer and recent local college graduate Teresa, I was able to get a quick guided pass through a bit of the convention. “I helped out in the dealer’s room before, but it’s a bit different this year, doing odd errands, that kind of thing,” she said, explaining her role this year. I’d been to the Convention Center for NASFIC in 2010, so the route down to the dealer’s room was not unfamiliar.
The dealer’s room [above, left] is a sprawling space full of booths selling import video games, plushies, t-shirts, films, costumes and accessories, and even a rather large corner booth selling import foods [above, right]. (No sign of any Fruity Oaty Bars, though.) A foothold from the world of books does exist in the form of Chicago Anime [below, left]. Eddie of Chicago Anime explained that the space is “about half manga, half card games” and that the they usually get a “decent amount of interest in the books.”
There’s also an artist’s alley [below, left] and various breakout rooms, along with signings, programming tracks, on and on. On the way back up, Teresa [below, right] asked me if I (a complete anime ignoramus) recognized a particular cosplayer’s outfit. “Sailor Moon?” I hazarded. Apparently I was not even close.
Animazement runs through Sunday at the Raleigh Convention Center.