Celebrating Anime Culture in the Bay

I have been a huge fan of anime, manga, cosplay, and Japanese geek culture for years, but have never had the opportunity to go to FanimeCon. So I was pretty excited when the stars aligned at the last minute and I was free to attend this year (May 26-May 29).

I loved having the opportunity to meet a lot of creators and makers who are either Japanese or westerners who incorporate Japanese themes into their projects. The makers I met at FanimeCon stood in such stark contrast to the ones I met the weekend before at Maker Faire Bay Area. The experience acted as a firm reminder that makers come in all sorts of shades and sizes from many diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and countries.

Cosplay

There were so many cosplayers at FanimeCon. More than a few were top notch quality. I asked around, and it seems that even though the cosplay community as a whole has yet to embrace it, a lot of professional cosplayers are turning to 3D printing and CNC machining to create a lot of the smaller, detailed pieces of their outfits. Arduino is also the official go-to for programming any electronics that make up the costume.

Not many D.Va cosplayers go the extra mile and construct her mech. Impressive, no? Photo is courtesy of Alexander Yin

I was happy to meet some fans of Make: throughout the weekend, and pleasantly surprised to see how they had reworked projects from the magazine or blog to create cool effects, weapons, and designs for their cosplays. I learned a lot about cosplay throughout the weekend talking to other attendees. FanimeCon is apparently notorious for encouraging the passion, promoting what is widely considered the best Maid Cafe on the U.S. west coast and featuring opportunities to meet, take a photo with, and get something signed by nation-wide famous cosplay personalities like Linda “Vampy Bit Me” Le (@VampyBitme).

Vampy cosplaying in DreadKing Armor from the video game “Monster Hunter Generations.” Photo by Fred Huelar

Artist Alley

Artist Alley had about fifty booths (and there were even more in Dealer’s Hall). Each featured an artist and their craft. Sadly, there was just too much going on to see or buy it all, let alone even try to list here. If you are looking for some new artists to support, definitely go look at Krazy Krow and his graphic novel Spinnerette, Cypritree and her original Soulsborne art, and Sakimichan and her paintings of young heroes and villains now all grown-up.

Animated Music Videos

Animated Music Videos (AMVs) are huge in the anime community. FanimeCon took the best of the best, rated them in a top 100 list, and played them all for attendees to watch. Most AMVs are just weirdly funny/outrageously ridiculous, but some are emotional powerhouses, examples of true artistic creativity, or a little bit of both.


Charge Your Phone Without a Cord

AirVolt is making splashes this week because their Indiegogo campaign surpassed their initial fundraising goal by more than 550%. AirVolt is a gadget that charges your phone wirelessly. All it needs is to be within 9 meters (just under 30 feet) of your device.

It is absolutely baffling to me that we still primarily rely on cords to charge our phones. People use their smart phones all the time now. I personally have to typically charge my phone twice each day, and I am not always sitting within arms reach of a wall outlet.

That is why I love the idea behind the AirVolt. This is absolutely perfect for someone like me who has a crowded workstation (both at home and at work) and a gaming lounge. My computers, game consoles, and other electronics typically take up all the charge ports near me when I am sitting down. Leaving my phone on the other side of the room to charge never seemed appealing. With an AirVolt, I could keep my phone by my side and still charge it. One less pesky cord is always a good thing too.


Make Math Look Good

An Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Science in France, Francesco de Comité has been making 2D and 3D representations of mathematical concepts and objects. I was an English grad who despised geometry, algebra, and calculus growing up, but even I can admit that, when given physical form, math can be kind of pretty.


Makers Bring a Secret Society Back to Life

The College of the Creatives is a fictional (or is it?) secret society. It is said to have been founded in 1934 by Gertrude Stein and Eleanor Roosevelt with the sole purpose of preserving cultural heritage, before eventually disbanding in 1956. It was created in response to the Nazis’ sudden rise to power, something that many people felt was a threat to creative expression.

Drawing parallels between Nazi-controlled Europe and today’s American climate, a group of people is uniting to create this society in the real world today, this time fueled with the spirit of the maker community. They launched their plan this past week.

The College is going to create twenty micro-arcade cabinets, each housing “the secrets to protecting and rallying America’s national interests in arts and culture.” Ten will be sent to individuals that the College believes are “resourceful, thoughtful, socially conscientious, and nerdy creatives” who will hopefully be civically engaged and mobilized to act on “behalf of art and creative culture in America.” The remaining ten will be auctioned off to the public for $5000 a cabinet.

Current V.9 MDF prototype of the College of the Creatives cabinet and crate (the final version of the cabinet will be made out of hardwood and plastic)

I don’t know about you, but I really want to know what is in one of those cabinets. Just not sure if I am $5000 curious. I may just go ahead and drop the $200 for entrance into the society though. Always wanted to claim I was a part of one.


Build Your Own Video Games

If you have ever wanted to be a video game developer, now is the perfect time to learn. Playcrafting is offering a class that meets for two evenings a week, for eight weeks. Over the course of those two months, students will learn all the beginner and intermediate aspects of Unity, a game engine that is as powerful as it is popular.

By the end of the class, each student will have created an endless runner, an exploration game, and a final game of a genre of their choosing. Below are snippets of three of the final student projects from previous years.

The class’s instructor is Eli Delventhal (@demonpants), the CEO and co-founder of Flint Games, who’s been a part of over a dozen video game projects. The class is an absolute steal at $2000 (Trust me. Just look at the stuff you’d learn! You’re getting your money’s worth and then some). Sadly, I can’t participate as the 6:30-9:00pm class time does not work with my schedule. Interested makers should jump on this deal though. Class starts June 12.