We recap the big Denver-based festival celebrating everything nerdy.
Over the past few years, Denver's own Animeland Wasabi has grown into a much larger show. Like Denver Comic Con, it's managed to find an audience and expand upon it with a number of features and activities, which fans ate up by the handful. This year's show was no exception, taking place at the Crowne Plaza Convention Center – an ideal space for the event.
First off, this wasn't just a "fan"-based event, it managed to attract a number of celebrities who came out to meet people one on one. These included Liam McIntyre from the Spartacus series, Billy West and John DiMaggio (Fry and Bender) of Futurama fame, Stargate actress Teryl Rothery, and several others. The way they were set up at booths allowed people to chat with them, get pictures and autographs with ease, rather than waiting three-something hours at most conventions.
In addition to celebrities, Animeland also hosted a number of panels, ranging from anime-based shows to Q & A sessions with popular types, and attendees loved these as well. They were set up very well, and gave them plenty of room to ask away and learn more about their favorite subjects.
Animeland was also home to a much larger music stage this year, which was well used for a number of acts, including Mega Man cover band The Megas, the hard rockers at Nylon Pink and the awesome sounds of Angel Anatomy, among others. It was also the place to be for karaoke competitions and fun performers, including Warky T. Chocobo.
A huge game room was set up this year, and while it was sadly missing the Fix-It Felix Jr. cabinet we enjoyed from last year, there was still plenty of gaming going on. Several units featured Halo, Call of Duty and fighting games in action, and Death of the Arcade once again returned with a terrific Rock Band set-up. All in all, it was excellent, with plenty of goodies that were given away, including movie posters and passes to a screening for 300: Rise of the Empire.
Finally, there were dealers everywhere offering everything from anime movies to sci-fi figurines to cool hand-made goodies. Our personal favorite was the bakery, where we got a nice piece of Japanese desserts for just a few bucks. The other vendors were fun as well, and it was great seeing Denver Comic-Con and Aurora Rise get involved. More power to you guys!
There were times when the show didn't quite meet up to par. First off, the Maid Café, which is usually a huge draw for the Animeland event, wasn't that well planned. Crowds prevented most people from getting in, and even when they bought passes, they had to set up reservations, which was near impossible. Hopefully this will be better laid out next year.
In addition, the press conference to speak with some of the stars fell through. However, it opened up a key opportunity to chat with other great attendees from the show, so it was an excellent rebound. Kudos to Emily, Bo and the rest of the Animeland team for going out of their way to make up for this small error. Overall, I think the experience was better for it. Plus, I got to meet Erica Schroeder. BIG THE CAT!
Overall, Animeland Wasabi has come a long way over the years, and the 2014 show was the best yet. Some stuff was a bit stretched out for the venue, and some events didn't go as well as planned (how about a bigger Maid Café, eh?), but it's easily becoming one of the better local events to celebrate anime, video games and other nerdy goods. Plus, where else are you going to see a bunch of Deadpool-dressed girls dancing around? Certainly not a hockey game.
Onward to Denver Comic-Con…although John DiMaggio probably won't take 20 selfies on a phone there. HE SHOULD, THO!