This year marked the first ever AniMegaCon in Las Vegas, Nevada. Held at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton), AniMegaCon is billed as “The Universe’s Largest Anime Convention™” (with tongue held firmly in cheek). It also offered the largest money prize for a cosplay masquerade contest to date, $10,001. No official numbers have been released, but I estimated attendance to be approximately 2000. Not bad at all for a first time event pulled together in about 6 months.
It was difficult to not be distracted by everything else in Vegas while attending a convention here, so just to get that out of the way, I won $50 at a slot machine right outside of the convention area in the LVH Casino. Then I won another $100 playing Let It Ride at the MGM while waiting on cosplayers to shoot. This was just barely enough to cover my food costs for the weekend, because I ate a lot of it. Fortunately, I did stay off the strip with Darkain Multimedia and Sasha-V which helped me save some money.
Between gambling and eating, I did manage to attend the convention. Unfortunately, there really just wasn’t that much to do. The convention organizers only started taking panel sign ups about 3 weeks before the event, of which, very few people signed up. So other than the convention hosted autograph sessions and featured guests panels, there really wasn’t much else going on. Two video rooms were set up, one hosted by CrunchyRoll and one hosted by FUNimation. A couple of 24-hour gaming rooms were always busy and featured consoles, cards, and board games .
On the first day, I did manage to get a couple shoots in. The Benihana restaurant just outside of the convention center was generous enough to let attendees do photo shoots anywhere in the restaurant each day before it opened for dinner. The restaurant was relatively dark inside so you had to be very careful about finding good light, or bring your own lighting equipment. I brought a full set of flashes, but no stands, so I used friends and tables and railings, or just ambient lighting and turning up my ISO. Whatever it takes to get the shot, right? I got to shoot with Kotodama, PandaCornn, and a friend of Extreme Costumes, Mzre Yuen.
Afterwards, we had dinner at the Main Street Station Buffet and gorged ourselves on their seafood buffet special. PandaCornn and I each had an entire plate of crab. As seconds. And thirds. Then we headed back to the convention and waited for the late night cosplay burlesque show that was supposed to be so controversial, only to find that it was cancelled. So we sat around and played with a beer bottle and Cuppy the Cup and chatted with Ejen of Cosplay in America.
I showed up a little late for Day 2 and missed a couple gatherings that I had wanted to go to, but really, it was just too hot to do much of anything outside. I did manage to squeeze in another shoot at the Benihana restaurant with Kyomaster while Darkain shot with Sasha-V.
Then I killed some more time in the casino before lining up for the masquerade. This masquerade was pretty interesting and I think some people really brought their A-game for a chance at the $10,001 grand prize for Best in Show. It definitely would have been difficult for me to pick a winner. Congrats to Angel Hearts on winning the big money prize! You can see more images from the masquerade in Cosplay Photographers’ coverage album on facebook.
After the masquerade, several of us went to dinner at Benihana before setting off to do some night shoots around the Las Vegas Strip. Unfortunately, we were constantly getting kicked out of some prime photoshoot locations. On the third day, we actually got up early enough to make it to the CrunchyRoll ambassador panel hosted by SailorBee and Johnny N’ Junkers. I don’t think it’s safe to put those two in a room together. Shenanigans will ensue, but a good time will be had by all. Be sure to check out andalantie’s cosplay video for more of the cosplay on display:
Overall, I think the anime convention crowd and the typical Las Vegas crowd just don’t mix very well as anime conventions struggle to pull in large numbers of attendees in Vegas. The other major anime convention in Las Vegas, Anime Vegas, pulls in just under 4000 attendees annually. There is definitely an opportunity for a strong anime convention in Las Vegas to succeed and do really well. With a year under their belt and a few lessons learned, I hope AniMegaCon comes back bigger and better next year.