Fanime 2019 Roundup!

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OK I was at Fanime 2019 and as usual, a quick roundup. This was pretty interesting.

DOMINANT FANDOM: My Hero Academia was seriously dominant in cosplay, Artists Alley, etc. It was clearly The Top Fandom in many ways that makes me recall stuff like Naruto or One Piece back in the day. However, I think MHA has a wider range of appeal.

OTHER FANDOMS: The Fate series had a large cosplay gathering, more than I recall seeing at Fanime before. I also saw a lot of Spidervese characters, with Spider-Gwen being the major character. Jojo seemed to be getting more representation, from all over the series. There were cosplays and stuff from all over, obviously not just anime.

SURPRISES: I saw an Outlaw Star group, and Yuri On Ice was still evident in cosplay and merchandise. Yuri On Ice made an impression (says the guy who watched it twice)

DEALER’S ROOM: Dealer’s room was pretty diverse. Fanime runs a good Dealer’s Room and there was merchandise from all over the fandoms and interests.

ARTISTS ALLEY: As noted, lots of MHA, mixed with other stuff. I also saw some artists who had radically different styles and takes on anime and game art.

PANELS: A few insights, but the panel selection felt deep:

  • Lots of Cosplay panels this year, including advanced techniques and personal branding.
  • There were a lot of fanfic panels, at various levels of interest. These were not just basic panels, but some got deep into craft.
  • Some panels on culture were interesting, from exploring odd theories around anime to queerness in magical girl stories. Very intriguing.
  • There were other in-depth panels like developing mobile apps.
  • My panel on Geeky Productivity was well-attended for a 10 AM panel, and the Self-Publishing panel was very well attended despite being across from a panel on branding (seriously). There’s a real interest at this con on skills, and I had people remembering me and others from before.

So that’s my experiences. If you attended, let me know what you thought!

I plan to be there next year, obviously, but I’m going to return with more panel and panel sequence ideas. There’s a real interest in heavy skill stuff there. If I can lecture dressed as an MHA character, it’ll have come full circle . . .

Steven Savage

Eating Cheap And Healthy At Cons

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

After reading fabrickind’s posts on eating healthy at a con, I figured I’d take a break from my usual posts on writing, psychology, and so on to talk food. Well, you know eating at a convention in a cheap and healthy way.

This is based on a number of years of doing this and my own experiments. I’ve put this into practice various ways, so some ideas are still experimental. Still, this should help you out.

I’m not focusing a lot on premade meals, which may be good if you can freeze them and take them with you. I’ll focus more on doing stuff at the convention and using easy food to get.

One warning: BE CAREFUL HOW YOU KEEP FOOD. If something has to be refrigerated, refrigerate it. If something sits out for awhile, don’t eat it. If your cooler fails, anything that has to be kept cool is suspect. Don’t make yourself sick.

By the way, also remember this is a con. You’re probably not gonna eat perfectly nutritiously, or as regular as you’d like, and you might have a fancy meal out. That’s fine.


The basics of eating healthy are actually pretty easy: the more diverse types of food you eat and the less processed it is, the better. So really that’s your goal.

I’d also add that healthy eating usually has enough fiber in it so you avoid unpleasant consequences post con.

I use the classic power plate – equal parts whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and legumes. Note of all of those, only one (vegetables) is hard to store outside of a can or a cooler. Now I eat little animal products, but there are options below.


First, scope the location of the convention. Here’s what you want to look for:

  • DELI AND LOCAL MARKETS: You can get a lot of premade, healthy, and reasonably priced stuff here. Plus fresher ingredients.
  • CONVENIENCE STORES: Some carry fruit, nuts, and other reasonably healthy foods. You might be surprised (but do read labels)
  • GROCERY STORIES: If you can get near one and stock up, great.
  • BULK FOOD STORES: I had great success for years at a con using one of these for oatmeal, dried fruit, etc.

Look for ways to get ingredients and fast healthy cheap food. Obviously, avoid fast food.


Your room and what you bring with you affects how you’ll eat.

A COOLER: If you can bring a cooler, awesome. You can store stuff in it, like vegetables or premade meals if you keep it cool. Sure you have to change the ice, but things should keep pretty well.

A MICROWAVE: Awesome. A microwave is going to let you prepare all sorts of stuff, like steamed vegetables (put them in a bowl with a bit of water, heat a few minutes) or packaged rice. Some hotels also have public microwaves you can use.

A REFRIGERATOR: Score! You can keep anything in there. In fact you can premake stuff, freeze it, then microwave it.

A COFFEE MAKER: Even if this is the only tool you have, it lets you make oatmeal or soup (more later).


So let’s talk food and nutrition here. I’ll talk my faves and where they fit in.


  • BROWN RICE: I love those little heat-up-in-a-microwave single cups of rice.
  • WHOLE WHEAT BREAD: I get locally made stuff that’s basically sugar free and made of like 4 ingredients.
  • CORN CHIPS: Doesn’t sound healthy, but many local brands actually are pretty good.
  • OAT BRAN: I love this stuff. Basically higher protein part of Oatmeal. You can make it in a micowave or hot water from your coffee maker.
  • OATMEAL: Also I love this stuff.
  • TORTILLAS: ’nuff said. Always useful.


  • PEANUT BUTTER: You’ll want a fridge or cooler for most of the no-additive peanut butter (or keep it in an ice container). Peanut butter is a protein bomb with nice fats. Slap that on some whole wheat bread and boom.
  • CANNED BEANS: Canned beans are awesome, especially garbanzos which are nice and solid. You can open a can, drain it in the sink, rinse in the can, toss some soy sauce on them and you got a protein cource for two or three.
  • TOFU: You’ll need a cooler or fridge to keep it, but rip it open, dump on some spices and eat.

If you eat animal products, think outside of meat. Precooked harboiled eggs and cheese are good if you can keep them properly.


Most fruits keep without refrigeration so you’re good there. Bring a nice amount. Also don’t forget dried fruit as well – but avoid the stuff with added sugar.


Ok this is a tough one. Getting your veggies is hard, but there’s a few ways.

  • CANNED VEGGIES: Don’t discount canned veggies. They may be a bit processed, but good quality ones keep and are decent sources of nutrition. I’m fond of canned spinach which I can drain, microwave, or use in soup. A bit of soy sauce and sesame seeds and you’re good.
  • GREENS: If you have a fridge or a cooler you can keep some greens around like spinach, broccoli, or cabbage. Get the prepackaged, pre-washed, and pre-shredded stuff if possible. Some of this you can eat straight, or steam in a microwave.


Keep some spices with you. Some may need refrigeration or being kept away from moisture, but its worth it.

  • BLACK PEPPER: A forgotten spice, but adds a kick.
  • CURRY POWDER: A good curry (I recommend S&B) spices up soups, beans, and so on.
  • GARLIC POWDER: Adds that garlic flavor to anything, and it lasts.
  • LEMON JUICE: Lemon juice and a dash of pepper and garlic powder is instant salad dressing.
  • SALT: Also good for spicing.
  • SESAME SEEDS: Great if you make bowl meals or salads or want to jazz up some steamed or canned veggies.
  • SOY SAUCE: Works on everything.


Some of the above is kinda obvious for food. Peanut butter sandwiches. Oatmeal and fruit. But how can you go farther with what you have? A few of my favorites . . .

COFFEE MAKER SOUP/CHAZUKE: This is one of my faves. Make an herbal team (I reccomend lemon or ginger) in your coffee maker. Dump it over some beans and shredded greens, and some soy sauce, and let it sit for a bit until the greens soften. Then you have soup.

BOWLS: If you have a microwave (or can make rice in the coffee maker, I think it might be possible with precooked rice, don’t know), you can make a bowl meal. Rice, some canned beans, shredded veggies, and some spices. You’re good.

HUMMUS: No, really. Pour that can of drained beans into a bowl, add spices, mash with a fork, serve with bread or chips. Done.

SALAD: Throw some greens in a bowl, add beans, add soy sauce and lemon juice. Salad.


That should give you a few good, cheap ideas. Using these at one con I bought only ONE meal over the weekend. Some of this advice is used day-to-day when I get lazy at home . . .

Steven Savage

The Silly And The Serious: An Elder Geek Contemplates Conventions

image idol sunset arms hands playI attended Fanime recently to do what I do – meet people, speak on careers, and feel increasingly older. By the way, the latter isn’t intentional, it’s a side effect caused by age and the occasional cosplayer who reminds me I need to work out more*.

As I walked among the conferences and cosplayers, artists and dealers, this Elder Geek had a rather disjointed series of reactions. Enthusiastic snatching up of rare items in the dealer’s room would seem frivolous to me – but then I’d recall when I was glad to find that rare item in my youth (and I purchased a few things this convention, rare for me). Some goings-on would seem ridiculous, then the realization struck me that the point was to be crazy and bizarre and have fun – I just occasionally forget that as my focus is professional geekery. Panels on professional geekery would seem serious, but often get silly or sentimental as sure people cared about your careers, but we didn’t want to be too serious in a friendly atmosphere.

The convention was play. The convention was serious. At the same time.

Then I realized the two elements of frivolity and professional focus went hand in hand. I remember specifically when this insight happened; I was in the artists alley, looking at a vendor who had some art from the suddenly-omnipresent show Steven Universe up, and I saw how fun and serious come together at conventions. It was a powerful enough flash of wisdom it felt like a lightning bolt, which is why I remember it so well.

You are of course right – I’m going to write about it. As an Elder Geek, it’s my job to analyze these kind of things.

As an Elder geek, it’s also fun for me. Fun and seriousness are the things I want to explore.

The Modern Convention: Fun And Serious In The Same Package

Over the years I’ve noticed conventions taking on more and more focus on professional development – creation, skill-building, software, and more. We geeks have always had a hands-on element to our passions, which is why I refer to us as “Applied Intellectuals.” As time has gone on, conventions seem to focus on that practical (and paycheck-delivering) element of our geekery – which I’m all for.

But if you step back, the choice to do professional panels and workshops at a convention may seem a bit odd. Conventions are wild, crazy, silly, and let’s face it fun. It’s a chance to dress up as Sailor Lannister, or see an AMV about Adventure Time set to music from Gwar. It’s where you blow money on frivolous and fun crap, or a TF2 bathing suit calendar**. Conventions are geek unbound.

Conventions are crazy and careerist. Putting on costumes and discussing how to be a writer while dressed as Rorschach from the Watchmen. Sure some people are there for more one side or the other, but a lot of people seem to go to conventions for both.

That’s because the two sides of silly and serious are really inseparatble.

The fun of conventions is awesome. It is liberating. It is social. It is even an experience that can teach you a lot about yourself as you cut loose. That disinhibition is often needed, usually relaxing, and at times insightful. There is nothing, nothing like being at a 20,000 person event and watching the joy on people’s faces – and then realizing just why it’s important.

People who know that joy, who’ve had those insights, often want to develop themselves. They also need the professional experiences, the career advice, the voice acting classes so they can create or expand a career. Part of their joy, their fun, there interest is to be part of the “scene” of the convention and geekery as a creator or a coder or a writer. One insight at a panel can make your career, one event can give you the tool or inspiration you need to truly be something new.

We need the fun of conventions as we need humans really do need fun. But also conventions are a place that are ideal for people to get serious and learn. The fun opens us up and relaxes us, teaches us and lets us be us. The career elements, the serious elements, focus those of us looking to channel that geekery (wether realized at the convention or elsewhere) into productive form. Often we need the fun to realize what we need to focus on – as many of us doubtlessly experienced in our own careers, where a momentary insight of “something” set the path for us.

When I realized this, there in the artist’s alley, decades of convention attendance suddenly made a little more sense to me. The convention scene’s dichotomy isn’t a dichotomy at all – it’s self-reinforcing, fun and focus. At it’s very best a good convention lets you cut loose – and then shows you where to go when you are loose. A good convention reinforces all of you – and all of the geekdom in attendance, whatever there needs.

After that insight I didn’t even feel that old. I was just a guy who saw his place in the big scheme of things. The Elder geek doing career panels and insightful events, and helping run things so the crazy and the serious could continue.

I enjoyed the convention even more after that – and Fanime is a blast as it is.

The Importance Of Play

An aside to my realization about conventions existing in that dichotomous space, I want to focus on the importance of play in human beings. It’s something I could probably do more of as an Elder Geek as I’m usually pretty serious.

Humans need to play. Not just children, but all humans. We need moments to cut loose, get crazy, experiment, pretend, get away so we can get into something else. Play is exercise of mind and emotions, and a situation where we let our guard down to be more ourselves and less what we think we are (and others think we are).

Conventions are fantastic to fill this need. Conventions are great opportunities for play, for fun, with people of like interests and focus. Conventions, in short, fulfill a very human need – the need for play doesn’t end with childhood, no matter what people may think when they pretend to be serious. There’s no difference between a child playing war and an adult playing Fantasy Football except we credit the latter with somehow being mature.

So as much as I do serious things, as much as I’m Mr. Career and Mr. Civic Geek that’s what I do. That’s what I’m good at. That’s my contribution to the play/work fusion of geekdom. Not everyone should be like me, do what I do – a convention of nothing but me would be boring***.

I sincerely hope conventions never get too serious, too professional, too practical. They’re a great chance for fun in geekdom.

That fun of course leads to new opportunities to be serious, professional, and practical – but we’d never have these opportunities if, for a moment, we weren’t playing around.


– Steven Savage

* I’m looking at you, every guy playing Gray Fullbuster or a guy from Kill La Kill
** If you think I’m joking, I’ve seen several pieces of “beefcake TF2” art at conventions. The Scout is in the lead, followed by the Medic. I don’t need to think about this.
*** But handsome.