Anime USA was the first convention that we attended that was not Otakon, and it was very refreshing to experience a smaller con. The convention staff was absolutely wonderful, there were plenty of guests to see, and all in all we had a great time.
Day 1 - Friday (11/18)
This convention was different than usual for us because it took place entirely in the hotel. It was not an unwelcome change, however, because it was neat to see what a smaller convention was like. We did not know what to expect, but it was really fun to see cosplayers filling the lobby when we went downstairs, and to be able to walk through the Artist's Alley before the convention even officially began. The convention technically started at 1:00 PM, but by that time we had already taken a bunch of pictures of cosplayers and bought stuff in the Artist's Alley. We got in line for the Dealer's Room before it opened, and it was really cool to join such a small line (in comparison to the Dealer's Room line on the first day at Otakon). The Dealer's Room had a good amount of merchandise, and the way they had it laid out was perfect. They even had arrows on the floor so you would know which way to go.
At Otakon we no longer try to get autographs from the guests because it is confusing to us and the rules seem to vary for each one. Since this con seemed extremely well run so far at this point, we decided to give it a shot and got in line for J Michael Tatum and Wendee Lee's autograph session. The line was pretty long and we ended up in line in a stairwell clear across the room from where the line started. However, the staff was excellent at keeping the line organized, and although the session started late, they kept everyone in line informed about what was going on. We were so impressed by one staffer in particular, we referred to him throughout the whole weekend as Line God (whenever a line began to form, he would magically appear and keep it organized). It is amazing how much more enjoyable waiting in line can be when someone is keeping it organized and running smoothly. There was no confusion by anyone about where the lines started, ended, or anything like that for any of the lines we were in throughout the whole con. This guy was great!!
As we neared the end of the line, the staffers mentioned that Wendee Lee's line was taking a bit longer and if anyone just wanted J Michael Tatum's autograph they could go up to his table at that time. Since we were just interested in getting his, we decided to do that. He was really nice and signed and personalized our program books. We were so excited to meet him, and it was really cool to get the chance!
The first panel we attended was Monica Rial's, at about 7 in the evening. The room was small, but it was a really fun panel, and the smaller setting made it seem more personal. She was very funny and entertaining, and we enjoyed the panel very much. She did a lot of voices and talked about all her different roles and experiences over the years. We have been fans of hers for awhile now, and were very happy when we saw that she was a late addition to the guest line up for the con.
J Michael Tatum's panel on the first day was at 10 PM at night, which is the latest we've ever been to a panel at a con. We lined up early and sat a few rows back in the panel room, which was a little bit larger than the room that Monica Rial's panel was in. We've seen his panel before at Otakon, and this one was just as fun and entertaining as we remember that one being. He talked about a lot of different experiences in the booth (including voicing the scene between Sebastian and the nun in Black Butler, and doing France's voice while wearing a blue snuggie), and we had a great time.
Day 2 - Saturday (11/19)
We started Day 2 with breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and then went down to do some more browsing and shopping in the Dealer's Room and Artist's Alley. We attended Micah Solusod's panel, and despite one attendee who would not.stop.talking (no one wanted to hear her thoughts or responses on every question he was asked), it was enjoyable overall. He talked about voicing Soul, being mistaken for Johnny Yong Bosch in some of his roles, and his artwork, among other things. Once the panel was nearing the end he offered to sign autographs for the attendees, which was really cool. We each got a card of his artwork signed, and were very excited!
After his panel we attended the "Inside the Voice Actors Studio" panel, which included J Michael Tatum, Wendee Lee, Trina Nishimura, Tony Oliver, Monica Rial, and Micah Solusod. They were asked questions about their favorite holiday traditions, favorite and least favorite places, sounds, words, and other things like that. It was fun to see, and this was the first panel we've ever seen Wendee Lee and Trina Nishimura in. Trina, in particular, had fun answers to a lot of the questions. It seemed like all the guests had a pretty equal amount of time to share, and we were glad we attended the panel.
We ate dinner in the hotel bar and were really excited when we saw Turks cosplayers posing at the bar for photos. We couldn't think of a more perfect spot for a photoshoot for Reno and Rude! These guys were great! After dinner, the only thing we really wanted to do was to attend the concert for Matenrou Opera, which was at 10. We lined up early and got good seats once inside, but the noise and bass were just too loud for us and so we left after two songs. We can handle loud concerts, but the size of the room was not that big and the volume was just so loud we couldn't even hear the vocalist.
Day 3 - Sunday (11/20)
There was not very much that we wanted to do on the last day of the con, other than see J Michael Tatum's panel. In the morning before we checked out of the hotel, we browsed through the Dealer's Room and Artist's Alley one more time, although the only thing we bought was a Hetalia keychain. Afterwards we checked out of the hotel and then got in line for the panel. We got really good seats for his panel (second row!), and as usual, it was a lot of fun. J Michael Tatum is a great panelist to see - he always has entertaining answers for the questions he is asked and he has great stories to tell. In this panel, he talked about his most memorable convention experiences over the years (which included when an eight year old girl told him in no uncertain terms about how he better not mess up Sebastian's voice in Black Butler) and when he uses his character voices in everyday life.
Anime USA was a great convention, and we are very happy that we attended. Although we are more used to larger conventions, this one was a lot of fun and we would very much like to return to it again in the future!
To see the full size autographs and details, click on the images below to visit our autograph section.