Anime Central 2016 - Field Report & Cosplay

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Anime Central is a Midwestern anime convention put on by the Midwest Animation Promotion Society and has been steadily growing since its inception in 1998. While the numbers are still being counted for this past year, in 2015 ACEN attracted more than 30,000 in attendance making it one of the largest anime conventions in North America.
Anime Central Official Website: www.acen.org

Events/Panels

In case any of our readers missed it, Anime central, or ACEN for short, was about a month ago and we were there to document and record all the cosplay action! Luckily the weather was gorgeous, especially since Chicago’s springtime weather can be quite fickle, which brought cosplayers out in droves to showcase what months of burnt and paint stained hands have accomplished. The annual springtime event has quickly become one of the biggest anime conventions in the United States and continues to grow each year making hotel rooms sell like hot cakes.
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Like many other conventions, ACEN contains the standard draws such as a large dealers room, popular masquerade, and quite a sizable game room open 24/7, but one of the con’s most famous feature is the Soap Bubble, a giant rave that continues well into the wee hours of the morning. Unlike other raves, the crew running the con knows what its attendees want and never fails to fill the list of guest DJs with dozens of Japanese spin doctors who are ready to play for a more than willing American audience. This year was no different and the line to enter became so long that amateur DJs began to spin in the parking lot and host mini raves for those waiting in line. ACEN is a true party on through and through.

If partying isn’t the biggest draw, then there are other options. ACEN boasts hundreds of panels that continue well into the night for those wanting a late night gaming or an anime discussion fix. The fun truly never ends at this con and sometimes it can be hard to decide when to sleep! Every year this convention continues to become better at offering more options for con-goers. Sometimes it even becomes hard to choose what to do! The only option really is to clone oneself because ACEN is truly a con not to miss!

Special Guests

While ACEN may not have the star-studded lineup of Anime Expo, this Midwest con tends to attract amazing Japanese fashion designers and DJs as well as a healthy dose of voice actors in the mix. This year there was a good mix of guests who brought their products and entertainment to the convention.
mint neko

MINT NeKo:

“MINT, a designer of MINT NeKO was born in Shimane in 1984.

Fashion duet with the brand Sixh., MINT has created his own line called MINT NeKO. MINT NeKO uses oriental silhouette inspired by mode style with cat character graphics. There are actually more than 250 original kitty characters that are created and used in the garments.

MINT has created cat to collaborate into the world of fashion. MINT has collaborated with many Japanese artists and is becoming one of the leading young designer in Japan.” – via ACEN.org

Official Website: http://www.mintneko.com/

takahiro baba

Takahiro Baba:

“Takahiro Baba is the CEO of the Japanese anime, game, and visual novel maker VisualArt’s. VisualArt’s is well known for the production of ‘CLANNAD’ and ‘Angel Beats!’ as well as the distribution of I’ve Sound SAGA PLANETS. Since the founding of the company in March 1993, VisualArt’s continues to contribute to a sub-culture that produces creators that represent and influence this aspect of Japan. Baba is also a songwriter and creator. His hobbies include an interest in cooking, and he holds a rank of 2nd dan in kendo. – via ACEN.org

na-ga

Na-Ga:

“Na-Ga is an illustrator for the Key brand under VisualArt’s. He originally began as a graphic designer with Key, and debuted as an illustrator with the ‘Little Busters!’ visual novel, which was later made into an anime series of the same name. Na-Ga works in primary support of Itaru Hinoue, the artist and illustrator, who was one of the founding members of Key. Aside from graphic design and illustration, Na-Ga has found a calling in original character design, his most famous work being for ‘Angel Beats!’. Most recently, he has contributed original character design to the ‘Charlotte’ anime series.” – via ACEN.org

Eir Aoi

Eir Aoi:

“Eir Aoi (born November 30) is a vocalist from Sapporo, Hokkaido in northern Japan. Since her major label debut in October 2011 with single ‘Memoria’, the hits know no end, with ‘Innocence’, ‘Sirius’, ‘Ignite’, and ‘Lapis Lazuli’ among her many popular tracks. Her three albums to date have all enjoyed chart debuts in the top ten on Oricon.

With looks of an unattainable beauty and a voice that packs a heckuva punch, she’s got what it takes as she makes sure that her songs are heard around the world.” – via ACEN.org

Official Website: http://www.aoieir.com/

Shinji Orito

Shinji Orito:

“Shinji Orito is a composer for the Key brand under VisualArt’s. Aside from composing music for games and visual novels for Key, Orito is also a producer for the music label ‘Key Sounds Label’. He is also a singer-songwriter and a composer for several anime series. His most famous work is the opening theme of ‘AIR’, ‘Tori no Uta’. Among other titles, you can hear Orito’s music in ‘Kanon’, ‘AIR’, ‘CLANNAD’, ‘Tomoyo After’, ‘Little Busters!’, ‘Rewrite’, and ‘Harmonia’.” – via ACEN.org

Basic Information

Place / locationDonald E. Stephens Convention Center
Rosemont, IL
Length of eventMay 20-22, 2016
Cost These were the price tiers for the 2016 convention for a 3-day badge:

Before November 1st$43
Before January 1st$48
Before April 1st$53
Before May 5th$58
Onsite$70
Cost varies depending on the date of purchase. The cheapest way to get tickets is to buy early. Badge in Mail option available if purchased before a certain date, usually before April. Those that wish to attend the formal dance must pay an additional $10 at registration.

What to Expect:

Expect to not be able to decide what to do! There are so many options and the con lasts well into the night, so don’t expect to be sleeping much when there are so many panels and games to attend as well as dances to meet that special someone at.

The best days to go are Friday and Saturday. Friday has the smallest amount in attendance because most people are still working or in school during the day, so this is the best day to hit up the dealer hall or get that commission requested in the artist alley. Saturday is quite crowded, but all the major events happen on this day such as the masquerade and the Soap Bubble. Sunday is a great day for deals in the dealer room since most vendors don’t want to pack up everything they brought with them. Haggling is well received and many times a bargain can be struck.

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What to Bring:

It is hard to suggest items to bring for a con because the list really depends on the company in the room, but there are always a few essentials for any con experience. In order to cut down on costs, always bring plenty of snacks and drinks as most conventions charge an arm and a leg for a simple bottled water. It’s important to keep oneself hydrated, especially if cosplay is involved.

Towels are also a must since most hotel staff quickly run out of extras. To avoid this problem, just bring a beach towel from home and you’ll never have to worry about drying off. The same can be said with pillows and blankets since these are also highly requested and will save time by just bringing them with.

One of the most important things to bring is CASH. While many of the vendors have begun utilizing the amazing Square app which allows them to use cards, the app isn’t foolproof and sometimes may not work. Some vendors also do not use Square due to the fees involved so it’s always good to carry a decent amount of cash in hand for an item that is an absolute must.

Cosplay Gallery

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anime central 2016 lobby
Nikki Flores

Writer

Author: Nikki Flores

You may know me by my witty and excellent prose, but I assure you there is a real person underneath this brilliant exterior. As a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, I traveled to Okinawa, Japan in search of the One Piece. Together my crew consisting of a white dog named Yuki, an evil cat named Kyubei, the wise feline Pickles, and my ever supportive husband Aaron, we travel the globe seeking life’s greatest treasures. Oh, and I’m sure one day I’ll eventually meet Trafalgar Law in the New World. I hope. Please? *pout*

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