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Scenes from FanimeCon 2024

Cosplay, fashion, artists, and more at the huge anime convention in downtown San Jose

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Thousands of anime enthusiasts gathered in San Jose over Memorial Day weekend for the 30th anniversary edition of FanimeCon, billed as a convention “by fans, for fans.” It mostly took place at the San Jose Convention Center, but also spilled over to nearby hotels.

Attendees could choose from a dizzying array of activities—panels, gaming tournaments, cosplay gatherings, dances, film screenings, a manga lounge, and even speed dating—some running until midnight. Across the street from the convention center, the San Jose Civic Auditorium hosted a music festival and cosplay competition.

Another highlight was the J-Fashion area at the Signia by Hilton hotel. This convention-within-a-convention served as a showcase for an alternative fashion subculture that originated in Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood. This was fashion, not cosplay, featuring apparel and accessories designed for everyday wear.

Programming here included panels, an artisan market, and two fashion shows, one dedicated to “Pop” styles and the other to “Elegant” designs. The latter include Lolita fashions that draw inspiration from the Victorian era. I’m told it has nothing to do with the 1950s Vladimir Nabokov novel, which apparently is a frequently asked question about the look.

FanimeCon is well known to steampunk fans in the Bay Area because it was once held concurrently with Clockwork Alchemy, the local steampunk convention. The two events still share the same parent organization, the non-profit Foundation for Anime and Niche Subcultures (FANS), but since 2018 Clockwork Alchemy has been held on a different weekend.

I spent two days at the convention, mostly looking for interesting fashion and cosplay. You can see the highlights in the gallery below. Check out the website for more information, including news about next year’s event once it’s posted.


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