Anime Conji 2019 made a wonderful return after a two-year hiatus at the Mission Valley Marriott in San Diego, California. From the beautiful and accommodating venue to the food and vendor options, the con perfectly embodied what many veteran con-goers look for in the ideal “small con”.
From a cosplayers’ perspective, the con featured multiple well-received cosplay gatherings in a comfortably large courtyard, where shade and chairs were readily available. There was also a second and third courtyard that featured areas to relax, as well as the Okamoto Kitchen, a food truck featuring Japanese comfort food. With multiple areas to kick back and relax and plenty of complimentary water stations, Anime Conji made it easy to keep oneself hydrated, fed, and most importantly, comfortable.
The Mission Valley Marriott proved to be an outstanding venue; it provided a picturesque pool area that proved great not just for photos, but also for general lounging and comfortable after-con swims. The Marriott also offered a filling breakfast buffet that was sure to satisfy all diets and appetites. Parking was additionally widely available and easy to access throughout the weekend, making transportation convenient.
Perhaps one of the greatest factors about the con was the diversity and frequency of photoshoot locations. From flower walls and homey wood fences to edgy chain-link fence and an actual pirate ship, there was an appropriate setting for every type of character. This, accompanied with a very accommodating staff made photoshoots at the con entirely up to the photographer, a factor that is rare in cons nowadays. A specific photography room including backdrops only contributed to the con being incredibly photo-friendly for all skill levels.
Anime Conji provided multiple informative panels in its schedule, including choosing fabrics and design, working with EVA foam, and budgeting and planning. Someone could have arrived at the con with no knowledge of cosplay, and could have walked out with their first cosplay designed, budgeted, and planned through all the helpful information that was provided. A diverse spread of programming provided panels for every interest and provided valuable information for any eager to learn cosplayer.
Under the Black Flag, a California combat performance troupe brought out a 25-foot pirate ship and put on sword training with inflatable swords for any Jack Sparrow-to-be. The ship also provided a great photoshoot set just begging for any Luffy cosplayer. The experience proved quite popular with guests of all age groups and was widely attended throughout the con.
The only outstanding negative throughout the entire con was the vendor hall. Located in a separate tented structure outside, the room was not as well ventilated as the rest of the venue. In addition to the poor airflow, the room also had notably lower lighting, which sometimes made reading the fine print and appreciating the art on display a slightly more difficult experience. To the con’s credit, the vendor hall was consistently busy, so much as to strongly warrant a larger space within the Marriott’s air conditioning.
Anime Conji provided the near-ideal small con experience, one that is rare nowadays, and incredibly refreshing when found. It is definitely a powerhouse among small San Diego cons and is one that should definitely be added to any SoCal cosplayer’s con list.
*Check out the full photo gallery of the event HERE!