ANIME FESTIVAL ORLANDO 14
This year’s Anime Festival Orlando, held from August 16th to August 18th saw many changes from previous years; all which will help set the convention miles of the rest.
Most notably was the change in venue from Wyndham Orlando Resort, to the Renaissance Orlando, located across the street from Sea World. While the hotel itself is stunning, rooms were also more expensive, and parking was $18 a night. So unless, like me, you have a lot of heavy equipment to bring in, stay close by, there were plenty of nice hotels a 10 minute walk away.
The second major addition is that of Orlando Music Festival Go! (OMFG for short), where geek inspired musicians held concerts all weekend long. For the first, there was quite a variety, ranging from video game inspired rock (Final Weapon, Random Encounter), to hip-hop (Phelonius Phunk, HD Ninja, End Hibernate), to J-Rock (S.S. Hanami), to singer-songwriters (Rhythm Bastard, Hanabi*Flare) and DJs (DJ Quietly, DJ ROboRob). Unfortunately, between the concert hall being out of the way, toward the far end of the Artist’s Alley, and the sound barely reaching doors, it was rare that a curious onlooker would come in and discover a new favorite band. Regardless, there plenty of good shows all around, and hopefully AFO can advertise it more, or put the festival in a more central location.
Finally, while I didn’t participate, the con tried something never before seen with “Rocket Rangers Of Orlandia”, a podcast/card game/interactive experience, where you can earn collectible pins, collect clues for missions, and help write the storyline to the accompanying radio show. It was an interesting experiment, and a made the weekend a more social experience.
There was certainly no shortage of things to do. Across the way from Rocket Rangers Of Orlandia, the Game Academy were selling trading cards of all stripes from Magic The Gathering to Vanguard, and plenty of tables where attendees can duel all day. The Sleeping Samurai ran LARP tourneys all weekend for prizes, and every time I passed the area, there was a large 8-man foam sword brawl going on.
A video game room held regular tournaments, with all the usual fighting game staples, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but, possibly the most surprising, Divekick, a parody fighting game where there are only two buttons: Dive and Kick. All hits are one hit KOs, and there are plenty of fighting game community injokes. The game was supposed to be released that Tuesday, but attendees got a chance to play it ahead of time.
Guests were a mixed bag, with plenty of “OH, THAT GUY/GIRL!”, with Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy, (Bulk and Skull of Power Rangers), Debi Derryberry (Jimmy Neutron), Jennifer Hale (Female Commander Shepard from Mass Effect), Ali Hilis (Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII), and more.
Anime Festival Orlando has been going on for 14 years, and it seems like it could only get better from here on out.