ANIME ST. LOUIS
Anime St. Louis (ASTL, Anime STL) is a convention in the St. Louis area that has been entertaining us geeks for over 10 years. This convention is one of the biggest local anime cons in the St. Louis area. Panels and themes of this convention tend to be anime and cosplay based and is a perfect convention for first time con goers. This year once again was great and we are already planning for next year!
Anime St. Louis 2018 Con Weekend Badges. Artwork by Art of Tabby.
ASTL offered several opportunity periods for pre-registrations which offered a tier level discount as the convention drew closer. Con goers, whom pre-registered, were also able to pick up badges Thursday night at the convention center which greatly helped to cut down on lines for Friday and Saturday. At-door prices were $55 for the weekend, $40 for Friday only, $45 for Saturday only, and $35 for Sunday only. Child badges, for those 7-12 years old, where only $5 and kids under 6 years of age were free! Like most cons, Cosplayers were offered at discount of $5 off the admission price if their badge was picked while in cosplay. Once again ASTL offered badges for Chaperones for $15. This was for adults ages 30 and older, that were purchasing a badge for a person under 18 years of age. I was able to pick up my badge on Thursday evening which made going to the con Friday so much nicer to bypass lines.
The Con Chair Jeremy could be seen watching over us con goers and running the convention with pride. This year there was extra security checks which did make leaving/entering the convention center area a bit more of a hassle. There was even initially a band on Selfie Sticks, which was because of them being “potential weapons” but by Friday this ban had been lifted and the security checkpoints were utilized to make sure prop weapons were peace tagged and that bags were checked for any other "banned" items. The con staff, as they have been in all my years of attendance, were wonderful. Everyone my group and I encountered were both helpful and very pleasant to talk to with. Con Staff were easily recognizable at ASTL, with their con logo attire and badges. This made finding them to ask questions very easy. Our own Luna was once again a member of the ASTL Guest Relations team, helping keep the voice actors and guests comfortable during their visit to STL. From what we hear she did an amazing job, especially with Robbie Daymond.
The location for Anime St. Louis this year was the St. Charles Convention Center. This is such an awesome location for a convention. This is ASTL's third year of using them as their location and just like in years past it was wonderful. Not only is the convention center easy to find and get to, with an exit straight off the highway, but the location itself is ideal for gorgeous cosplay photography. The convention center is pretty easy to navigate with a open floor plan and signage to help you find your way around. The Dealer Room/Artist Alley space was great as far as space and was comfortable to browse in most of the weekend but, of course as Saturday arrived, it did get a bit tight in some of the more popular areas such as the place devoted to meeting guests as well as getting autographs. This was most likely due to the fact that the convention made the vendors and autographs share the vendor room space.
As I said previously this convention location is very easy to get to and travel to and from it was simple and for the most part non-stressful. Lodging near the convention center was great as well with the Embassy suites sharing the grounds with the convention center and literally being connected together. Also those who booked with the Embassy Suites, were able to pick up their badges at check in to the hotel. When it came to other lodging facilities, the convention location was surrounded by other various nearby hotels and many offered discounted rates for those attending ASTL.
Cosplay/Voice Acting/Musical Guests
The Cosplay guests at Anime STL this year were a favorite feature of mine. I was so excited that I was able to meet Brichibi Cosplay and Snow Cosplay, both of whom inspired me to create my cosplay group, Curvy Kitty Cosplay! Both of these ladies were so sweet in person and made me tear up upon meeting them. Brichibi and Snow work to help promote cosplay positivity in the community as well as positivity for cosplayers of color and of the LBGTQ+ community. They hosted multiple panels during the weekend which included some on women and people of color in the media. Of course the highlight of cosplay guests this year at ASTL was Yaya Han, who is one of the most famous and skilled cosplayers ASTL has featured. She spent a huge chunk of the convention at her booth and running panels. She was super nice, willing to take photos and talk with her fans. Other cosplay guests of ASTL included Ex-Shadow and Malindachan, husband and wife cosplayers and well as the deliciously handsome, Phil Mizuno who was so down to earth and wonderful in person. Anime STL also a had great line up of Voice Actor guests for 2018. The highlight for most being Robbie Daymond, the voice of Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon. Other awesome guests included Caleb Hyles (Youtube cover artist), Keith Silverstein (Overwatch/Persona 5), Marianne Miller (Madoka Magica/Sword Art Online), and more.
(Above) Cosplay Guest Brichibi Cosplay with me in the vendor room. Dream come true meeting her in person. (Below) Our InuYasha cosplay group with Yaya Han in the dealer room at ASTl.
ASTL was once again not lacking in entertainment for its attendees. Of course ASTL had the usual tabletop, RPG, and card gaming events throughout the con but, also so much more. ASTL hosted the Okashii Fashion Show, which featured some kawaii Japanese fashion designs modeled by con goers chosen prior to the event. They also had the Yokan Fashion Show, which displayed J fashion & Con-Couture indie brand & designer guests. The convention also held a ASTL Food Showdown competition, Anime St. Louis Got Talent show, and also returning again this year, was the Nerdy Night Lounge for a more laid back end to the con evening. The panels this year were hosted mostly by cosplay and voice acting guests along with Vitamin H, a professional panelist group. Panel themes ranged from artistic/cosplay skill improvement techniques to guest Q&A sessions.
Models at the Yukon Fashion Show at Anime St. Louis 2018.
So since we talked about the space for the dealer’s room, it might be nice to talk about the vendors and artists themselves! I have to say the Dealer/Vendors’ room at ASTL was pretty good. I am usually a little disappointed that there are not more local/handmade vendors at the convention but the vendor room was definitely stocked full. There of course was a lot of the mass produced items as well as larger business vendors such as Slackers and the usual Manga vendors... Despite having said that, what there was of the smaller vendors and Artists that were present was really good. The dealers room was definitely sprinkled with some gems throughout such as Miss Octopie, Sorbet Jungle, and my personal favorite Magpie’s Masquerie.
Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts with my personal groups photo shoots, I was unable to attend the Anime STL Masquerade this year. However in years past it has been awesome and from what I hear it was awesome again this year.
Hanging out with our friends at Anime St. Louis 2018. Left to right: Seifer's Stitches, YomuChan, RN NINJA, RenChan, Fuji Cakes, Wicked Warlock, and LaKinta.
Con Program Book
Anime St. Louis always does an awesome job with their program booklet. The overall all design was adorable featuring cover art by Art of Tabby!/Tabrakadabra The layout and panel descriptions were easy to understand and there was only a small bit of ads included in the book but also information to help guests find nearby restaurants and information from certain vendors. The book also included a layout map of the vendor room which made finding the artist or vendor you wanted to see very easy, my only critique would be that it would have been nicer to have also had a map of the whole convention center with labels in the convention program book so that panel rooms and other things were as easy to find.
Our Con Highlights
Anime STL this year was not short of things we enjoyed. One of my favorite things about ASTL this year was the Yukon Fashion Show! It had so many incredible designers that had amazing Gothic, Kawaii, and Lolita aesthetics. I was in love and definitely inspired to dress up. The models were also super into it which made it even more enjoyable to watch. The awesome designers included Miss Octopie, Puvithel, the Loltia Collective, and Belladonna. Of course another favorite part of ASTL was our awesome InuYasha and Escaflowne photo shoots with the amazing photographer and our good friend,Thomas Ricks. As we have mentioned in previous reviews his work can be seen on FOX 2 KTVI's website. Ricks is always such a pleasure to work and hang out with and we are blessed to call him a friend. Also it was wonderful to do these shoots with friends of ours RN NINJA, Fuji Cakes, Black Dahlia Cosplay, YomuChan, Seifer's Stitches, Link Warden, Shannon Warden, and Wicked Warlock Cosplay! I am so excited to attend ASTL again next year and I highly recommend them to anyone who is wanting to have a great con experience.
REVIEW BY RENCHAN
Our Escaflowne shoot with Thomas Ricks. Van Fanel (RN NINJA), Merle (RenChan), Hitomi Kanzaki (LaKinta), and Millerna Aston (Fuji Cakes).