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. Anime St Louis (ASTL) is the one convention that we consistently look forward to every single year. At ASTL, con goers will feel right at home with friends and have so so much fun and activities to choose from, that it rivals much bigger conventions in the area. ASTL is once again drawing more and more cosplayers from around the country to attend and may soon even outgrow its venue. So what makes Anime St. Louis so special? Let me break it down for you!
Anime St. Louis 2019 Con Weekend Badges. Artwork by Inspired Ink Studios.
ASTL is very good at offering multiple pre-registration opportunities. Con goers, whom pre-registered, were also able to pick up badges Thursday night at the convention center once again this year which helped minimize the 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 $15 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. Anime St. Louis this year again offered badges for Chaperones for an increased price this year, $20 instead of last years $15. These badges were meant for adults ages 30 and older, that were purchasing a badge for a person under 18 years of age. I once again was able to pick up my badge on Thursday evening making Friday a.k.a. Day 1 of the convention smooth sailing and I was thrilled to get to avoid any lines.
The Con Chair Jeremy could once again be seen watching over con goers and running the con to his best ability. This year they once again we're a bit "extra" with the security checks which also made leaving/entering the convention center area more of a hassle. Although I thought this was a joke, due to the exact same situation happening last year, there was a "ban" on Selfie Sticks once again while picking up badges on Thursday night but after speaking directly with the Con Chair this was thankfully resolved by Friday. Convention staff and volunteers were both professional and a pleasure to be around as what I have come to expect from my previous years attending this convention.
The location for Anime St. Louis was the St. Charles Convention Center for it's 4th consecutive year. I can not express just how much of a great location for a convention this is. This site is very easy to find and travel to, with just a quick exit straight off the highway. The convention center is covered in picturesque photo locations. If you need naturescapes, gritty backdrops, or even your typical hallway shot there is a location that will suit you. The convention center is easy to navigate with it's open floor plan and plenty of signage to help you find your way around. The Dealer Room/Artist Alley location within the convention center was great as far as space was concerned and comfortable to browse around for most of the weekend. On Saturday, as usual with conventions,more attendees did mean more traffic in the vendor rooms and halls but things continued to flow nicely. I was also happy that this year on Friday the guest autograph area was kept separate from the vendor room location which made things much less crowded and easier to get through, I wish this was something that they had done for the duration of the weekend.
The convention location, as I said before, is very easy to travel to and from. Another great thing about ASTL is that finding lodging that's affordable near the convention center was pretty easy. I will say however that as ASTL increases attendance each year the likelihood of obtaining a room in the ideal nearby hotel is getting harder and harder. Hotel room blocks open months in advance and you need to be ready to strike to get an on-site or super close hotel location. This is especially true for the Embassy suites since they are connected together with the convention center. Once again this year, those who booked with the Embassy Suites, were able to pick up their badges at check in to the hotel. Outside of the Embassy, the convention location is also surrounded by other various nearby hotels and many once again offered discounted rates for those attending ASTL.
Cosplay/Voice Acting/Musical Guests
The guests in general at Anime STL are always amazing and a highlight to the convention! I have to give credit to their amazing guest relations department, who every year continues to deliver high quality guests. I definitely had a fangirl moment when meeting Mr. Richard Epcar who voices so many awesome characters but most notably Batou from Ghost in the Shell. Not only is he an incredible voice actor but meeting him in person was a dream come true and he is such a sweet guy to boot! There were so many awesome voice acting guests at ASTL this year too including the amazing Cynthia Cranz (Yu Yu Hakusho/Shin Chan/Dragonball Z) and Wendy Powell (Fullmetal Alchemist/Claymore). This year there was some great cosplay guests as well. The talented and personable cosplayer Phil Mizuno was once again in attendance along with Pros and Cons cosplay! I personally was very happy to see Pros and Cons Cosplay there. They are a twin cosplay group from Missouri and not only do they do amazing work but it was nice to have cosplay guests of color represented at a convention. Other amazing guests ASTL managed to snag included the likes of Professor Shyguy, Caleb Hales, Daman Mills, Patrick “DJ Packie” Harting, etc
(Above) Voice Actor Guest Richard Epicar with me cosplaying as Motoko Kusanagi. (Below) LaKinta and I with a CKC fan in the vendor room at ASTL 2019.
ASTL is always buzzing during the weekend with plenty of things to occupy your time. While of course offering the convention essentials of tabletop, RPG, and card gaming events throughout the con there was once again so much more. ASTL hosted the Okashii Fashion Show again, which featured some adorable kawaii Japanese fashion designs modeled by volunteer con goers chosen prior to the event. They also once again held the Yokan Fashion Show, which displayed J fashion & Con-Couture indie brand & designer guests such as Hard Decora, Bi Bi Sama, and Enchanted Dream Wear. Other events and activities featured at the convention were the 90’s Nostalgia Prom, ASTL Food Showdown competition, Anime St. Louis Got Talent show, a Loltia Tea Party, and also an Anime St. Louis staple, the Nerdy Night Lounge. A new addition to the events and unique features of ASTL this year was the Cosplay Market Place. This event worked like a huge cosplay garage sale allowing for cosplayers to part with some older cosplays and make some money for new ones! The panels, once again this year were hosted mostly by cosplay and voice acting guests along with Vitamin H, a professional panelist group. Panel themes ranged from your typical Cosplay 101s to guest Q&A sessions. I was lucky enough to host a panel at this years convention and it was highly successful. But more about that later.
Anime St. Louis 2019 Program book, cover artwork by Kevin Bolk.
So let's talk about something I know all us con goers wanna know about…. How is the vendors room?! The Dealer/Vendors’ room at ASTL was once again pretty good this year but I also once again I was disappointed in the minimal local/handmade vendors at the convention. Despite this small hiccup the vendor room was definitely packed full of all things manga/anime, figures, japanese fair, etc that your heart desired. Overall the dealers room was good and had something for everyone within its walls. My personal favorite vendors this year were Magpie’s Masquerie, Haha Anime, and Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co. Wild Bill’s had so many tasty flavors of soda to choose from and once you buy their cup/mug, prices ranged from I believe $12-$25 depending on style, it was yours to use and refill up all weekend and at any convention they are at for a small price of $5 a day. I was also happy again to see some great artist at Anime St. Louis including Kate Sherron (Amazing World of Gumball/Invader Zim) and Inspired Ink Studios, who were the artists that designed this year’s ASTL badge.
Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts with my personal groups photo shoots, I was unable to attend the Anime STL Masquerade this year. Many con goers in and around the convention had mostly positive comments about the masquerade and set up. However there was some disappointment in chosen winners at this years even but without having seen the outcomes myself I really can’t comment on it.
Con Program Book
Anime St. Louis always has some of the cutest designs for their program booklet. This year's cover art was by Kevin Bolk, an artist known for his work with Nickelodeon and Tokyopop featuring some adorable food themed characters. The layout and panel descriptions in the book were easy to understand and while there was quite a few ads included in the book they were very helpful as many of them provided information to help guests find nearby restaurants and information from certain vendors. The book also once again included a layout map of the vendor room which made finding the artist or vendor you wanted to see very easy. Also a complaint of mine from last year was that it would have been great to have a map of the whole convention center with labels in the program book...well this year they did it! While technically not part of the convention book itself ASTL did provide a layout map of the convention center and the Embassy making this year much easier than in the past to find panel rooms and other locations around the con.
Hanging out with our friend YomuChan AT Shogun's during ATL 2019.
Our Con Highlights
Anime STL was once again such a highlight in itself for 2019. If I were to pick some things that made this particular Anime St. Louis special, it would have to be my cosplay group and friends being involved in a Cosplay Music Video (CMV), my posing panel, and our photoshoots! I was so excited that my friends and I were a part of Justin Pineda’s, from Justin Pineda P&V, CMV. We are featured towards the end of the video in our amazing cosplay from our Sailor Moon Villains group and the video just makes us look so commanding and powerful. It was such a pleasure to participate in and I know we are definitely looking forward to working with Mr. Pineda again. Also my panel was another piece that I feel made this year so special. I, along with some help from Seifer’s Stitches, ran a panel aptly named The Posing Panel. We tried to give a fun but informative lecture and tips to cosplayers and other attendees on how to pose for cosplay photography. Not only was the panel so enjoyable to present but, the turnout was fantastic and people were genuinely interested in what we had to say. I can only hope some of them will take these tips and tricks and turn out some amazing photos in the future. Speaking of amazing photos… This year was once again not short of some incredible photography shoots. We were lucky enough to work with the unmatchable talented, Mouzycat Cosplay Photographer for my AKIRA shoot and the awesome Thomas Ricks, known as @barkingbasset on Instagram for our Sailor Moon Villains group. I had a fantastic time again for my 5th year at this convention. I am already planning for next year and I am so excited to see this convention grow and become even more amazing than it already is. If you were wanting to attend a convention that has both big convention fun but small convention charm then Anime St Louis in St. Charles Missouri is for you. Next year should also be an amazing year since ASTL will be celebrating their 15th year! This year I give Anime St. Louis 2019 a 4/5.
RenChan, LaKinta, Luna, Digital Creme Cosplay, YomuChan, and friends hanging out at the hotel during ATL 2019.
Justin Pineda's CMV for Anime St. Louis 2019 featuring Curvy Kitty Cosplay.
REVIEW BY RENCHAN