Anime Milwaukee 2019
Guests. Anime Milwaukee is the leading con in the northern midwest in terms of guests (among other criteria). While the departure of Vic Mignogna from the community included a mutual cancellation with Anime Milwaukee, that did not prevent the convention from remaining a power player. Guests included Joel McDonald, DC Douglas, Ian Sinclair, Micah Solusod, VJ Dagaru, Reika, Moderately OK Cosplay, Comfort & Adam, J. Michael Tatum, Lauren Landa, Jerry Jewell, David Vincent, Adam Croasdell, and Japanese Visual Kei Group ACME. Overall these guests were delightful, warm, and ready to interact with fans. It was a privilege to meet most of them, and we hope you look forward to our exclusive content with these figures to be posted in the future.
Venue. Anime Milwaukee maintained its Hyatt + Wisconsin Center Venue from last year. It remains large enough to not have to share the space with other events. While some may gently miss the strange stares from the youth gymnast conferences or the pheasant hunting conventions from years passed, it is likely attendees are feeling more at home than ever in AMKE’s domain. Despite the occasional complaint about the somewhat distant skyway commute between the Hyatt and the Wisconsin center, most attendees seemed satisfied that they were out of the frigid Wisconsin cold.
Cosplay. AMKE is the golden child of the northern midwest in terms of cosplay to non-cosplay ratio. Attendees brought their best this year, and it was easy to see that the Boku no Hero Academia fandom remains dominant in the cosplay circle, however, revival of older series seems to be making a comeback. We witnessed classic Cartoon Network love with multiple Teen Titans and Scooby Doo groups. Surprisingly, there were few cosplays from the latest anime season, while 002 from last year’s hit Darling in the Franxx remains among the most popular cosplay
Artist Alley. AMKE blended the edges of artist alley in to the merch room this year. While other cons prefer a strict separation, I found this to be a nice opportunity for the artists, as often they are easily ignored in favor of merchandise. With the gentle blend, it allowed more exposure for the AMAZING artists that were featured this year.
Merchandise. AMKE’s vendor room is a special place. While the line between artist alley and merchandise became a little blurred, there was plenty of desirable merchandise to be bought. While lolita, rave, goth, and traditional Japanese fashion shop were present, I was disappointed to see a lack of cosplay retailers to compliment the somewhat frequent wig retailers. Also lacking was adult content booths, notably only Fakku’s booth was present, but it was placed in a more obscure space than last year. This is presumably due to the next generation of anime fans populating the convention. After all, conventions are a space for everyone.
Panels. Outside of the merchandise room, we found that there was a dense offering of activities aimed at the 18+ crowd. AMKE stands out in that it’s 18+ panel selection surpasses many cons. Additionally, AMKE does an outstanding job of providing attendee accessibility to guests, having guests host multiple informative panels. Friday’s Voice Actor was spectacularly entertaining, especially given Adam Croasdell is still adjusting to the anime community, and learning as much from the attendees as they are from him. It seems the surprise gem of panels was DC Douglas’ Notorious Erotic [zombie related] Fanfic Show. Among the younger audience panel offerings, the Yuri!!! On Ice cast’s panel stole the attention and hearts of an at-capacity audience. Overall, panel variety was strong, there was seldom a time in which we felt as if there wasn’t something interesting happening over in the panel rooms.
Gaming. Hosted in what was once AMKE’s preferred concert venue space, tabletop gaming held busy groups of invested friends. Additionally, the video gaming area was solid, and had just what people were looking to play. Members of the fighting game community especially found themselves satisfied.
Organization. AMKE has excellent organization in terms of badging/registration. For press, pickup was smooth despite an instance out of their control in which badges were unable to printed on schedule. The devoted staff made sure we had badges, nonetheless. Pre-registration and at-con registration lines moved quickly, thanks to a properly-staffed convention. Among the standout workers at the convention were definitely the lovely people at coat-check, who were charming, fun, and always there. If there’s any organizational complaint of the convention, it is that the schedule was not included in the booklet. While having the schedule on separate sheets is nice, when I wanted to refer to panel options, they were organized by theme, and not just chronologically. While this is a unique choice, I feel it was difficult to easily locate descriptions of panels when my team and I were curious about the options.
Special Events. After an incredible rave last year that featured Teddyloid, we struggled to believe that this year’s could measure up. The DJ’s were spectacular, but there was no featured artist from Japan in the set this year. Instead, we got an amazing performance on Friday night from Japan’s ACME. They stole the show and everyone’s hearts. It’s no surprise how long the autograph line was after their half-time performance during the Masquerade cosplay competition on Saturday. The Masquerade itself had some solid cosplay. While the emcees were charmingly geeky, AMKE’s contest department in desperate need of help when it comes to people who can properly pronounce Japanese names and titles. Meanwhile the Cosplay Combat Chess, while less popular, remains on the rise as a featured event. Those who attend agree that it is one of the convention’s highlights.