For local anime fans, one day was just not enough. Hot off the heels of a jam-packed Bak-Anime in January, the gathering of fans of Japanese animation and comics (manga) has grown to a weekend-long event with a dance party and two days of programming and games.
The expansion is just the latest for the event, which has continued to grow since it began three years ago at the DoubleTree by Hilton, said organizer Steve Wyatt.
"There are only two places other than the (Rabobank) Convention Center that could hold it: DoubleTree and here (Bakersfield Marriott). The space outside the DoubleTree was too small," Wyatt said of the move to hold the event at the Marriott downtown.
Wyatt, who also puts on the annual Bakersfield Comic-Con, opted to expand Bak-Anime based on the response from attendees.
"This is a hard time of the year to take a gamble," he said of adding a Saturday, which costs more to book based on its popularity for weddings and other gatherings.
"I really hope that for the fans of Bakersfield that it works. That's who it's for."
According to Wyatt, Bak-Anime will deliver with a trio of well-known video game voice actors, a cosplay (costume play) contest, concert by rock act akai SKY and an electronic dance party -- and that's just on Saturday.
Heading up the guest list is Jennifer Hale, known for the voice work in "Mass Effect" (as the female Commander Shepard), "Bioshock Infinite," "Diablo III," "Halo 4" and the "Metal Gear Solid" games. She will be joined by voice actor/directors Liam O'Brien ("Naruto," "Bleach," "World of Warcraft") and Sam Riegel (Donatello in the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cartoon series, Raven in Nickelodeon's "Winx Club"). The three will hold Q&As and autograph signings through the weekend. O'Brien and Riegel also will conduct a voice acting workshop as well as a live podcast of their video game-themed "All Work No Play" (for those 18 and over).
Although the podcast is just for adults, the concert by American-based J-rock (Japanese rock) band akai SKY concert Saturday night is all ages.
"We'll have an electronic dance," Wyatt said of the dance party in the main ballroom. "It will be age-appropriate. We'll have people there watching over everyone. Mom and Dad don't need to be worried about their kids."
Also on Saturday is the popular costume contest. Up to 30 individuals or groups will compete in a variety of categories, including craftsmanship, presentation, youth costume (13 and under) and original design.
"Our costume contest, it's one of the funnest events we have. It will be much more (elaborate) than the comic show. It will be a cosplay show opposed to a costume contest," Wyatt said of the competition that allows the option to perform skits reflecting their character.
If your creative skills are more visual than tactile, the art contest is still open for entries. Contestants have until 2:30 p.m. Sunday to enter their original work that must be no larger than 8.5 by 11 inches. (Full rules at bakanime.com)
Early submissions will be on display at the show, with judging on Sunday. First- through third-place awards will be given out for children (12 and under), teens (13-17) and adults (18 and over).
Along with the contests and panels, the weekend will include gaming. This year marks the first time the vendors have teamed together, with Leeters, Paladin Games and X-Tream Game Pit offering demos and tournaments for Magic the Gathering, Cardfight! Vanguard, YuGiOh and more.
Since the audience for anime skews younger (about 15 to 25) than comic-book fans, Wyatt said he adjusted the show planning to suit the fans.
"At the anime show, kids like to run around all day and have a good time. At the comic show, they buy stuff and head out. This is more about making friendships."
Wyatt said he's heard plenty of positive stories while promoting the event at places like First Friday.
"A girl I talked to she said she met her two best friends at Bak-Anime."