Let me sum this one up really quick.
Farpoint = Shore Leave.
Same hotel, mostly the same staff, same setup, similar scheduling, et cetera. Now, I'm not saying this to imply that it's a bad thing. If you recall, I rather enjoyed Shore Leave. I came into Farpoint knowing that I was starting the first half of a two-con streak (with Katsucon the following weekend), but my stress didn't actually colour my opinion of the convention itself in any way.
The guests this year were excellent. They seem to be on a Stargate/Farscape junket, which is probably a good thing if you're a fan of both (I've seen just enough of both to get jokes about them, and apparently ended up going 'WAZZAP!!!!' to Scorpius backstage without realising it.) High on my list, though, were Bob Bergen (the new Porky Pig and Tweety, one of Lupin III's newer and better dub voices, and Masaru in the dub of Akira) and Kathy Garver (Cissy from the original Family Affair and Firestar from the Spiderman cartoon series). The two of them ran a couple panels on voice acting -- much more realistic and informative than a lot of the things you'll see at anime cons. There was actual discussion of business, how to put together a demo reel, the proper way to conduct yourself when calling a studio, and a diction lesson, among other things. And I can say with pride that Lupin III taught me the proper way to bark like a dog.
All the 'how-to' panels seemed to be conducted that way, and I was really impressed. I find myself guilty at anime cons of not doing the panel so much on how the audience can go about what they want to do as on what I personally do, in a way that can't really be practiced. As another example, Rachel and Cheri of Luna-C did a crossplay panel (aimed mostly at girls), and a great deal of it was theatrical theory and actual costume stuff you could go home and put into practice. Same thing with the voice-acting class -- we were given things we could take home and work on. This was so much more an informative, hands-on con, and I actually walked away having learned ... which is rare at a con these days unless all you want to learn about is funny backstage industry stories. If anything, it's really changed my outlook on how to do a panel.
Again, the masquerade was a quick affair, as most people had a quick little time limit. The children are always adorable, and the skits really had a punch to them this year for the most part. One thing I took a bit more notice of was the usefulness of the stage ninjas -- they're essentially available as 'props' for any skit that wants to use them, which is great for people who are just doing a workmanship presentation and want to leave the audience with a giggle.
Dealer's room was, as at Shore Leave, lovely. There weren't any fanzines there that I saw, and there seemed to be an onverabundance of autographs for sale, but in general the selection was very nice, and made me glad I only brought enough money for food and necessities. There is a bootleg table, though ... not sure how I feel about that, but felt it deserved mentioning.
Overall, a nice benign con ... not thrilling and chilling and death-defying, but fun and informative. I was hoping for boring at the very worst, and was pleasantly surprised that there were panels I could get into and that there wasn't an overabundance of rowdy fans. Good job this year, Farpoint.