For anyone going to AnimeFEST in Dallas this weekend make sure you check the schedule for Dai Sato, and do your best to attend.
We see Sato speak every year, and I have to say it is always the highlight of attending anime conventions. Not only has he worked on nearly every show that I hold dear (Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, Eden of the East, Eureka Seven to name a few), he always provides really good analysis and summery of the anime situation in Japan at any given time. He states it like it is and doesn't hold back on his opinions, but he does so in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. And also adds a good deal of humor to his lectures.
If you can find a way to attend, I think you will find it well worth the admission of the con, without even stepping foot in the dealers room.
AnimeFEST is a con I hold near and dear to my heart. I stumbled upon it by chance many moons ago when they were very small. They have always managed to eclipse the guests and talent of bigger cons in the area (*cough* A-Kon *cough*) and have manged to keep things under control (also unlike other cons in the area).
Not to rag on A-Kon too much (seriously though, they get bigger every year and have less and less guests every year. How does that happen??), but AnimeFEST has always seemed like the more mature con. The age group tends to skew a little older. More of a college crowd, and there seems to be a lot less Naruto and Bleach cosplay (not that there is anything wrong with that). But be warned it is much smaller in scale that A-Kon if you are use to the three massive stories of Con.
You can register here for AnimeFEST