07 Nov

Friday October 15th (1st Day)

I attended this anime convention during the above weekend for the 2nd year in a row. Held at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua, New Hampshire, the convention location is really a highlight. It looks like a medieval castle from the outside and has lots of period design on the inside. The environment really lends itself to a convention atmosphere, with easy to navigate hallways and ideal for the flow of traffic, which cons see no end to with long lines. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The theme of the convention this year was Gothic Horror, so there was a lot of focus on the themes, with several panels on zombies and similar topics. Late night is especially great at AAC. Friday night saw the panel on the topic of manliness hosted by the Nerdfit crew. This was pretty much a discussion about how to talk to women and be confident, with that unique Nerdfit atmosphere. BrentalFloss was also there hamming it up. I’ll never think about grapefruits the same way again. Be sure to check out their panels next time!

Later Friday night saw a panel on Effed Up Hentai, which fully earned its panel description. I was skeptical at first, but upon seeing the nature of goru hentai, in which violence is key to the presentation, I was definitely intrigued. I recommend this panel to those looking to learn more about this controversial topic in anime.


Saturday October 16th, 2010 (2nd day)

Saturday at 1pm saw Victorian Japan, from the same presenter as in 2009. Once again to encourage the audience to speak, she threatened to talk about her thesis! Fortunately for us, she had completed it by this time, so it was more of a gag that anything. I myself would have liked to hear about it, but it was still amusing.

Following directly at 2pm was my first panel on Kingdom Hearts. The turnout was amazing, with many having to sit on the floor. Despite some technical difficulties with the tech not being set up correctly and my presentation flaws (my comp is too old!) I think the audience had a great time. I especially liked the banter between Saix, Xemnas, and the audience. Many of the attendees had interesting things to say that I’ll be sure to consider for future panels. Face it, cupcakes make everything better!

The bootleg panel “REAL Bootleg Anime” at 3 pm is vital information for any congoer. As I learned from Bakuretsucon, far too many conventions still seem to allow the illicit selling of this phony merchandise, doing a disservice to the industry and cons alike. I found out everything I know about bootleg CD’s from the internet, but hearing more information about fake wallscrolls, plushies and suchlike is very important to know. Let’s have this panel again next year!

I unfortunately missed the Getting Awesome 101 panel at 7:30 pm and had to skip most of the Dance at 11pm, but I had a good reason. I participated in one of the unexpectedly awesome tournaments yet at a convention, Super Strip Fighter IV. This is a hentai game that mimics Super SF IV in every way, right down to the characters being based on certain SF characters like Ryu or Abel. Earlier games in this series mostly worked based on their sex appeal (or what little they actually had) with digitized graphics similar to Mortal Kombat. IV actually tries to be a real fighting game while still having some “unique” gameplay. I think I’ll leave it to you to figure out what that involves.

The tournament was surprisingly popular, running until 2am or so. I lasted quite awhile before my lack of skill at arcade sticks caught up to me. There were at least 20 people playing in alternating matches and the audience reaction to many of the modes made it a hilarious time! Let’s have it back next year, AAC!


Sunday October 17th, 2010 (3rd and final day)

Sunday is usually a slower day at conventions, with the main events including concerts and cosplay chess. While I did find less to do event wise, I was anxious to try my luck at trivia, hoping to win a free pass to AnimeBoston 2011. Unfortunately the panel was delayed from 11am and I had to settle for watching the rest of cosplay chess.

I never did find out when the trivia was actually held, but I did notice a sign that it was delayed one time to late afternoon, by which time I had to leave unfortunately. Free passes to one of the largest anime conventions on the East Coast are always a good thing, so I hope they are present at AAC next year!

I did have a surprisingly good time at noon watching “the Best of Robert Axelrod” probably best known as Lord Zedd from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. This slot consisted of watching some old episodes that were hilarious and oddly compelling to watch. It is a testament to the silliness of Power Rangers that the show can be just as fun to watch when you are older as when you were a kid. That crazy addictive theme song probably has something to do with it as well.

2pm saw the panel Post-Con Depression: Coping Skills. A con ending is always a bittersweet time for those involved; you reminisce about the good times you had, the fun events you saw, and the new friends you made. This panel was all about how to deal with the depression that naturally appears when you suddenly have to go back to your non-anime life. I for one am glad that there are conventions year round in every part of the country now, so if you are able, you can be sure that the next convention isn’t far away. Thanks to the host for this great panel idea and for helping me to find out about a new convention in Connecticut called Gobblecon. See you there!

Unfortunately my roomies had to get back to Boston before the feedback session at 6pm, so I had to miss the most important part of any convention. Feedback determines what went right, what went wrong, and what went crazy. I always encourage people to attend these panels because the organizers will never know how they did unless you let them know!

Lord Zedd from Power Rangers!

Wrap Up and Final Thoughts

AAC was a lot of fun this year and I thank the staff for hosting all of my panels, highly experimental as they were. I don’t think I’ll be doing the Starcraft II one at non-gaming cons anymore, but thanks for the opportunity to test out its audience potential.

When it comes to negative things, I was surprised at the state of the tech setup this year. I arrived to my panel on Kingdom Hearts early in order to set up properly, but when I encountered problems, I was really surprised to find out that the equipment wasn’t set up properly. The audience understood, but it wasn’t as easy to find technical staff as it could have been. An audience member was kind enough to hunt for one, but it was a jarring thing to discover. Fortunately this issue disappeared by the time of later panels. Unfortunately, I talked to several panelists who had similar problems throughout the weekend, depending on the room.

I also talked to some con attendees who wanted me to call attention to the following. The Name that Anime panel originally was scheduled for 6:30 pm on Saturday, but the hosts never showed up. There were signs pointing to the panel being moved to 8:30, but they still didn’t show up. I was told that when a Joker cosplayer asked the staff about this, they didn’t know anything about what was going on with the panel.

Let’s hope these problems were isolated to this year, as I would hate for the fun of AAC to be a let down in the future again. Hope to see you next year!

– Oliver Surpless

Stephanie’s feedback

I don’t have a day-to-day recount of what I experienced at this con, because it’s such a blur. When I was there I couldn’t think of what to write.

The only thing I can say to help the staff better things is this:  I avoided them as much as possible. The Security was pushy and made me feel uncomfortable. There was nowhere for us to sit and just hang out, as the hotel closed the lounge. Also, we understand that the halls need to be clear, but you need to understand that if there is a person in front of me, I cannot walk through them, people screaming in my face only makes me want to not come back to this con. This has been a problem I have had since I started going in 07, and this is the ONLY con I have had this problem at.   I dislike the security staff, I feel they could be MUCH more polite, and far less in my face. And saying “we’re a small con” is no excuse. Portcon is small. Portcon is in a smaller venue. Portcon manages. I hate to compare cons, but it’s not fair to pull that card when others seem to manage just fine with their size.  Although I have to say, the con chair here was very helpful, which I will now get to.

Something horrible happened to a friend at this con, as everyone is now aware of, and has been resolved. I want to thank the con chair for how she handled things. I thought it was very mature, and very helpful. No group of cosplayers should feel singled out or be afraid, which brings me to my next point on this con.

My experience is mostly cosplay based, as I am a cosplayer and I have never in my life seen a fandom come together like the Hetalia fandom did. We have been targeted, singled out, threatened. All it has done is make us a stronger family. I am proud to be a part of this fandom, and if anyone reads this, hug a hetalia cosplayer. They deserve it for the hate and rage we get for things other people have done.

Anyways, back to the con itself. A lot of the problems with things like the masq were not the staff itself fault, and I thought they handled the tech probems there as well as they could. Although while I think back to the masq, I wish to ask that the Deathnote pad guy think a little before mentioning some events. Mentioning the Seig Heil incident at Anime Boston caused another wave of hateful words and threats to Hetalia cosplayers. I know that was not his intention, but people are a mean bunch it seems, even if you just mean things as a joke.

In conclusion, the only issues I had with this con staff wise is that security is rude and nasty to the cosplayers, and a few were singling out specific fandoms to pick on from what I saw. I got no names, as I didn’t even see any of them with badges displayed, but I do know it was only a few security, mostly in the main lobby and halls. I hope next year is less stressful for all, and I can’t wait to see all the cosplayers there again.

– Stephanie Johnson

Kelly’s feedback

My experience at AAC was fairly relaxed. I had only a few issues. During the autograph session, there was a group in front of us holding up the line for one guest. The line setup was fine but they were chit-chatting and dawdling at the first guest in the row so everyone had to wait. Signing a couple items or doing a short hello video is one thing but idle chitchat is another. There’s limited time and several people in line.

The only other real issue I had was not fault of the con but the hotel itself. We were all punished for something only a few con goers, if they were attendees at all, that messed up the lounge. Not allowing us to sit there all weekend. That left nowhere really for us to congregate and just mingle. The other issue I had was a personal incident, when a hotel employee, she looked like management, was rushing down the hall with an assistant I’m assuming and while it wasn’t hard she did push me out of her way with a smack to my shoulder like I was a pest.

So it’s really that my only real issues with the con was with the hotel itself. As for my actual con experience, I did really enjoy myself.

– Kelly Fennell