Another Anime Convention is a growing anime and gaming convention held annually in southern New Hampshire. It features the standard con fare: panels, concerts, gaming, cosplay contests and performances, a combined artist alley/dealer's room, dance, formal ball, and several 18+ events.
For its fourth year, AAC returned to the Radisson Hotel in Nashua which provided a scenic backdrop for photos and plenty of space for attendees. Known for being a fun and laid-back convention, this year's event was soured by the attitude and behavior of the con's staff, which has gone downhill since the convention’s inception. Security staff were witnessed being flat out rude and threatening attendees on multiple occasions, and the convention’s refusal to police its often out-of-control young attendee base irked many older congoers. In addition, the maturity level of the programming and events was disappointing; most ended in 4chan-esque jokes, toilet humor, or relied on the outright bullying of paying attendees. Also frustrating for veteran attendees is the convention staff's inability to accept criticism and take steps to prevent previous mistakes, tried the patience of those who see the same things go wrong year after year. Although this convention was at one time youthful and fun, its staffing and programing choices need to be reevaluated.
I’d had fun at this con in the past and was excited that it was returning to the beautiful castle-like Radisson once again. Unfortunately things were not off to a good start Friday night when AAC security spent our entire wait in the pre-reg line screaming, rolling their eyes, and berating attendees. We were up against the wall trying to avoid traffic, but they had placed the registration table in the middle of a hallway where it was very difficult to avoid being bumped into. Everyone was cooperative and followed every rude direction, and the attitude of the staff was unwarranted and made everyone feel unwelcome.
After finally getting my badge, Stardust and I wore our Harry Potter robes for a photoshoot and checked out the AMV contest before heading over to Steve’s dance party panel. We had a blast dancing to the music and flashing lights. A breakdancer named “Dragon” showed off some amazing moves, and another kid was a talented poi raver who entertained us with his skills. After the party, Stardust and I downed Kamikaze shots and attended the Hentai dubbing panel. It had some really disturbing and occasionally hilarious imagery which was mocked Mystery Science Theatre-style. Before we could get too grossed out, we escaped up to PatD’s room to film our Year In Review for AnimeConsTV with Sketch, Doug, PatO and Bill Rogers. Stardust and I had two Tequila shots with sugar and lime before the taping and we enjoyed a wonderful evening hanging out with friends. You can watch our Year In Review episode with a really drunk Shiva HERE.
Saturday morning I wore my new Fran costume from Final Fantasy XII and got some great photos in the woods behind the hotel. I hung out with Sketch in Artist’s Alley and met some amusing steampunk artists who had a Kiwi bird as their mascot. They were amazed that Sketch and I had actually been to New Zealand and seen real Kiwi birds… though theirs looked completely different with a top hat and monocle! That evening we got into our Vocaloid costumes for the masquerade and went to PatD’s hotel room to rehearse. He was running a few minutes late and texted us to wait outside the room. In the few minutes we were there, a member of AAC’s security staff spotted us and proceeded to march over, inform us that he was “important” and threatened he could “make trouble for us.” We explained we were waiting for Patrick and he told us we were "lying" and didn't respond when we asked what the problem was. When we tried to walk away he threatened to "confiscate" our badges...even though it was a public hallway and we didn't even need badges to be there. Suffice to say he scampered off pretty quickly when Patrick showed up, but we did not appreciate being harassed by a power-hungry teenager.
The masquerade itself was also poorly run; we sat in the green room for over two hours before we moved to main events and the show started over an hour late after staff bungled audience seating. Katy and Steve did a great job hosting as America and Italy from Axis Powers Hetalia, though they were commonly given the wrong information to read by the organizers. The worst aspect, however, was that for the third year in a row, requests to do away with the rude and insulting commentary made via the video screens during the performances had been completely ignored because it “entertains the crowd.” When a newbie performer made a poor costume construction choice for her Princess Krahe tutu, the screen scoffed, “Boob tape don’t fail me now!” encouraging the entire audience to laugh at the girl’s mistake. No cosplayer deserves to be publicly humiliated by the convention staff during their performance, no matter how they constructed their costume. I was disgusted.
By Sunday, the maturity level of the attendees had taken a dive, and I observed them knocking people over and running full-tilt in and out of bathrooms past staff members who paid them no heed, while we were screamed at again for standing to the side of the hall talking. At least I got to be comfortable in my Glee costume, which is basically regular clothes. By late afternoon I had about had it with drama, especially now that I was all out of Tequila, and planned to head home, but Bill Rogers begged me to stay so we could all go out to dinner. I agreed to stay since he and the other guests made me laugh and I needed to laugh. PatD, Bill, and I piled into Patrick's car and had an amazing time with Michelle Knotz, Stardust and the crew. At least we ended the weekend on a high note.