ConnectiCon is a medium-sized multi-genre convention held annually in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. Unlike other major New England conventions which focus almost exclusively on Japanese anime and manga, ConnectiCon also caters to fans of science fiction, fantasy, comics, webcomics, and Western animation.
For its sixth year, ConnectiCon returned to the spacious Connecticut Convention Center, conveniently connected to the Hartford Downtown Marriott. Guests included science fiction actors Ellen Muth of Dead Like Me, Ethan Phillips and Robert Picardo from Star Trek: Voyager, bellydancer Amira Sa'id, and musical bands Konami Kode and Ikeda Katsu. The con also boasted an array of activities including panels, table-top gaming, concerts, AMVs, a masquerade, and several other cosplay events. Despite all the programing, however, events were so spread out that it was difficult to know what was going on and where. Additional promotion and signage would likely help, as would a more organized staff. ConnectiCon would also benefit greatly by integrating the "multi-genre" aspect into its main programing as currently it is an anime con with sci-fi guests tacked on as almost an afterthought. This could easily be accomplished by allowing non-anime cosplay or music videos into the contests and encouraging paneling and programing around popular themes like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. CTCon has a lot of potential to mature into a great event and it will be interesting to see how it evolves over the next few years.
I was looking forward finally checking out ConnectiCon as I had only attended strictly anime cons in the past and the multi-genre aspect intrigued me. I headed to Hartford after work on Friday and checked into the convention hotel with Steve, Ginger, and Michela. Saturday morning I got into Poison Ivy costume and attended the AMV contest screening where two of my entries made the finals: "Awakening Saturn," and "Path to Power." There weren’t any voting ballots or pencils in sight anywhere, so I took note of my favorites hoping I could vote later. There was an excellent Avatar: The Last Airbender video called "Say Goodbye" in the drama category, but in upbeat, one video was just footage of a TV screen with Super Smash Brothers beingn played to techno music with no editing whatsoever. I was horrified that this was allowed in the contest. On the way out, there were still no ballots; suffice to say I was not impressed by this contest’s organizers.
That afternoon I met Robert Picardo and Ethan Phillips, otherwise known as the The Doctor and Neelix, and then went to Anime Unscripted. Sketch and Michelle Knotz were performing, though PatD had to recruit me and several other audience members for the games. That evening I changed into Princess Reina to watch the masquerade, which had excellent hosts playing Jesse, James and Meowth from Team Rocket. They kept the show moving at an energetic pace, were consistently laugh-out-loud funny, and improvised clever jokes based upon the entries. They even managed to make reading the entry cards hysterical, as Jessie struggled for dominance, Meowth struggled against illiteracy, and James struggled against his own incompetence. The masquerade's entries were also refreshing; highlights included a solo Solid Snake cosplayer who, using nothing but a cardboard box, proved what a little ingenuity can accomplish. An xxxHolic dance skit to "RammaLamma” creatively conveyed the plotline of the manga and involved complex dancing. Once all the skits were finished, catwalk music played and the walk-ons proceeded one after another fashion runway-style, which kept the entire thing interesting. More cons should do this!
In stark contrast to the well-run masquerade, the AMV presentation was a disaster. Before the winners were shown, a new AMV was played because the organizers -whoops!- forgot to show it the first time. That poor editor! Then it was announced that the winners were not chosen by ballot, but by a panel of judges before the convention to assure the choices would be fair. It was bizarre that even those of us competing were not told this until now. I was happy to see the Avatar video receive Best Drama, but the Best Action winner was a romance video that had zero action in it and should have been recategorized. The judges didn’t like any of the Romance entries enough to choose a winner, Best Comedy was not even remotely funny, and the judges also decided that nobody won Best In Show either. WTF. Even worse, the SUPER SMASH BROS video WON BEST UPBEAT. There was no excuse for this as it was selected by the JUDGES. For any editor who slaved over their video, loosing to something not even qualified to enter was a slap in the face. The entire thing was a disgrace.
Sunday morning I had volunteered for cosplay chess as Princess Tutu; we had to arrive at 10am but were left with no direction until 11:30. When spaces were called, they were not what we were told in our notification e-mails. I had prepared my stunts to be a bishop on the board, but was told I was now a special attack for Ceras Victoria from Hellsing. Suddenly everything I had planned to do I had to scrap and quickly figure out new moves and attacks, as did many other volunteers. Even worse, many of the volunteers had never even SEEN a cosplay chess match and I had to explain to them how the whole thing WORKED. Why wasn’t the staff doing this? I was irritated by the entire thing and didn't even get to do my special attack because Ceras forgot about me and killed her opponent before I could come onstage. I was actually surprised the match went as well as it did considering all the lack of direction, but it was discouraging for participants who weren’t able to contribute what they planned. That evening I had a fabulous night out with PatD, Sketch and the crew which made up for some of the weekend’s drawbacks. Hopefully the con will improve on some of its mistakes this year.