PortCon Maine is New England's oldest anime and gaming convention, held annually in southern Maine. The fan-based convention's organizers are committed to maintaining a relaxed, small-convention atmosphere which focuses on promoting socialization among attendees, guests, artists, and performers.
For its sixth year, PortCon returned to the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in South Portland, Maine. The layout worked well, with a round open foyer in the middle of the convention space with offshoots of hallways and rooms filled with panels and events. Attendees found space to hang out between the comfy hotel lobby and a small garden area outside. For cosplayers, the convention improved its sophistication by including craftsmanship judging as part of its masquerade criteria for the first time. However, despite the best efforts of the congenial staff, the narrow halls were crowded and the dealer's room and artists' alley were crammed full of people. Popular panels, including J-Pop Idol and the AMV contest became downright claustrophobic as standing-room-only crowds squeezed into the tiny conference rooms. Events held in the main ballroom were more comfortable, but the green room packed full of Masquerade participants was stifling. If current trends continue, PortCon's attendance could swell to over 2,000 in the next two years; hopefully, the con will be able to expand to comfortably accommodate its new found popularity.
I arrived in South Portland late Thursday night, staying with Crazy Flower at the Days Inn down the street from the convention center. Friday morning I got into my Super Chibimoon costume complete a near life-size plush unicorn which I dressed up as Pegasus! I�d had the giant stuffed animal since I was a little kid, and finally found the perfect use for it. At the convention center I explored the dealer�s room and artist�s alley; at one of the booths I took a photo with a Wicked Lady cosplayer who made really cute chibi pins. Later that morning, a random attendee ran up to me and gave me one of those pins as a gift, and it had Wicked Lady on it! I was so surprised; random people don't usually buy me presents! Thanks again!
That afternoon I attended the J-Idol Contest, which was basically a karaoke competition mixed with a bit of cosplay and trivia. There were some pretty decent singers, although it was rather long so I didn't stay. I then headed for the AMV contest screening; the competition was mediocre with only a handful of entries. After the contest, however, there was a showing of a BRILLIANT Final Fantasy spoof filmed at Babson College. Not only was it really well shot and edited, but the script was entertaining enough to keep my attention for the duration of its runtime - a whopping 40-minutes! Seeing this made going to the AMVs more than worth it. You can watch the film on YouTube HERE. That evening I was introduced to Michela, Ginger, and Steve by Crazy Flower, and we all headed over to the ballroom to watch Sketch, Ladyhawke, and voice actor Mike McFarland perform in Anime Unscripted. After the show, everyone grabbed the comfy couches at the hotel bar, and we spent the evening chatting and sipping long island iced teas.
Saturday morning I got into Tifa and walked up Maine Mall Road to the con. It was my first time walking the route in costume alone, and I didn't much care for the honking and hollering from the traffic; in a group it's funny, but by myself it made me slightly nervous. Soon I was at the con and hung out with Sketch and co before watching some Sailor Moon Stars and changing into my Ruby costume for the masquerade. Crazy Flower got into her Queen Brahne costume for our Final Fantasy IX skit, and we mingled with several awesome cosplayers including a beautiful Sakura and Li from Card Captor Sakura. Soon, however, we were stuffed into a tiny green room which had no windows, no air, and stunk to high heaven. We were trapped for over an hour just waiting for the show to start, and once it did the video feed had no audio and the image kept fading in and out. Thankfully Crazy Flower and I were on relatively early so we could get the hell out of there.
Even though PortCon's Masquerade is relatively small, we pre-recorded our skit anyway, and watching the previous acts' failures in being heard or forgetting lines, I was glad we did. Our performance went really well, and once finished we were able to sit on the floor up front and watch the rest of the show. Highlights included a parody of �Charlie the Unicorn,� in which L from Death Note goes to Candy Mountain, and a group of cosplayers who replicated the entire �Men In Tights� dance from Mel Brooks� Robin Hood, including the CanCan flip which had the audience cheering. At the end of the show, we got a judge�s award for our skit from Sketch and Crazy Flower got a much deserved craftsmanship nod for her Queen Brahne. Steve, Ginger, and Michela also won awards. That night I headed to the rave to bust some serious moves and had an absolute BLAST. I won a few dance-offs and probably worked off my entire dinner. Afterwards, Ladyhawke, Crazy Flower, and I met up with Sketch and the other webcomic artists at the bar and I ended the night in a shopping cart. Yep.
I had to catch a bus out first thing Sunday morning so I didn't get to do anything around the event that day, but I had had a surprisingly awesome time and bonded with several new friends. For that alone, the trip to Maine was more than worth it. Hopefully I will be back next year. For such a tiny con, PortCon rocked!