Best Romance, AMV Contest
Best Fun/Upbeat, AMV Contest
Best Master Performance, Masquerade
Sketch's Special Activities:
Masquerade: Performance Judge
Michela, Shiva (x3), Sketch, Albert Ng, Shiva, PatrickD, Shiva (x2)
For it's sophomore year, Another Anime Convention moved to the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Nashua, having already outgrown its original location in Manchester. Although AAC is small and young, the convention managed to pull off a polished look; their program guide and artwork were on par with larger conventions and AAC’s events, including their formal ball, AMV contest, masquerade, and rave, were all aesthetically and technically well put together. A unique and popular feature of 2007’s event was that many panels and events featured free food, from a Japanese snack table to gingerbread man decorating. That said, the convention was not without issues; communication between staff and attendees was poor, and there was a lot of confusion in regards to locations, event times, and how to sign up for certain functions. It was also difficult to identify staff and security team members, as many were in costume and did not wear identifying sashes or tags. The layout did not facilitate attendee traffic and noise from the halls or other events routinely spilled over into panels and video rooms. Finally, the inclusion of insulting commentary typed on-screen during the masquerade displayed questionable judgment by staff and took away from the performances. These difficulties, however, are easily solvable growing pains, and hopefully AAC is able to work through them as it matures.
Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
Shiva had heard good things about Another Anime Con’s premiere the previous year and was excited to check it out for the first time, while Sketch, after being roped into judging the masquerade with PatrickD the previous year, was invited back as a judge. Miscommunication already plagued Sketch's weekend before the convention even began; the AAC website never posted any information about Artist Alley table signups, and six weeks before the convention, AAC sent emails to those who had tables the previous year asking if they would like to return. Despite being a returning artist, Sketch never received an email as the Artist Alley coordinator weirdly assumed PatrickD and Sketch were sharing a table and never sent an email to Sketch. By the time the error was discovered, all of the tables had been claimed, much to both Sketch and Patrick's annoyance. Regardless, Sketch arrived Friday and was impressed by some of the other improvements the convention had made, including the new venue. Overall, he hoped that the con had learned from some of its first year mistakes.
Shiva arrived Friday afternoon and changed into her Arwen gown before meeting up with Sketch for some socializing before the Ouran Host Club Ball. An elegant tent had been set up in the courtyard and decorated with paper lanterns and twinkling lights; after the hosts checked in guests they escorted them to the tent. The music was well-chosen and soft enough that guests could chat with their dance partners, and the staff served sparkling cider in wine glasses and handed out soap bubble favors. The atmosphere in general was much nicer than balls we'd been to at larger conventions; the only drawback was the low attendance. Communication about how to sign up for the event was buried in the convention website's forums and a strict attendance cap of 50 people was applied to those who successfully signed up ahead of time. Many of those who signed up never actually showed up, however, and there was no backup plan to allow in people who hadn't signed up to fill out the space. As a result, the dance was nearly empty, and after a few enjoyable dances and some amicable chatting among guests, there wasn't actually much to do other than leave.
After the dance, we hit up Leelee's costuming panel, which she ran well but the entire presentation was often interrupted by an obviously intoxicated attendee. Shiva left midway through the panel to ensure she made it to the AMV contest as she had two videos competing, and was joined, not long afterwards, by Sketch and the rest of the crew who informed her the intoxicated person puked everywhere, bringing the panel to an abrupt end. Shiva was grateful she missed THAT part, as apparently it was horrible. The AMV contest was also plagued with issues, as technical difficulties delayed the start for almost an hour. When it finally got going, we were impressed with the quality of the entries for a small convention; highlights included “Senshi No Moondance,” a Sailor Moon action video, and “Hypnerotomachia,” a surrealistic video bordering on avant-garde theatre. After the contest wrapped up we hit up a Japanese snack panel, leaving with our pockets stuffed full of Pocky and bowls of matcha ice cream, which we brought back to the hotel rooms for an enjoyable evening of socializing.
Saturday morning Shiva was up early and into her Chibimoon costume to attend masquerade rehearsal; the masquerade staff wouldn't begin until all entrants had arrived, and many cosplayers were late which delayed the entire process so much Shiva was getting very frustrated with the whole concept. Though she appreciated being able to ask questions, check the volume on their sound, and go over cues with the tech staff, she could not understand why they didn’t just rehearse in the order that groups arrived rather than making everyone sit there until the entire entrant pool had showed up. Afterwards she and Crazyflower were sent to craftsmanship judging and the judges went over every inch of their costumes asking thoughtful questions, which was nice. Afterwards Shiva changed into Tifa and spent the rest of the day hanging out with Sketch and PatrickD in Artist’s Alley, which was a hallway outside the ballrooms. This setup was great for foot traffic, but when a concert started up in main events the sound spilled so loudly into the hall that it was impossible to chat and nearby panels started slamming their doors to block the noise. Annoyed, we headed outside to the courtyard because we couldn't take it anymore. Later, we went to Crazyflower's makeup panel, where she did an excellent job covering everything from simple enhancement to prosthesis.
That evening Sketch got ready to judge and Shiva got back into Chibiusa for the masquerade. The show opened with text commentary typed onto the video screens by staff members using Notepad. It was a funny way to warm up the crowd, but it became a problem when it continued throughout the show and even made appearances during skits. Contestants were unnerved by the public comments during their performances, as it was impossible to tell from onstage if the audience’s reactions were to the skit or the sarcastic, sometimes ridiculing comments on-screen. Even worse, each screen had different text, and the show was often hijacked as the two screens competed with each other for the audience's attention, running the entire show off-course. It also prevented the screen from serving its main purpose as a visual aid, as the text preempted the video feed of the actual performances, making it difficult for the audience in the back half of the room to know what was happening on stage.
The skits themselves were hit or miss, and most would have benefited from pre-recorded dialog – something even the staff members who were performing neglected to do. As a result, we couldn’t hear the entire opening number even though we were seated up front. We did enjoy the runway show put on by the Iron Cosplay contestants, who had a set time to make very creative costumes from found materials. Shiva and Crazyflower's skit was received well and Shiva was relieved the audience wasn't too young to understand the Loony Tunes reference. Crazyflower ended up winning Best Craftsmanship for her Final Fantasy XII-style Moogle and she and Shiva won Best Advanced Performance for the skit. As for the AMV Contest, both of Shiva's videos won their respective categories. After changing, Shiva, Sketch, and the rest of the crew hit up the rave; the music was the best of any convention we'd been to and there was plenty of room to move. There wasn’t a lot of ventilation in the room and it got hot fast, but luckily there was a steady supply of ice water to hydrate and we regularly took breaks to lie on the pavement just outside the door, letting the cool ground absorb our excess body heat. We stayed until the end of the dance, and hung out on the hotel lobby couches late into the night.
Sunday morning Shiva got into Amano Rinoa, met up with Sketch and headed to the Dating Game to watch Gale and Leelee perform as bachelorettes. They were funny and the entire show was quite entertaining. That afternoon we checked out Anime Unscripted hosted by PatrickD and Jekka; Patrick had been annoyed by the Sunday afternoon timeslot for the event, which was exacerbated when the Sunday programing started running more and more behind schedule until events were running almost an hour behind. The con chair had to intervene and cancel the 1pm event in order for Patrick and Jekka to hold Anime Unscripted on time at 2pm. All of the participants were from the audience, and those who were picked did an excellent job, which almost all of them leaving us laughing heartily. After the show we hit up the gingerbread cookie-making panel where we designed a cute pair of heavily-frosted characters. They were quickly devoured before we parted ways and headed home. Despite some organizational drawbacks it was a great weekend, and we hope to return!