November 20th - 22nd, 2009
Nashua, New Hampshire

Convention Stats:
Location: Radisson Hotel Nashua
Event Year: Fourth
Reported Attendance: 1,446
Theme: "Epic Quest"
Sketch's Costumes Worn:
Kamina, Gurren Laggan
Xenmas, Kingdom Hearts
Shiva's Costumes Worn:
Ravenclaw Student, Harry Potter
Fran of the Viera, Final Fantasy XII
Miku Hatsune, Vocaloid
Rachel Berry, Glee
Sketch's Performances:
18+ Dating Game: Co-Host
Cosplay Chess: Player & King
Shiva's Performances:
Masquerade: "Night at the Museum"
Night At The Museum Skit:
Shiva's Awards:
Best In Show, Masquerade
Sketch's Special Activities:
Artist Alley: Guest Artist
Masquerade: Performance Judge
Convention Photos:

Photo Credits:
Kurthy, Steve (x3), Shiva (x2), Steve, Shiva, Lo, Shiva
For its fourth year, Another Anime Convention returned to the Radisson Hotel in Nashua, with guests including Bill Rogers, Michelle Knotz, Tiffany Grant, and Kyle Herbert. 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, the professionalism of 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 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, both of which try the patience of those who see the same things go wrong year after year. Although this convention still has potential, its staffing and programing choices need to be reevaluated.

Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
We had both had fun at this con in the past and were excited to see that it was returning to the beautiful castle-like Radisson once again this year. However we both had our misgivings about the way the convention was run, and we were hoping to see things improve. Sketch drove up late Thursday after work to set up his art table the night before; he spent most of Friday manning his art table and feeling mostly bored. This impression continued as he attended the masked ball that evening, finding the music un-dancable and the experience mostly awkward. Shiva, meanwhile, drove up after work on Friday and met up with Ellystar, whom she was rooming with. Things were not off to a good start for them either when they went down to registration to pick up their badges. Con staff had placed the registration table in the middle of a hallway where it was very difficult to avoid regular convention foot traffic, so Shiva and Ellystar spent 20 minutes pressed up against a hotel hallway wall. They witnessed attendees trying their best to avoid bumping into others, but AAC security staff were constantly screaming, rolling their eyes, and berating attendees regardless as to how well they were attempting to follow instructions. The attitude was unwarranted by the staff and this behavior only succeeded in making everyone in line feel unwelcome before they even entered the convention.

After finally getting their badges, Shiva and Ellystar changed into their Harry Potter robes for a photoshoot in the castle basement area and checked out the AMV Contest before heading over to Steve’s dance party panel, which improved their mood immensely. They had a blast, with a breakdancer named Dragon showing off some amazing moves and a talented poi raver entertaining the crowd with his skills. Following the party panel, Shiva and Ellystar changed into regular clothes and downed kamikaze shots in their room before attending Steve's 18+ Hentai dubbing panel. It had some really disturbing and occasionally hilarious imagery which was mocked Mystery Science Theatre-style; they stayed for awhile but left before they could get too grossed out. Sketch, meanwhile, changed into his Kamina costume to co-host the 18+ Dating Game; the event ran well and Sketch was happy to find that the highlights of the evening were the performances by the contestants rather than the hosts.

That night we all met up in PatrickD’s hotel room to film our Year In Review for AnimeCons.TV with Bill Rogers and several other friends hanging out behind the camera. We all did tequila shots with sugar and lime before the taping and had a lively over hour-long conversation about our convention adventures over the past year for the show. Occasionally Bill or one of the other guests would interject as a disembodied voice off-camera, and we were so all over the place PatrickD had his job cut out for him editing the episode together! You can watch our Year In Review episode with a really drunk Shiva HERE. After taping wrapped, we enjoyed a wonderful evening hanging out together in the room, with drinks, snacks, and comfortable conversation, which was the highlight of our weekend!

Saturday morning Sketch headed back to his art table while Shiva wore her new Fran costume from Final Fantasy XII and got some great photos in the woods behind the hotel with Steve. After finishing up the shoot, she hung out with Sketch in Artist’s Alley for the afternoon, making friends with some amusing steampunk artists at the table next to him. The artists had a kiwi bird as their mascot, and when we commented on it they were amazed that we had both actually been to New Zealand and seen real kiwis, though we had to admit none was as dapper as their top hat and monocle-wearing mascot. That evening Sketch got into his Xenmas costume to judge the masquerade while Shiva, Ellystar, and Gale changed into their Vocaloid costumes and met up at PatrickD's hotel room to do a quick rehearsal before the show. Patrick texted Shiva he was running a few minutes late returning from dinner with the voice actors and to wait outside his room, so they leaned against the wall to wait.

While standing there, a member of AAC’s security staff spotted them and proceeded to march over, inform them that he was “important” and threatened he could “make trouble” for them if they didn't leave the hallway immediately. They were shocked, considering they were standing there silently in a public hallway, and explained they were waiting for their friend and asked what the problem was. The staff member claimed they were "lying" and threatened to "confiscate" their badges even though they weren't even in the convention space and were just standing in a hallway. He proceeded to yell at the group, who mostly stared at him open-mouthed, until PatrickD showed up with his entourage and the staffer immately shut up and scampered off quickly without a word, apology or otherwise. Regardless, they did not appreciate spending 10 minutes being harassed by a power-hungry teenager.

The masquerade itself was a mess from almost all perspectives; the contestants sat in the green room for over two hours before they were finally moved to main events, leaving them irritated, and the show started over an hour late after the con staff bungled the audience seating. The performance judges were given absolutely no guidance about what to do; while Sketch had judged before, his fellow judges were voice actors who were completely at a loss as to what awards they had to pick from and how they were supposed to select the acts for awards. 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, the masquerade staff made rude and insulting live commentary about the performances via Notepad and projected it onto the video screens during the performances. Numerous requests by attendees, including us, to do away with the practice continued to be ignored, with the staff excusing their straight-up bullying as entertainment, stating it “entertains the crowd.”

The final straw for us came during a Princess Tutu skit, where a newbie performer made an arguably poor costume construction choice for her Princess Krahe costume. However, there was no need for it to be pointed out publicly by the masquerade staff to the entire audience. Regardless, the screen scoffed, “Boob tape don’t fail me now!” as she danced, encouraging the entire audience to laugh at her, which many of them proceeded to do, egged on by the staff. No cosplayer deserves to be publicly humiliated by the convention staff during their performance, no matter how they constructed their costume. We were all completely disgusted and Shiva and her group almost considered walking out in protest but decided nobody would notice or care and they could better express their disapproval by just yelling at the screen to shut the fuck up. Shiva's group ended up winning Best in Show, which they accepted but were so aggravated by the entire thing they swore they would never compete at AAC again.

Sketch was up early for chess on Sunday; he was Kamina for the event which ran smoothly but started so early that attendance was sparse. Shiva slept in before getting into her comfortable Glee costume for a shoot with Ellystar, Crazyflower, and Gale. By early afternoon, the maturity level of the attendees had taken an even larger dive as we 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. By late afternoon most of us were over the drama and planned to head home, but Shiva was conned into staying by Bill Rogers who was desperate to escape his overbearing con handler and had Patrick and Shiva kidnap him for dinner. Sketch, meanwhile, had to stay until the closing ceremonies ended as he was helping out with the staff charity auction. Sketch was relieved when the con was finally over and he was able to enjoy the after-con dinner and hanging out with friends, while Shiva had an amazing time out with Bill, Michelle Knotz, PatrickD and the rest of the podcast crew. We were both glad we ended our weekends on a high note, but we don't think we'll be back to this con again unless it makes some significant improvements.