Castle Point Anime Convention 2014: Small Con that Keeps Getting Bigger

So on April 6, I traveled solo to CPAC (aka Castle Point Anime Convention) out in Hoboken, NJ.  It’s no secret that this one of my favorite college-based anime conventions to travel to.  As always, I go in with an open mind about the convention, just to see if there’s any difference between this and last year.  But going to this con has a downside… Having to miss part of Wrestlemania.  But to be honest, it’s worth it to me.  So let’s get on with show, shall we?

I arrived on the campus around 10am from the bus stop.  Walked that two block shuffle to the campus and there I was.  First thing I noticed was giant signs outside of the buildings to denote where everything is.  One of my pet peeves is not having proper signage to point out where everything is on a campus.  I greatly approve of that.  Last year, registration took about 20 minutes, but the lines for it were beyond packed.  This time, there was no lines, I was in and out in about 10 minutes.

I began to walk around the campus and start taking pictures.  No lie, great cosplays, and it was great to see some people I saw at Katsucon too.  After getting warmed up (it was a bit breezy out that day), I looked at the schedule and see what I was going to attend.  I picked Crispin Freeman’s Q&A, and the masquerade… The latter I’d end up regretting.  But before that, I attended the cosplay chess.

The cosplay chess was entertaining.  What was great is that this was held in the auditorium, where you had to go up the stairs to a viewing area.  It’s a giant round area where you can sit around and watch it.  Not the best view, but it’s certainly an improvement over other conventions having it.  Some cons have cosplay chess in main events and instead of looking down, you’re looking up at the chessboard, with cameras on the stage so you can see what is going on.  The main issue is that the con funk hit me pretty hard up here, and I got out of there as fast as I could.

So, let’s talk Crispin Freeman.  I interviewed him at Otakon last year, and man was an absolute delight to work with.  Completely professional.  Now as for his panel, it’s far from that, and I mean that in a good way.  There he is sitting on stage, answering various questions from the audience, along with some great stories from the booth.  Don’t worry, I recorded this panel, and it was so good.  I was left laughing in stitches.  He just simply let it hang loose and it was phenomenal!  I usually don’t repeat panels, but I will be back for his panel at another convention.

I did return later for the “cosplay masquerade”.  I say that with quotes because it wasn’t really one.  Only one group showed up to compete.  At least this year, the masquerade was back in the other building with more space.  Again, no one showed up for this masquerade, so it became an open cabaret style show, like what MangaNEXT used to do.  The only performace worth its weight in salt was ichiP! performing.  But the music sucked, and by sucked I mean that the person running this had no access to the sound system and was playing everything through a phone speaker with a microphone.  After that, I had no desire to stick around for the runway show.

One of the good things about a college based conventions is that there are PLENTY of places to sit and outlets for charging.  I’ve invested in large long life batteries for my camcorder and extra batteries for my camera, and long cables to charge my phone.  Plus with places to sit, it’s easy to grab some food, sit down, review what you’ve done, chat with a few people, and keep things going all in stride.  But as always, a college campus convention has only select buildings to work with.  I did feel really cramped as I was walking around, and I do hope that they add another building if possible to ease the crowding.

I did travel into the Artist’s Alley / Dealer’s Room to browse some merchandise.  Since PAX was later that week, I opted not to buy anything.  I did snap some photos of cosplayers before the department head demanded that I stop.  Even though another staffer said that it was okay because I’m press, but she didn’t want to hear it.  I didn’t stick around for the dance because it was getting late and I really needed to get home.  But I did get a lot exercise walking around the campus, going up stairs, climbing up hills.  And I did run into a lot of friends there who themselves had a great time.  As always, I will be back next year because this con was good to me.

Pro: It’s very close to New York and everything is pretty much is a well run oiled machine.

Con: The lack of a cosplayer masquerade and not being able to take pictures in AA/DR.

Overall: It’s a small con that will keep you on your feet the whole day, and with food places nearby, it’s well worth the trip out here.

DJ Ranma S

DJ Ranma S is cosplay veteran. He has won numerous performance awards with his friends over the years. He has staffed conventions in the past, ran panels, judged a couple of masquerades, a jack of all trades. He's worked dealer's room too! Running this site is his way of giving back to the cosplay community. He feels that it's his turn to give a future cosplayer their fifteen minutes of fame.

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