Another Anime Convention 2017 – Italians in Suits? What’s not to Love?

The convention previously before this one was the big send-off of perhaps the largest anime convention on the east coast, the effective end of an era. So this convention might be considered a step back, especially in scope and attendance.

Those were my thoughts going into Another Anime Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire, the final convention of 2016 for the podcast. I was looking forward to going up to New Hampshire again, as the convention had become very relaxing overall, and the scenery on the drive up was lovely as always.

We began Thursday night, setting off in the afternoon (a little later than I would’ve liked, but whatever). We made the four-hour drive in good time, even with stops along the way for food and liquor. Again, we got a room at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, the hotel hosting the con. I’ve talked about it in detail in my prior reports on the convention, and ultimately there was nothing new or unfamiliar, layout-wise.

The pool was just as empty as usual, too.

We got in late Thursday night, the rest of our roommates filtering in either later or in the morning after. There was little to do that night except unpack and get some sleep. I awoke rather early, and, against my better judgment, honestly, went down to the main restaurant for their breakfast buffet. It was mediocre at best, and overpriced. So nothing changed there from last year, either.

I spent the majority of the morning and the afternoon cosplaying, wandering around, getting my picture taken and taking others’ pictures. For a relatively small convention, the cosplay this weekend was very well done. I was in my Bear Hugger cosplay from Punch-Out!!, which got plenty of good responses that day. The lay out of the convention was pretty much the same from last year, right down to the video and gaming rooms in the same locations.

There were two game rooms again, one for fighting games, and the other for rhythm, music, and every other kind of game. Even old SNES, Genesis, and Nintendo64 stuff was on display. I spent way more time in there than I would’ve liked, but only because I’d get bored wandering around in between panels and not having much of anything to do.

I got an unusually late start on going to panels this year, with my first panel being at almost 3:00 in the afternoon. It was called “Cosplay Fitness for Life!” and if anyone cosplaying needed to drop a metric fuck-ton of weight, it’s yours truly. The panelists discussed, aside from the typical tips and “tricks” to losing weight, but also how to do so on a cosplayer’s budget. Though to be fair, it’s entirely likely to run out of money for your normal day-to-day stuff, much less for things like going to the gym or even cosplaying.

The afternoon was filled primarily with photography, gaming, and the occasional bite to eat, as well at least one trip to the pool. What we were looking forward to was the Casino Royale Masquerade Ball that evening. See, we got the idea to be formal versions of the Super Mario Bros. (read: black suits, blue ties, color-appropriate dress shirts). Everything was fine and dandy getting ready for it…except for the part where I forgot my Mario cap. I was especially pissed since I spent so much time making sure I had the one suit I owned neatly packed and ready to go, too. So I had to call an audible, disappearing into the combined Artists’ Alley/Dealers’ Room to try and find a replacement. Having no such luck, I resorted to using a little Mario plushie as a boutonniere. The message got across easily enough. Those three hours were filled with dancing, drinking, and various casino themed games. Considering my luck with dances in the past (well, raves, mostly…) I had a lot of fun doing this. But then again it probably mostly had to do with me wearing a suit and looking badass…well, as badass as you can with a plush Mario sticking out of your pocket…

I closed out the night gaming, taking pictures, and sitting in on an AMV panel entitled “Four Letter Words.” It was AMVs that primarily had profanity front and center. It wasn’t exactly hand in hand with violence, but that Venn diagram had considerable overlap.

Saturday was a different story, because I got up much earlier and had a much more robust schedule of panels to attend. The first was an anime themed version of “The Dating Game”, which is like the classic game show, only with the competitors—on both sides of the divider—were in cosplay and more importantly, in character. The highlight of the panel was when a Han Solo cosplayer wound up picking Officer Jenny as his date, after she spent the length of her time talking about justice and apprehending criminals. As soon as Jenny puts two and two together with the legendary scoundrel and smuggler, he takes off out of the room like his ass is on fire. Good times.

The next panel was “Anime Password,” which, unlike the Greggo version of the show…was not nearly as interesting or memorable. I don’t even remember staying for the whole thing.

But what I did have a lot of fun with in terms of game shows was the “Anime Press Your Luck” panel after that. The production was spot-on and done in Flash, and the games were exciting and fast-paced. I managed to get in on the second game, having gotten randomly picked by the panelists. Unlike my last experience with Press Your Luck, I didn’t immediately whammy out. Far from it. In fact, I ended up winning! I got lucky in the second Spin round, as, aside from anime and game themed prizes, there was a special space featuring a Starman. Which meant you got to spend the next three turns (I only had four left at this point) being completely immune to the Whammy. It got a little tense at the end when I decided to pass my last spin to the previous champion (a) Deadpool (cosplayer), but I squeaked out a win and got to spend my “winnings” on their prize pool. I ended up with a Vandread DVD and a Funko Pop Super Saiyan Goku figure (it glows in the dark!).

I wandered around the convention a little while longer, the only other panel I was looking forward to being the Nerdfit Game Theater panel. The Nerdfit guys were happy to see me, even if they took a while to recognize me. They played a bunch of games on Steam that very quickly turned the players against one another. If you thought Mario Kart and Smash Bros games put people at each other’s throats… Also, I got to play in the last game, albeit didn’t win. They also handed out Faygo to people at the panel…well, not so much given as much as they had a case of random flavors around and were just for anyone to take if they wanted them. Faygo soda was floating around the convention in great quantities that weekend.

Also, in regards to Nerdfit, fuck Glenn Dubois.

The last panel was, in essence, a sequel panel to that one: “The Horrors of Fanfiction: When a Man Meets a McChicken.” Granted, I’m a sucker for a good fanfic panel, even if it’s about “bad” fanfics, but I was immediately struck by the subtitle of this panel. I knew it was going to be one of those panels. So I went back to my room, topped off (read: filled the other half of) my Faygo with booze, and returned to the panel. I needed to be in the right mindset for this.

I was not ready.

I did not ever imagine I would hear the sentence “Why is that Juggalo giving birth to a calf?” but I knew my brain was irreparably broken because of it.

Sunday was much more relaxed than Saturday, which was a much needed respite given the…events of the previous night. The day was spent mostly wandering around, getting interviews, and taking a few more photos before heading out. The drive back was just as pleasant, but the Sunday evening traffic into New York City was as big of a pain in the ass as you could imagine, even with the GPS giving me a diversion that took a good twenty minutes off the travel time. Still, as with all convention trips that involve me dropping off everyone else who traveled with me, the ride home was quiet and lonely, as I was missing the convention weekend already.

I’ve come to like going to Another Anime Convention, despite its distance and time-sink going to it over the years. It’s small enough to not feel overwhelmed by everything, but still having plenty to do. And the small town feel of the surrounding Manchester is a nice experience, too. Just don’t think you’re going to get any authentic maple products (syrup, sugar candy, etc.) on the cheap; the stuff is so expensive, you’d think it was being sold in the Dealers’ Room next to bootleg(?) Pokémon plushies.

Ari Rockefeller

When he is not training Pokémon and being the very best, the Master of the Written Word churns out convention, video game, anime and movie reviews like clockwork. No one is more productive and dangerous with a pen and paper (or, in this case, a keyboard).

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