Another Anime Convention 2018 — “Life is a Highway” Was Not Meant to be Taken Literally

If you’ve become familiar with my way of writing these convention reviews for this website, you’ll know that I very much enjoy writing about every aspect that I experience as it applies to me. But it usually gets a glossing over from me since it’s just your typical road trip to a convention. It can’t be that captivating, right? Oh, I’ll get to that.

Another Anime Convention came to us from a little town called Nashua, New Hampshire this time around, as their original digs in Manchester were lost and they had to scramble to find a new venue in a relatively short amount of time. But from the way everything was run that weekend, you would’ve never guessed it. But more on that in a bit; I have to actually get to the convention first, don’t I?

My convention weekend started normally enough, with me leaving straight from work to go up to the convention. I had that Friday off, thankfully—although I was originally planning to take it off because the Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee games came out and I had planned on buying a Switch bundle to spend the day vegging out and playing that. Unfortunately, the Switch bundle I had earmarked was sold out, and I was left with just a day off. It just so happened that I was reminded that AAC was that weekend as well. So, the personal day wasn’t taken in vain. However, between the spike in traffic, the surprise blizzard, and the inability of anyone to react to either, my travel time was stretched painfully long. At least parking at the hotel was free, and the hotel room was jimmied open waiting for me. Thankfully I didn’t disturb anyone else in the room, and essentially crawled into bed and passed out, not bothering to unpack.

Did I mention I did this entire weekend while being unimaginably sick? Yeah, usually people catch something when they leave a convention. I’m coming off as such an affront to the community for catching something before coming to the con and not after. Either way, it most definitely had an effect on my performance that weekend.

None of the panels started before noon that Friday, which was good, because it gave me a lot of time to rest from my drive up, as well as allow me to take plenty of time—probably too much—languishing in the room hoping to at least try to get a little better this weekend. Nonetheless, the first panel I went to was “Are You Smarter than a Weeaboo?” It was a game show panel, and there were plenty of game show panels this weekend; whether or not this was a coordinated effort between would-be panelists or just coincidence has yet to be ascertained. In any event, it was a Jeopardy!-style format, distinctly not like the Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? This, too, would be a reoccurring thing this weekend. The three contestants—me and two other people from the crowd—were paired up with other guests as we staggered through each round. I was in last place, but we just decided to bet everything because why not. The last clue was related to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, which I immediately jumped on. We were the only ones to get the answer right, and ended up winning. I took home a goodie bag filled with anime DVDs and otaku candy. So good stuff so far.

My winning Final Otaku! question (“Vs. Capcom” obscured by glare)

There was quite a bit of other stuff to do at the hotel besides just go to the con stuff. The pool area was very well maintained, and the pool itself was very nice. It had a separate hot tub, which was larger than typical for a hot tub, and always stayed consistently warm. It was very relaxing sitting around in it, and for a while I could forget about how crappy I was feeling throughout the weekend. And I was there more than once, too. Couldn’t get enough.

Because of the limited space at the new hotel, the artists’ alley and dealers’ room were relegated to a tent outside of the hotel. It was heated, granted, but I had no intention of going out in the cold to wander around and maybe buy something. I do poorly in the cold when healthy.

I found another panel to attend later on, entitled “Card Sharks”. On paper, it looked like it was going to be just like the classic game show. However, when we got there, all we got was just the cards section of the game and no questions or bonus round. Not that anyone was really complaining. I was one of the first contestants, and thankfully, I won my set, and got to walk away with a DVD and more candy from the disproportionately generous panelists.

In between panels we ordered out for Chinese from a nearby place that made us jump through a few hoops to make them deliver via GrubHub. Dinner was serviceable, and while there were leftovers, I didn’t end up taking mine home. Besides, the panel I was most looking forward to was late at night, hosted by friends of the show the Nerdfit Network, entitled “Drinking & Dragons: The Arby’s Countdown.” I thought the title was just Nerdfit being…well, Nerdfit. But it wasn’t until the game started up that I understood. It was an ongoing RP, played at several conventions before this one so I missed out on a few details…like, for instance, why they were at what they described as an “infinite” Arby’s restaurant, complete with an undead chap manning the front counter, where you could order literally anything you wanted. That explained the appearance of a red dragon breathing fire at everything PC or NPC (apparently someone wanted some kind of D&D related thing to happen in there). Also: Glenn was being harassed by a pair of giant lobsters. But the crowning achievement of this panel, was when Erik wanted his character to run past the counter, shout out his order, and jump out the drive-thru window. Even just typing that made my fingers seize up and threaten to go on strike. But it gets worse/better. After several minutes of debating the feasibility of such a move, Erik got on his cell phone, called up a local Arby’s, asked the poor, hapless employee who picked up if his action was feasible…and actually got a positive response from her. Needless to say, the room erupted with riotous cheers, and I laughed until I had trouble breathing. This is the level of showmanship you can only dream of achieving.

Saturday came soon enough, and while it wasn’t as delayed as Friday, it still meant me wasting a lot of time in the room before going down to the convention proper. If nothing else, I did get to take in the breakfast buffet, which was good, but just a little bit too pricey. They had an omelet cook on call, as well as the usual breakfast items available. A friend of ours also ate there, but got sick during the afternoon. We deduced that it was probably the whipped cream-like side dish that was not on ice or even remotely refrigerated at the buffet. Since what she ate and what I ate were the same save for that, it was the obvious culprit.

Dr. Bright, SCP Foundation

Regardless, I wasn’t at 100% in the early going, so I took some time to just linger in the room before going to the next panel, “Name That Anime Tune.” And it was another game show…using the Jeopardy! model. And we ended up dating ourselves as we watched because there were a bunch of themes (you had to guess the theme to earn points) that no one could get.

I wandered around for a little while longer until I got to “Redpool Hypnosis: 18+ edition”, which was run by a cosplayer who had the identity Redpool (a version of Deadpool, obviously). He was a trained hypnotist, and had a demonstration of his abilities for the panelists to see. Of course, he also points out before he starts that, for it to work, you have to actively want to be hypnotized, to be put under a trance like that. Obviously, it didn’t work on me. But the man still was very knowledgeable and knew what he was talking about.

I ended up getting a pizza while the masquerade was going on, which ended up being very substandard and not all that tasty. One of the less favorable comparisons to it was to the kind of pizza sold at a 7-11.

I had a much better time ordering some boneless wings at the restaurant’s bar while waiting for the last two panels of the night. The first one was “Cards Against Humanity: The Unofficial Game Show.” Basically, twelve people—two games of six—were called down to play, their entry based on fiat of the panelists or if you do or say something that really sticks with them. I correctly guessed which pro wrestler used “The Final Countdown” as their entrance theme and got in. I have to admit I was a little worried about how I would do, as the CAH games I’m normally involved in include crossing the proverbial line multiple times, as well as inside jokes that only a handful of people would understand. Also: if you got shut out, you were made to pick from the box of booby prizes, DVDs and the like of notoriously awful quality. But that wasn’t the case for me, thankfully, as I came out victorious, and got a nice DVD box set for my troubles. All in all, it was fun.

The last panel I got to was another Nerdfit panel, “Link to the Past: Randomizer.” This time, Glenn was running this panel, playing the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past randomizer. What that does is every time you would get an item—usually a plot-related or special one—it could be any item in the game. You could, obviously, have items you weren’t supposed to have at a particular point in the game, and could go for who-knows-how-long without even having a sword. Though the game is not stupid, as it will not keep items that you specifically need to progress to certain dungeons out of your reach (e.g. you won’t find Bombos inside Turtle Rock). Nerdfit does this a lot on their Twitch stream, so it was fun to see it in person and hear Glenn react to everyone in the crowd. There was supposed to be a Nerdfit debate panel afterward, but Erik was tasked with running the dance, so that was scuttled.

Sunday was another typical dull, lazy last-day-of-the-con. Once we had everything loaded up in the car, I made a quick run over to a local grocery store to get whatever viable cold/flu remedies I could get my hands on (spoiler: I learned it wasn’t the flu that was afflicting me, but I did not know that).

Pop Team Epic

The one panel I did end up going to was called “AAC Ninja Warrior.” It was held in the main events room, and was an obstacle course that anyone could participate in, taking up the entire rather spacious room. I didn’t participate, still feeling very bogged down, but there were plenty of volunteers all vying for the best time. We ended up lingering in the hotel for a little while after the event started, waiting for the results on the charity basket auction. There were four different baskets to buy raffle tickets for, for different pursuits and fandoms. I, unfortunately, didn’t win. After that, we departed, and were well on our way home.

Remember my problems going to the convention? My drive home with Ranma was the opposite of that.

I managed to get to NYC at a decent time, drop off my companion, and I was back on my way to heading home. I actually kind of miss toll collectors on the toll roads, as the lack of collectors on the Connecticut and Massachusetts turnpikes made it feel incredibly impersonal…especially since they (as well as New York City) bill your toll to your houses and expect you to pay either by mail or over the internet. It all feels more awkward than it needs to be…then again, it’s probably me being biased due to my current profession.

I had heard of Another Anime Convention through other members of the staff, and while I originally balked at the idea of another lengthy schlep through New England; if nothing else, it wasn’t the hike that Nauticon required. It’s still on the small side, but run just as well as conventions much larger than it. I look forward to coming back to picturesque New Hampshire next year, especially if their issues with their hotel are rectified and they’re not left scrambling for a new venue.

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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