Castle Point Anime Convention 2019: It Shrunk in the Wash

Castle Point Anime Convention, or CPAC for short, was a small Sunday college con held on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology. Last year, the con moved to the Meadowlands Expo Center, due the size. Last year, I only went for one day, but it seemed packed (probably due to the rain), and there was a lot of camaraderie going about in the center. I thought that this year, it would be about the same amount of people, if not more.

I was wrong… So freaking wrong…

Saturday was quiet to me.  Upon arriving to the MEC, I didn’t see a lot of cosplayers outside. I went inside, expecting more, but I really didn’t see too much. But I did check out some events going on. The first thing I did was check out the Maid 4 You Café performance. The maids introduced themselves as well as did a variety of singing and dancing. I was quite impressed by them. I did not get a chance to check out their maid café this time. Right after the Maid Café Performance, Miracle*Beat did a show to celebrate the anniversary of their first live. I’ve seen a few local Love Live groups perform, but I will say that Miracle*Beat was great. They had some energy to give!

Miracle * Beat on stage

After those performances, I began my walkthrough of the expo center for all the events. Right past the stage was the open photobooth area (which I will get to on Sunday), with a variety of background drops. Past that area is the gaming area. There was a section for cards/tabletop, arcade machines, and console gaming. Also cool was that there were reps from the Microsoft Store in the Garden State Plaza manning the Xbox One area. On a side note, sometimes you’ll see reps from local Microsoft Stores at cons. It’s a pretty cool thing.

Opposite of those areas is Artist’s Alley and Dealer’s Hall. I was able to get some cosplay shots in here, until they put up signs for no photography. Now that’s been a long-standing rule at most cons, but when you’re press, you have an exception to that. CPAC doesn’t do that. It kind of sucks, but I absolutely understand why. Now, the food hall… Bless the food hall. Go-Go Curry and Wild Bill’s Soda was on site, time and time again, I’ve told myself to bring one of their mugs to shows. This is their third time I’ve seen them at cons.

Later that day, I went to a panel called “Anime Con Panels: the Bad, the Worse, and the Ugly”. My first thought that the panels was going to be about mocking/parodying panels that are bad. I mean, let’s be real, most of us here have been to some pretty bad fan panels. But in actuality it was a learning panel. It was about how to run an effective fan panel… Spellchecking, proper amount of time on clips, equipment preparedness, and staying on track with topics.

Later that evening was the first part of the Masquerade. Yeah, first part. Tonight was the walk-ons. It was short, sweet, and straightforward.

I will say, being at CPAC was to me, reminiscent of most comic cons… It’s in the aspect of the time of when events end. Everything was over by 10pm, there was a two-hour rave, but I didn’t go.

Sunday at CPAC to me, is different from most Sundays at cons. Events wind down between 3 and 5pm. At CPAC, things went to 7pm. From 5 to 7 was Cosplay Pro Wrestling. I did not see them this time, but if you’re ever at a con, and they’re there, it is worth seeing them in action. I speak on seeing them at prior conventions.

Around 12:30, I made my way over to the main stage for the second half of the convention masquerade. The second half was the performances. There was two Love Live dance routines, an Aggretsuko skit, Princess Daisy being the best damn Daisy ever, and a Naruto skit about the Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Now, y’all know I’m Team ShikaTemari, so you know where my bias lies on that. I will say, that despite how I found that odd to split the masquerade, it was a great idea to do that. It is a great way to keep Sunday’s numbers up.

It’s Daisy!

After that, I made my way over to the open photography booth. The guy running it, named Anthony, explained that this was all his setup. He wanted photographers to take pictures on these backdrops, the lights that were setup, everything. And the cost? Free 99. Zilch. Zero. This was for everyone to use. I had wished that I discovered this sooner.

Throughout these two days walking through here, a couple of things came to mind. First, the size. It was great at Stevens, it was a nice fit, but the size it was getting to, it was time for it to move. But I feel that the Expo Center is way to big for this convention. Granted you would think that would be perfect thing to do, but given the crowds between this and last year, it felt as if their numbers were half of what it used to be. Numbers for 2018 and 2019 have not been disclosed, but if you were to ask me, I’d assume the attendance numbers were between 1000 and 1500.

Second thing is guests. Before the move, CPAC got some really amazing guests. Given that when CPAC was on Stevens Institute of Technology, the con was probably able to use the facilities for free or very low cost. But given the new location has probably taken a lot of the budget, it wouldn’t leave much room for guests. Now if you look at prior years, they have gotten some great guests. A lot of those guests are from the NYC tri-state area. Which I believe they could get for CPAC 2020. But I will say, for a con that’s just 15 – 20 minutes outside of NYC by bus, it’s not a bad trip. I know I may be holding CPAC to a high standard, but a lot of congoers do. This is a con where you’re going to make a lot of friends. This is a con where you’re going to get a lot of photography done. This is a con where you’re not going to overdo it. This is an anime con with a comic con feel when it comes to scheduling. Would I go back next year? Absolutely. I enjoyed being able to take some amazing photos, hang out with friends and then some. I just felt that at this con, I was able to do much more.

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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