Another Anime Convention 2019 – New England States Bingo

I’ve found myself going to fewer anime conventions than I’d prefer as of late, but to compensate for the quantity, I try to maximize the quality of my experiences at whichever convention I’m at for any particular weekend. A familiar convention in an unfamiliar locale (again) was just what I needed, come to think of it.

Another Anime Convention came to us from a little town called Chelmsford, MA, at the Radisson Hotel about 15 minutes from the border with New Hampshire, site of AACs past. I understand that they’ve had issues finding venues in recent years and they’ve jumped around from city to city, but it does feel like they’re going to fill out their New England states Bingo card at this rate…which might not be too bad if you’re in to traveling to other states and the like; hell, I can’t think of any time I was at a convention in Rhode Island…

My convention weekend started…well, on Monday, as my vacation was scheduled for that week and I had little to do aside from prepare for the convention in the days leading up to it. My GPS originally had the trip going six hours, but as with other excursions to New England, that would be the absolute bare minimum. After a stop in New York City to get some friend’s luggage, who had prior events to attend before the convention itself, I made my way through the rest of NYC, through Connecticut, and into Massachusetts, with the rain, traffic, cashless toll roads, and a GPS that insisted on going into business for itself only added more time on to said travels.

The Radisson was a nice hotel, and I was fortunate enough to get a parking spot directly next to the entrance (and the canopy over the front door). It had a separate ballroom-looking room with an upper floor on it where most of the panels, et al were held, with the game room at the Holiday Inn next door. The rooms were spacious, although we were fortunate enough to get a suite this time around, so everything was nice and open and comfortable. Even the bed from the pull-out sofa was comfortable. The pool was huge, albeit weirdly shaped and asymmetrical, while being unusually cool, and with its depth all over the place. The gym that the hotel’s website advertised was…woefully underequipped. It was a single room about the size of a normal hotel room, with less than a dozen cardio machines (treadmills, bikes, ellipticals) in total, and one of those all-in-one setups for multiple weightlifting exercises. Even the TV in the corner was barely functional. Suffice to say you couldn’t get a good workout in on this.

There was much ado about nothing the first night, so Thursday evening was spent relaxing in the room and/or getting a quick bite to eat at the surprisingly good Chinese restaurant directly across the aisle from the hotel—as in, in the same complex. It took a little while to get my badge that first day, but that was more to them having everything set up in time, so I understood having to wait.

Friday morning was when the con started off right, however the first panel I attended was at around noon. In the meantime, I looked around for a place to eat, following the GPS to what I thought was an independent little café. Turns out it was part of the Holiday Inn next door…and it was where their complimentary (for guests) breakfast buffet was being served. But no one was working it save for a few staffers who refilled a few hot dishes, and no one else asked, so hooray for free breakfast. Needless to say, I didn’t try that more than once.

I went to my first panel at about Noon, which was the Jeopardy! game show adaptation for convention audiences, with questions based off of anime, video games, and other generalized geekery. I didn’t get picked to participate, but it was still fun watching the contestants duke it out while guessing the answers in my head as the show progressed.

Another panel later on was a different kind of trivia show, one I did participate in, called “Trivia Strike.” It advertised itself as trivia meets Mario Kart, which gave contestants “power-ups” written on index cards with all sorts of ways you could mess with the flow of the game, either by stealing points for right answers from other players, not losing points when you get a question wrong, things of that nature. There were five of us, and each round eliminated the player with the lowest score. I survived to the third round, but was eliminated, and got to take home a Pikachu themed lanyard, which I quickly hung my AAC badge on. It’s also high quality and made of fairly tough fabric, so I will most definitely be using it for future conventions.

The third panel I came to that evening was the 18+ Match Game panel. It was similar to your typical Match Game episode, minus the Super Match bonus round, but the 18+ meant that the guests posing as the panelists could be as raunchy and lewd as they wanted. In all, everyone had a good time.

The panel I was really looking forward to on Friday night was the Zelda Randomizer hosted by Massive Hitbox, formerly Nerdfit Network. This time they were doing a co-op Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past randomizer (every single treasure chest, prize for beating a monster, et al, could literally be any item in the game) with shared health and magic meters. If you take this to mean “Glenn tries to not go completely mad while Erik is being a goofy weirdo talking about ostriches every other sentence”, you’d be correct. There were also a few technical issues with their equipment, which only added to the comedy on display.

Both days I got up early to work out…which turned to moving said workout to the pool in light of the aforementioned ill-equipped gym. That was rather refreshing, despite the pool’s temperature. Saturday was also the day I walked over to the aforementioned Subway for breakfast, as I did not have a panel to go to until later in the morning. Good thing the weather was pleasant.

The first panel I wound up going to on Saturday was “The 80s Did It First.” It was about the influences on American cinema, and how it can be seen and felt in anime that came out at the time. The Karate Kid was a fairly big influence, as was Mad Max and especially Blade Runner, whose influences have resonated well past the 80s.

The next panel was “Dragon Ball: The Next Evolution”, which was your typical Q&A panel hosted by voice actors who had done work on Dragon Ball products, games, anime, what have you. Nothing too special here. I thought I’d have a go at the “Fan Fiction Theater” panel, but that turned out to be a play, if you will, with audience members tasked with reading lines from some of the most notorious fanfics out there. I don’t know how anyone could have a straight face while reading some of the awful, awful bits of dialogue and/or narration. Maybe I’ve missed the point of why stuff this bad is so popular; regardless, I couldn’t stay around long.

I gave the hotel the benefit of the doubt and got dinner at the restaurant the convention was running. However, this turned out to be a mistake, as the food the convention was offering was woefully inadequate. The chicken pictured was lukewarm, and the fries were not much better. And this was with the bottle of water that made the price $11 in total. Suffice to say, it was very unsatisfying. Local eateries around the convention area were much better; even the Subway about a quarter mile off turned out better, more appetizing food.

The last panel I attended that weekend ended up being the Cards Against Humanity panel. It was 18+, because obviously. It was run by the same people who ran this panel last year. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to play this time around, but still had a good time watching everyone go nuts over the ridiculous answers people were giving.

There wasn’t much to do Sunday, as it was primarily about me getting home and getting enough rest for the work day to come. And while I was prepared to drive others home with me that day, circumstances made me take the journey alone, all the way back down to South Jersey. At least my GPS was acting better than it was on the way up, even if the alerts for shorter times by taking alternate routes did get a little irksome; at least it didn’t randomly drop the signal on me going home.

I’m glad I’ve gone to Another Anime Convention as much as the rest of the crew, mostly because its reputation of being a chill, laid back convention are very well deserved, with friendly, helpful staff all about the convention area. I would like to see it be more consistent and stable in its choices of venues, but I do have to admit that the convention going to a different place does add to its charm in a way. Perhaps next year, if they do have to get another new venue, they can adapt a wanderer or drifter theme to the proceedings. Embrace it. Become the vagabond convention it was meant to be.

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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