Puchicon 2021: I Got Nothing.

This convention was on my list of not to attend, only because of prior issues with the con and the con chair (see this article). But I decided to give it a fair chance because a voice acting friend of mine was a guest at the convention. I thought that this con has shaped up since, so why not. I was wrong, so very wrong…

Puchicon is a two-day convention at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City. Puchicon itself runs two conventions a year, along with multiple maid events during the year. Me and Mako-chan decided to attend this convention in a way to somehow soft start our convention going, as well as visit our friend and support him.

So upon arriving, we noticed that the price of the badges jumped. In 2 – 3 months, the price went from $35 to $70 for a one-day badge. That is absolutely absurd. Granted, it was my fault for waiting until the last minute to buy them. Now if you’re going to ask “How come you didn’t get press passes?”, I can easily answer that question… They never responded to our emails for one.

So, walking in and after getting our badges, we walk into Dealer’s Hall, spaced out, with about half the attendees not wearing masks. Now, in the State of NJ, at that time, wearing masks indoors was simply optional, therefore, the con had no plans to enforce that. Now remember this, we’ll be coming back to that. The Dealer’s Hall was basically a glorified Artist’s Alley, and I mean that in a good way. I did like how spaced out each booth was (anywhere between six to eight feet), allowing for ample distance and grabbing a few photos as well.

The spacing in the Dealer’s Hall.

Now two event areas are located here next to the Dealer’s Hall. It’s not the best use for panel rooms because there are no walls, secluding it. Don’t forget, the Showboat Hotel is a former casino. What did help was that there all the AA tables were at least 10 feet away, so that there wasn’t that much noise to interrupt the panels.

Now on the second floor was Main Events and another panel room. Even though the con staff said they’d disinfect the room and have everyone spread out in their seats… That didn’t happen. While I was up on Main Events, I enjoyed watching D&D Sluggers and Sweetheart Stars perform. D&D Sluggers is a nerdcore artist and Sweetheart Stars is an up-and-coming Love Live inspired idol group. Both shows were great. I wished that Sweetheart Stars had a couple more songs to perform though.

Members of Sweetheart Stars on stage.

Now due to a staffer not arriving, the voice acting script reading panel was changed. This is one of those panels where voice actors will read lines from various books, movies, shows, scripts, and whatnot in the voices they’re known for. The staffer who substituted didn’t have a script ready, so he had the voice actors read something from Pokémon, along with volunteers from the audience. Not what I was expecting, but it worked.

Then the masquerade happened. I’d like to call this a reverse masquerade because there were about twenty walk-ons (all craftsmanship), and three skits. Only one winner in that skit division, but I would have given all three skits an award… I mean, there was only three. As for the craftsmanship walk-ons… They were great! I saw a lot of talented cosplayers walking across that stage. Truthfully, I can’t think of anything bad to say, I loved it all.

And now for the things I didn’t like.

There were no video rooms at all. Now I do understand that viewership has dropped at convention video rooms, but it is nice to have at least one. A video room where you can get away from the loud noise of the convention and relax. I’ve seen conventions smaller than Puchi Con have video rooms.

No game room. Wait, let me rephrase that, no free game room. The Showboat Hotel has an arcade, but you have to pay to play those games. A lot of them were the same games you could play at any Dave & Busters… Except this arcade had no DDR, for shame.

Signage. Unless you had a copy of the floor map, or you followed the cosplayers, you would not have known there was a second floor. I overheard many people asking about that. The fact that registration was in front of the massive Dealer’s Room, and inside there was a panel room and another room for craftsmanship judging did help. But on the second floor, you knew which rooms were with the con when you saw attendees hanging around outside. But there were no signs telling you to go the second floor, or signage in front of the rooms telling you the name of the room and list of events on that day.

Handling a COVID alert was abysmal. The con alerted people via Instagram and Facebook about how someone tested positive (who turned out to be negative), but did not send out e-mails to attendees. I found out through a now deleted screenshot from Instagram through a friend. Yes, I got tested and came back with negative results. I reached out to a friend, who was a guest at the con, and he did not know about this. They did end up telling attendees in an e-mail when they announced the winners of the raffle.

Given that the last time we discussed this convention, they posted a bad meme making fun of a cosplayer, and it took them a while to realize it was rude. That right there was a red flag, but a media person, I do have to give the con a fair chance.

Overall, I would not return to Puchi Con, even if they got my favorite voice actors and actresses. The management of this convention was subpar, it felt like a glorified anime club meet up. Granted Springfest was just as bad, but Puchi Con is slightly above that con (which is now defunct). I have said that friends can also make or break a con, even if it’s bad… But not even friends can save this show. You’re better off doing other things in Atlantic City than attending this con.

Seriously, save your money for better conventions out there, because this one ain’t it chief.

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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