Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Convention Experience: CPAC and AnimeNEXT

Well, it's June, and that means my two biggest cons for the first half of the year came and went. And with them came lots of artists, commissioned work, and lots and lots of cosplay. Before I get into the meat of this blog entry, here's direct links to the cosplay photo albums of CPAC and AnimeNEXT.

Castle Point Anime Con 2019

AnimeNEXT 2019

Both collections were filled with amazing cosplayers and I caught a hefty number of shots across the two of them (then again there's only so much a phone cam can do even if it's a brand new model I got for Christmas). It's always great to see the creativity that goes into the cosplays and the various characters they represent (even if My Hero Academia easily dominates the cosplay scene, just look at all the Dekus and the Bakugos running around)

Anyways onto the events themselves, starting with Castle Point. I went there Saturday on Day 1 and compared to last year, it felt much more crammed in. The fabric walls dividing the different parts of the convention looked like they were much closer together, and the repositioning of the artist's alley, dealer's room, and the arcade threw me in for a bit of a loop. Lines still existed for the dealer's room and the artist's alley for crowd control, even if the Meadowlands Expo Center didn't (as far to my knowledge) have the same extreme fire safety in place as the Stevens Institute of Technology. The food inside the building remained as crappy as ever, though I did get a quick glimpse at some decent dining options within walking distance.

Because of the size of the expo center, panels were divided between the main building and the nearby Holiday Inn. Yes, I actually went to some panels- moreso because the people hosting them were friends I knew. They were good watches, especially the rhythm gaming panel for being very informative and the "Dad" panel for giving me a good laugh. And before I miss it, the arcade was your typical stash of rhythm games and a number of console fighting games.

Overall the convention was good and the visit was worth it, even if it may not be able to catch the magic of the times when the convention was at the Stevens Institute of Technology (though with the con now being inside a large building, they don't have to worry about it getting rained out).

Next up is AnimeNEXT, which I attended on the second day (leading to scenarios where I had to watch people on Facebook posting about how much fun it was). Compared to the previous year, the convention didn't change much, though they went back to making the arcade separate from the dealer's room and artist's alley and let attendees leave through a standard exit instead of walking through the arcade. The bathrooms of the convention got a well-needed update and there were, well, still no good dining options within the con despite the plentiful amount of drinking water thanks to the fountains scattered about. So with no other options I took a lunchbreak partway through to grab a quick bite at a nearby Applebees.

As per usual, none of the panels at the convention interested me enough to make me want to go out of my way to see one. As for the artists, I passed on getting prints as my collection was getting quite err... big (I've been getting prints since 2016, give me a break!). Aside from that, I tried to make my visit worthwhile, so I stayed until the sun went fully down before I headed to the arcade to watch everyone get their game on (including some Smash Bros. Ultimate action) before finishing up cosplay photos and heading out to the parking garage under the convention center to drive the four hours back home. The convention center itself retains that nice, clean atmosphere from previous years, so much so that I went out of my way to get a couple decent shots of the center during my visit throughout the day- from when I arrived at around noon-ish to when night came and I departed soon after.

AnimeNEXT was a great time, even if I decided to go for a different focus and do photography more than artist meet and greets (there were so many artists in the artist's alley that they all just sotra blended in together).

So there's a review of my first two conventions- the next two I have are local experiences and I plan on sharing my experiences with those conventions sometime in August before I have two back-to-back conventions in October and November.