Originally posted Jun 24th, 2015 1:52:48pm @ nicolecrucial.tumblr.com.
- many awesome cosplay events (fashion show, hall costume contest, Masquerade)
- great panel programing (lots of variety)
- awesome video room programming (classics everywhere)
- nice dealer’s room/artist alley for the size
- cool guests (not a fan of Vic McNugget but he was there; Yunmao Ayakawa; etc)
- multiple, separate venues
- too big for current venues (they had to take over a hotel room and set up outdoor tents)
- Chesapeake traffic is a pain in the ass (less of an issue for people within walking distance of con)
- video game room had sparse pickings and a SERIOUS con funk problem
Anime Mid-Atlantic 2015 was my first AMA, but hopefully not my last. It was a trip taken with a couple of friends pretty spontaneously—by which I mean we decided about a month beforehand that we wanted to go. The original group included Thel Phenom Cosplay (Brittany), Tana Grace Cosplay (Tana), and Pun-isher Cosplay (Kallie), as well as another friend (Hannah) and myself; at the last minute, Kallie was forced to withdraw, and Tana recruited her fiancé, Nick, to be our fifth roommate, with an impressive advance notice of approximately 11 hours. Shout-out from the bottom of my heart to Nick for being awesome and available.
We left North Carolina Friday morning and got to Chesapeake, VA around 1 or 2. We checked into our hotel: the Hampton Inn on Battlefield Blvd. This is one part of my AMA experience that I would change. Our hotel was perfectly nice, but it was a six-minute drive across the highway from the convention center. This doesn’t sound like much, but when you are driving back and forth multiple times per day, it gets irritating. Part of the reason we didn’t get into the con hotel or any of the overflow hotels (which were all a very walkable distance from the con) is because we booked our room so late, so that is easily fixable for next year, should we decide to go again.
We ate and arrived at the convention around 3:30 on Friday. We were a little baffled at the venue. The convention was split up between the Chesapeake Conference Center, which held the dealer’s room, artist alley, and video game room. The panel rooms, video rooms, and main events were at the con hotel, a Marriott. To get between one area and another, you had to walk back and forth. Normally this wouldn’t be terrible to do, but it was 90+ degrees and sunny during the entire con, and again, going back and forth over and over began to get on our nerves.
AMA was smaller than we expected. It charged the pass price of a large con like Animazement, which had 11,000+ attendees (AMA had perhaps half that, it seemed to me–more Ichibancon-sized) and a much larger venue–although the preregister was only $45 and available until two weeks before the con, a feature I think is wonderful. (For comparison, $45 prereg for Animazement is only available like 11 months in advance of the con.) I got the preregister pass, so the price seemed reasonable to me, but for someone purchasing at the door I could see why they might feel differently. I can only hope the at-door ticket price for this year is reflective of big plans for next year; that would be the best reason I could think of for the passes being the price they were.
We hung out for a while to check out the artist alley and dealer’s room, which were about the size and variety you’d expect for a convention of AMA’s size. Then we got dinner and hung out in the hotel room for a few hours before returning to the convention to check out the Cosplay Fashion Show. The CFS was a huge success! It was honestly one of my favorite parts of the con, and if I go next year, it will be high on my list of things to participate in. Participants could sign up at 2pm to perform at 8pm, walked on stage and struck several poses to music. The crowd loved it, the cosplayers loved it, and I love that there is an informal, fun option for people who are afraid of the Masquerade or whose costumes don’t qualify for it for some reason.
Also high on my “things I want to participate in” list for next AMA is the Hall Cosplay Contest and the Masquerade. The Hall Contest was also great as an informal Masquerade for those who would prefer not to enter the real thing, but it still judged on craftsmanship and had skill-level categories. All of the winners had fabulous costumes and I think that the idea of offering free registration for next year for the contest winners was an awesome prize! The Masquerade was so much fun; we got killer seats. The skits were fun to watch and the costumes were great. My only regret was that there weren’t more entries… something I’m hoping to fix next year.
AMA is clearly a very cosplay-enthusiastic con, which I definitely appreciate. I love the fact that the Best of Weekend Hall Cosplay Contest winner was Zylveon—a crossover between Princess Zelda and Sylveon from Pokemon. I really love seeing that kind of open-mindedness in cosplay competition. It’s a refreshing change of pace from cons like Animazement that refuse to accept entries of AU and fanon and even Western media costumes.
I am doing a lot of comparison to Animazement here, and that’s because AZ is my home con and the one I know best. To add to this building comparison, AMA’s programming was MUCH better than Animazement’s. Again, part of this is because Animazement does not accept programming based on Western media, which is kind of awful. AMA included tons of canon discussion panels, cosplay-making panels, etc. Whoever picked out the animes playing in the video room had great taste (although the video room itself was disappointing—a cramped hotel suite? tsk tsk). As an aspiring novelist myself, I was absolutely thrilled to see tons of panels hosted by Haven Publishing. I was then very disappointed, because most of the panels I actually wanted to attend were hosted in two tents outside the Marriott. Two tents that did NOT have air conditioning. (I heard that one of them also served as the green room for the Masquerade… OMG.) AMA has clearly outgrown its current venue, and I really hope that they can find a new one, because those tents in 90 degree weather are just not doing it for me.
One other very notable issue: CON FUNK. I know this happens at every con, and AMA was actually pretty manageable for the most part… EXCEPT in the video game room. We walked in and walked immediately back out because we couldn’t breathe. I know this is not really something that the con staff can fix, but consider this your warning.
On Friday I wore Mako with Brittany as Ryuko, and we had adorable kohai/senpai shirts!
On Saturday I was Belle and got an awesome shot in this TARDIS in Artist Alley:
And at the end of the day I changed into my Steampunk Pirate costume, which I now have one decent shot of:
We drove home around noon on Sunday because nothing was going on and I wanted to be home to spend some time with my dad since it was Father’s Day.
FUN MOMENTS/CON HIGHLIGHTS:
- I got to give out a few of the quick/cheap business cards I made for my page.
- I had a very small dealer’s room haul that included KH II vol. 3 and a tiny purple alpaca named Ralph. It ALMOST included a $40 body pillow of my one true waifu, Yoko Littner.
- I got some lovely body spray from AA with a “Filler Episode” fragrance. (It’s watermelony!)
- Midnight Wendy’s runs with friends. We helped save the children with Frostys.
- All of the cosplay events. All of them.
- The Self-Publishing 101 Panel from Haven Publishing. It was in a tent, but it was worth it.
This con was fun, but not great. However, I now know exactly how to make it a great experience for me—primarily by entering cosplay events and by booking a hotel that isn’t so far from the con next time, but also by being more social in general. It would also help very much if the venue for next year changes to something bigger. There is a good chance you will see me at AMA 2016 if nothing terribly important comes up!
Featured image courtesy of Anime Mid-Atlantic.