18+ Dating Game: Co-Host
Cosplay Chess: King's Rook
AMV Contest: "Path to Power"
Masquerade: "Attack of the Clones"
Attack of the Clones Skit:
Best In Show, Masquerade
Best Master Performance, Masquerade
Artist Alley: Guest Artist
Masquerade: Performance Judge
Sketch, Andrew, Shiva, Gale, Andrew, Shiva
For its' third year, Another Anime Convention changed locations for the third time, moving to the Radisson Hotel in Nashua, New Hampshire. The move was an excellent decision on the part of the con's staff; not only was the hotel larger with more versatile function space than its previous location, but the employees were accustomed to the convention crowd and were thoroughly amused - as opposed to annoyed - by attendee antics. The hotel's alternate use as an overflow dormitory space for students of the nearby UMass: Lowell also ensured that the hotel's guests were relatively unconcerned with potentially noisy rooms. A wedding happening on site during the con also seemed to embrace the wacky atmosphere for their special day. Finally, the hotel's castle façade architecture - from the building's stone arches and turrets to the rolling hills and large pond on its grounds - provided a fantastic backdrop for cosplay photos. Several of the organizational problems from last year seemed to have been resolved, although the hotel's rambling layout could have benefited from a few more signs designating major areas such as registration and Masquerade HQ and the masquerade did suffer from several technical issues. The rave did not disappoint, however, though a lack of water and broken taps in the restroom left dancers slightly dehydrated. Overall, the location perfectly suited AAC's attendance growth and despite a few issues, it was a very enjoyable weekend.
Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
We both had to work the Friday of the AAC this year and couldn't drive up to the convention until it had already gotten underway; Sketch was a guest artist this year, and after unpacking he got to setting up his art table before changing into Xenmas for the night while Shiva got into her Ravenclaw robes. The hotel staff thought Sketch's Organization XIII coat with the cowled face was creepy and dared him to prank their manager by standing in the door silently - the manager jumped about three feet before he started laughing. The manager had previously worked at a hotel in Las Vegas and joked this wasn't his first anime con experience, which explains why the Radisson staff accommodated the AAC crowd so well all weekend. Badges collected and art tables settled, we went back up to the room to have a couple of cocktails before meeting up with the rest of the crew to attend the AMV Contest.
The contest was strong across the board, with great videos in all of the categories. Shiva had entered her Final Fantasy IX AMV, “Path To Power,” but was unsure what category it best fit in so she had entered it as Romance when that really isn't the driving theme behind it. She didn't feel confident about it competing in that category, and regretted her choice even more during the screening as it didn't fit in well with the other videos it was competing against. Despite how entertaining many of the entries were, however, the contest was exceptionally long and by the time it got to the comedy category, those of us who had worked all day were nodding off in our chairs. When Sketch literally started snoring on Shiva's shoulder we both decided it was time to pack it up and call it a night.
Saturday was sunny and warm for October as Sketch headed down to his art table and Shiva got into her new Mt. Nibel Tifa Lockheart costume she had made for the convention’s “Go West” theme. Gale wore her Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core Aeris to match, and Andrew got some fantastic shots of them all around the outside of the hotel. Afterwards Shiva did a shoot for Lo and Annie in their Le Chavelier D'eon costumes by a beautiful outdoor staircase, and did another shoot for Ginger, Michela, and Crazyflower in their Final Fantasy XII costumes in the woods behind the hotel. The brightly colored fall leaves made the perfect natural setting for both series and the costume colors popped in the sunlight.
After bringing Sketch lunch at his art table, Shiva changed into her Dion Rogers' Rinoa Heartilly costume for masquerade craftsmanship judging. Their group's silly skit involved Rinoa getting zapped by one of Dr. Odine’s machines, splitting her personality into different bodies represented by her different costumes: default Rinoa is serious and depressed, her ballroom version is a party girl, her Amano version is an eco-hippie, and her Dion Rogers version is angry and violent. Shiva had all of the Rinoa costumes already, so after she and Crazyflower wrote the script they just dressed everyone else in Shiva's clothes. The judges loved Crazyflower's clever Odine costume and Amano Rinoa's feather wings and hand beading. It was the first time Shiva had the experience of having her cosplay work judged while it was being worn by someone else, and she found it so much easier to talk about the costume and point out details when she wasn't the one wearing it. By the time they were finished, Sketch had changed into Jiraiya to help judge the performances and they all headed to main events.
At the masquerade the organizers sat the audience quickly and got started right away without all of the annoying set-up from the year before. Katy was MC’ing again as Vash the Stampede, and she did an amazing job of keeping everything moving. Several groups had improved leaps and bounds from last year; we were especially impressed with a group who had entered a rambling, poorly choreographed number last year but stepped it up dramatically this time with well-executed choreography and a fantastic concept. There were also some wonderful costumes; one novice cosplayer had an impressive set of feather wings which let up with LEDs. Shiva felt her skit, by comparison, was a hot mess; the convention had unexpectedly shortened the maximum skit length requirements from 3 minutes to 2 so they cut out a lot out of the script last minute. To make matters worse, parts of the audio were garbled by tech issues during the performance, so between both problems the entire plot was pretty much lost in translation. She was embarrassed when they not only won Best Master Performance by default because they were the only entry in the master's division, but that the default ranking combined with their costume scores also netted them Best in Show. The craftsmanship judges had bumped up several high-quality, lower-level entries into higher categories to compensate, but the performance judges didn't have the same leeway.
That night we threw a room party to pregame before heading to the rave, and had a fabulous time drinking cocktails and partying before heading downstairs. Sketch had to work the 18+ Dating Game while Shiva and the rest of the crew hit up the rave with the dance floor already hopping. Similar to last year the rave was fantastic; the music was excellent, there was plenty of room to move around, and we recruited a ton of friends to come join in the fun. We took a couple of breaks to get some water and spent an embarrassing about of time lying on the cold pavement outside the front door to cool off, but we danced from 9pm until past midnight, with Sketch joining after finishing up the Dating Game. The only downside to the evening was that the rave ran out of water, and the taps in the bathroom weren’t working when we tried to re-hydrate there.
Sunday Sketch was up at the crack of dawn to get into Xenmas for cosplay chess which had a call before 8am, which seemed completely unnecessary. Who does cosplay chess at such an ungodly hour of the morning? Shiva slept in instead, getting into her Rinoa costume and meeting up with Ellystar as Quistis for a small photoshoot before catching the second half of the chess match with Sketch as the king's rook. The game was lame compared to chess matches at larger cons, but when the music refused to work due to a technical glitch, one of the attendees whipped out his guitar and started playing acoustic accompaniment to the battles taking place on stage. He was really good and the audience enjoyed it immensely; it certainly salvaged the match! Once the game wrapped up we changed into regular clothes to grab some brunch down the street before hitting up Anime Idol and playing Apples to Apples in the lobby. Once Sketch packed up his table we loaded up the car and met the crew at a local hibachi restaurant for a delicious dinner before heading home. A wonderful weekend all around, and we look forward to returning next year!