ConnectiCon is a medium-sized multi-genre convention held annually in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. Unlike other major New England conventions which focus almost exclusively on Japanese anime and manga, ConnectiCon also caters to fans of science fiction, fantasy, comics, webcomics, and Western animation. For it's ninth year ConnectiCon continued to experience significant growth, hosting just over 8,000 attendees at the Connecticut Convention Center. The increased attendance allowed the large venue to feel more appropriate for the size of the convention, and though programming was just as extensive as it had been in the past, the hustle and bustle added positive energy and created the impression that more was going on. The convention also happened to occur in conjunction with the annual Hartford Riverfest, and ConnectiCon attendees enjoyed prime viewing for the Saturday night fireworks display on the river. Major events included Anime Unscripted, Agents of Improv, an excellent and diverse FMV contest, and Mookie's popular "Death Match." The con continued its expansion of multi-genre panels, however it has still been unable to successfully diversify its guest list as major guests continued to be almost exclusively anime voice actors. This year's stars included Jon St. John, Christopher Smith, and Christina Vee, who are great fun but mostly play to a certain demographic. The convention also suffered from what seems to be a distinct lack of staff members; its website was not updated from 2010 until very shortly before the convention itself and its program guide listed many staff positions as "N/A." As a result, many con staff appeared overworked and frazzled.
Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
We arrived Thursday evening after work, already exhausted after only getting two hours of sleep the night before helping our Persona 4 group finish sewing costumes. By the time we checked into our hotel room which we were sharing with Katy and Majodere and unpacked, we were ready to pass out. Friday morning we got up early, feeling refreshed after sleeping like rocks all night. Katy was already up and out for the day; the rest of us changed into our Miku, Kaito, and Luka costumes from Vocaloid and headed down to Masquerade HQ. We got free badges for helping out with cosplay events, so as part of our duties we spent several hours distributing event flyers to attendees. There was an excellent Assassin’s Creed cosplayer in the registration line who did not speak, but instead threw a handful of coins at our feet, which was clever (and yes, we picked them up and kept them). Once our duties were done, the three of us wandered the con and got lots of photo requests; Vocaloid fans were especially excited to see an actual male cosplaying as Kaito. We stopped to visit Mookie and Alyssa in the artist alley, and got Minion cookies from Alyssa! Yum!
That afternoon we changed into more comfortable outfits; Sketch got into Flynn Rider while Shiva wore her Skuld school uniform from Ah, My Goddess. and we wandered both the artist alley and the dealer's room. Shiva did a photoshoot of Christa, Katy, and Majodere as Ron, Harry, and Hermione from Harry Potter before we reported to main events for Anime Unscripted. This year, voice actors Christina Vee and Jon St. John joined us onstage and the show went pretty well, though it wasn’t our best. The strongest skit was "Party Quirks" which featured Shiva in what what has become her typical role of party host, Sketch as a missionary recruiting followers to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Christina as Pac-Man, and Jon St. John as a zombified Donald Trump. Everyone played their parts perfectly and Shiva had no trouble guessing who any of them were. That evening we went to the FMV Contest, where Shiva's Lord of the Rings video, “Dance With The Devil,” was competing in the drama category. It was an interesting contest; we especially liked the entry "A Psychedelic Lovers' Dream," which paired Yoshitaka Amano’s artwork with music from The Beatles. Afterwards, we both helped out with the Dating Game before hitting up City Steam for dinner and heading to bed.
Saturday morning we were up early and returned to Masquerade HQ and given our assignments for the day; we spent another few hours passing out flyers before heading to Mookie’s Death Match in main events. Sketch was competing as Flynn Rider, and Mookie did a fantastic job of rousing up the crowd. He even borrowed a mutilated, yet still somehow adorable, teddy bear from one of his zombie minions which the crowd loved. All the screaming and chanting for favorites, however, was almost unbearable after a while - that crowd can REALLY make some noise for their favorite characters! That afternoon we changed into our brand new Rise and Kanji costumes from Persona 4 and met up with the rest of the group. We had a full main cast, including Crazyflower as Teddie, and were surrounded for photos. Sometimes it was hard to move! Later we had an amazing photoshoot with Christa in the private club at the hotel which the staff was kind enough to allow us to use.
That evening we changed into Mal and Inara from Firefly for the masquerade; Sketch was staffing the show while Shiva was judging performances for the very first time. She had a great time sharing the judge's table with Katy and Jess, especially as they were on the same wavelength regarding the rankings. They kept a running list of their award choices throughout the show, so by the end they were able to make their final decisions quickly and easily. The show itself, however, was all over the place; some skits were really well thought-out and enjoyable, while others rambled on way over their time limits and had to be disqualified. A couple of others were alarmingly inappropriate, with one going so far as to make blatant references to masturbation. The breakout performance of the night was a solo act where the girl had made the gutsy choice to perform an original slam poem she had written and memorized. She was absolutely fantastic at it and received not just one, but TWO standing ovations, once when she finished her poem and again when the judges awarded her the Fan Favorite trophy. The FMV awards also went to deserving people; we were especially happy to see the editor who made the Amano video get a nod and Shiva was pleasantly surprised to win both Best Drama and Judge’s Choice her Lord of the Rings video and was flattered to be chosen by both the judges and the audience.
Despite the highlights, however, the masquerade as a whole dragged on WAY too long; it was scheduled to end at 10PM and didn’t get out until past 11:30. A lot of this can be contributed to the storyline the emcees tried to act out between each skit which was too long, too complex, and distracted from the show itself. The emcee only has to introduce the acts and make the audience laugh; Halden hit this note perfectly as Spock attempting to learn stand-up comedy, spitting out a one-liner between acts and punctuating the punch line by chiming an orchestra triangle. He easily would have worked as the only host. The longer material is good to have on hand, but it’s only necessary to use as a time-killer when the judges are taking too long to decide the awards, something we had finished before the FMVs even began. Unfortunately, not only was the filler employed, but there were no apparent attempts to trim down the content even after the show was hitting the 1 hour 30 minutes over mark, at which point someone on staff should have stepped in and cut things out to push the event along. By the time we got out of there, we had to literally run to get food and beg the bar to take our orders before the clock struck midnight.
Sunday morning we packed up the car and got into our Glee outfits to casually enjoy the convention for the morning. We met up with Katy, Ryan, and some of their friends, also dressed as Glee characters, including several other Warblers and an Artie. We all joined up and walked around the con together; Katy had a boombox with a Glee soundtrack loaded in, and we all occasionally lip-synced and danced to the tunes. Other attendees started joining in, dancing and singing alongside of us, and we became somewhat of a roving musical act as we moved throughout the convention center. Eventually we all went out for lunch and enjoyed several end of convention cocktails with the crew. It was a fun way to wrap up the weekend!