Orobouros.net @ Anime Mid-Atlantic 2003
Date: June 13th to 15th, 2003
Anime Mid-Atlantic was held it's third year in a maze like hotel. In addition to "The Maze" it was also called "the Bingo Hotel," with separate buildings with different room numbering. On top of that, some floors really just seemed out of place. Stairs would lead half-way up, half-way down, or just into plain strage areas. "Follow the hallway and go up the stairs to get to the elevator to go down to your floor," were some of the directions given to people after check in. Not much help when you have a cart full of luggage to tote along, especially when said cart could not even fit up the stairs without some major "renovations" to the walls.
On top of the confusion of finding personal rooms, the convention event rooms were scattered throughout this maze-like structure. The good things first, the main events was held in an outdoor tent dome, which provided a nice atmosphere and good ventalation -- something every anime con needs. Many of the main con events were also in what must have been the designated as the "con area," which was actually separated from the rest of the hotel. However, the rest of the events were held in various parts of the hotel, such as in the "tower section" or the "lower lobby." Basically, held in places people could only find them with difficulty. Worst off was the art show, which was past a secondary lobby down a hall and into a suite. Nobody walked by there, and -- not surprisingly -- hardly anybody went in, much to the annoyance of the arists hoping to help fund themselves. It's really this mess of a layout that I would have to blame for a poor convention.
AMA 3 wasn't a bad con. I certainly had fun. Lots of fun, in fact, but this was an extreme case of "you make your own con." Again, I'll have to start with giving credit where credit is due. I actually went to a number of panels myself, and really enjoyed them. The dance, DJed by Rob and Andrew, was a blast, even though I didn't dance much myself. (That headache was a wonderful excuse to just enjoy the music and life video game feed projected onto the screen.) The cosplay was short, and at least half the skits were good. The others were mostly bad, with poor scripts and no attention to the basics of stage presence. However, the winning skits made up for that. While I just loved Aja and Khourey's "Good idea, Bad idea" skit, I do have to say the best was a "Link vs Gannondorf" skit. Well practiced, or spectacularly improvised, well scripted, and well acted out, with a good foundation idea.
As I sit here on I-95 thinking about what else must have been good about the con, I'm at a mental blank. Probably because that's about all the good stuff that happened at the con. Being a young con, I can't blame a number of things on them, such as the small dealer's room, lack of video programing, and measly artist's alley. To compare, though, a number of other third year cons have managed to outdo AMA in all these respects, and avoided many of the problems AMA could have done something about. What ticked me off the most was the video game tounaments. I had signed up for the Gran Turismo 3 tourney, but when I went to compete, it wasn't happening. I didn't even know about the HALO tourney, despite checking the video game room often, which I would have loved to join in on. On top of my own poor experiences, I heard a number of other complaints about how tournaments got moved around willy-nilly and people had no idea what was going on.
I certainly don't blame anyone in particular for this, other than maybe the con chair. A recurring theme at the con, it seemed there was a major lack of communication. A little bit of checking between leaders and planing ahead of time could probably have solved a lot of issues. Other than that, though, I think it all went pretty well. Enough people found out about the tourneys and had fun competing, so on the bottom line, it was done well.
Not as much good can be said of the rest of the con. It was, basically, quite boring. While there were a number of panels I went to that were quite enjoyable, namely the IC Entertainment panel and the web design panel (which took place at 11 or 12, depending on where you looked). The music videos were pretty lackluster, with only two or three even worth remembering. The con suite was a nice place to hang out Friday. The hotel lobby wasn't very accomidating, and there was a general lack of seating throughout the hotel. But the con suite offered food and a place to relax... until it because a storage room on Saturday. Despite best intentions, it seemed that many events that were well planed didn't get through, or just didn't happen because of a lack of an overall planing scheme. Again, as I said, the communication problem.
So, basically, AMA 3 was a nice con, but sloppily planed, but also with a lot of potential. I certainly will be going back next year, with hopes of a better organization, and a better location. Next year, then, I hope to have fun doing more of the actual con things.
Oh, wait, I did have fun doing the con things! I did at AMA exactly what I want to be able to do at cons. Despite all these problems, and a number more serious issues, it could hardly have gone better. All that could have really improved was more people that I knew coming, especially Sara. I got to do fun con things, like watch the music videos, go to panels, shop the dealer's room, take pictures, and so forth. I got to hang out with my friends, and though there is some truth to the "you know everybody" statement, still got to meet some new people. I didn't starve, got just enough sleep, enjoyed the parties, and left quite happy. To top it off, despite a huge accident on I-95 on the way back, the drive home was short, and quite sweet. It made me remember why I'd drive 85 mph on the freeways all the time. Luckily, I didn't get a ticket to remind me why I stopped.
There were a number of interesting events at the con which will make it quite memorable for me. First and foremost, the beginning of this Summer has really marked a big point for many of us. In addition to the slew of birthdays (Happy Birthday: Lisa, Kat, Khourey, Alex, Carolina, Lee, and Lewis), we've all now gotten out of high school, and everybody seems to be getting fairly solid ideas on what to do at least for the immediate future. The combo party Saturday night was wonderful, especially thanks to Hex!'s presentation. Leaving periodically to check out the dance, the rest of the con, pack, eat, or the like, I quite enjoyed chatting the night away with Aja, Alex, and Lee, as well as the random people who came and went past our spot in the tower lobby. Additionally, I definitly need to thank Kave, Bob, Jan, and the number of other main contributers to the wonderful Anime 54 party. It's always a wonderful place to hang out, relax, and chat with friends.
The other big interesting thing this weekend was all the horrible securitiy inicidents. The ambulance call Friday afternoon foreshadowed what was to come. The con shut down shortly Friday when one of the attendees started hyperventilating and was taken to the hospital. A nice prank fire alarm almost got everybody drenched when we had to go stand out in the almost-rain Saturday night. And finally, the hotel felt it was necessary to call in additional security for Saturday night to keep order. While I'll certainly admit that anime con crowds can get a little rambunctious, I didn't really see or hear anything that would really warrant additonal secuirty. Anybody sitting on the floor was asked to leave and return to their rooms. On top of that, the CON staff wouldn't allow the use of the plentiful chairs available for insomniac attendees to use. Things did get a bit ouf ot hand Sunday morning when a group was playing a nice game of "capture the flag" in the tower. in their defense, they were fairly quiet, and by "fairly quiet" I mean not nearly as loud as most other insomniac attendees I see at that hour. As a result, the con chief of security came down to stop them. By coincidence, I believe, the hotel security came along at the same time. What followed was a three way discussion on what was okay and what wasn't. The hotel security seemed to be the only party not exaggerating. All ended well, though, with hotel secuirty happy there'd be no complains, the the con security happy that the hotel wouldn't get any more mad at them, and the players happy not to have gotten into the trouble the set themselves up for. On a final note on this topic, I was pretty amazed at the hotel secuirty's attitude. Contrarty to what I was expcting based on my previous encounters with surly hotel security people throwing their weight around, these two were just pretty cool with it all. They knew we were all there just to have some fun. And troublesome though they could have been, the guards treated them with the respect they deserved as hotel guests. Though I did hate to see the fun blown out of the night for the players, it was good to see a nice attitude from the secuirty people.
And finally, I got to end the con the way about every con should end, by going out to dinner at a restaurant with your friends. I, again, ate like no tomorrow, finishing off my own plate, two others' plates, and a number of other odd foods that had been served.
And as a note, I figured to put in that bit about Song: because there's always one particular song that I associate with a con. Usually the one I'm most interested in when I drive down, but sometimes one I'm introuced to there, or that otherwise fits the feel of the con. It was almost the "I don't want to talk to you I just want BANG BANG BANG!" song. But Wind is just such a cool song, there's no way I can't use it for this con.
Don't cry 'cause you're so right.
Don't dry with fakes or fears,
'Cause you will hate yourself in the end.
Thanks to AnimeLyrics.com for the Wind lyrics.