Has it really already been four conventions this year? Yes, yes it has been. Wow. The convention in question today is a small one by the name of Anime Mid-Atlantic, way way way down on the south side of Virginia in Chesapeake. AMA is not what one would consider a particularly large convention overall, but 4,500 or so isn’t so bad. This is going to be a bit of an odd write-up as I was only able to make it to the con for Friday, also known as one of those days that you don’t really want to be on I-95 or going anywhere near the roads around Norfolk, VA due to all of the beach traffic. Kinda makes you wish teleportation was a real thing.
Transportation system failures aside, Anime Mid-Atlantic was a fun time. It’s far from the biggest or craziest show out there, but it was a fun little time if you know exactly what the limitations of what you can do are, and can exceed them. The guest lineup was quite varied for a smallish con, including voice actors Vic Mignogna, Doug Smith, Kyle Hebert, Chris Carson, and Danielle McRae; professional cosplayer Yunmao Ayakawa; and a raft of academically-oriented presenters. Sadly most of their panels were on Saturday, so I ended up spending my time there pretty much hanging out with a few of the presenters that I knew and watching their panels, plus doing my own Con Horror Stories panel. While that may not be the most 100% stimulating night of all time, I actually quite enjoyed it, and that’s the point of these things in the first place: fun.
I wish I could say getting around the convention area was fun, but it really wasn’t. It was pretty obvious that con has outgrown the Chesapeake Convention Center and the associated Marriott hotel. The hallways were all very, very crowded (not helped by the folks who kept stopping at every intersection to take photos), and the actual convention center has really lousy soundproofing. Smallish potatoes overall, though I rather much hope they can find a larger venue soon so they can offer a lot more programing, and panel rooms that seat more than 40 people…
I definitely like how much they are focused on providing a wide range of programing within a limited amount of space. There were only 4 panel rooms in total, but there was a really nice mixture of academic and more fun-oriented programing. Now, I really wish I could talk more about the late night Guests Uncensored panel as it was both illuminating and a riot, but as usual you can’t actually talk about what goes on there. It’s like Fight Club – with lollipops. It makes sense if you actually go. Really, it does.
Of the programing that I did get to see it mast pretty much all my buddy Charles Dunbar’s panels; “Dead Like Us Remix” and “Otaku Conversations”, the culmination of which was Charles slapping me on the arm as a demonstration of what a slightly angry ancestor might do to you if you forget them after they die. Like I said, friends. “Dead Like Us” was an examination of the various rites and beliefs surrounding death in Japan and “Otaku Conversations” delves down a bit into what “Otaku” means in both Japan and America. If those both sound academic, well, they are, but that doesn’t mean boring in the least. Not every panel can be non-stop stupid stuff or non-sequiturs. Besides, a little learning never hurt anyone. Sadly, after that I had to head home, so I will bid thee adieu dear reader until Otakon. Hope you have a good summer!