Over the last four years, I have traveled to and experienced my fair share of anime conventions on college campuses. Some were great, others not so much. How would I put this convention? Not so much, but would go again.
Castle Point Anime Convention is held at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. So if you’re local to the NY/NJ/CT area, it isn’t that hard to get to. From Brooklyn, the trip took about an hour, give or takes a minute or two. Upon arrival, the one thing that I did not see was signs. That’s one of my pet peeves about conventions. I understand that you’re given a map, but having signage around to denote where you are and where things are would graciously help. But since I have been to this con a few times, I already have a familiarity of the layout.
First stop? The karaoke room. As someone who runs karaoke at another con, I was quite pleased with their layout. They had a project and a monitor setup so that the person can see the lyrics to sing and video for the people in the audience to see. I’m not too fond about the fact that they were streaming YouTube videos for this, but it went pretty smoothly. Also in this room, a variety of Japanese snacks were available, dirt cheap. I bought a box of Tomato Pretz for a dollar.
Since we’re on the topic of food, there was a place in the con for all you can eat for like six dollars. I didn’t partake in that though. Also, right down the street where you get off the bus to get to the campus, there is a multitude of food places to eat at.
CPAC isn’t the ideal place to show off a new cosplay, unless you’re revamping a current one, or said cosplay didn’t cost a lot to make. I won’t lie; I did see a lot of great cosplay. Take a look at this Pinkie Pie cosplay on the left… I’ve seen some great ones, but damn, I was quite impressed by it. Cyndi Lauper comes to mind, but hey that’s just me. The masquerade was left to be desired. It was a complete disaster. I left after the second skit. They were pulling people from the audience and there were tables on the stage… You don’t need two tables in the middle of stage. This isn’t the place to show off that awesome skit you’ve been working on, or that epic cosplay. Save that for AnimeNEXT.
I did check out the gaming room. I was a little sad that there was no DDR, but there was Rock Band, Mario Kart, Smash Bros, another other great games. I immediately smiled when I noticed that there was a dedicated DDR room powered by Stepmania. Great idea. No really, it is. You had one guy running the laptop for music selection, speed modifiers, etc. on two metal pads. Some people were playing in socks. I played in sneakers, it works better for me.
Next up, Dealer Room/Artists Alley. It was in all one location, no signage to differentiate what’s what. But if you’ve gone to enough cons, then you can easily figure out who was who. Upon entering the place there is a sign that says no photography allowed. Now, I always see this in front of the Art Room. It’s far and few you see it in Artists Alley and/or Dealer’s Room. Even if the signs are posted there, people will stop to take pictures of cospalyers. I’m guilty of this, hands down. The one thing that got tome was staff. I will say that the staff was for the most part, cordial and helpful. Much thanks to the staffers that got me and my assistant in to get our press passes. The ones that weren’t were those policing the AA/DDR room. Personally, I do not appreciate having a staffer tap me on the shoulder and telling me to turn my camera off. I understand he’s doing his job, but there was no need for him to touch me and demand that I turn my camera off.
Panels… I checked out one. “Anime Dating Game”, by New York Anime Picnic. Three words, hilarious as fuck. I have participated in many anime dating game panels, but this one was off the charts for it being all ages. They pulled people from the audience for participation and started with three bachelors/bachelorettes. They asked a few questions, then their decision. After two rounds, they decided to up it to four people instead of three. Also eliminating one person after each round. Plus with the antics of the guests and the classy Keiko (on the right) as the host, it was well worth it. It went over so well that the con extended the panel by an hour. The place was standing room only. When a panel has more people than your masquerade, then you know you’re not doing something right.
Overall, I would go back, seeing how it’s local. You may not think it, but I had a lot of fun. But I wouldn’t travel more than two hours to get here. A small con like this, you will make a lot of friends, no question. Keep this one on your list if you want to make more friends, especially if you Street Pass with the Nintendo 3DS. They just need to add more significant signage, make the cosplay masquerade more stabilized, and a more courteous staff, then CPAC will be on its way up there as one of the best college campus conventions out there.