Castle Point Anime Convention 2013 — You Can’t Spell Hoboken without “Hobo”

When I told a close non-convention going friend I was going to Hoboken, New Jersey for an anime convention, the two of us eventually came to the same reaction—a quote from Megas XLR in which Coop, at the suggestion of his friend/copilot Jamie suggests going to Hoboken for a Mega Slush, after just about every other place that sells them has been destroyed throughout the episode, wherein Coop laments, “Yeah…but that’s Hoboken!”

That’s right it is Hoboken, and it’s, more specifically, Castle Point Anime Convention. Once again, my adventuring party and I took to the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, for one of our favorite small, local conventions. The rest of the adventuring party got there much earlier than I, on account of living in closer proximity to the location. Good for them.

I departed for Hoboken around ten-ish, but got about five miles on 295 before I realized I had forgotten my camera. It was an easy task turning around (not literally; I got off at the nearest exit) and getting it, but in lieu of trudging back up the various parallel highways to get back there I decided “fuck it” and got on the NJ Turnpike instead. It was a smooth enough ride, and thankfully my GPS didn’t let me down. There would be other things at the con to do that for me, however.

First thing was first, and that was the parking. As I said the last time I was in Hoboken for a convention, the parking in and around Hoboken is one big mess. I did come a little bit closer than I did last time, though, and thankfully the parking garage I found made people pay when they left. So I trudged over from the garage through construction to the convention itself. It took me a little bit of effort to get my badge, but thankfully a member of my adventuring party had both my badge and my official, embroidered, extra-professional Anime Jam Session company shirts to give me. Hooray! Also, I was given my on-campus parking permit for being on press!

Wait what

                If you’re thinking, “Why didn’t you just park on campus? Your permit would’ve let you,” it’s because I didn’t know about it until said permit was thrust verily into my fucking hand. If I was told about it before coming up here, either I only heard it in passing and forgot about it or I was never told about it to begin with. So I trudged back across campus to my car, along with my colleague who had to leave some stuff in my car for later. I was pissed, mostly because of the miscommunication, though the pissing away money on superfluous parking (only $5, but still) didn’t help. I also developed all the tics I get when I get mad—fast-talking, rapid, almost twitchy, head movements, anger sweats, all that gross, unprofessional and ungentlemanly conduct. I asked a campus security guard by the name of John O’Donnell about where I could park, and he pointed out to me the only such lot on campus where it was allowed…and it was full. He asked me where I was parked, and I summarized the scenario and what happened. Thankfully, he was kind enough to not only drive me over to said parking garage, but lead me to a parking lot under the main hub of the convention (that glass building which housed the panels and some of the video rooms). I had calmed down considerably thanks to his help, and I was able to enjoy the convention much more easily in part. So thank you for that, good sir.

There was a Slender Man cosplayer wandering around as well, but Mr. Popo is far more nightmarish

There was a Slender Man cosplayer wandering around as well, but Mr. Popo is far more nightmarish.

               The first panel I ended up attending involved the comedy stylings of the +2 Comedy troupe, who always turn in a humorous performance…even if one of them came up with a rendition of the first English opening theme to Pokémon as performed by Nicky Minaj. Talk about earsplitting. And while the panels themselves were engaging, the rooms themselves were not suited for the crowds they drew. By way of being on a college campus, all the panels were held in classrooms—large classrooms that looked like they could hold several dozen students, but still classrooms. People were sitting in the aisles, in between the chairs, and standing against every bit of wall space. I guess it was mostly an oversight on the part of the con, not knowing there would be this many people coming to the convention. Or that their panel would be that popular. I attended a similar panel put on by Evil Greg productions, and while they were also entertaining, they didn’t draw as many people.

               I only visited a couple panels, as it was a one-day con on a college campus, and covering everything gave way to simply not being able to be in two places at the same time. The place had all the accoutrements of the last time I was here—dealers’ room and artists’ alley taking up the same gym, people wandering around, that sort of thing. Other students living on campus were…less than thrilled with the convention taking place, and preferred to show their disgust by putting their stereo speakers out their windows and blaring the most obnoxious ear poison you can think of. About an hour into this trend, I noticed that the music quality took on a much nerdier slant. I would like to think that some convention goers broke into the room and took control of it—and by consequence the radio. But it only lasted about half an hour before things returned to the regularly scheduled program.

A Ryu cosplayer got his gloves signed by Kyle Hebert, who was a guest.

A Ryu cosplayer got his gloves signed by Kyle Hebert, his voice actor for numerous Street Fighter games, who was a guest.

Later, I came upon Anime Press Your Luck. It was one of two versions floating around the internet, one of which hosted by Greg Wicker, a.k.a. Greggo. This was not his doing, though; the last time I saw these guys—I remembered them by the Legends of the Hidden Temple cosplay—was at New York Comic Con in 2010. And much to my surprise, they remembered me as well. Apart from having anime themed prizes, questions and Whammy animations, they also had the “Michael Larson” challenge, wherein there was a special winner-take-all prize for their entire prize suitcase if you managed to beat Larson’s legendary score of over $110 thousand. Sadly, no winners. I didn’t get chosen to play, but it was still fun to watch.

We conducted a few interviews for the site, and then met back in the “main” building of the convention and indulged in Mako-chan’s latest culinary delight—little lasagna cups made out of chocolate and whipped cream. They were insanely delicious, another testament of her culinary prowess. After indulging in those for a while, we went our mostly separate ways, leaving DJ Ranma and I to attend one last convention event: the Cosplay Singles Event, sponsored by Otaku Haven and held at the Teak on the Hudson. It was essentially a mixer, but the event we were there for was the speed dating. Beforehand we talked with others who had attended the convention, and all things considered, I was doing considerably better at these sorts of events than I normally do; I’m usually worried about doing/saying something so insanely stupid or boring that it makes me look totally unapproachable or intolerable, even if someone tells me later that that wasn’t the case. I have issues, I know. The speed dating went a lot smoother than last time, but in all honesty, I could’ve spontaneously burst into flames and I would’ve said the exact same things. The ladies I talked to were all gorgeous and had wonderful personalities. A few were in costume, which was due to a character auction after the speed dating where you’d get to date (read: hang out for an hour with that person…who is in character) and they’d donate the proceeds to charity. The one date I was most blown away by was a Korra cosplayer who immediately recognized the Tang Soo Do tattoo on my right forearm. And then we started chatting each up over the two Avatar animated series as well as martial arts. I was positively ecstatic.

Korra is hot. You can just toss your counterarguments away; you won’t need them.

Korra is hot. You can just toss your counterarguments away; you won’t need them.

As that was the one thing I was there for, and I had an hour-plus drive ahead of me to get home (more since I clicked “Avoid Tolls” on my GPS), I had to part ways and head home. Before I left I realized I still had my compatriot’s gear in my car. I drove back to the venue and waited for him to get his ass out and get it. As I waited, I was accosted by more than one homeless person, one of which had a bed sheet wrapped around his body like he was wearing a toga. It was rather surreal.

Hoboken was generally a lot nicer to me this time around than my last visit to CPAC, though a lot of that has to do with the people I ran into. Once the parking situation got cleared up and the very public music blaring was dealt with, things were going good, for the most part, and I enjoyed myself greatly. While smaller cons are nice, I don’t think I have quite the love of the little ones that other members of my adventuring party have, but I would be wrong to deny CPAC its due. Perhaps next year the staffers will be more attentive and not run around like beheaded chickens.

Ari Rockefeller

Ari Rockefeller

When he is not training Pokémon and being the very best, the Master of the Written Word churns out convention, video game, anime and movie reviews like clockwork. No one is more productive and dangerous with a pen and paper (or, in this case, a keyboard).

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