AnimeNEXT holds a special place in my heart. It was one of the first cons I ever went to, and I consider it my hometown con. I’ve seen the convention grow in size, and eventually become too large to stay in their Somerset location. So when I heard they were moving down to Atlantic City, I was so happy, yet I was a bit hesitant. Fear of the unknown and all. However, I was very surprised by everything this year.
First off, the new location, the Atlantic City Convention Center, was HUGE! I managed to get lost just trying to find the registration. The larger space worked very well with the size of AnimeNEXT. It rarely felt crowded, even on Saturday afternoon. My only complaint was the escalator situation. Only one escalator went to the second and fourth floor, while a good four or five went from the first to third. It made trying to navigate very confusing. On Saturday during a photoshoot, we spent most of the time walking back and forth trying to find a way to get down. I can’t blame the con for that, but it made things confusing.
Like last year, AnimeNEXT hosted the preliminaries for the World Cosplay Summit, which followed right after the Masquerade. The Masquerade was amazing - one of the best I’ve seen! Everyone did a great job, although I must admit, the Smash Jam one was my favorite. I must tip my hat to all the single performers. It is not easy to go up and be on stage by yourself, but all of them rocked it!
Must share a story that made me cry, though. One of the entries made a comment to the judges that her sewing machine broke while making her costume (which was beautiful by the way). She won an award for best performance. As she was being handed the award, the representative from Brother sewing machine stepped out and announced they were giving her a brand new machine. The girl was so happy she broke down and cried on stage, and I’ll admit...I shed a tear too.
After the masquerade, came the World Cosplay Summit. These skits were amazing! You can tell how much hard work and dedication went into them. I did not envy the judges at all. I sat backstage talking with others and debating which one would win, but in the end, a beautiful group for Fate/Zero won, and I wish them all the luck competing in Japan!
Overall, the con was great! Great new location, that I hope AnimeNEXT will stay in for years to come! I look forward to going back to Atlantic City next year!