AnimeUSA was held in Washington DC this year much earlier than they usually hold their convention. It was for this reason that the normally vibrant lively atmosphere of this convention seemed almost empty. Many attendees attributed this to its proximity to the dates of Otakon and NYCC. Still, for having a smaller attendance than normal, this convention really stepped up to the plate.
Later in the evening, the Maid Cafe transitioned over into the event's Host Club. Club Ikemen Paradise is an 18+ "night club" aimed at the female con attendees. The menu boasted signature cocktails as well as a number of wines and beers available from the hotel's full bar. Also featured on the menu were takes on some classic light fare Japanese dishes and decadent desserts. My group and I sampled a variety of dishes such as the creme brulee, a delicious dumpling set and a green tea ice cream dessert. The Hosts were all exceedingly accommodating and take time to sit with their guests. Quick card games and other activities are available to play with your host, as well as private karaoke booths, dance parties and sing alongs. We had so much fun the first night of the convention that we decided to attend the following evening as well.
For those more interested in the standard convention offerings, the artist alley and dealers room did not disappoint. I was incredibly impressed by the number of artists in attendance. The room used for Artist Alley was large and spacious and provided a wonderful space for the very large number of artists featured there. I spoke to a few artists individually who expressed extreme happiness with their experience selling at the con. However slightly less impressive was the Dealers Room. I was disappointed with the lack of variety and large number of bootleg merchandise I found throughout the dealers room. If you're looking for a good shopping experience, this was not the place to do it. I found much more interesting and affordable merchandise in the artist alley.
Despite the lack of Dealers Room, The Con still offered a lot of programming and events to keep you busy. The guys over at AnimeNEXT once again lent their extensive Manga Library, giving attendees a quite place to enjoy the latest volume of their favorite manga, or perhaps start reading a new series. As always, the Manga Library staff were on hand to answer any questions and provide a tranquil peaceful atmosphere among the sometimes loud halls and panel rooms.
Sadly I did not make it to the Masquerade this time around as we spent the majority of our free time enjoying the Host Club or making full use of the large game room. Featuring full Konami dance machine games, a large number of music themed games and wall to wall gaming and tournament stations, we could spend hours in their playing DDR and Dragonball Kinect.
Aside from the disappointment of the Dealers Room, I was very happy with this convention. With all their big guests, the panels and programming, there's something for everyone to enjoy. I would recommend this convention to anyone in the DC area and even beyond. They are moving back to their fall dates in October for 2014 and will be staying at the Wardman Park Marriott. Please check them out.