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Japanator goes to AniMaine Bangor 2016

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A new location but the same good time.

This weekend and era came to a close as Otakon, one of the east coast's biggest conventions, was held in Baltimore for the last time. Since 1999 the convention has been held at the Baltimore Convention Center and had seen its attendance grow for just over 2,000 people to over 35,000 at its peak. Next year the con will move to Washington D.C. to start a new location.

I didn't go to that con. Instead, I went home.

I've written coverage of my home convention here in Maine, AniMaine, before. It is a very close-knit gathering of friends, both old and new alike. That con takes place in November in South Portland, Maine, about and hour or so south of where I am located. It is a highlight of my year.

The same group, some in different roles, decided to put on another convention this weekend in AniMaine Bangor, a one-day convention located in Bangor, Maine. The "Queen City" as it is called is about two hours north of where I am located. Most of the staff are from the area since it's the location of Husson College in its associated school NESCom where a lot of the staff graduated from, as did I about ten years before they did. It can make me feel old sometimes with them young whippersnappers and their fancy degrees.

The weather on Saturday was not in our favor. The news had called for rain and we sure got it. Luckily there wasn't much scheduled for outdoors (if anything at all) so outside of a trip to your car, you were okay. I went with my usual partner in crime Jeremy "Emerje" Crocker from Tomopop and arrived a little before 9 a.m. This event was being held at the Four Points by Sheraton located right next to Bangor International Airport, a place neither of us had been before. It took a little time to get organized as the con registration was located on the second floor of the entrance. Luckily some familiar faces were there (namely Con chair  Diane Lapierre) to point us to the right place.

The layout of the space was small, one panel room, one game room, a small vendors area next to the hotel gym, with some information tables located in a walkway leading to the airport terminal. The vendors' area was open when we arrived and we checked things out there, with about six different vendors including a Henna painting table, a table set up for a couple of local horror themed cons, an artist, and a seller offering up old toys and another offering anime stuff and really good prices.

We checked out the first panel of the day, hosted by longtime AniMaine staffer Michael Churchill about Magic: The Gathering. Not my cup of tea as far as subjects go but it was still interesting. We took some time to check out the con's program and found that the schedule had been updated and changed the night before, without a chance to fix the programs. I was prepared as I noticed the change on the con's website and had printed out my own copies.

We took some time to look around for a short bit before the next panel, What Makes a Video Game Great. The presenter was Adam Crowley who is a Ph.D. looking at games. He was very engaging and would mention things that were popular and why and took a deeper look into the games we love.  The next panel was cosplay judging so we explored around some more. There were quite a lot of cosplayers to this con, but we aren't judges and they actually filled the room. I took the time to really get my bearing as to where things were located as relating to a small elevator that really made things easier. We got some lunch at one of the small terminal restaurants and hung out for a while. As I've said of AniMaine in South Portland, this con was very relaxed and had a laid back environment that encouraged conversation with those around you.

Next up on the program was the first of two panels by the headline guest, voice actor, director, and AniMaine veteran guest, Terri Doty. with her first of two panels, Voice Acting 101 with Terri Doty. She always makes for a good panel as she is very entertaining, but at the same time has been working in the industry long enough to speak real wisdom. There were a few young audience members who were looking into the industry and Terri was able to answer their questions with stories and anecdotes like only she could.

The panel that followed was Hey, I'm Walkin' Here hosted by AniMaine's South Portland Chair, Colin Harvey. This was an animation tutorial panel on how to create a simple walking loop using home computer animation programs. Again, a lot of it flew over my head but it still was enlightening. The next panel was planned to be a Karaoke Extravaganza but some wires got crossed so the room was used for a makeshift panel from one of the staffers while we milled around for a while on our own, I stayed at the hotel while Jeremy checked out some of the surrounding stores.

I walked around checking in with some old friends and getting pictures of some of the cosplayers that were there. I met a couple with a very adorable little dog that was the cutest. I returned to the Vendor's area and something cool happened while I was there.

For those of you that have seen my posts at our sister site, Tomopop will find I'm a big collector of '80s/early '90s style GI Joe figures. I got to talking with one of the vendor's selling older toys and he said he had a bin of figures he would sell cheap and I assured him if he brought it in I would buy something. Since he lived only 20 minutes away, he went to get them. I took the meantime and got something to drink and hung around the lobby of the hotel near the front desk and chatted with people as we watching Olympic diving (yes, the one with the green water, ick). He returned and SCORE! I ended up getting 13 Joes, most of the which were only a few dollars. He was happy, I was very happy, all was awesome.

Reconnecting with Jeremy, we took in some of a panel called Making Your Own Games with Unity where the host showed off a small game that he had designed himself. We milled around some more and hung out at an empty table in the game room for an hour or so before the next panel, which was Con Stories with the vendor for the local horror cons I had mentioned earlier. There was only 5 or six of us but it was a lot of fun and silly stories for conventions past, talk of tipping cows, Star Trek actors, and how awesome Billy Dee Willians is.

We finished out the con with Terri Doty's Q and A panel. As said before, she tells wonderful stories about not only her work in voice acting but her life as well. She raffled off a few DVDs, Jeremy ended up winning one of the Hetalia collections. With the panels ended we headed out for the long journey home.

AniMaine is family. Old vets like yours truly were just as apt to have discussions with long time friends as much as people going to their first cons ever. It's a relaxed atmosphere where you can just hang out and chill, play some games, take in some great stories, and reminisce about things that happened in days past. The different location from the South Portland cons didn't affect that. It's like if you have a family tradition of going to the grandmother's house every year for Thanksgiving, but then one of your cousins invites the family to their house for a day. Even if the location is different, a place you have never been before, the AniMaine spirit is still there and welcoming. This more than anything else showed that no matter where we are, we are home with family.


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Soul Tsukino
Soul TsukinoContributor   gamer profile

Soul Tsukino lives in the state of Maine. When not enveloping himself in a new fiction story he also comments on happenings in the animation and Otaku fan scene. A creative writer since he was yo... more + disclosures


 



Filed under... #Cons #event #feature #otaku culture #travel

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