Anime Midwest 2016 [Review]

If you are looking for my short review on exxxoticaexpo please follow this link!* [Covers the con and a topic not suitable for younger audiences, please be advised!]

Anime Midwest takes place in Rosemont Illinois, a place very familiar to the convention scene, and has had over 10,000 registered attendees come to it’s convention as of last year [2015]. This year, the convention have announced they hit over 12,000 registered attendees for Anime Midwest. [Source: http://ryankopf.com/posts/2121-Anime-Midwest-Badging-and-Security]

I am here to give my honest review of the convention, through the experience I had personally and from what I discussed with friends and strangers over the weekend. I will start by giving a break down of what I did day by day, so if you would like to skip that please scroll down.

Friday- July 8th

We arrived Thursday evening about 9:30pm, and after long hours of catching up with my roommates we went to bed around 3am.

On Friday morning I got into cosplay and packed everything to take to the convention center for the Charity Food Drive myself and staff of cosplayingcommunity.com were running.

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By 10am, when we reached the convention center across the street, the lines were already forming. Thinking the Vendor hall opened at 11am I looked for convention staff and immediately spotted Ryan Koph, who I then asked where I could go to pick up a badge I won last year in the masquerade, for fear of being put in the pre-reg line where I knew I would not make it to the table in time to set up.

He very kindly directed me to con ops, where last years winners were supposed to go to pick up their badges. I was allowed entry into the vendor hall first however, and I dropped everything off at the table before heading over to the Hyatt to con ops to pick up my badge.

Back in the vendor hall I set up the table, conversed with other vendors as they set up or chilled before entry to those attending happened at 1pm, and got to experience a vendor hall set up which I had never before.

I also learned some interesting facts about the Japanese clothing, more specifically Kimonos, thanks to Ohio Kimono who not only had a booth at the convention but also provided an item for the Charity Food Drive raffle.

The staff of cosplayingcommunity showed in intervals and helped with last minute things for the table, and also helped to watch the table when I had to leave at various points of the day.

At 1:20pm I ran over to the Hyatt to help host the Beyond Hatsune Miku: an introduction to Vocaloid panel, then back to the table in the vendor hall at 2:50. I did a costume change at 4 into Rin Nohara from Naruto, went back to the table, and at 4:30 went to an unofficial photoshoot. By 5:00pm I was back at the table until 7:15. The donations raised for the local shelter was picked up at 6:15, and they were so grateful and happy at what was given!

In total we collected one LARGE box of items, two small boxes, one bag of canned food goods, and a large box of shampoo/lotions. We also collected $48 for the shelter to use in helping purchase items families in need in the area were in want of. Thank you so much to everyone who came by, gave, or sponsored this event in giving items for the giveaway!

By 7:30pm I changed out into Yoko Littner for the remainder of the evening.

Other than my panel in the afternoon I did not attend any other panels on Friday. I checked out the gameroom, karaoke, and ordered pizza that evening. Most of Friday was spent running around, changing in and out of cosplay, and talking with friends until the early hours of Saturday morning (3am again).

Saturday- July 9th

Saturday morning the staff of cosplayingcommunity and I had a panel at 10:00am called ‘So you want to cosplay: a panel for beginners’.

After which I went back to my hotel room and had a friend help me get into my Warrior Mega Charizard X cosplay, which I wore from noon until about midnight (12 hours!!!).

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I entered the masquerade (which I will not do again at AM unless changes are made) and was in the same room from 2:30pm until it ended at 10:20ish. After which I hung out with my ‘brother’ Charizard Y in the Hyatt lobby for about an hour, before heading back to my room and getting out of cosplay.

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Warrior Mega Charizard X [HappyCosplayer], Charizard Y [Bailey Watson]

I ended Saturday with showering, and going back to the Hyatt to go to karaoke and then hang out in the basement with friends chilling and talking until 4am.

Sunday- July 10th

On Sunday I got back into my Yoko cosplay and was able to actually wander around the vendor hall and have a look (first time actually doing so!), but I only made it down two aisles before needing to go sit and crash.

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Yoko Littner cosplay [HappyCosplayer]
I took some photos of friends then, and took 5-10 minutes to go attend Exxotica and talk with some of it’s vendors and get a better idea of what this convention looked like from the inside.

I originally wanted to stay until 5-6pm, but with con-depression/exhaustion/dehydration/and not eating properly all weekend hitting hard I left about 3:30 after having two emotional meltdowns in the bathroom.

I got sick and spent Monday the 11th at home drinking lots of water and sleeping for 15 hours. It’s no joke, please take care of yourself at con! I preach this at the panels I run and to friends, but this con I failed to take care of myself and that was my bad.

Overview of Anime Midwest-

My opinion may not matter much since I literally attend two panels (my own) and spent the rest of the weekend either stuck in the masquerade room or chilling with friends and catching up. But here it is all the same.

Anime Midwest was not as great as in years past. This was due to several reasons, with the primary being how unorganized it was. Staff were not informed well of what to do in certain situations, where to send attendees, or how to make certain events run smoother then they did.

The panels were generic panels, many with very similar titles (several how to cosplay panels…wheres the workshop panels?), and some panels just didn’t need to happen at what is primarily an anime convention.

This is surprising to me, considering for the last few years I have had nothing but great things to say about the staff. I admit to being let down this year in this regard.

However, in light of things I had several staff who went above and beyond to help me this year. I will name the two that stand above the rest.

Carol Nott Newton was very helpful, and offered the two tickets for the Maid Cafe into the Giveaway for the Charity Food Drive. She also helped direct two of my staff where to go to pick up their badges that were supposed to be mailed but never arrived. And because of her help they made it in time to help at the Charity Food Drive table.

Ryan Koph gave us the space to do the food drive at, granted me access into the vendor hall early to set that up, and helped me acquire my badge quickly in order to do everything I needed too to prepare for that day.

Those were really the only two I had to bother, and other than that no staff asked me if I needed anything. I had one staff member come up once my panel ended on Friday to see if I needed any tech help. Better late then never I guess.

Overall I would give it a 7/10 this year. The con sweet was great as always. Guests were okay. Other then the Studio Trigger crew and a few others they had the same musical guests as previous years (V is for Villains, SPG, The Pillowcases).

Concerning Security at AM-

I keep seeing a lot of posts from those that attended, and even those who were not at con this weekend, talking bad about the security at con.

Anime Midwest hired on extra security due to recent world events to help keep it’s attendees safe. And with the other convention happening at the same time and sharing convention space the added security provided some relief to parents and attendees alike who were worried about possible problems between the two conventions.

I keep reading about how security was not allowing anyone access into the Hyatt who did not have a badge or keycard to show they were a guest of the hotel. I have even had friends at con who witnessed this on some occasions.

It’s common knowledge without a badge you are loitering, or what’s more commonly called at conventions ghosting. This is highly frowned upon, and unsafe for both you and other attendees.

Those with rooms at the Hyatt had merely present their room key to be allowed access, or give their name to which security would make the call to verify the individual had a room with the Hyatt or not. If you indeed were staying in the Hyatt you would have a key on you. Period. This should not of been an issue.

And if you were with the convention, and paid for your badge, you would have your badge on you unless you forgot it for whatever reason. It’s not that hard to remember your badge is your access to the convention and the events it holds. Make a point of keeping it on you.

The ones who are most hurt by the added security and who are so butt hurt they feel the need to post about it on social media are more than likely individuals who did not purchase a badge, but merely came to ‘hang with friends’ because ‘its not illegal to hang out in a hotel with friends’.

Did you forget a hotel is a buissness? And a convention books itself through hotels, and therefore has the right to add extra security and permit only those staying in the hotel or it’s paying attendees access. Hotel lobby’s really are not free public space for you to hang out in hours at a time.

Also, before you comment on about how ‘It’s not illegal to chill in the hotel’ or how you publicly announced you ‘did not have a badge’ and then cry when you get kicked out let me remind you of recent events, and just why the added security was a comfort to many of us. Even if it meant 5 seconds of fumbling for a badge or room key at con to present to security.

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack—also considered a hate crime—inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, United States.

And most recently three people, including a 17-year-old boy, were shot to death and at least seven others were wounded in shootings on the South and West sides of Chicago late Tuesday morning (7/12/16).

I was stopped once to present my badge. I was not rudely told to do so, and it was perfectly fine with me in doing so. Knowing the added security was there was honestly a relief.

Concerning mailed badges-

Yes, it was terrible. A lot of people did not receive their badges in the mail when they were supposed too. And because of this it only added to the confusion, agitation, and long times at con.

The fact that AM is a growing convention and is working on implementing mailed badges is a good thing. This will undoubtedly take some time to work out, and the fact so many people did not receive their badges in time for con should not be the largest ‘beef’ you have with this years convention. You opted in for badge mailing. It was your choice to enlist in this process, you are the beta tester so to speak. I can be corrected if wrong here but badge mailing for AM was only first implemented last year or the year before (2014-2015), so obviously it still needs work. A vast majority received their badge in time, others not at all until at con.

For future refrence: If you opted for having your badge mailed, and it failed to show before con, go to con ops and inform them there. They should be able to help you get that badge quickly, and can tell if you did opt in for badge mailing, in order to help you avoid the long lines that you should have otherwise been able to avoid had your badge of been mailed in time.

Concerning long lines-

Yet again, for a convention that hosts events for over 10,000 attendees this should come as no surprise.

I agree, they can do better. I was hopeful for better this year, with the new ‘scan and pick up’ lines for pre-reg badges. But it would seem that, for whatever reason, registration was not up to my (and others) high expectations this year.

Will I be returning?

Next year promises some new adventures in my life, one of which being a brand new convention which I will post more about soon. But as to will I be returning to Anime Midwest 2017 I will say this:

I love this convention. I love that most of my friends attend this convention. And I would love to give it another go next year, budget and health permitting.

However I will add that if this sharing the space with another convention is going to continue I will not be returning.

I would love to see everyone in 2017, and see the changes and improvements that need to be made. We will just have to wait and see if either happen.

-HappyCosplayer

http://www.facebook.com/happycosplayer

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