Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. April 22 – April 24, 2011.
I received the OK for my first Anime Secrets assignment in the nick of time and I rushed to the 3rd annual Louisianime, held in the Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge. I attended last year and fell in love with the small con. This year, however, it was a bit different. Everything was bigger, yes…but also the staff struggled to keep up. Not only was registration, for both dealers and attendees, put up late, but so were events, guests, and the schedule. But let’s reflect on the pros before the cons.
The convention began on a good note. Everything was running smoothly, people were kind and friendly, and the dealers were overflowing with goodies. Registration went almost flawlessly; they were quick with badges. However, you could see they were struggling to print the programs and schedules for the whole weekend on the spot. I did seem to have thrown a small monkey wrench into their system when I came to pick up my press pass. After they quickly gave me a substitute, I was off to investigate. Opening ceremony was short, sweet, and to the point with lots of jokes, much like one at a summer camp. After that it was pretty easy-going: going from one panel to the next, scouring the artist alley and dealers’ room between events, and, of course, posing for pictures and taking pictures of some awesome cosplays, including ones by We <3 Card Games, a famous cosplay group that was also the con’s Guest of Honor. Crowds were medium, people were nice, and the con was off to a good start.
The second day was nuts. The place was crowded, panels and events started roughly 15 minutes late, and the Anon came. However, the Anon shocked everyone by posing for pictures; they actually enjoyed themselves. One of the main events was the Cosplay Skits and Walk-ons, but it was a bit shorter than expected. There were only 5 skits, but they were cute. The event that stole the show, however, occurred during the walk-on: Byakuya got down on one knee and proposed to Rukia! An actual proposal at that! The crowd gave them a standing ovation and they won ‘cutest couple’. While some events ran over their allotted time slot, the crowds sure knew how to pass the time. The crowd would chant popular phrases like ‘Marco! Polo!’ and ‘Red Robin! Yum!’ and sing songs as well. While waiting for Todd Haberkorn’s live dubbing panel, the line sang the entire Bohemian Rhapsody. As I noticed in this panel, the special guests were really enthusiastic about helping people get into their profession. They gave as much advice as they could and provided realistic job previews.
The staff was also wonderful. If you saw one exhausted, you could ask if they were ok or tell them a joke and they would give a tired smile and hold a conversation with you. They would even help with con-goers’ crazy antics, like when we tried to drag a Kingdom Hearts Axel into the rave. A door guard came over. We thought he was just checking Axel’s badge, but instead he grabbed Axel’s legs and helped us carry him in! We were tickled pink. The rave itself was fun too- lots of lights, break-dancers, and cool glow stick shows. Much to the appreciation of the goers, but to the distain of the hotel, the rave continued until about 2:30 in the morning, a full hour and a half after it was supposed to end. They were quickly shut down as the hotel guards hit the lights mid-song and motioned for everyone to leave. And thus ended the second day.
Sunday was pretty much dead. Not only were there not a lot of people, dealers were closing up shop with what little they had left, but even the con itself was not on the ball. In honor of Easter, the first event of the day was an Easter egg hunt. However, we waited 30 minutes for a hunt that lasted all of 5 minutes. They promised a second hunt later in the day, but by then I was frustrated and tired. I rushed to the ‘Speed Dating’ panel which turned out to be running even later than the Easter egg hunt. It was supposed to run from 11:30 until 12:30, but it was 12:25 before Kevin (the head of the con) came in, was appalled that they had no one running the panel, and rushed to grab one of the guests to run it so that we had something. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be comedic speed dating ended up being ‘dating etiquette.’ Afterwards I managed to get the last spot in the last leatherworking panel by the wonderful Steampunk group Airship Isabella. It was fun, that’s for sure, but they were not happy with their tiny 1 hour slot and it really wasn’t enough time for them, especially for those who wanted to get fancy with their leather bracers we were making (like me).
Despite the problems, I did have fun at this con. I was able to see more events this year rather than rushing to all the beginner panels. I got to meet up with famous voice actors such as Todd Haberkorn, Troy Baker, and Sonny Strait, and cosplayers who were sweet as can be, as well as have enjoyable conversations with con staff. I only have two suggestions for this con: 1. Get more staff/volunteers to keep up with the growing con so that they can stay organized. 2. Get a bigger venue. Though they are running out of room, the Crowne Plaza has been kind and tolerant with the con. This year, they even offered concessions for a fair price and can I say that was the best darn burger I’ve had in a very long time. Maybe it was the fact that it was too soon after their last con that caused them to be off the ball. Rumor has it they’re trying to do two a year now, one in the spring, one in the fall. This requires further research. I just felt sorry for the poor civilians who saw rainbow wigs, Victorian wear with steampunk gears, people in black-hooded cloaks, guys in dresses/skirts, and a towering 8-foot tall Jack Skeleton walking down the streets of Baton Rouge.