Lafayette, Louisiana, USA. May 18 – 20, 2012.
When Louisianime announced its move from Baton Rouge, LA to neighboring city Lafayette, I was not certain what to make of it. On one hand, I was beyond excited and filled with nostalgic memories of the experiences from the Lafayette-based MechaCon days. On the other hand, I was really concerned that the convention had moved from the state capital, especially given the great deal of negative PR I picked up from friends and social media sites. Furthermore, it was extremely difficult to contact the Louisianime staff leading up to the day of the convention to arrange our AnimeSecrets press passes. I was finally able to reach someone a week before the convention, but suffice it to say I was a bit apprehensive on what to expect over the course of the weekend.
So how did the convention do overall? Well, there were definitely numerous areas where the convention fell short organizationally. For instance, the registration system was down for much of Friday morning , and early arrivals to the convention were allowed to roam without a pass under the pretense that once systems were back online, they would return to pick up a pass. This just seemed like a bad idea, as I can only imagine countless people abused the convention staff’s trust. Luckily, by the time I got to the Hilton on Friday afternoon, the registration issues seemed to be resolved, and everything seemed to run a lot smoother the rest of the weekend. It did seem like for the security detail checking passes at panels and events was pretty lax, though; I heard numerous accounts of friends and acquaintances who claimed they never bought a pass and attended events at will. However, this was not true at the dealer’s room, where there was always someone posted to make sure only authorized attendees got in.
The lack of security can probably be attributed in part to the convention being short-staffed. It would also have been helpful if the staff had worn some sort of uniform or distinctive marking to help differentiate between con-goers and staff members. Attempting to locate a staff member in times of need was particularly difficult without such aids.
Once I received my pass for the weekend, I set off to explore and figure out where everything was located. However, this was not as easy as I expected. There weren’t any signs posted on the doors to indicate which room I was entering. I was never sure if I was in Panel Room 1 or Panel Room 2, or which door was the designated entrance. After a few hours, though, I got the layout down and committed to memory.
Before I touch on the main events during the weekend, let’s take a moment to discuss the dealer’s room and artist alley. The dealer’s room was noticeably smaller than expected. There were probably close to ten dealers in the room, give or take one or two, which made it difficult to find a wide selection of items to tempt attendees into making a purchase. However, where the dealer’s room lacked in interesting goodies, the artist alley tables made up for it, despite the similar size. There were many unique things for sale in artist’s alley, such as hand soap scented like gasoline, pizza, or even bacon. There were also a variety of steampunk items floating around the tables, which were really fascinating to me, as this was my first big exposure to the steampunk culture.
Now on to the events! This convention experience was unique to me; as I mentioned earlier, it was my first time seeing the steampunk community in action. Friday had a few events catering to this interest, as well as the Opening Ceremonies on Friday afternoon. The Ceremonies were pretty standard, introducing Guests of Honor and presenting a welcome speech to attendees of the convention. However, what really caught my eye were some members of the staff cosplaying in steampunk attire—those outfits were just amazing. Needless to say, it peaked my interest in the community as a whole, and I set my schedule to check out a few of the panels and events.
The first of these was the Steampunk Fashion Show, which I managed to record. However, I have to admit that the fashion show was a bit of a letdown for me. What I envisioned and what I expreienced were two very different things. Honestly, I was expecting a substantially higher number of models, showcasing different types of steampunk attire. Instead, the show consisted of only six models, and they showcased what I felt were some of the simpler outfits and styles. I admit I do not know much on the topic, but a few of the more complex or armored steampunk outfits mixed in would have been pretty interesting. The variety would have made it feel more like a fashion show. After this event, I also checked out the Marquis of Vaudeville concert—the music was pretty good, and it was different from what I normally listen to.
The next morning, I was able to get back to the Hilton in time to catch the last half of the Mock Combat panel with voice actor Kent Williams (known for his role as the narrator in Dragon Ball Z and YuYu Hakusho). The panel was interesting, Kent was a blast to watch in action, and the mock combat was actually pretty fun.
After the panel, I began to realize the beauty and curse of Louisianime. There weren’t too many events or panels going on during the day which I was interested in, which led me to wander aimlessly around the convention area. After the voice actor panel, there wasn’t much going on until the Cosplay Contest, other than a Q&A session with Vic Mignogna and autographs with the guests. However, the beauty of this was that a lot of people seemed to realize this, and they began to socialize with one another, so we wound up making our own entertainment. I ran into countless friends I’ve met over the years at different conventions or on the internet, so it was really nice to have a chance to hang out with everyone.
The rest of the Saturday for me consisted of socializing, meeting old friends, and making new friends, with a few detours to attend the Cosplay Contest, which was pretty fun. The halftime show was hilarious; zombies combined with Michael Jackson was the best of ideas. We also had a chance to get an exclusive interview with voice actor Kent Williams, which we’re currently transcribing in order to publish.
Overall, Louisianime 2012 was a pretty bumpy ride, as there were many organizational issues and much left to be desired in terms of events. However, the convention was also pretty fun. The trick is knowing how to find ways to occupy your time when things are at a lull. The attendees of Louisianime made this task really easy. With that said, I look forward to next year, and I hope that Louisianime will be able to work out its kinks in order to make next year even better!