CONNECTICON – More Than Meets The Eye

Up until recently one of the highlights of being a genre fan has been going to conventions and not only meeting the actors and actresses that create our favorite shows and movies but also hanging out with thousands of people who share your interests. Unfortunately for me, my opinion of conventions started to sour when some of them got too big for their britches.

As more and more people started to attend these events the higher prices skyrocketed. At one time you could wait in line to meet a star, get something autographed and have your picture taken right there with your own camera with said star. All of a sudden this was no longer allowed and if you wanted to have your picture taken with somebody famous, you would have to pay an exorbitant amount of money and the picture was taken by the convention’s camera and they would print you up a copy (digital copies cost extra). This whole practice ruined conventions for me and I just stopped going. Not only because the fun was no longer there but also because I just couldn’t afford it.

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Earlier this year my nephew, who is a huge fan of Japanese animation, asked about going to Anime Boston during Easter weekend. Growing up I also watched anime but in the 70’s and 80’s it was a lot different from what is being produced today. I grew up watching shows like Star Blazers, Battle Of The Planets and Force Five (Star Blazers is still my all time favorite Japanese animation). Though I would still on occasion watch some of today’s offerings (like Highschool Of The Dead, Rosario + Vampire and the remake of my favorite show Star Blazers with Space Battleship Yamato 2199) it never became an obsession with me like it has with so many of today’s teens. Though I couldn’t swing the Boston event I did hear about this anime convention in Connecticut from a co-worker who went every year. The convention is called ConnectiCon.

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Going into this convention I had no idea what to expect and to be honest, was questioning how I would actually enjoy it. I certainly get the appeal of anime to today’s male teens (scantily clad female characters with large breasts) but a whole convention dedicated to that? And of course I had to support my nephew’s interests but how good could it actually be? Let me say that not only was it much better than I anticipated, it may go down as one of the most fun I have had at a convention!

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The ride to the convention was just under 2 hours and when we arrived in Hartford, it was surprisingly quiet and very easy to maneuver around the city and we found the parking garage with ease. Another nice surprise was how well the crowd was handled by convention staff. I have oftentimes found convention staff to not really be aware of what is going on and if you ask them a question, they either don’t know the answer, make something up or pass you off on someone else. Everyone I approached knew what was going on and were quick to direct me to where we needed to go.

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I was also quick to notice that all of the workers were in good moods and this really passes down to the guests, helping to create a much more positive experience. Let’s be honest, places that are loaded with thousands of people can go sour very quickly. This was never the case at ConnectiCon. Everyone seemed to be having a genuinely good time and we never felt overcrowded at all.

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I was very curious to see how many cosplay characters I would recognize, not being up on today’s anime. It was actually nice to see other genres represented as well like STAR WARS, STAR TREK, Doctor Who, Marvel, DC and many other science fiction characters and genres. Though the emphasis was Japanese animation, science fiction as a whole was well represented.

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The dealer room was huge and a lot of fun to walk through. Again, I never felt overcrowded walking through here and could take my time, checking out the sights at each and every table. It was also nice that this was such a family-oriented show and hentai (adult Japanese animation) was almost no where to be found. One thing that I was glad of, and constantly reminded of, is that I never got into collecting the figures of the girls from the anime. These figures are beautifully sculpted and are works of art in their own right and you could seriously go broke if you decided to collect them. I will say that I was tempted multiple times to pick up a few but thankfully I didn’t. I did buy the coolest Doctor Who shirt ever though.

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The best part, in my opinion, of any convention is the cosplay and there was no shortage of it at ConnectiCon. My nephew even went dressed up and went as Kaneki Ken from Tokyo Ghoul. He was in his element as not only was he able to get his picture taken with so many other people dressed up but a lot of people came up to him asking to take his picture. It was really great to see this interaction and to have been a part of it.

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It never ceases to amaze me at the time and effort that goes into each and every costume and I applaud each and every person that does dress up. First off, it cannot be easy for some of these girls with the lack of attire they choose to be walking around in all day. Second, some of the costumes look so genuinely uncomfortable and yet these amazing people suffer for their craft, wearing these intricate outfits in crowded rooms with warm temperatures and trip hazards all over the place.

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One of the first cosplay people we encountered was actually one of the best. Julia Rika, from New York, was dressed up as Yoko Littner when we saw her and she did a phenomenal job. We saw her quite often and she was always having her picture taken with fellow cosplayers. She is also someone that changes up her characters multiple times over the convention weekend which is nice because you never know who you are going to get. She also likes to go live on Facebook to update her followers on what she is up to. You can find out more about Julia by going HERE! Julia was nice enough to share some of her pictures for your enjoyment (and all are used with her permission)!

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As you can see from the following pictures, my nephew had a great time posing with pics and we both really had a great time at this convention. Not once did any aspect of the show feel overwhelming or claustrophobic, which happens a lot. Everyone was so nice and were there just to have a good time (and it was obvious that everyone was). ConnectiCon is one convention that I will be re-visiting and I can honestly say that it was one of my favorites. If you have any reservations about going to this convention then don’t. It is a guaranteed good time. Everyone from the dealers to the security guards were pleasant and went out of their way to make sure that all of the guests were happy. This seems to be a rare occurrence these days and in my opinion other convention organizers could take lessons from the organizers of ConnectiCon!

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~David Albaugh

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