The first ever AniMore anime convention was held during the weekend of January 22-24, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. AniMore is one of several conventions held by Black Materia Inc. and some had looked to it to fill the anime void that Otakon will leave behind once it moves to DC. All first time cons have their growing pains, but in the case of AniMore some jerk named Jonas decided to ruin the party by dumping 2-3 feet of snow causing travel complications and preventing many attendees, vendors, and panelists from showing up and have caused people to dub this con as BlizziMore or BlizzardCon. Still, for the small amount of people that braved the storm and bunker-ed down in their hotel rooms there was still enjoyment and merrymaking to be had.
I want to start off by addressing the firestorm from those who pre-registered for the con and were demanding a refund for not being able to travel to Baltimore because of the snow storm. I know that 99.99% of the people never read the terms and conditions before clicking "Accept" or "Submit", but people need to be smart enough to realize that pre-registering for a convention that takes place during the middle of the winter comes with risks that they have to accept. There is no anime convention that I know of that offers a refund just days before the con due to travel complications caused by the weather. Katsucon suffered the same problem a few winters ago and since then they've tried to make their refund policy more visible in hopes that people will actually read them. Hopefully next year AniMore will make sure to have their refund policy displayed more prominently on their website so that it becomes more visible or eye-catching. If attendees have qualms about potentially losing their money due to pre-registering, then I would recommend that they do not pre-register and go with the at-door registration instead. The registration cost will be higher but at least there is a zero percent chance of them losing their money due to circumstances.
Alright, soap box time is over. Let's get to what actually went down at the con this past weekend. The convention space inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel is basically limited to the second floor of the hotel. Because of the storm there were a number of panelists and vendors that did not show up and they ended up combining the Dearer's Room and Artist Alley into one room instead of having them separate. There were a couple of rhythm arcade games to play but I did not see any video game or tabletop games set up which was probably a casualty of the storm. The number of attendees may have been few but I certainly saw a lot of people having fun and making the best of their time while at the convention and basically being mutually stuck together.
I didn't really take any cosplay photos while I was there but I did take some videos of some of the events that I went to including the Cosplay Contest, a voice actor panel featuring Mark Lancaster, Anthony Bowling, Felecia Angelle, and Emily Neves, and also a panel on Sunday titled "Refections with Vic Mignogna" where veteran voice actor, actor, and musician Vic Mignogna talked to us about faith. There was also a neat setup by Sleeping Samurai where they had a ring set up where participants can duel each other with foam swords and weapons. While many panels were cancelled because of the panelists not showing up, there were still some panels that went on and the concerts and dances were still held as scheduled. Here's a few photos from the cosplay contest:
So while there were a lot of set backs due to the weather there were some growing pains and issues that the con will have to fix in order for things to run more smoothly. First, the schedule which was hosted on Google Docs was formatted very poorly where any panel that had a long title got part of its title cut off. I think I read somewhere that someone said that the con would have printed descriptions of the panels available at registration but that was no where to be seen so there was very little if any information as to what the panels were. Second, none of the panel rooms were actually labeled so it was anyone's guess as to which one was Panel Room 1 or Panel Room 2, etc. Third, and probably the most important one, there was absolutely no update or communication from the con throughout the entire weekend to inform people of panel cancellations, changes, etc. There was a very active Facebook group where attendees posted regularly but no information was ever updated there by the con staff so no one really knew what was going on. Finally, maybe have a con T-shirt for sale?
To sum up, the con was what you make of it and plenty of people certainly enjoyed themselves. It's got some growing pains and will certainly be vulnerable to another storm as long as they continue to hold the con in January. It'll be interesting to see how this con grows and matures in the next few years and see if it can truly replace Otakon as the premiere Baltimore otaku get-together.
Click here for my video of the Cosplay Contest.
Click here for my video of the Ask a Voice Actor panel.
Click here for my video of the Refections by Vic Mignogna panel.
Click here for a foam weapons fighting tournament that was held on Sunday.