Castle Point Anime Convention is in the books! It surely indeed was one for the books as well, coming from someone who has not attended Castle Point in literal years.
Try…2012 to be exact.
Seven years passes by so flipping fast. To think, the last time I was at this convention was back when I was a mere nineteen year old!
Regardless, time flies and as we get older and we evolve, so too must our conventions that we attend. If conventions do not improve of evolve, then they will never last for the long term. Rather dire things to say for an opening to a wrap-up post, but it’s how I personally feel on the matter. It’s a challenge for grassroots conventions to pull it off, but for those who do, the payoffs are grand. In Castle Point’s case, they have pulled it off. They have evolved greatly from the small yet modest “college con” that I recall attending way back when.
As such, to end this foreword, I’ll be making some comparisons to the last time I attended CPAC back in 2012, to now, throughout this article. It’s going to be quite a lengthy read, so strap in everyone!
The Meadowlands Expo venue was simple to arrive with no issues on our end. A simple fifteen-minute-at-best-half-hour-at-worse-due-to-traffic bus ride from Port Authority was all that was needed to arrive. The bus stop even lets you off directly in front of the convention center itself!
Here is where I can immediately talk about how helpful the staff was towards myself and the rest of the podcast. When we needed help as far as knowing where to go and con assistance in general, everyone was able to help, but, there weren’t any crowding that I noticed as well. Lines were handled well, and the Dealer’s Room/Artist Alley, places where there’s known to be a packed pandemonium, was handled well. Mainly this was due in part to there being a designated entrance and a designated exit. Take notes future cons!
As the time drew nearer for the gates to be open, the hall slowly but surely filled itself with various cosplayers, attendees wearing gaming and anime inspired apparel, and soon enough the events began.
One of the first events was a maid performance, made to kick off the opening of the anime convention. It certainly had set the tone for the convention for sure, where one could hear it in ambiance even if they weren’t there to physically attend.
After the opening ceremonies concluded, I was left to explore the event as it were. One of the first stops I take in any convention is within the game room, so to speak. Majority of the games featured, due in part from the Snow Phoenix team, in the game room below are games in which I have played at least once, play on a regular at the local arcade, or games in which I never had played before (Or ever will play outside of cons)
Regardless of which category the games fell under, it’s always fun to go back to these games from time to time. Free play is just a bonus in all honesty. My personal favorite of the games featured here had to have been Sound Voltex, always a fine game in my book. The second being Crossbeats, a touch based rhythm game which, sadly, development ceased as of last year. It’s still a great game to go back to from time to time.
Another portion of the game room were console setups. These had a slew of fighting games ranging from the Street Fighter Collection to Mortal Kombat 11, Soul Calibur 6 to Tekken 7, and of course an entire section of CRT televisions dedicated to Melee. Tournaments were held throughout the weekend, which, unfortunately I didn’t make it as far as I would have liked. However, those who I had met were friendly enough to me.
Back on the topic of rhythm games, I had attended a rhythm game panel that was being presented later on that afternoon. The convention was split into two venues. The main venue, at the Meadowlands Expo, had the main events while the Holiday Inn had the extra panels. This was where the Rhythm Game panel was held.
Held by RhythmCore Gaming, the rhythm game panel spoke about the history of rhythm games, mainly focusing on Bemani games, as well as touching upon mobile rhythm games briefly as well. For those reading who aren’t aware of what a “Bemani” is, essentially it’s the rhythm game division of Konami. Familiar titles include Dance Dance Revolution, Beatmania IIDX, Sound Voltex, Pop’n Music, and so much more.
All in all, as far as presentation, it was a well run panel. From a technical standpoint, the Castle Point staff made sure all equipment that were in use were running well, as far as projectors for example. Crowd control was also handled quite well, to avoid overflow. From the panelist’s standpoint, I feel they had gotten the gist of what each game is and how they play. Being slightly critical, I feel some of those who were assigned to talk about a specific game went more in depth with their game than others, but I know more than anyone the challenge of running a rhythm game panel.
See, way back in 2013, I, too, ran a rhythm game panel at a convention that has long since been discontinued. A good friend of mine and I both ran the panel, yet, with technical difficulties due to the inability of the staff to assist us, as well as not informing the panel ahead of us that we were running late due to the technical difficulties, the experience gave me more of a headache than I’d like to admit.
An awesome ass couple cosplay that, sadly, did not have any social media 🙁 I still dug it!
However, this is where I can once again praise the Castle Point staff for being on top of making sure the panel ran smoothly. I can also give respect to the RhythmCore Gaming group for tackling on a subject to appeal to a crowd that may look at an arcade rhythm game in fear and confusion. I suppose I admit I attended this panel to see how others would tackle such a topic. I give the panel a “Certified Nay’s Thumb Up.”
For the rest of the convention, I had made sure to try to get my fill in of taking pictures of as many cosplayers as I found whom caught my eye, all of whom you’ll see throughout this post. One in particular who caught my eye was a Kasumi cosplayer.
Kasumi from Persona 5 Royale by ZodiacKind
See, again, for the reader who may not know this about me. I am a huge Persona fan. When I had heard news that Persona 5 Royale was a thing and I had saw the trailer earlier that same week, I was hoping that the cosplay community would work fast.
The cosplay community would not disappoint me.
This cosplayer deserves special mention just for having this at the ready so quickly, so, for that I appreciate this so much!
Another cosplayer who I felt deserved an honorable mention was a woman who was a very good Sub-Zero, but also earlier that weekend she was Kratos. I had the chance to interview her as Sub-Zero in which the video can be found below.
Sub-Zero by Amarys Berry
I mentioned in my previous post about Winter Brawl that vendors are the underappreciated glue that holds a regional/major together. There will be a post separate from this one where I interview one of the vendors from Artist Alley, but the same sentiment is stated here. There are so many vendors in the Artist Alley with their own story and own purpose for doing what they love.
I, in fact, covered an Artist Alley vendor at the Con itself! However, I feel a paragraph alone won’t be enough to give them justice, so please be sure to read the companion article here where I discuss meeting with Bunnies & Cream! You don’t want to miss it, for sure!
In any case, the same could be said for cosplayers. Cosplayers are not so much the glue, but the exoskeleton that makes the entire convention worth it. Each cosplayer has their own story in terms of what got them into it, how long they’ve been doing it, and what made them cosplay certain characters.
Unfortunately, things can tend to go awry when you least expect it. The blade on your sword prop may hang loose, an annoying thread may linger on one’s dress, a shirt may be ripping from the seams. All of these nightmares are easily avoided by those on standby who are dedicated to make any mess a fixable one!
This was quite possibly one of the few points of interest that I saw at the convention. An “all in one” emergency repair station not unlike one you would see at a convention. I couldn’t help myself. I had to learn more. Thankfully these guys were friendly enough to answer my questions I’ve had. Big thanks!
With all of the maintenance that goes into making the perfect, subjectively of course, cosplay, no matter if it’s been a decade or ten days, every cosplayer is equally important to the well-being of any convention.
Even moreso when cosplayers engage in violent carnage within the squared circle and go for a swinging neck cutter as a finishing move.
In what was perhaps the highlight of the convention, the Cosplay Pro Wrestling event was a fitting end to an action packed weekend. Although I had caught it while in the middle of the event, what surprised me the most was how there was an actual story arc.
From what I was able to gather, the main story arc revolved around the face, or hero, Big Boss, feuding with Team Rocket, who formed an allegiance with Princess Peach. The main event was scheduled for Big Boss vs Princess Peach for the title.
Throughout the set, one of the matches I did see in its fullest was Winter Soldier versus, and I quote, “Jeff Harley Quinn.”
As you could expect from the name alone, this Harley Quinn shared a lot of Jeff Hardy’s likeliness as far as his mannerisms and his moveset. What one may not have expected, was Winter Soldier, who bore resemblance and a moveset similar to Roman Reigns.
Spears, Twists of Fates, Leg Drops, and Swanton Bombs were present here as one would expect to see from fans of both wrestlers, yet they also brought about some of Quinn’s cunning which was what gave her the overall victory.
Harley Quinn by Catie V
Eventually, after a match of Link vs Liu Kang, the main event transpired. Paing homage to heel stables of the Attitude Era, trickery was used while Team Rocket was able to give enough damage to Big Boss to have Princess Peach secure the pin.
However, when all hope seemed lost… Mario and Luigi, decked out in “Bullet Bill Club” shirts, went out and chased Team Rocket as well as Princess Peach out of the ring. What followed after was a tag team match, with more story building now that the Bullet Bill Club entered the scene.
There was so much more that could be said as to what transpired in this two hour finale to an otherwise action packed weekend, including one of the guys from Attack on Titan fighting Isabelle from Animal Crossing, but it was one of those events where you had to be there to experience it.
That’s the one thing I can say about the convention. For a two-day con, there was always something to experience. If you wanted to meet one of your favorite voice actresses like I had, you could do so.
If you wanted to take in the sights and experience panels and learn new things about otaku culture and the like, you could do so as well. There’s literally no right or wrong way to attend the convention and the only thing that I can recommend is to do everything you possibly can. Unfortunately some conventions don’t have that, but, with this year’s Castle Point I can definitely say that the community as well as the staff had pulled out all the stops to make it memorable.
With that said in conclusion, for this being my first anime convention of the year, it was a fantastic way to start. Thank you once again to the Castle Point staff for giving myself and my fellow members of the Geeks podcast for giving us the opportunity. I’ll definitely try to attend next year for sure.
As always, may the Lost Summer never end! Tune to us soon for the next post!