As conventions grow, they sometimes have to move to new locations to fit the ever-expanding crowds they draw. Such was the case for Animation On Display (AOD), which left the familiar but cramped confines of Japan Town’s Hotel Kabuki, and instead moved to the Hyatt Regency Hotel. NorCal con-goers will remember that location as a previous location for Yaoi Con, so while the hotel may be familiar, the con itself is new to the spot.
Let’s begin by looking at the hotel: it is beautiful. The windows from the rooms face inward, providing a bird’s eye view of the convention below, set in a wide open hotel with a great (albeit expensive) dining room and plenty of shrubberies. The staff was very friendly and helpful, and getting around the convention was no problem.
Outside, finding affordable places to eat wasn’t too difficult, but the wait could be pretty bad. There were some decent places within walking distance, although given the amount of convention attendees that went to them, the restaurant I went to seemed short-staffed, as there were plenty of empty tables but still a lot of waiting.
In the convention itself, there was the usual convention setup. The big room was the Dealer’s Hall, which also held the Artist Alley. It actually felt a little short on dealers this time around, as all the usual stuff was there, but nothing particularly unique or out of the ordinary. Still, several attendees managed to find that rare figurine they wanted, and I myself got a wig I was in need of for an upcoming cosplay, so all is well.
Also of note is that some of the guests of honor had booths in the Dealer’s Hall themselves. I managed to stop by and chat with LittleKuriboh of “Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series” fame, and Cristina Vee also had a table of her own. That certainly made it easier for many to meet the guests they wanted to see.
Outside of there and slightly down the hall, one could find multiple gaming rooms. There was a room for video games, one for arcade games, and one for tabletop games, which all held various tournaments throughout the weekend. Of course, as with all tournaments at a convention, there were both casual and competitive players in attendance, and that’s all I’ll say about that.
The panel rooms held discussions and presentations from fan, guest, and industry attendees alike, each drawing decent crowds. The “League of Legends” panel was a huge attraction, given the amount of League guests in attendance, while other panels, such as the fan-held “Magikarp: A History” still managed to get a huge attendance as well. The various panels covered a range of topics, from fandoms to life tips from conventions, with only moderately long waits for the insanely popular ones.
There were no official cosplay gatherings at AOD, although the popular series were still in abundance. The location did make it a little difficult to hold large photoshoots or cosplay gatherings, although perhaps it could set up a gathering location if there is enough demand.
Speaking of cosplay, the masquerade had some wonderful cosplayers show off what they could do. Sadly, there were also some poor sports afterwards, posting complaints about judge favoritism or unfairness. I have to speak in favor of the judges and the winners, for while there were many excellent cosplays on display, those who won did not put any less work into their costumes or performances than anyone else, and I congratulate all who entered, win or lose.
In short, Animation On Display was a fine convention, although its new location did make it lose out on all the conveniences and locations that it used to have access to at Japan Town. Still, it was a convention filled with friends and great guests, which is what I went there for. Moving to a new location is always tricky for a convention, but for its first year at the Hyatt, AOD was just fine.