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Convention Review: Anime Explosion, Norfolk, VA

Popculthq’s cosplayer, Laird Dracmor, attended a new convention this year, Anime Explosion in Norfolk, VA and here is his review:

l attended this con with a friend and we had hopes of this being much more than it turned out to be.

The con organizers had advertised it would be a 4-day con, running May 26th through May 29th (at some point this changed to a 3-day con running May 27-29.) We arrived at 3 pm on the 26th and the hotel staff knew very little about what was going on. There was only a few signs set up.

One member of the hotel staff told us there was going to be a meet and greet in the restaurant area of the hotel from 4 to 8 pm, this never happened either. Finally. at about 6 pm we were allowed to go to the third floor just outside the ballroom to pick-up our weekend badges.

We left and returned on Friday for a walk around and saw only a handful of cosplayers and about 20 merchants. This con was starting to look pretty disappointing. I spoke with the merchants, who complained about the lack of customers.


We held our breaths and returned on Saturday afternoon and we were pleased to see several more cosplayers and attendees.

We arrived in time to catch a panel with Michael Copon, who played Lucas Kendall, the Blue Time Force Power Ranger. Michael also played Felix Taggarro in One Tree Hill, and will be playing Nicholai in the upcoming TV series Dystopia. The panel was interesting and Michael seemed to hold the crowd’s interest.

After the panel, we went for another trip around the convention floor. The vendors were a bit happier with the crowd as it had picked up a bit, but it was pretty late in the afternoon at that point. More cosplayers seemed to be showing up so we took the opportunity to take a few pictures. There were evening events set up. A costume ball on Friday night and gaming events on Saturday night; neither was enough, in my opinion, to draw enough people in.

My thoughts are that the organizers needed to do a much better job advertising this convention. They also need to find some better draws if they want to get this convention to get off the ground and make it a lasting thing. There just was not enough there to keep anyone hanging around for more than a couple of hours.

And it seems that he isn’t the only one disappointed in this con. Stephanie Lynn Cahill gave the convention a generous 2.3 out of 5 stars on the Anime Explosion Facebook page

I expected it to be small but it was horribly small for a 3-day convention.

The vendors room had tons of empty tables, many panels and events just didn’t happen including the maid cafe, and many guests canceled except one who was the least fitting for the convention (blue ranger).

Though the staff is always nice, as a vendor it was tough to find the positives especially when in emails and on the website there were a ton of different times for the vendors room to be open. After being confirmed it’d be open at 10am on Saturday, they let people in around 9:50 — not a huge deal but some vendors hadn’t come back yet.

I also did a panel and after telling the staff a bunch of times I needed the cables for sound I show up at my panel and no cables for sound. Of course. So I have to start my 9:30 panel at 9:55 which isn’t a HUGE deal except as a vendor I have to wake up and work again the next am.

All in all, I wouldn’t vend or attend another Black Materia con. I know the people mean well but this was at least their 6th or 7th con they’ve run and they still don’t have it right. The only way they pull off a semi decent con is if they get Vic M as a guest.

This was a first year con that doesn’t look like it will be returning.

This convention was run by Black Materia, who is also responsible for Animore, and Star City Anime. Both are smaller cons, but neither have been plagued with the problems of this one, it is possible this was just poor planning of a first year con.

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