Anime Midwest 2015 took place during July 3rd – July 5th. Unfortunately due to previous engagements with family and with another organization, I was only able to make it to Anime Midwest on Friday. Despite this, I still do have things to say about Anime Midwest. This review is going to look a bit different than normal reviews since I was unable to get to some parts of the con, I’m going to focus on other aspects instead. Anywho, lets get this review stared.
While the 4th of July usually affiliated with parades and BBQs, this year it was also affiliated with Anime Midwest. Going on its 5th year, Anime Midwest was hosted at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont, IL and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. People driving down to the convention hotel had the option of parking in the Donald E. Convention Center parking lot or CTA economy parking lot by the train station. While its nice that more and more conventions are at Hyatt and the convention due to its convenience, I do have to admit that having multiple cons at the these locations is starting to get a bit grating to me. I hope that down the line cons can find other venues to use (which I know is easier said than done). As for the convention center itself, its a very spacious and was easy to get around despite not using the entire convention center.
Registration took place in the Donald E. Stevenson convention center again. Booths were set up for people who had pre-registered and those who were registering there. Overall I feel like the whole registration process was pretty bad. I remember waiting in line for my press badge and seeing the line for normal badges remaining quite stationary. On top of that, when I finally was called up to get my badge, they didn’t have my name on the list even though we e-mailed them my name. I was told to go to con-ops. When I walked into con-ops, no one was in there. I had to wait a few minutes for someone to come by and give me my badge. I felt that this was very unprofessional. At least one person should be in the office in case someone needs help. Hopefully they can fix this for next year.
Video Game/Table Top Room
Like at ACEN, the game room of Anime Midwest was located in the ground basement of the Hyatt. It was filled with retro games as well as many newer games. As expected, there was a HUGE group of people playing smash bros on a big screen TV, and I even caught some people playing Street Fighter III Third Strike on PS3. It was a very nice balance. Right next to console gaming room was the arcade gaming room with classic arcade games and a substantial amount of music games (They had IIDX which is always a good sign for me). As far as the table top room went, Anime Midwest provided a room where people could play games. I ended up walking into a room of people playing the ever-so-popular “Cards against Humanity”. Its easy to say that people enjoyed themselves both in the video gaming room and the Table Top Room.
Dealer Room/Artist Alley
As I had mentioned earlier, Anime Midwest had their Dealer Room and Artist Alley in a small section of the Convention Center. I was very impressed with the amount of content that was in the small dealer room. It had pretty much everything from toys, to retro games, and blu-ray/DVDs (including big name vendor F.Y.E). Artist Alley was equally impressive too. There were plenty of talented creators in the area including bead art, clothing accessories, and even a vendor that made customized amiibos. If there is one thing I’d like to say it would be why not utilize the convention space? During the con its just blocked off in the dark, so why not use it and bring in extra artists and vendors?
Like ACEN, panels were held both in the Hyatt and in the convention center. While its nice having extra space for panels in both areas traveling between the hotel and the convention center does get a bit time consuming. Despite this little gripe, there were a good variety of panels for all ages to go to including a Q&A session with guest Billy West, a breakdancing battle, and numerous interactive panels. On top of that, for those looking to stay up in the after hours, Anime Midwest offered the many 18+ options for adults.
In my opinion, this is where Anime Midwest shined. Not only are there a good amount of panels, but the con itself had a ton of events. Aside from the masquerade and rave, you also had a Formal Ball with lessons before hand, cosplay meet ups (which are less common at smaller cons), Maid Cafe, and Lolita Fashion Show just to name a few. Pixel Vixens also had a presence at Anime Midwest with not only a booth but a burlesque show. On top of that, there was the con suite, which served people food and drinks.
Guestwise, Anime Midwest had a phenomenal turnout with a mix of voice actors like DC Douglas and Billy West, internet guests like Linkara and numerous members of Team Four Star, and popular musical guests like Steam Powered Giraffe and V is for Villains. My favorite guests that I met were the voice acting sisters Genevieve and Juliet Simmons. I honestly want to say I had never actually heard of them before heading to Anime Midwest, but I got a chance to talk to them for a bit, and loved how enthusiastic and friendly they were. Having friendly guests like this makes me more interested in seeing what work they’ve done in the past (and in the future).
Once again, Anime Midwest has proven that it has the right stuff for a good con with its great guest list, and amount of events it contains. However, there are a few things going against it. I feel that the staffing needs to be more professional to help out with issues like registration. Also, having the con on a weekend like 4th of July might prevent more people from coming due to family events. Finally, maybe down the line the venue for Anime Midwest can be moved to a place that’s different from ACEN. Other than that, Anime Midwest did a good job of giving people a local con for people who are unable to go to larger out of state cons.