Hey my wacky nerd peeps! Any of you make it to Triad Anime Con last weekend (March 2-4)!?
If not, don’t worry; this brief review of the con will paint a colorful picture in an attempt to entice you into attending next year!
Triad Anime Con takes place in Greensboro, NC at the Koury Convention Center, which is conveniently right next to the Four Seasons Mall. The con ran from the evening of Friday, March 2 to the afternoon of Sunday, March 4. I found the registration for the event to be very reasonable – $45 for a three-day badge was well worth it. Registration was also centrally located and it took just minutes to complete the entire process. For the record, they did take credit/debit, which was something not clearly indicated on the website.
I was also very impressed with the layout for the convention. I’ve attended several cons that were confusing to navigate and immensely overcrowded, but the Triad Anime Con coordinators did a wonderful job clearly marking important locations and there was plenty of room to move around freely – heck, I even got to sit on a convention center couch a few times!
Not that there weren’t people there! The atmosphere was actually lovely, with most of the attendees in at least partial costumes. While adults were certainly in attendance, Triad Anime Con caters very well to younger generations. In fact, children under 10 were allowed into the event for free and minors weren’t required to have an adult present. I thoroughly enjoyed the family-friendly tone, as well as the “we want you to be whoever the hell you want to be and we’ll love you no matter what” mood.
So I was totally stoked about this because, until a couple days before the con, I had no idea there was even going to be an app! As soon as Triad Anime Con announced it, I was stoked; having a reliable and user-friendly way to manage your schedule is sooooo nice.
I’d never used Grenadine Event Guide before, but I was very pleased with it. It was pretty basic, but allowed attendees to review the con schedule, read panel descriptions, and add events to their personal schedule. It was easy to use and continually updated. In fact, an update Saturday morning kept me informed about an added Q&A with Caitlin Glass!
Speaking of Caitlin Glass, let’s chat for a minute about the Triad Anime Con guests. Obviously, most of them were anime voice actors or directors (and, in some cases, both). Major appearances included Alejandro Saab, Caitlin Glass, Chris Patton, David Matranga, Natalie Hoover, and Tiffany Grant.
There was a Q&A session with most of the guests, or an “anti-Q&A” session in the case of David Matranga (who voices Bertholt Hoover in Attack On Titan, among many others). Additionally, all of the voice actors also had an hour and a half autograph session each day.
Before I go any further, can I just say that I LOVE voice actors? I really, truly, deeply do. Aside from being generally awesome and bringing characters I love to life, they are also super great about providing autographs to fans. Attendees were actually allowed one free autograph and, in many cases, a free selfie with each guest. This varied a little – for example, Chris Patton (the voice of Eiji in Sword Art Online, among many others) signed two things per person, while Tiffany Grant (the voice of Asuka in Evangelion, among many others) charged $10 for any additional autographs beyond the first free one. All of the guests also had prints for sale for $15 to $25.
So who stole the show? There’s always one guest that everyone is just dying to see! At Triad Anime Con, that was Caitlin Glass. Glass is best known for voicing Winry Rockbell in Fullmetal Alchemist and Haruhi Fujioka in Ouran High School Host Club (which she also directed). She’s voiced a number of memorable characters throughout the years and has been killing it as an anime director.
The autograph sessions were also managed exceptionally well. There were lines, of course, but nothing outrageous. Glass was the longest wait (about an hour for me on Saturday), but most others took no more than 15 to 20 minutes. Lines were marked well and the event staff weren’t grumpy, which was awesome!
Additionally, here’s a fun little tip: I spoke with one of the line managers on Saturday about whether attendees received a one free autograph total or per day. The policy was unclear and I found another couple items in the dealer’s room that I wanted signed. He said it per day was probably fine and, as it turned out, I had no problems grabbing my extra signatures the next day. While this could change, it may be worth spreading your autographs out over the three days if you plan on attending next year.
Oh glorious dealer’s room! I’ll tell you, my niece and her friend made a literal b-line for the dealer’s room the moment they got their badges. I followed, of course and, because we had some time to kill before our first panels, we all spent the first couple hours of the convention wandering around.
There were a decent number of vendors present and available merchandise varied nicely. Some of the most prominent items were manga novels, wall scrolls, anime figurines, models, and printed posters, but there was really a little bit of everything. Even non-anime fans would have had no trouble finding a knickknack or two as a souvenir without any trouble.
I was also particularly pleased to find products at every price point. While there were certainly more expensive items, there were plenty of cheaper options as well. One booth had everything half price and I found a few Attack on Titan key chains for only $2, as well as various manga series for $3 to $5. I’m not sure if this was planned intentionally to cater to younger kids and teens or if it just happened by accident, but I approved.
I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a gamer. I enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not one to frequent the game room at cons often. A quick visit or two usually satisfies my inner gaming nerd. I will say, however, that Triad Anime Con had a very appealing setup.
While the room was pretty small, the con coordinators utilized it well. All of the arcade games (including some awesome Gundam games) were on the left side, while multiplayer gaming was situated on the right side (with some displayed on the walls!). From what I could tell, the arcade games were free to use on a first-come, first-serve basis – at least, no one yelled at me when I sat down for a couple rounds on the Fate/Stay Night system.
Most of the games on the right side, however, could be played for a fee. What the fee was? I sadly do not know. I’m fairly certain attendees were charged per game, but I heard tell of day and weekend gaming passes for purchase as well.
Like many of the other elements of this con, the programming was quite well-organized. There were four rooms available for panels, which meant there was just enough variety available but you never felt like you were missing something either.
I made it to several panels and a few of the special events over the weekend and was very pleased with all of them. Here are a few highlights:
The formal ball was…well, a formal ball! Con-goers were only allowed into the event if they were wearing formal clothing, although cosplayers were welcome too. This rule became less firm as the evening progressed, but no one cared much.
The biggest appeal to this dance, at least for me, was the promise of anime and gaming music. While the DJs bounced all over the place with the musical selections, there was definitely some Zelda and various anime opening songs slipped in here and there. I think my favorite dance was to David Bowie’s, “As the World Falls Down” from Labyrinth.
My only complaint is that this particular event was only schedule for two hours on Friday night. I never quite figured out why this was the case, but the dance started at 8PM and wrapped up at 10PM. Programming continued until 2AM and the Glow Stick Party on Saturday night went until 1AM, but this event got cut short for whatever reason. Aside from this, though, it was a great time!
Voice Acting vs Camera Acting
This panel was hosted by Tiffany Grant, Chris Patton, and David Matranga and it was one of my favorites. The goal of the panel was to provide insight into the differences between voice acting and camera acting for those potentially interested in the field.
The three shared details about how they “got into the biz,” as well as a few funny stories and helpful tip about how to become professional voice actors. The number one suggestion? Act. While dubbing may seem simple enough in theory, this isn’t actually the case at all. Grant, Patton, and Matranga all agreed that the first step was to foster a love of performance and then seek out professional training. They also warned that voice acting is harder than it looks and isn’t for everyone; even some incredible on-screen performers struggle with the dubbing process.
Otaku Flea Market
This was a neat event that I had never seen at a convention before! Attendees were encouraged to bring personal anime items (along with other geeky things) to sell on Sunday. It was basically a giant anime yard sale! “Vendors” set up in rows, many seated on the floor with their items strewn about them, and offered neat little knickknacks in varying conditions for discount prices.
I’ll be honest, I hadn’t expected many people to participate, but the place was pretty hoppin’ throughout the day. There was no guarantee, however, that the seller you’d seen earlier in the day would still be there when you returned later. It was a come-and-go type deal and, while well-organized, the whole thing was inherently going to be a little chaotic.
I was also amazed by some of the items being sold. There were the typical manga, movies, and posters, but some “vendors” were also selling cosplay outfits, wigs, and even arts supplies.
My Overall Assessment
What did I think of Triad Anime Con overall? Frankly, I felt the event was fabulous and well worth $45. There isn’t a single thing I feel was lacking and there was something enjoyable for just about everyone. I will absolutely be attending again next year.
Keep informed by visiting the con’s Facebook page. I expect them to be pretty quite over the next several months, but keep a lookout for 2018 event announcements.
Remember – Triad Anime Con – Greensboro, NC – Koury Convention Center – Next Year – Be There!