Expectations can lead you on a wonderfully fun goose chase. They can often times end in an amazing experience or they can reward your vein efforts with misery. Anime NebrasKon is far from a polished experience and entirely chaotic. However it is with a glimmer of light, that darkness and misery can become impeded or staved off. For myself and my group mates, engaging with mutuals and enjoying the premium Funimation panels (plus a few fan ones) was what drove us onwards and upwards.
Day one was an experience filled with a 5.5 hour long drive and some misinformation. While the issue regarding press and going to panels was remedied quickly, it still was a less than stellar start to the long trip. I can say that the stand worked effectively and quickly to resolve the issue that was presented. Beyond that though the venue for the convention was not the experience I had hoped it to be. Panel hosts and fans toted around alcoholic beverages and while a few did admit to being openly tipsy or drunk, it is far from an experience anyone wants to have at a convention. Especially if you are a minor trying to experience their very first anime convention. You want to be awed and dazzled by a convention that feels like it is a smooth running machine. However bad it looked, the staff kept up the appearance of a smooth running background. Registration, even for at the door, was never exuberant or clogging. It was neatly managed and I have got to say that other conventions can learn from Anime NebrasKon.
The Vendor hall was the primary focus of our first day there and while it had substance, it was unfavorably cramp and claustrophobic. The beloved Artist Alley of all conventions felt lacking in this one, the space was heavily condensed and eaten up by much larger vendor both like Eagle Anime. It was nice to see that Right Stuf Anime actually had a both to sell stuff at versus the entirely lacking booth at this years Naka-Kon 2017. While I personally wasn’t looking to spend much, I did find a few small items from the artist alley and I also grabbed some goodies from Funimation’s official booth so that is a win-win. The next day would be the biggest, determining factor for myself and you know what? It turned my tune right around. I got the chance to work with some amazing cosplayers and to engage with new and old faces. The attending panels were funny and awesome, whole Funimation’s Peep Show was icing on top of a delightfully creamy cake. The attended sports panel was entirely fun and educational and I have got to say it has me excited to push back into the realm of sports anime. While I have only been to a handful of fan-panels, this one easily takes the cake for being enjoyable and entertaining.
The Love Live Photoshoot OGZ version was a smaller scale version of the larger one that had been officially scheduled. The disappointing part was that the actual photo shoot started 20 minutes early and ended before more Love Live cosplays could show up and engage with it. I mean call me rash, but if you are blocked for a full hour of photoshoots, shouldn’t you run that hour? Needless to say I did my best to make up for it for a few attendees and the result was spectacular. One thing that I enjoyed from Anime NebrasKon was the new commons area. It was vast, open and full of decent to good lighting angles. That meant you didn’t need a flash kit to achieve a crisp image. Something I think that the official photographer should have took into mind.
With the shoot being a massive part of my Saturday, that meant it would be time for one last event: The Funimation Peep Show. It was my first time attending one and I have got to say, the host Cookie did an outstanding job and it has gotten me excited to attend future ones at Naka-Kon 2018. The panel sure was steamy and frankly quite fun. The shows shown were of course of a more mature variety, but they all seemed like titles that one could easily embrace. Maybe OGZ should develop its mature audience more? Food for thought. If you didn’t attend for the panels or photo shoots during Saturday, you came for the RWBY experience and man was it an experience. The panels were plentiful and the guests on point. For all the short coming that I had, many attendees raved about the main RWBY panel and that of the RWBY voice actress that were guests for the convention. Seeing them have such fun with meeting all their fans is something radical and special.
The final day of the convention was essential much of the same from the first day, just packing last minute shopping and final panels. While not all fan panels are made equal, the final panel we took to on Sunday was… less than ideal. It was far from an informative chat on K-Pop and more of a asking us to fill the hostess in on what was happening in the K-Pop world. Now sure, this is fun for some, but not for myself or my group. It feels bad leaving a panel during the middle of it, but you got to find something that just really sticks with your experience. For me Anime NebrasKon was a trip to see friends and for photo opportunities. I wanted it to be about the convention, about the panels, but it wasn’t. It was instead about meeting and greeting and talking about what could have been a more thrilling experience. Now for a season attendee they could more easily tell between a successful convention year versus a rather unsuccessful one. I have only been to one Anime NebrasKon and I am sure another experience may be better. I just have to come around to embracing the idea of it.
All I can say for a final bit of input is that the convention did one thing mighty well for me and others. It helped us to remember why we love cosplay and the people who make anime. It made me feel happy to be with friends that I don’t get to see often or hang out with a ton. Having the ability to meet in a public space with hundreds of other attendees is something special and it is something that Anime NebrasKon did very well.
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