This past weekend was the tenth Hamacon (Huntsville and Madison Anime Convention) and it also turned out to be the last Hamacon. My wife and I have been excited this entire year for these days to finally roll around. I believe we booked our hotel back in March and anxiously awaited until time to attend our home convention.
Sadly, about a week before Hamacon, we heard the rumor that it might be the last one, and our fears were soon confirmed as the day drew nearer with more rumors and eventually when we picked up our convention programs on Friday, it was right there in the introduction.
Hamacon was my first convention and it means a lot to me and to everyone else in our area. There are a ton of anime fans around here, and Hamacon was our time to come together and celebrate our love for anime. It has never been one of the biggest or greatest cons, but it was special to us, and although I tried in earnest to go out with a bang, their was a pervasive mood about the con of an era coming to an end, as well as (and this was what really got me down) a feeling that the whole thing was half-assed.
Perhaps it was me projecting my mood onto my experience, (I have been struggling a little bit these past couple weeks with my depression and some other personal problems) but although I had a good weekend, Hamacon X overall was a letdown.
Friday, July 19th
The con started at 10am, but my wife and I had some trouble trying to fix her iphone and get everything together so we ended up getting there around 2pm. Our check in wasn’t until 4pm, so we wandered around the con and got our bearings. I was shocked at first at how small it was, like I stated previously Hamacon has never been a huge convention, but the artist alley and dealers room had both shrunk by probably 30%. The arcade had dropped most of the games, they had 2 pinball tables, about 10 arcade machines, and a decent setup of tvs to play Smash Brothers and other games. Hamacon usually has a pachinko parlor but to my dismay, this was absent. There weren’t as many panels, and I didn’t find any of them interesting enough to really check out, I did end up in one once or twice throughout the weekend, but the sound was so bad I couldn’t hear the speaker well over the blasting kpop at the other end of the con and a random saxophone player right outside the door.
And the place felt like a ghost town on Friday, which I assumed most people would be coming the next day. I tried out my Rimuru cosplay for a bit, but it was so hot I couldn’t stand being in it for long, so I swapped to Dressrosa Luffy and maintained that for the rest of the con. Without much to do, we retired a little early, then my friend and I went downtown to a bar and eventually rented bikes and rode them around the park super fast until about 2am. This was probably the highlight of Friday.
Saturday, July 20th
Thankfully, Saturday started a little more promising. We woke up, and had some delicious complimentary breakfast.
(Let me go ahead and say this while I’m at it- the hotel we stayed in was an Embassy Suites, and everything about it was spectacular. Our room was great, we had an indoor pool, gym, free drinks, free breakfast, and the service was impeccable. We even were short a little bit of our payment and they waived our parking fee for us.)
We proceeded to the con, I was Luffy again. Got some picture requests, played some arcade games, looked at the merch again (Sadly, I didn’t bring much money with me so I was just window shopping this time.) Slowly more and more people trickled in and I began to get excited!
Everyone has their favorite things to do at a con, and the reasons that they go. Some love to cosplay, and they love to see all the other cosplays. Some go for all the awesome merchandise. People go to play in fighting game tournaments, to host or attend panels, etc. My favorite reason to go to a con is to connect with other people. I love to meet new friends, bond over our favorite animes, catch up with other con friends whom I may have not seen in a year or more. Pretty much, I go for the social aspect, and this time it was very disappointing.
No one seemed to really want to talk or connect. I tried time after time, to receive only annoyed looks. People seemed to be unapproachable, and still the feeling in the air was one of a conclusion. It was as if everyone was here just going through the motions of a convention, but the life just wasn’t there. It was perplexing really. I understand that there are people who are not as socially extroverted as others, but seriously, why are you going to go to a convention with all of these people that share your interests and just be an icy wall? Why are you going to cosplay and when someone recognizes you as their favorite character, you are not even going to give them the time of day? Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic about this, but honestly the life wasn’t there and the mood was sour, and it really just did it in for me. This convention I went home with no numbers and no new friends. Luckily, my close friends I went with were there to help me have a good time, and I fell back on them to make the whole thing worthwhile.
Later that night I watched an IDOL LIVE showcase, which was pretty cool. Then we tried to listen to MrCreepyPasta share some stories, but again the sound wasn’t done right and you could hardly hear him. There was a rave that night, and the DJ did a pretty good job actually, I had fun dancing (I love to dance) but again there was a horde of people just kind of standing around awkwardly. Honestly I spent a large portion of my Saturday back in the hotel room watching Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and I had more fun doing that then trying to connect with people and standing around with nothing to do. We left the next morning…
Man, reading back over this is a total bummer, but I DID have a fun weekend regardless of all that I’ve complained about. To the Hamacon staff, I’m sorry I don’t know how much of my displeasure was from organization and management on your part- The whole thing did have the feel of “this is the last one, we didn’t really want to do it but we will try”. But most of my qualms came more from the other attendees who seemed to want to have nothing to do with each other. How many times did I get to talk about anime with someone while I was there? Once or twice, no joke, and that’s just sad to me.
Here’s to Hamacon, and the end of an era. Rest in Peace.