12 June 2010

anime mid-atlantic: the little con that could

There is a lot to be said about Anime Mid Atlantic. I have a very interesting relationship with the con, and have found myself at it every year since 2008, despite the fact that I never start my year with the intention to go. I always say to myself that I’m going to pass AMA this year for whatever reason and yet, despite all that, I find myself back again, time and again, partaking in one of the truly under-appreciated cons on the east coast.

In 2008, AMA was something of a fill in- I was fully anticipating spending my June in England digging up a Saxon settlement, when plans fell through and I found myself hitting the road with my friends to come to a con I had never heard of at the time. It was set up in the Holiday Inn Executive center in Virginia Beach, a bit cramped, but otherwise a fun trip. I viewed it was a chance to hit a con in summer (which I hadn’t done in years), and though nothing of it. Then came 2009. Again, AMA wasn’t exactly on my radar, I knew of it, but had counted it off. Until I realized I needed another con for my thesis research. That year, it was being held at Hampton Roads Convention Center, the home of Nekocon, a con I have also attended rather faithfully in recent years, so that added to the pull. I went to AMA, found it be a bit lacking energy wise, and figured I wouldn’t be coming back again in 2010. Then Katsucon rolled around, and I had a chance to speak with the Vice President, James Bullock. He told me of the location change, and we spoke for a bit about the research I was doing. And after returning home, I once more found the con calling to me. So I threw my hat in for panels. And here I am, once more at AMA.

What I find most interesting about this con, over all the others I attend in a year, is that it has had to overcome a great deal of adversity in order to keep going. For example, it hasn’t had a stable location since leaving Richmond after 2007 (though it now has a home, for the time being, in Chesapeake). It has been the victim of a great deal of politicking by city administrators and hotel management, been nickel-and-dimed by venues, gone through periods of low attendance, and yet it still manages to survive, thrive, and turn out some truly great panels and events each year. Where many other cons would have folded and gone away, AMA continues to fight for its fans, and the fans truly appreciate it.

This love affair I have with the Anime Mid Atlantic grows with each passing year. I know I will be back again, that much is certain. Because as long as I can find the time, I will make sure I spend it down in Virginia, at “The Little Con That Could.”

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