So last weekend Colorado Animefest entered the foray into the growing Denver convention market. And despite this being their first year I would say the convention was a success. Sure it had it's share of problems, but it was nothing major and things overall flowed well. Now lets flashback to the convention itself.
COAF had three panel rooms for their first year. Panels ranged from cultural, to anime, to really random. Due to the limited space of the convention sometimes it felt like there was not really any panels I wanted to go to, other times I had the normal problem of events such as the custom contest and AMV awards running during what could have been interesting smaller events.
On Friday I attended three panels. There were "I Can't Believe I Make a Living Being a Magical Girl", "Will You Be My Nemesis", and Opening Ceremonies (not in that order). Initially I was worried as Opening Ceremonies started about 30 minutes late. A bad omen for the convention's first panel, but that was the only panel that started that late. "I Can't Believe I Make a Living Being a Magical Girl" was the first Q&A panel featuring a guest. She was entertaining and did well despite a small turn out due to it still being early in the afternoon on Friday. The final Friday panel I attended, "Will You Be My Nemesis", was a play on the dating game. The difference in this one game is instead of looking for love, heroes and villains were looking to pair up. The theory was that you don't just find a nemesis in a dark alley, you have to have some kind of compatibility. The villains in this panel do need to some work, but it was really fun and I hope to see this again.
Saturday was where I went to my long panels. My day started with the AMV Contest. I always enjoy the AMV contest, but there are a few improvements I would like to see. First I like voting sheets that have the title of the AMV and the editors call sign. These just had the categories and a numbering system for you to circle your favorites. After each category they flashed the titles of each AMV as a reminder of what each one was, but unless the editor placed their name in the video their is no way to tell who made it. Fast forward to Sunday while playing the winners it runs directly into each video, their are are no announcements on the name of the AMV or Editor and it is not shown on the screen. I would like to see this added to the awards in the years to come. Also it would be nice if they MC'ed the event a little to make it more personable, at least at the start and end.
My other large event was the Costume and Cosplay Contest. Always a crowd favorite, there had 5 categories this year. Novice which was a small group of people that that was on their initial outing of cosplay. This was allowed them to get on stage and feel that rush from displaying something they spent a lot of time on without being pressured to have everything perfect. After that we had the normal beginners, intermediate, masters, and skit categories. All had great showings this year and I am always amazed at what people can put together. All in all the event was a grand success with the only real problem being a few audio bugs trying to match provided music to peoples costume's. But people ran with it pretty well overall and still did the little skits that they planned to go with the music.
There was also a panel that focused the geekiness of Colorado. This was put on by the folks from Coloradorks.com. They had a small selection of stores, Kickstarters that originated in Colorado, and local geeky startups (Sphero for example). After each section they then asked for audience input on other places. It was a good panel, but short. The last panel that I attended was "Where Weird Gets Weirder". This panel was led by a comedian that basically made light of peoples problems with comedy. It honestly started a bit depressing but then moved to more comedic near the end. Overall the panels I went to were well put together and the people that did them were prepared.
One of the first things you notice as you enter the main show floor is Artist Alley. It was along the wall on the way to Main Events and the Dealer's Room. I liked the fact that they were up front allowing more people to see their art. The Dealer's Room was located near the back of the main floor and was filled with figures, toys, shirts and other items. The only thing I could not find here was DVDs, which is not really a surprise given the state of media consumption. All in all it was a nice area.
The Con as a Whole
This con was a whole was run actually pretty well, especially for a first year convention. The guests were nice, things ran on schedule, and the staff was polite. I think it helped that some of the staff had been staff / volunteers at other conventions in the Denver area so they had much needed experience. Suffice to say if you did not go to COAF 2016 because you were trepidacious about a new convention then I strongly recommend you go to next years convention. It will be worth you time.