Anime Central 2019

Criteria Rating (out of 5) Reasoning
Artist Alley 5 Damn, Chicago. Your art talent selection never fails to disappoint. Rarely do i find myself wanting to spend more time in Artist Alley than in the merchandise area (due to lack of wall apsace) but here I am, dreaming of next year's ACEN Artist Alley.
Cosplay 4 The cosplayers that showed up to ACEN really brought it. The only reason this isn't a 5 is because I wish more of the dear attendees had been in costume. The ratio was typical of a large convention, though.
Gaming 5 They had Chunithm, the greates rhythem game of all time, and surprisingly rare at conventions. Additionally the tournament opportunities were ample.
Guests 3 While the guest list was pretty impressive, I expect a little more from a 30,000 attendee con. That said, I was pretty excited to see m-flo, a Japanese club-music legend.
Merchandise 5 ACEN's merchandise room is a force to be reckoned with. Because it's so large, it often saved the day when panel rooms were full and attendees just didn't know what to do with themselves.
Organization 3 A little more signage would be wonderful. Additionally, I think there's some serious re-thinking of how the space is used in future years. It's frustrating when literally all panel rooms are full and attendees are turned away.
Panels 3 The quality of panels we attended was great, however, I am docking points for reasons listed above - use the space more wisely.
Special Events 4 I thought the special events were up to par for a convention of this size. I wasn't wowed by the rave or the cosplay competition, but by no means were they poorly executed.
Venue 5 While it's taken some adjustment, I think the Donald E Stephens convention center actually is one of the better convention venues. With skywalks to multiple hotels, we could mostly escape the nasty midwestern weather. Additionally being near O'Hare and all the airport hotels means the con is relatively affordable, especially since Rosemount is far enough out from Chicago-proper.
Was it actually a good time? 4 It was a very good time. I think a little bit of the community environment is lost due to the size of the con, but I think if the conrunners can somehow manage to make the content more accessible to everyone, this will assist.

For a base score, Anime Central earned a grade of B-.

What the ACEN Is Lacking:

  • Community Engagement - one of the charming things about most anime conventions is the relationships between fans and fandoms.. This is especially important and represented by the panels. Unfortunately the con is struggling to manage/maintain this feeling, and the overcrowding doesn’t help.

  • Quiet spaces. Mental Health and Disabilities are a hot topic in the anime community. A lot of fans just need room to breathe every so often. ACEN has quiet space “by request” but I’d love to see a designated quiet area with relaxing activities like coloring, etc. for attendees who may be overwhelmed.

Unique to ACEN:

  • BOOM. Big Con! Big Announcements! New Premieres! International Vendors (Animate!)

  • Strong panels - The thing about being a large convention is that there are lots of panel applicants, which means only stronger panels tend to be approved. If you get the chance to squeeze into a panel room, no matter what you’ll probably get engaging content at this con.