Castle Point Anime Convention (CPAC) returned to Secaucus, New Jersey this year. It was my first time attending the convention at the new location due to being in Florida for the past few years. So how did the two-day event measure up?

Despite being small, cramped and at times, disorganized, the convention was fairly good. If you weren’t on line for a guest panel within the first 50 people, you can forget about getting in. If you want to visit the Dealer’s Room or Artist Alley, you have to wait on line first. Then when the staff was redirecting a long line, attendees were confused. I wasn’t sure if the confusion was due to lack of clarity from the staff or the attendees just never experienced this before.

The Panels

To preface, I felt uncomfortable interviewing the special guests due to not having a good grasp on their previous work. Maybe next year and other future cons.

I saw a bit of the Tia Ballard voice acting panel which I wish I’d seen more of. She has a love for the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series and brought people up to voice act the lines on the screen. To mix things up, she requested somebody read Knuckles’ lines as Christopher Walken. More panels should be like this one. Additionally, it was surprising that a guest like her would be able to hold a panel plus come in the next day and do a Q&A.

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Not many people attended Ballard’s Q&A which was disappointing and surprising seeing as she voiced Happy on Fairy Tail and Megumi Shimizu on Shiki, among a plethora of other titles. You could tell she felt she would need to fill up some of the time when she was asking one of the attendees about smurfs. It was light-hearted and nice but nonetheless, seemed like an obvious way to stall. I’d been watching through the horror-themed vampire anime, Shiki at the time so I found an opportunity to ask her about her experience working on the show. Ballard reminisced that she was relocating the same day as the filming of the last episode and humorously hoping it wasn’t a sign of bad things to come for her.

The Chris Guerrero Q&A was the next guest panel I attended. Although Guerrero and his role on Overlord were intriguing, there were only about five of us there. He demonstrated some voice acting of his character on the show and spoke about how he’d gotten the role. I stayed for about 15 minutes before running to the ProZD autograph session.

Another panel I looked forward to was Danganronpa (DR): A Body Has Been Found! Danganronpa panels have been popular the past few years. The last one I went to in Orlando, Florida wasn’t good though it was exciting to see the full cast of cosplayers together. This one felt a similar fate with many people leaving in the first few minutes. The first segment was an investigation into who killed two of the main characters. We later found out that was a hoax and nobody is actually dead. The second half was a Q&A. If you’re going to do DR, do it right and go all the way by killing the characters. Leaving half of the panel for Q&A wasn’t a good idea either, especially when the responses weren’t entertaining.

The “We are Komaeda” panel

I attended another DR panel which was based on the second game in the series: Super Danganronpa 2. The concept was based around the character, Nagito Komaeda, the craziest one in the series. Everybody except Makoto Naegi joined the Komaeda cult and that was a constant struggle for him. This panel was enjoyable as many moments included audience participation. One of the cosplayers would state “I want it that way” and the whole room would sing the song of the same name by The Backstreet Boys. The panel featured a fun Powerpoint presentation to accompany the live action dialogue. This panel as a package is exemplary of how cosplay themed panels should be done. Kudos to those who participated.

Aside from contributing to BentoByte, I contribute to another pop culture publication called Time Hop Podcast where I participate in podcasts weekly. My contribution sparked an interest in me to learn more about how to improve the work I do with my fellow podcast-mates. As such, there was an anime podcasting panel which provided tips on equipment, topics to discuss and approaches to take. It was insightful especially since I am still new to this medium.

Even though I likely won’t host a panel myself, I went to a “bad panels” panel for amusement. Note that I arrived late so I can’t give a full opinion on it. Nonetheless, I received some insight for my review of other panels for the future. The hosts discussed the typical “do’s” and “don’ts” along with good and bad audiences. One audience member chimed in that somebody from the same panel last year was drunk and asked him and his friend if they wanted to get drinks at Applebee’s. After that segment, we were allowed to pitch our own panel ideas. Of course at this moment, I was inspired to get in on the action at some point. Who knows, maybe in the future, I will conduct a panel.

Music Performances

Music artists came in to perform on the stage in the main section of the convention. I hadn’t heard any of these artists prior to the event and I didn’t officially attend them though I heard them throughout the building as I went from one activity to another. Everything sounded decent, the one that intrigued me most, unsurprisingly was Spellbound Strings, a strings band that plays covers of gaming and anime OSTs. Other performers include Kohei Hattori, a Japanese singer, Creep-P, a horror-themed Vocaloid producer, Moshi Moshi, a video game/anime cover rock band, and Mirai Beat Coast, a convention dance group.

Cosplay and Wrestling

I saw several cosplays that were mesmerizing this year but I didn’t get the chance to take many pictures of them. I saw an inkling from Splatoon and Monty Python, being the most notable. My friend dressed up as Rimiru Tempest from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime and people kept stopping her for pictures. I acted as her caddy for a few hours so she didn’t have to worry about putting her things down every time someone wanted a picture.

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My Hero Academia Group Cosplay

At the end of Day 2, there was a cosplay wrestling event in a wrestling ring featuring Mario, Luigi, Team Rocket, Peach, Snake and Isabelle. I’d never seen a wrestling event in person before so this was an all-new experience for me. During Peach’s match, the crowd shouted “Daisy’s better”, representative of online culture’s typical views on both characters. Mario and Luigi battled Team Rocket, with the former being the favorite. In the last match, a battle royale, these teams participated again with a few of the other wrestlers previously mentioned. They all wrestled while the manager of the organization was still knocked out in the ring. Fans yelled at the contenders to “take out the trash” often throughout the match with the winner finally doing so.

The Verdict

Overall, CPAC 2019 was a good experience. It’s still a small event so of course, it needs some improvement. They need to figure out better space arrangements and direct attendees more efficiently.

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If you’d like to see more of the event, I have an album for it on my Instagram. I also post updates about upcoming events on my Twitter. See you next time, CPAC!

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About Lindsay Schubert

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Lindsay is a new gaming, anime, and manga writer at BentoByte. She enjoys television, film, gaming, literature and comics. Notably, her favorite show is Lost and her favorite game series is Super Mario. She also speedruns and streams on her Twitch and Youtube channels.

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