Previous attendances: 2010 onwards
While other cons are two-day affairs at the least, with even fellow minicon Kin-Yoobi Con upgrading to a 2-day con within the past two years, AD continutes to be a short and sweet single-day convention, held at UC Berkeley.
This year's AD seemed fairly light once again, because like last year it conflicted with a major event. This time, the conflicting event was none other than Yaoi-Con, which had recently moved to SoCal. Though it being in SoCal now, less Bay Area congoers were interested in attending, some even hoping it tanked hard enough in SoCal to warrant a move back up to the Bay Area.
If you're looking for events, a good gaming room, or cool stuff to buy at the dealer's hall, this is hardly the con for you. You see, the real meat and potatoes of small cons isn't for events and to see SS-tier cosplayers. The point is to gather some friends together and just have an excuse to chill out in cosplay, as well as to make new friends.
I mostly stayed in one place for much of the con, and it turned out quite well.
I have the most terrible sleep patterns. The day before, I woke up at 5 PM. This led to a long and sleepless night of doing not a whole lot.
After my usual morning routine and getting into my Minato cosplay, I left the house around 10 AM to pick up J, who was cosplaying from Homestuck. J was nice enough to pay me for a cup of Starbucks, which I would sorely need.
We then headed out to Fremont BART station, where, by coincidence, we met up with another HS cosplayer, which was enough to keep a conversation going throughout the 30-45-minute ride up to Berkeley.
The con itself:
We arrived at the MLK Jr. Student Union at UCB, where the convention was taking place, around 1 PM. As always the student union seems to be stuck in the "wood age" of the 70's.
The format is about the same as last year's: Registration, dealer's and artist's hall, gaming room, and main events on 3rd floor; panels, tabletop gaming, con ops, and screening on 4th floor. Nothing on 5th floor, not even unlocked doors to access the rooftop. A shame, considering it made for a good shoot spot in 2010 and has a nice (though cramped) auditorium.
One major problem with the dealer's/artist's hall this year was that part of the wall separating it from main events was missing, due to problems on the part of the SU staff. As a result, those in the D&A hall were subject to the full brunt of the music playing in main events, especially the poor artists and dealers who had to be at their tables for the entire (or at least most of the) day.
Gaming room is exactly what you'd expect at a small convention gaming room: Fighting games, nothing else. This isn't anywhere near my area of expertise, so I have nothing to say.
The dealer's hall was not terrible but it's not something I would want to splurge money on.
I circled around the artist's booths before running into a rarely-seen con friend of mine, who had a table along with two others who, to my pleasant surprise, were doing artwork of various Megami Tensei games, not just P3&4. I correctly guessed their print of Serph, which I got for free~ It was refreshing to encounter fans of SMT as a whole rather than just the obvious two games, so we chatted at length. Kata was there, and brought her usual wares, consisting of prints of her fanart of Persona, Touhou, and the like, and I got her to do a commission for me. I spent most of my time around this area, as there wasn't much else to do.
For lunch I went out to Chipotle, which I hadn't had in ages, hoping keeping my metabolism running would keep me awake. I eventually fell asleep at a table, feigning focusing on something so I wouldn't be caught by con staff.
As for other people I saw, I saw some other few other familiar faces. As mentioned, attendance was light, so I didn't see a lot of people, even those who had attended in prior years. (Plus I mostly stayed in the same aisle so I didn't see what was going on outside the area a lot.)
Cosplay variety was mostly decent. I saw an Eva group; seems like Evangelion's been making quite the comeback this past half-decade. Homestuck cosplayers were out and about, as in the case with virtually any present-day convention. A few Vocaloid cosplayers were present as well.
And I just had to catch this: Oppa Eva Style.
Con activities ended roughly around 6-6:30 PM, so we parted ways, and J and I made back for the BART station, though not before stopping by the Spirit store and the dollar ice cream shop, arriving at Berkeley BART around 8 PM.
While waiting for the train (which would not be for another 16 minutes), it turns out we were not the only ones heading back this late; a bunch of other Homestuck cosplayers joined us, as well as some of my cosplay friends, for the most cosplayer-loaded BART ride I've had thus far. A few of them got off a few stations later to transfer over to an SF train, and more disembarked somewhere down the East Bay.
I was totally exhausted at this point, so I got a little shut-eye on the train.
When J and I came back to the station, I found out that I had parked my car in the "Attended Vehicles Only" section of parking. Whoops. I didn't see a ticket, and my car certainly hadn't been towed away, so I assumed that a citation could possibly be mailed out. While trying to keep my thoughts together, I took J back home and went back home myself, whereupon I checked this site, only ot be reassured that no, my car did not receive a citation. I'm still checking every day, just to make sure I really don't have a citation.
At any rate I hit the bed a few hours later, only to sleep for a good 13 or so hours.
AD this year as a convention was fairly disappointing, especially compared to its "big" year in 2010.
However, as a social experience I managed to make some new friends and make my $10 worth it. I certainly don't count this as a high-priority con, but it's always good to attend just to pass the time with some friends. (Also, being sleep deprived sucks.)
Would I go again? More or less, sure, though that mostly depends on who attends. Unless I'm going to a con so large it won't matter, whether my friends attend or not can make or break a convention experience.
Overall rating: 4/6
Certainly not the best con experience but I can say yes, I'm glad I attended.