My first out of province, full anime convention, Reactor 2007, held in Wheeling, Illinois between November 2nd and 4th, 2007.
After attending Anime Evolution for one day, I had to experience an anime convention first hand for the full weekend. Since a number of my friends in the Chicago area were talking about Reactor, I just had to fly down and join them for this.
I flew in the day before to hang with a few of my friends before driving out to the new Westin Chicago North Shore hotel, where Reactor was being held, in Wheeling, Illinois. I also used this time to purchase a copy of Naruto: Rise of a Ninja for the Xbox 360, since I had trouble finding it in stores here in Canada.
The first day, Friday, started off pretty well after checking into the hotel on the Friday morning – we met up with a few more of our friends who were staying in our room, picked up our badges, checked out the dealer’s room and artist’s alley. The dealer’s room was pretty large and filled with various vendors selling swords, shirts, figures, bags, plushes, manga and delicious treats. This room would become one of our hangout points during the convention – with dancing, conga lines and makeovers! The artist’s alley was located all along the walls in the hall leading past the dealer’s room and stage rooms. Lots of artists spanned the tables displaying their colourful prints and drawings, and I picked up a few sketches and buttons.
I returned to the room to transition into my first cosplay, well my first attempt at cosplay, as Pit from Kid Icarus. Not the greatest outfit, missing a few of the bangles, but I had the wings, golden laurel wreath and a toga-esque costume. Only a handful of people recognized me, which was a bit of a surprise (seeing as how imperfect my outfit was).
Saturday was pretty relaxed, just wandering around and perusing the dealers room, playing some games in the gaming room and catching a few episodes of The Boondocks in one of the video rooms.
Later on in the evening, we all filed into the conference room where the stage was setup for the cosplay skits and walkoff. There were some very cool presentations, but the emcee was incredibly talkative and unfunny droning on and on in between each group on stage. One of our friends had a Death Note-based skit to the tune of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which was pretty amusing. Another friend, which I had just met at the convention, had a riotous yaoi sketch between Roxas from Kingdom Hearts II and Reno from Final Fantasy VII. Of course, Willy Wonka had to overshadow everyone with his chocolate body paint and reflective boxers…
After the skits ended, we made our way out and had some fun in the halls by our room where we fought with cutlery. Once the enjoyment had ended, I meandered back downstairs to check out the rave and danced for a few minutes. I left upon realizing I couldn’t find my friends who were supposedly in the room and the fact that the water coolers placed around the edge of the room had gone dry.
When Sunday rolled around, everyone was cleaning up and getting ready to head home. My flight was later in the afternoon, so our group hung out in the hotel lobby chatting before we went out on our separate paths.
While Reactor wasn’t the largest, glamorous or best convention, I did have lots of fun. Overall, things could’ve been handled better by the staff, including replenishment of water coolers during the rave, and selection of a less-talkative emcee. The hotel was really nice, seeing as it was pretty much brand new, although I did hear that some troublemakers had done some damage to the pool. Really not a nice reputation to give an anime convention…
Photographs taken from Reactor 2007 are available on Gallery.