NDK2001 had the misfortune to come only a little over a week after the attack in New York City. This had a significant effect on the con, from guests and fans alike not being able to make it due to the current problems with flying, to the somewhat sobered mood of the con itself.
Another fact that impacted the con just as dramatically was the change of hotels. After the Denver Sheraton, home to NDK and Mile High Con for years, the DIA Holiday Inn was a serious step down in quality. The conference space is very poorly organized and layed out, and combined with the very loose organization of the con itself, this proved to be a significant problem. At the Denver Sheraton, the conference space has a natural center, and as a result, the info desk, message boards, and so on are exactly where you'd expect. The Holiday Inn's conference space was, to use Marcia's words, a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. There were two or three info desks, and none of them knew anything. Also, due to the events mentioned above, there were drastic and frequent schedule changes, but only one schedule revision was published - and it was on Friday.
That is my biggest complaint with NDK2001. The organization was nearly non-existant. The Con Com did nothing visible, dissemination of information among staffers was nearly non-existant, events were rescheduled, canceled and so forth, more or less on a whim. Any semblance of organization seemed more a function of the people doing specific events doing things the same way they've always done them. The Music Videos were shown and reviewed, and awards were given, the cel painting was a little late, but happened, the dealers room was functional, and so on. But Video Room 1 apparently had one of its primary providers of video not show up, and as a result was forced into a MST3k marathon at times, which rapidly grew very tedious. Video Room 1 did not adhere to its scheduled videos in any notable fashion at any time. After Saturday they stopped bothering to put one up.
But we managed to have a reasonably good time anyway, truth be told. We watched a bunch of anime we hadn't seen - Rurouni Kenshin - both the tv series and the movie - which proved considerably better than expected. I'm going to try and get ahold of the OVA and watch it. NightWalkers was an interesting concept as well, nicely drawn with an interesting plotline. Saw the final episodes of Shin Getter-Robo. Two words. Argh! *boom*. Now you know the plot. More than any other mecha series, Shin Getter-Robo came closest to the Geki-Gengar parody in Nadesco - except that I'm pretty sure Shin Getter-Robo was supposed to be serious. Laughably bad. Voltron had more subtle plotlines.
We also sampled a lot of other anime through the videos - including the 7 made from the Rurouni Kenshin OVA, which were interchangeable except for the music - mostly negatively. I know, for example, that Street Fighter Alpha sucks. It's art is even worse than DragonBall Z's. They should be embarrassed by it. And I was once again struck by the desire to see Kari Kano. The videos made from it were islands of peace amid the violence and destruction and bad techno music. On the subject of the Videos, one of the award winners was a comedy to the tune of "The Man Song" made from Ranma clips. The timing was perfect, and the song itself is hysterical.
The Hotel: The hotel struck me as particularly run down, despite being only 5 or so years old. The decor was particularly tasteless, and let it not be said that they didn't cut every possible corner in the construction and maintenance of the place, because they did. Service was uniformly polite and lousy - we called room service for some lightbulbs (one was DOA, the other burned out the first night) and were kept waiting until ultimately I called again before we got replacements, and so on. Still, the room was quiet, the air conditioner worked, and it WAS equipped with both a TV based net browser and an ethernet line - neither of which we used, since Marcia was reluctant to pay the $10/day fee for them.
Shopping. This trip was almost the antithesis of Expo2001. Instead of spending far more money than expected we spent barely any. Marcia bought one cel of Sailor Jupiter, and I purchased 10 minutes of the massage therapist's time (worth every penny, I strongly recommend them) , one small knife and a bokken, along with a sword rack on Sunday.
Food: Fast food all the way. While the Holiday Inn's restaurant is infinitely better than Rennicks at the Sheraton - which is to say I'd eat their food again - it's not very interesting and the service is pretty sluggish. Fortunately the strip mall across the street had a combined Kentucky Fried Chicken/A&W shop, a Subway, and a liquor store, among other options. So the food was nothing special, either for better or for worse. Of course, my acid test for Denver cons' food is do I come home with food poisoning or not, and I did not, so all in all I'm not going to complain. At least it was inexpensive.
But that was it. A quiet little con, held together by inertia more than real organization. I think NDK needs to give serious thought to being more organized, and needs to seriously rethink its choice of hotels - I understand that may have been all that was available and may continue to be, but the con com needs to tighten the organization of the whole thing just a little and for heaven's sake keep us fans informed. It's easy to forgive a con's screwups when in the morning news thingie you read "...and this guest couldn't make it and he had all the videos for Video Room 1, so we're going to have an MST3k marathon there."
Hope it's better next year.