Katsucon, the East coasts second largest anime convention with 13,000+ people in attendance this year, Otakon being the first with over 30,000 people attending annually, is a convention where if given the chance to attend should not be passed up. With this many people there is something for everyone whether you're there to panel hop, meet guests, network, take cosplay photographs, doing modeling, or just meeting and hanging out with others in your fandom. Everyone I encountered were so down to earth and I met and became friends with many amazing people during my time. Katsucon is held annually in The Gaylord National Hotel and Convention center, a beautiful 19 story hotel and convention center combination. The Atrium, which is the downstairs area of the hotel/convention center, is home to a restaurant several shops, and many beautiful photo op areas including the fountain. There are several hotels next door to the convention center, but the best option is to stay in the Gaylord. Being a 24 hour convention in the middle of February in Maryland it gets rather cold and it is not ideal to be walking back to your hotel at 4am after the rave or an 18+ panel.
The hotel portion of the Gaylord Hotel and Convetion Center was spectacular, except for the elevators being slow. It seems I would waiting 20 minutes just to get from my room on the 10th floor back down to the convention levels, but this is to be expected when you have thousands of people together all trying to use them. Each room comes with 2 king size beds, a balcony overlooking the convention center, (or if you're unfortunate like I was overlooking the parking garage)a mini fridge, a room safe, and a 32 in television. 6 people are allowed to be registered per room max.
It is highly recommended to pre-register, yet even then the pre-registration line can take up to 2 hours to get through at its peak. 9am is when registration opens and by 9:30 registration was wrapped around the room it was taking place in, out the door and wrapped down the hallway. Katsucon does something called VIP Registration. Regular pre-registration can cost anywhere from 45-60 depending on when you pre-reg, at the door registration is 75, and for a VIP Pass is 110 dollars, but you must pre-reg for that because there are only 200 VIP Passes available. with a VIP pass you get front of the line privileges, priority seating, chance for autographs with guests, a tshirt, and a cloth bag to put your con goodies in.
I would like to take a moment to address this for people have heard rumors about the situation with the BBYO Jewish Youth Organization. The hotel was double booked for both Katsucon 19 and the BBYO Internation Conference. There were 13,000 Otaku's and 1,500 Jewish youth from all over the world under one roof. Many of these Jewish youth had never heard of cosplay and did not know how to handle the cosplayers. There have been many rumors reguarding actions of the Jewish conference attendee's such as cornering and sexually assaulting a Scanty (from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt) cosplayer by ripping down her top in front of a crowd of people. These rumors have not been confirmed nor denied. What has been confirmed is I was spit on by a crowd of them while I was in cosplay, and another friend of mine had things thrown at him from the 4th story balcony many of them were staying on. Also it has been confirmed by the Gaylord that the BBYO has been banned for causing 10,000 dollars worth of damages and inappropriate behavior. There will always be bad eggs that ruin the entire reputation of a group. The BBYO that I had the pleasure of talking to over the weekend we're very nice people and I had many parents while I was in a communal area of the convention center approach me and ask questions, which I am always happy to answer. I do not want the actions of a few to ruin the reputation of their organization and I ask for everyone to stop emailing and spreading internet hate. Being a bully on social media to members of their organization who most likely did nothing wrong is not the way to solve anything. Formal complaints were filed and that is all that can be done.
Guests and Panels
Yaya Han: During this convention I had the pleasure of speaking with and taking a picture of international model and cosplayer Yaya Han and also attend her Sociology of Cosplay Panel. The Sociology of Cosplay Panel talked about why people cosplay and what her reasons for getting into cosplay and offered some
really great insight that some people really don't think about. It also stressed the importance of everyone cosplays for different reasons, so there is no need to bully someone in the community for the simple reason that they buy their costumes, or they're in a different fandom than your own.
It Gets Better: Anime Convention Edition with Greg Ayers and Crispin Freeman: Many are familiar with the Dan Savage It Gets Better project, but this version of the It Gets Better project was centered around bullying in the anime and otaku community. Both Greg Ayers and Crispin Freeman shared their stories of bullying throughout their childhood and told stories of bullying he had seen at conventions, which they both stressed are supposed to be a safe haven for free expression.
While the two above we're the two panels put on by a more famous guest, there were many fan panels and something for everyone including many late night 18+ panels that
would surely put a smile on your face if you stayed through the entire panel. My only criticism was the lack of variety in panels. 6 Ask a Nation panels, at least 3 Homestuck panels, multiple pokemon panels and 3 about
webcomics. Katsucon goes on a panel request basis, so it is whatever is popular at the moment and people ask to do, but at the very least overkill could be used to describe the number of Hetalia Ask a Nation panels.
During Katsucon there is a formal ball where the attendee's dress in their finest formal wear and proceed to dance the night away in a ball room with music and merriment. Cosplay is welcome as long as it adheres to the formal attire guidelines, which can be found on the Katsucon website. Being the day after Valentines Day, the ball was a romantic and unique way to celebrate with your significant other, and if you were single, possibly a way to find someone special?
The ammount of variety in the dealers room for this convention was above average. Not as much as I have seen in other conventions, which was diappointing due to the size of Katsucon, but what it lacked in variety it made up for in numbers and price competition. If you thought a price was a little high at one booth, just walk down the isle and there would be another dealer willing to make you a deal or selling it for a couple dollars cheaper than the previous dealer. My favorite booth had to be the Funimation booth. Free stuff! You can always count on the Funimation booth to give out amazing posters and demo CD's. I got a good chuckle while watching the demo CD they gave out that had the entire season 2 and 4 of one series I will not name at this time. The dub was quite hilarous at times. I can see why they gave out entire seasons at a time. Deadman Wonderland, Baka and Test, Hellsing, and Black Lagon were among the free Funimation posters being given out this time, all of which are hanging on my wall.
All and all Katsucon is a wonderful convention willed with a wide variety of things to do, cosplay to photograph and look at, panels to attend, and all the people were so welcoming and friendly. My advice to any people who are going to this convention for the first time is budget plenty of money for food. You are going to need it. The only place to get "cheap" food around the convention is the subway on the strip outside the convention, or if you're willing to walk a little ways there is a McDonalds. The resturant inside the convention center will set you about 20 bucks including food, drink and tip. Not ideal for 3 meals a day. Also forewarned, nothing delivers to the convention center. Every pizza place my hotel mates and I called and the chinese place refused to deliver. Another tip is to remember to sleep. Being a 24 hour con it is easy to forget to sleep with all the excitement, especially if you are over 18 and can go to the late night panels.
Tokyo in Tulsa is an anime, steampunk, video games, and everything else convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The convention started off with a focus around anime, but has grown to embrace all of the other strange and wonderful aspects of geekdom. Back in 2010, this was my first ever anime or gaming convention to attend. It was cramped in the hotel lobby, but still a blast. Two years later, the convention has grown so large that they have expanded across the street to the Tulsa Convention Center. The convention is still small, but has a wholesome and fun feel in the atmosphere. The lay-out of the convention is easy to navigate, and you hardly bump into anyone. With that being said, over-crowding is not a problem here. I never feel like I am crammed between people and struggling to make it to the dealer room at this convention which is awesome. The staff is also one of the nicest convention staffs that I have ever been in contact with! They will help anyone (convention-goer, press, and even people off the street!) out with anything they need and provide excellent service in the nicest way possible. The volunteers are also numerous, which makes me believe that the directors are doing a pretty good job keeping their workers happy and reliable.
Gaming is not forgotten here! Tokyo in Tulsa works together with OK Gamers to provide one of the best gaming rooms I have seen at a convention. They offer a wide variety of games including table-top, fighting games, and first person shooters on a sundry amount of consoles. Also, the winners of the tournaments (Soul Calibur 5 winners pictured to the left) are rewarded generously. "TnT" takes care of their gamers very well. There is always a place for those who would like to sit and play a round or watch a tournament. The game room is a perfect spot to sit and take a break from the craziness that a convention can bring. The room is also wide and airy with lots of space so that nobody feels like they are crammed in a basement like sardines.
Cosplay is a staple at Tokyo in Tulsa. Almost half of the people you will see and meet here will be in some sort of costume! (Pictured Left is Izumi cosplaying as Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw) The costumes that appear here are always awesome and well constructed. The cosplays also range from comic book universes, video games, graphic novels, and anime and manga. There are also a ton of original cosplays from the steampunk, cyberpunk, and furry communities. No genre is off limits to bring and cosplay at Tokyo in Tulsa. (Which is something that I love about this convention) The costume contest is also very well organized and ran with almost perfectly. The main walk on contest judges based on craftsmanship, not stage presence. You are also judged before you go on stage by a panel of around 3 seasoned cosplayers. This is great because they have experience and know what to look for in an outstanding cosplay. The contest is in a large, well-ventilated room with easy access to water. I was actually shivering after I came off stage! This was awesome because most cosplayers have problems with overheating and dehydration after a long day in the cosplay contest waiting area. The staff kept the contestants well hydrated and comfortable during prejudging and the contest. The contest also didn't last an extremely long time and wasn't delayed too long. It ran without a hitch and was absolutely a joy to watch and participate in!
Do you go to a convention to shop? Tokyo in Tulsa's Artist Alley and Vendor Room are stocked with the best artists and vendors from across the nation. One of my favorites is a nice lady who makes animal scarves out of fleece. This is the only convention she goes too near me, so I usually grab a scarf when I can! There was also a wide array of different types of artists specializing in different mediums. If you are looking for doll clothes, duct tape place mats, monocles, badges, fleece unicorn hats and more then you can find them here! The artists were also really nice and sweet whenever I would talk to them. Some would recommend commissions and other services if I didn't find what I was looking for. The vendor room this year was pretty bare, but still very enjoyable. We ended up picking up a large grab bag and everything in side of it was absolutely awesome! Even with surprises there's not much disappointment here.
Do you like music? Tokyo in Tulsa has a wide range of musical artists to see! With Bands, DJs, and much, much more every night contains an exciting and entertaining show. Some of the headliners this year included DJ Imfam0s, The Slants, Sunny Side Up!, and The Brehms. NerdRaves was also present to put on nerdy-style raves full of fun, geeky music for the convention crowd. The mixes these DJs do are always mixed at the show and preformed in front of a live crowd. The musicians that are featured at Tokyo in Tulsa always create a fun and enjoyable atmosphere for anyone to enjoy. The crowds here are never rough or rowdy either, letting everyone enjoy the show at their own pace and comfort.
Tokyo in Tulsa is a wonderful convention for anyone new to the convention scene, to a seasoned professional. The atmosphere is wonderful and fun, and so is the staff that runs the convention. My visits and experiences here are never unbearable. I recommend this convention to anyone in the United States. If you visit this summer con, you will never be disappointed.
Apple Davies is a freelance costumer in Central Oklahoma, Vice President of the Animation Society at the University of Oklahoma and head of Cosplay Functions at the University of Oklahoma. To find out more about the conventions and cosplay in the "Bible Belt" or to just talk nerdy, please contact her at (www.facebook.com/applecosplay) or email her at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Photo Credits go to Heather Ball, the official photographer for Tokyo in Tulsa
you can find her page here (https://www.facebook.com/Moosterz) with more photos of the convention.
Report #1 of 2
This weekend in Southern California marked the 8th Anime Los Angeles Convention at the LAX Marriott. The convention officially lasted 3 days from January 6th to the 8th and also held a Day Zero event on the Thursday before. This was my first year attending ALA and it actually exceeded my expectations from a smaller sized convention. Unfortunately due to transportation problems I was only able to attend Saturday (Day 2) but one day alone was really memorable. I believe this convention can be compared to Pacific Media Expo 2011 because of similarities in location and size. Here is my extensive review on the convention based on personal experiences with the venue, staff, entertainment, merchandise, and attendees.
The first thing that I want to discuss is general location and parking. As a few of my followers already know, I had previously attended Pacific Media Expo at the LAX Hilton just a couple of months ago. This time I was back in the Los Angeles Airport area just a couple of buildings away at the Marriott Hotel. I was told that the price of parking would be somewhere around $13 plus tax with the ALA for the hotel’s parking lot. I ended up using the parking lot in between the Hilton and the Marriott for only10.50. I suggest this lot to anyone who doesn’t mind walking an extra couple of minutes to the hotel because it was not at all over crowded. I believe that the Marriott itself was an excellent choice for a convention of this size. Yes, it was small. Yes, everything was sort of packed together, but everything worked out. The main thing I enjoyed about the venue was that the lobby and the main event/panel rooms were separated. The Ballroom Level held all of the panels and video rooms while the Lobby Level only contained the Artist Alley. I overheard people saying they didn’t even know their was an Artist Alley until they had been leaving the hotel but it was still on the map anyway. Even though this room was “hidden” from the rest of the convention, it always looked crowded when I passed through so I think that artists got the attention their work deserved. Separate from these two floors was the Pool Deck. Fortunately the weather was good for photographs so a lot of people were outdoors. This area was where someone could just sit and wait for hordes of cosplayers to pass through and take photos. Another photo spot was in the Patio. This outdoor area was not as crowded as the Pool Deck but was a meet-up spot for gatherings and more ‘’personal’’ photo shoots were being taken here all day.
A Pikachu Experiment Failure In the Patio.
The organization of this convention was really impressive compared to other cons I had attended before. I made my way from Orange County to Los Angeles early and arrived just as the first panels were about to start. I registered using At-Con registration and was surprised that there was no line and it was a really quick process to get my badge. The ticket price was $35, which was more than what I had been used to at other conventions but fair for something of this size. The Program Guide was also very interesting and went into detail on everything at the con. The guide was it’s own piece of art with All of the staff were very friendly and helpful right away. I did not have a single negative interaction with any members of the staff and it seemed to me like they positioned people that really knew their stuff out in the most crowded spots. Even when I hadn’t asked a question and probably just looked lost, a staff member came up to me asking if I needed help. A big thing about ALA would have to be the ‘ribbons’ they give out to attach to your badge. Unfortunately for me they had already run out of most of them at the beginning of day 2 so I missed out! I really enjoyed the seating arrangements all over the convention. There were painted benches with anime themes on them, bean bag chairs, and couches for guests to sit on. There were also photo print posters along the halls from a previously ALA and of course water stations scattered around the halls. One thing that stood out to me was the information posters outside of each room. For example the rooms were renamed “LP3” instead of “New York”, which is common for conventions, but they also actually had nicely and neatly printed out schedules for not just that day or hour, but for the whole weekend. The sign outside would say which day and what exact times things were scheduled to happen in each room. This tiny schedule board made all the difference when instead of seeing an open room and then having to look up a schedule, I could easily and quickly find out what was going on. The rooms themselves had more than enough chairs for the panels I had attended and were a good size for the expected audiences. I didn’t really notice any mentionable schedule problems and most panels I had seen started and ended on time successfully. I briefly questioned a few people in the halls about how they felt about this convention. Some people were 3 or 4 year ALA veterans and for some this was one of their first conventions. All of the persons I spoke to had positive things to say about their experiences from this year.
One of the many anime themed benches that filled the halls.
For such a small convention they had a larger selection of dealers than Pacific Media Expo with fair prices. There was a lot more variety in items being sold compared to PMX because it wasn’t just clothes and plushies. I saw a lot more posters, novelty gifts, cosplay accessories, and original stores. Instead of a lot of similar items being sold in one place, Dealers’ Hall was much more like a very small section of what would be expected at Anime Expo. ALA’s Artists’ Alley was really not what I was use to. ALA had just switched to a “lottery system” for spots available to artists looking to sell but they really did a good job! I had never before seen that many GREAT artists selling in one place. I guess it was just luck but at almost every table I was really very interested in the artists’ prints and badges. Higher prices were expected for laborious work but I think a lot of it was worth it to help a struggling artist. Lastly, I think the positive atmosphere of the convention influenced the positive experiences I had with cosplayers. I had never met so many nice and friendly cosplayers at a convention before. I was running on one hour of sleep for the entire day and wasn’t too excited to deal with the usual pushing/shoving and bad body odor that comes from a convention. However, it seemed to me like all day a lot of people were very mellow, friendly, and CLEAN! Made a lot of new acquaintances and didn’t smell any bad body odor, to boot! ☺
I feel like there was no better time to be a convention newbie than at ALA 8. With such panels as “Con Going 101
”, “How to get started in Artist Alley
”, “So You Want To Sew Your First Cosplay?
”, “Cosplay Posing
”, and “Cosplay Photography
”, this convention had a lot that the average attendee could enjoy. It seems to me like Anime Los Angeles takes pride in their history and reputation and really try to keep a positive image going. This convention is truly about the fans in that they think of everything for you because people like you run them. I recommend this convention to everyone because it’s a lot to take in for a smaller convention. In only one day, Anime Los Angeles has now become the second convention (after Anime Expo) I will most look forward to each year from now on. See you next year, Anime Los Angeles, this one was a pleasure!Full Photo Album from Saturday Day 2 Available HereCandice Marisa
____________________________________________________________________________________Report #2 of 2As I continue to expand my scope of conventions as part of living in Los Angeles for most of the year, I have added Anime Los Angeles (ALA) to my hit list of conventions. Being held at the LAX Marriott, which is coincidentally near the LAX Hilton, the home of Pacific Media Expo (PMX), ALA offers an entertaining and fulfilling weekend filled with panels, concerts, performances, cosplays, and a grand masquerade to top it all off.
Compared to other hotels I have been to, lodging arrangements could have gone more smoothly in my opinion. There were check-in delays throughout Day 1 and baggage storage/claim delays on Day 3. The rooms do not disappoint, and as I stated in my report on PMX, neither do the variety of restaurants in the area, which are conveniently listed on a single sheet of paper included in the goodie bag that you receive upon processing your registration. There are no food trucks, but the lobby floor contains a café, a Starbucks, and a bar. Again, as the LAX Marriott is located very close to the LAX Hilton, one can take the lengthy walk to various stores for supplies. The pool deck on the first floor is quite popular for cosplayers to hold gatherings and to have photoshoots. The convention area has also been redecorated to fit the theme with benches featuring art from anime, manga, video games, etc. along with the bathroom signs being replaced with “Fan Boys” and “Fan Girls.” On the other hand, the Artist's Alley, which featured a collection of cosplays that have won competitions, was oddly located on the lobby floor. The Dealer's Hall was more or less typical for a convention this size though I should mention there seems to be little regulation on the vendors as I have spotted quite a few questionable items while browsing there.
Even though its name implies it emphasizes anime, manga, and modern-day Japanese culture, ALA features events based on these along with Western animation, comics, and more, contributing to an ever-growing attendance. This convention features guests such as artist Stan Sakai, voice actor Chris Cason, voice actress Cristina Vee, cosplay expert Sionna Neidengard, and various music artists. Like PMX, ALA suffers from size-deficient event rooms. Compared to PMX, though, ALA’s events went more smoothly with few technical difficulties and delays.
ALA also features concerts throughout the convention during the late morning and early afternoon. These concerts may not be as big as what most people are used to, but they are worth checking out in my opinion. I believe Mikarin of Momotama gave a pretty good description of the concerts at ALA when she said, “We are like an oasis. You can come in to relax or be filled with energy,” during the duo’s concert on Sunday afternoon, featuring anime and classic song covers. The Western Vocaloid scene also continues to expand as Tempo-P (and Neutrino-P who was in the room in spirit) of Vocalekt Visions and special guest Koda-P, a notable user of English-speaking Vocaloids, present virtual performances of their hits.
For those who want to be a little more active, ALA has a tradition of collecting ribbons to be appended onto your badge upon completing certain tasks. Some of these tasks are as simple as stating that it is your first time at the convention while other tasks provide a chance to meet some of the convention staff. For the fans, ALA’s lengthy convention guides provide a space right underneath the descriptions of the various guests for them to sign during their autograph sessions or when you happen to see them in the halls. Unfortunately, these guides were printed a little too early, listing a band that would cancel not too long before the actual convention (Dig Jelly) and not mentioning a group that would bring in a fairly large crowd despite the arrangement of the room provided for the concerts (Vocalekt Visions).
As a gradually growing convention, ALA offers all sorts of programs and events for fans of anime, manga, video games, and even Western media. ALA also offers a stronger sense of community with its fan events, cosplay gatherings, and ribbon-collecting quest. Like other conventions in this day and age, it caters to the late-night crowd by hosting a dance and leaving its karaoke room open past midnight. I highly recommend checking out ALA whether you are a convention veteran or you have not been to a convention before not only for its programming variety but also for its role as a gateway to other conventions in the area as representatives from PMX, Anime Kaigi, Anime Conji, and Anime Expo were there to get the word about them.Henry Huynh (Rin Dunois)
This past Fanime seemed different then previous FanimeCons I have been to over the years. As my friends and I experience a terrific time in Fanime, something just didn't feel right. This would be my 4th Fanime I've been to and I always had fun, but I think what really derailed this Fanime from other years is that there were not as many events I was interested in. Don't get me wrong, there were some new ones I did check out and did like, like the AMV hell videos, one of the main video rooms I didn't expect to see that at all. I only wish I stayed for the whole thing. Usually every year I make a list of things I want to check out and honestly there were not as many. The panels that were fan made were not the best in the world, but there were a few and I do know it takes a lot of work to put a panel together, but there weren't any that sparked my interest. The Blazblue and Guilty Gear panel were great, and it was a good Q&A panel, but other then that, a few other panels were not as good as previous years. The videos checked out were all of the Zero Punctuation reviews and late night laughs with the AMV Hell videos and the hentai AMVs were great. I have to say the hentai AMVs were very funny and fantastic; one of the best times I've spent in there laughing my ass off. The video game room was as great as ever; the arcade was there with a few new editions, the tables were set up for tabletop gaming, and the consoles were set up so you could sit down and play. My only complaint about the video game room is that they brought back PCs this year, but only 4. On top of that, the games you can play on them were good, but just not enough PCs for a more competitive tourrney other then Starcraft. Maybe next year they can bring more PCs and the ability to play on Steam so we can have tournaments like Team Fortress 2 and other popular titles.
The space given for cosplayers and con goers alike has always been a strong area in Fanime. There's so much space in the convention center that there is no problem. Every year somebody with big armor or anything to move around in have plenty of room to move freely. Every year, Stage Zero is always one of the best things at Fanime. Why? The game shows, the special guests, the charity tournaments. Stage Zero has always been good at these. I love the fact even in my busy times at Fanime I can walk by the Stage Zero and stay for a few minutes to see whats on stage and then go on about my day. Even then, if I am busy, that doesn't mean I'm enjoying myself. There are times when people get bored. And in those times, they can rely on Stage Zero. Sometimes they play music, sometimes they play Youtube poops, they really cater to the audience. Whatever they feel like viewing, they go for it, especially around the early morning hours.
This was probably the 1st time I've been to the Artists Alley. My initial thoughts were that it was just like the Dealers Hall, only less crowded and more quiet. I did enjoy the cool things you never see in the Dealers Hall that are in the Artists Alley, like being able to get advice and let them check out your portfolio, and buy shirts that make you more of a nerd then ever. I will say when I do have more money for next year, I will probably check out the Artists Alley more and probably ask for some advice since I am an avid fan of, well, anime and the like. I don't know but for some reason I feel right at home when I am in the Artists Alley. The Dealers Hall was just as the same as previous years but it's not a bad thing, no, actually I do like how it is. It's open enough for people to get around and there are items at a reasonable prices. It's very easy for someone to walk in there with $120 and walk out with only $4o.
Both dances, the Black and White Ball and the Rave were handled pretty well. Besides a small health incident at the Rave, it was all handled the way it should be. The B&W Ball was interesting mostly because they moved it to a much bigger room. Great idea on the Rovers part, since last year it was packed, but never the less it was great idea. There was more room to walk around and the tables that were set up for people to rest at and chat. Everyone looked very nice, both ladies and gentlemen and people in cosplay were also in appropriate attire. It was like a high school prom in many ways and it certainly did have that type of atmosphere about it. Plus it was free, bingo. (You know, cause
The last thing I wanted to say is that even though I did not get to everything I wanted to, I still had a great time. However, the sinking feeling that this Fanime wasn't as good as past Fanimes saddens me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something about it wasn't as great, but regardless of this I still had a blast. The last thing I wanted to say is that staff (Rovers) at Fanime were great and they had a lot of patience to deal with all of us. I do applaud the staff and security for doing a great job making sure nobody did anything stupid, though I wished the police (SJPD) were not there as much as previous years. Their presence gave the folks a strange feeling of insecurity. (Though I am not everybody, this is just my opinion) Although this year's event wasn't as good as past events, it was still fun. For a lot of newcomers, this was a blast, and in some cases, this is true. However, I'm hoping the next following years to come will be enjoyable for everyone, new or old.