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 (email@example.com).
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.
Katsucon 18 was held at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center. This is my first time going to Katsucon and this venue and it was really superb place to have an anime convention. It is located in the National Harbor right on the Potomac River east of Washington D.C. on the Maryland side. The Gaylord has a glass atrium that is 18 stories! The Gaylord boasts 2,000 rooms with lots of other high quality dinning and shopping. Photos will be uploaded soon with Cosplay as well. The venue with the indoor glass atrium has a fountain, large gazebo, trees and some houses inside which provides fantastic opportunities for Cosplay photo shoots. This convention attracts the best quality Cosplay that I have seen in a long time with pro photographers and cosplayer's from all over the country. Most of them are there to be part of the World Cosplay Summit which I talk about below. This convention isn't to large but nor is it to small. The location still gives the convention room to grow larger in the next few years if it decides to stay. I hope it does as it is the most gorgeous convention center I have been to. Last year the numbers of attendees were 7,200 + and I just heard the unconfirmed number that it reached 12,600 this year and that they ran out of badges. I thought that it wasn't too crowded at all. Since it is a hotel/resort you still have people that are not in the convention rooms walking around enjoying themselves and watching the cosplayer's walking around. I didn't come across anyone rude at all! The convention staff were great and trying to diffuse situations and seamed to really enjoy what they were doing. Also the Gaylord Staff were really nice and always willing to help you with your bags and anything that you might need there for your stay. The attendees were nice and the cosplayer's were happy to be asked for their photos! Like I mentioned before the Guests of the Hotel and not Katsucon were also nice enjoying themselves and Katsucon Attendees. They seamed to enjoy the cosplayer's and loved to take their photos.
The dealers room had a great variety of merchandise to look for. From art books, model kits, anime figures, comics, posters, Japanese snacks and drinks, all kinds of steam punk goodies and leather works. Did I mention swords? The dealers room had lots of great things to look at and gave you a large option as what to pick up and bring home with you. There were actually two artists that were in there selling art rather then the artist alley and of course a few other conventions promoting there event later this year. On Friday the isle's in the dealers hall had a great flow for those passing by the people stopping at a booth to look or buy. Some room enough to grab a picture of some Cosplayer's. Unlike Friday, Saturday and Sunday was a lot more crowded and especially after 12pm. The isle's are difficult to squeeze by if people are stopping on both sides looking with people trying to get past. Most difficult if you are carrying merchandise that you just bought or have a rather large costume on. All in all the dealers hall was really nice.
This is the second largest Artist Alley that I have been in at a convention. There are plenty of artist all great in there own way and has a little something that anyone can find and like. Lots of prints, self portraits, personalized convention badges and plushies were scattered through out the room. This year in the Artist alley, Katsucon decided to try something different. They wanted to give some artist that are decent at creating backdrops using image manipulation tools like Photo Shop to create a backdrop for Cosplayers. They wanted four panels with different themes for a variety of cosplay portraits. There was a sci-fi, church, outdoor garden and another that was printed on a large canvas and hung up in the middle of the room. When I was in the Artist Alley looking at art and taking photographs I didn't see anyone/cosplayer using the back drops. This year was their inarguable year of the back drop but I really didn't see it being used, but a few people looking at it admiring it for the art work. The Artist Show was not that large and I personally didn't find anything that I wanted to bid on but there was a good amount of entries including 3-D pieces on display on the table. The isle’s of that artist Alley were fantastic, there was no squeezing by people just to get by.
The Game Room at Katsucon is open 24-7 for playing games well into the day, night and early morning. It was put together by NGA (Nexus Gaming Alliance). The Exhibition hall that the video game room was in also shares the dance area for the Rave. The Video game section is towards the front and there was some good games to play. The tables and such were extremely spread out, no problem getting around inside. It seamed to spread out to get to game-to-game. I was surprised that there wasn't a TV set up with Mario Kart Wii. They had about four TV's set up for Smash Brothers Brawl. Also the TV's were nice but they were all the same size of like 22 inches or something. They did have quite a variety of arcade party games set up in the back portion of the Video Game room. Beatmania, Pump it Up, Fiesta EX, DDR Extreme in the Groove 3, Guitar Freaks and a few other dance/music base arcade games. The arcade games are pay-per-play so they have a change machine and it's about 50-75 cents per play. There was a variety of tournaments that were held there as well with a Soul Caliber 5.
I played a little while in the game room but didn't spend much time in there. I dropped by the game room while the rave was taken place and since they are in the same huge hall the rave music over takes the room and the sound from the video games.
Now Katsucon also had a room called the Import Game Lounge where you can play imported games but this room was not 24-7 but ran to 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights and was opened some on Sunday as well.
I missed it this year as I got preoccupied with Cosplayer's and photo shoots. Katsucon has a Formal Ball on their Friday nights. You need to wear your best attire, a dress for girls and such. For guys, a suit or dress shirt and tie perhaps? Uniforms were accepted as well and my friend and room mate at the convention went as Colonel Mustang from FMA and was allowed in since it was a uniform. I asked him about it and he said it was a great event. It was from 8pm to 10pm in the Main Events hall. There was some traditional music for those that wanted to Waltz and other formal dancing. People were walking around the resort in fine dresses. Everyone looked great when they went in. The time of the convention also is great as it is either right before, on, or right after Valentines day so if you wanted to take a date, there is your chance!
The Video Rooms had a good variety of choices to watch from. They ran 24-7 so if you are bored at any point or looking to burn some time, people stopped by there. There was three video rooms with anime and abridge series playing. With old school series playing and new series playing.
Panels & Workshops
There were about six “Live” rooms and a workshop room. The Live rooms had panels and I think workshops in them as well. The Workshop room was specifically workshops though. With the convention in a Hotel/convention center they had panels and such running 24-7. I really only managed to make it to a panel and a half. I tried getting to a panel about Japan at 7am on Saturday morning but the panelist was a no show. Apparently that happens a lot as a few panels early in the morning had no-show panelists. I guess it being to early they are not away, figure no one will show or straight up didn't want that time. I am not sure if the convention staff was able to contact the panelist with a number or a contact to let them know but mine never showed. The variety of panels and workshop were quite nice though with over 225 panels at least. With Q&A panels with guests, sneak peeks from industry, fan panels, informative panels about Japan and their foods, culture and visiting and others. I check in on a few of the Live rooms for the panels and some of them were not that large but could accommodate from 30-50 people I think. If it is a really popular panel you would need to show up if you wanted to make it in.
I set a reservation for $5 for the Maid Cafe at Katsucon this year with my friend Andrew. The proceeds and donations at the cafe went towards Japan restoration, like the Red Cross. It is a nice breath of fresh air after walking around most of Saturday and you are hungry. They took us to floor 18 to the “club” room were you get a great view of Washington D.C. and the Potomac River. When you go up you need to decide on who you want to serve you; maid, butler, cross player of a maid or a butler. We went with a maid and they take you to your seat and offer you a menu for some Japanese themed foods. I went with the Miso soup and chicken teriyaki on skewers over rice. The food was really nice to have rather then sandwiches at the convention. When you go, your maid also spends all the time with you. She goes to place orders or grabs something for you but she sits at the table with you and talks with you. It was nice to spend time with such a cute maid and talk about anime and things in general. I recommend it if your convention offers it. Also for $1 you can take a photo with your maid or you can play a board game with her/him and win prizes!
World Cosplay Summit
The World Cosplay Summit is a World competition in Cosplay. Cosplayer's from all over the country came to Katsucon this year to compete to represent the United States at the World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya, Japan later this year. I attend the WCS Masquerade Saturday night 9-12 to watch their skits. They has some fantastic costumes and great shows to put on. Truly world class cosplay at the show.
The winners get a free trip to Japan, $250 in cash and $300 in wigs from Arda Wigs. Their group name was “ Coconut Bubble Sex Cosplay” with Katie and Diana cosplayed as characters from Princess Tutu. Second place went to Cupcake Cosplay using with gorgeous costumes from Ah! My Goddess.
Over all thoughts
I recommend going to this convention. The Price at the door was $65 for adults and even cheaper for your kids that love to run in costume. It is extremely easy to get to just hoping right off Interstate 95 towards the National Harbor. Friendly people, high quality location and hotel with great opportunities to shoot photography with high class cosplay. Also the added bonus of parts of the convention running 24 hours through out the day and night give you the chance to always be doing something if you just can't sleep!
Look forward to the upload of photos...
-Clinton Lewis (SamShio)
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)
My expectations were low for Kintoki, held this past weekend, since this was their first convention in Sacramento. I have heard of this convention before; with all the advertisement they pushed forward at other conventions, as well as getting help from Good Day Sacramento. To my surprise, there was a great turn out for this convention and had a very comfortable atmosphere. Kintoki-Con had all the things a convention should have: panels, anime viewing room, workshops, guests appearances, a concert, artist alley, maid cafe, dealers hall, and of course the most important part of it all, cosplayers! Let me start off the setting of this convention. Placing the convention at the Hyatt Regency was a great idea on Kintoki's part. The hotel was situated in the middle of downtown, and very close to local restaurants and shopping locations . Especially with the heat beating down on the capital and many thick costumes, the cool air condition inside the hotel was nice and kept everyone at a comfortable temperature. There were three floors dedicated to the anime convention for its use. The 1st floor, or the main floor was very spacious and easy to walk from one end to the other without getting crowded. This floor consisted of themain performance room, artist alley, dealers hall, and the maid cafe. Dealers hall was well...the dealers hall. Nothing too special about it, but it's one of the essential things an anime convention should have. Compared to other conventions the dealers hall at Kintoki is probably a good size for its 1'st convention. Sure it's not as huge as other convention dealer halls, but from the conventions I been too, Kintoki's seemed pretty right for what it was going for.
Artist alley was a bit narrower then the dealers hall, but about the same length, which hosted 44 artists. The tables were set up right next to each other, some where even back to back, so artists could comfortably talk to neighboring artists. Hopefully, future Kintoki-Cons will expand the artist alley up more, so that everyone won't have to worry about possible traffic. I managed to check out one of the panels Sunday morning held in the events ballroom. I sat in for the Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Richard Epcar panel Q&A. There was only a handful of people there, but they were seated on the floor close to the McGkynn and Epcar. This was a nice way to run the panel and was also more intimate. Lastly, I checked out the Maid Cafe at and while its heart was in the right place, it did fall under some of the same faults as the last anime convention that had it did too. When I think of maid cafe I am thinking of entertainment, maids serving you food and drinks, a relax atmosphere. I was met halfway. The maid cafe was under staffed which would make things a bit harder to manage, I can understand that. To be honest I would rather have that idea of a maid cafe rather then buying your own food to bring with you to eat in the maid cafe. The maids were great and they did a great job, but if the setting was similar to Fanime's maid cafe then that be great. One last gripe about the maid cafe, as cheap as it sounds, but it's something that I don't want to pay for: is to simply go to the maid cafe. Putting out 5$, on top having to paying for my own food, to be in the maid cafe sounds a bit of a rip. I would like to see that fee drop and have the money flow for the food the maid serves to us even if it is hotel food.
On the 2nd floor of the convention held the video game room, workshops, anime viewing, and panel rooms. The video game room was divided into two rooms on the 2nd floor, one was the main gaming room, while the other was down the hall past the workshop room. Both were small, but had all the games you needed to run your tournaments. Some of the tournaments seemed poorly coordinated, one was even cancelled due to lack of participants. There were many new titles were available for play and the set up was just fine for its first convention. There was a vendor selling video games old and new. The workshops and anime viewing room were on the smaller side, so it seemed a bit cramped, particularly at more popular slots. But of course sitting down and relaxing with friends, watching anime is always a good time. The last floor dedicated to the convention was not the 3rd floor, but on the 15th floor of the hotel. I didn't know about it until I went up there, in fact a majority of the attendees did not know. A staff member was sent around the convention announcing the "Gamer's Lounge". When I got there, it was very laid back. There were some TV screens set up for classic video and new video games to be played on, but also tables were set up for people to play board games. Music was blaring, put on by a DJ jammin' it for people on that floor, some even danced. It was a chill atmosphere and I totally dug it. Not to mention they had the patio open with an amazing view of the city. I guess the only thing I question is maybe put the video room in the 2nd floor in a bit of a bigger place maybe move a few elements from that room to the bigger room on the 15th floor? Yea, there is probably some way, but still a great experience and I still had fun anyways.
I got a lot of promise for this convention. You have to start out small to become big one day. Kintoki made its first step this year with everyone and did all the right things. I found more positive than negative. The staff were nice to us, people there were excited to be present, there were a lot of activities to get involve with and much more. Of course, I am leaving out the masquerade, the formal black and white ball that did happen Sunday night. I did not go to those events due to the fact I had places to go, but hopefully I can go next year and experience everything Kintoki has to offer. From what I experienced this past weekend I am hoping to see a lot more next year. Tell the kids in Sacramento, there is a new anime convention in town and his name is Kintoki Con.