By Liz High:
This is the fifth year Ichibancon was held and each year it has tremendous growth. Last year approximately 3000 con goer's were in attendance, and this year's attendance was up to almost 3,500. For the number of year's this convention has been around I would estimate if growth continues it will easily become one of the largest conventions in the south by the time it reaches the same age as Katsucon (20 year's old this year and beaking with 14,000 in attendance last year)
So i'm thinking of going to Ichibancon in the future? Is it worth it?
My verdict says yes.
Location, Hotel, and About Charlotte:
Ichibancon is held traditionally the first week in January (but was delayed this year) keeping to the name "Ichiban" meaning first in Japanese. It is the first con of the year for most people in the southern and mid-atlantic area of the United States. It is held in the beautiful city of Concord, NC (a sub area of Charlotte, NC) in the Embassy Suites hotel and Concord Convention Center, across the street from the Charlotte Motor Speedway and Concord Mills Mall.
Being held in Charlotte could explain much of the growth the convention has faced in past years, Charlotte being the second largest banking center of the United States, second only to New York City. Charlotte is a very known area with many opportunities. Hosting a convention in this city would be a no-brainer. Concord Convention Center is also in a wonderful location for food, shopping, and sight seeing with the largest mall in Charlotte a 5 minute walk away.
In the area if one doesn't want to pay the money to stay in the Embassy there are a number of hotels that are a 5 minute walk away. It is worth the extra money for The Embassy Suites though. Each keycard carrying member get's a complimentary continental breakfast and a free drink at the bar included in your stay. In addition to those things the rooms are suites meaning many of your friends can room. The room I stayed in with my 8 friends had 2 full sized beds in one room, a main living area with a pull out couch, and in a separate bedroom was a king sized bed. It makes your life very convenient to just be able to run upstairs and sleep instead of walking or driving back to your hotel.
Guests and Panels:
Many very big name Funimation guests were in attendance this convention including J. Micheal Tatum, Vic Mignogna, Jad Saxton, Cherami Leigh, and Chuck Huber. This was the convention for anime guests. Many conventions I have attended have had many video game guests and not much anime. I went on a fan girl mission to get all the of the Funimation VA's to autograph the DVD's they voiced for. Naturally this mission failed because I got distracted but having drinks with J. Micheal Tatum in the bar and giving him a hug made up for it.
As for panels I thought the panel selection was very broad and wonderfully selected. There really was something for everyone wether you were a brony, vocaloid fan, Hetalian, Homestuck, Survey Corps member, or just an all around fan of everything there was always something to do including the voice actor's and funimation industry panels. This was the first time I had attended an industry panel and I had a blast. I attended the Down and Dirty with J. Micheal Tatum and Vic Mignogna's sunday worship service panel's. I am huge fan's of both VA's and it was amazing being so close to them and asking them questions in a panel that was much smaller than you would be in the audience for at a much larger convention such as Katsucon. Small conventions have their perks in that way.
Convention Staff and Hotel Staff:
While the hotel staff was very rude and my group is not sure if we will stay in the convention hotel next year or not because of this, the convention staff was nothing but nice. I only had to encounter convention staff a couple times, one being when I lost my convention badge, and the other times were going to con op's and entering panels. Convention staff was more strict on rules than other conventions I am use to, but they enforced rules in a nice way and for the most part let cosplayers have fun in the hall wall's and stayed out of everyone's way unless needed.
As I stated before the Hotel staff was unfortunately not as nice and pleasant to work with. On the contrary they were quite rude and overly aggressive. Saturday of the convention while I was dehydrated and exhausted and going to pass out we found out none of the key cards were working. Fortunately one of our friends was in the room to let us in so I could rest while the room leader went down stairs. Originally, as with most conventions hotels I have stayed in we were to pay the final night once we got all of the money from all the members of the room because there was a credit card on file. Unfortunately they changed policy half way through and the convention staff sent security to kick us out even though our room leader gave what we had then went back up stairs to collect the rest of the money.
45 dollars for a weekend in Charlotte with 3,500 of your closest friends and fellow cosplayers and meeting all your favorite voice actors. Is it worth it? Of course it's worth it! I have huge expectations for this convention and will make it a priority to make it to this convention next year and look forward to meeting many of you hopefully next year!