Katsucon 2015 – a con in review

Going back one month ago, Katsucon hit the Gaylord National Resort for another weekend of cosplay and Japanime fun. I put cosplay on the forefront, because for an East coast con, the venue draws cosplayers from across the nation and even other parts of the world. With the backdrop of the enclosed Gaylord resort, cosplayers come in their best to showcase their talents. This year’s cosplay idols were Yaya Han, Svetlana “Kammui” Quindt from Germany and Giada Robin from Italy who is also one of the judges for the Masquerade. Besides cosplay, there is a plethora of guests from the industry including voice talents Christopher and Greg Ayres, Vincent Corazza, Robbie Daymond, Cherami Leigh and Christina Vee amongst others, webcomic and artists, Gina Biggs, Starpower Michael T. and Garth G., Chalk Twins Devon and Levi and many, many more. Cultural speakers Charles Dunbar, Katriel Paige, Nilo Holbrook and others lead us into intense discussions while the punk rock band Uzuhi hits us with their music. Along with a formal ball, charity auction, nightly raves and an awesome masquerade, we have a weekend full of memories. And during Valentine’s weekend…it has it’s share of sweet surprises.

Thursday, February 12

I’m sure I’m not alone when there was a slight panic as we saw the snowflakes coming down Thursday. The memory of Snow Katsu 2014 is still in our minds…but snow or no, we got to the venue safely. Katsucon has taken over the resort and from the flat panel screens showcasing the schedules and panel info, there are posters of anime and comics, cosplayers everywhere…and Legolas checking me in at the front desk. For those that don’t know, Legolas, as his nametag told me is from Mirkwood. Turns out, the hotel staff had special nametags for this weekend. Yay!

After checking into the room, I went to check out the registration area. One of the good things about having a con as large as Katsu housed inside a resort, no need to wait outside. The lines loop around the hall and it was steadily moving along. No choice of badges, but just simply scanning in the print out confirmation or on the phone, each attendee gets a nice plastic badge. No pre-reg disasters this weekend. *whew*

Press pick up was open on Thursday (last year, they made us pick it up on Friday) but the schedules were not ready yet.
Friday, February 13

Dealer’s Room time!

With time on our side, we leisurely walked into the Dealer’s room around 1:30pm.

Funimation has their huge booth with their promotions. This weekend, they had signed dvd wraps from the voice actors which they were giving out if you bought 3 dvds of a certain series.

Those who sign in on their Crunchyroll account can get a free poster of their choice as well as a Crunchy-hime sticker.

Spotted a few convention booths for my area. There is Nijicon, the newest BL convention in Pennsylvania, Derpycon and Shinkoucon in New Jersey.

Leaving the Dealer’s room area, I checked out a few cosplayers before heading to the first panel, which was Funimation previews.

Artist Alley

Since there were only a few hours before the next panel, I headed to the Artist Alley. Due to extensive space of the convention area, the booths and aisles in both the Artist Alley and Dealer’s room was sufficient for the amount of people. It was so easy to get around.

Pretty cool, you can take a pic with a giant Titan…pic. It’s almost like attacking the real thing!

Sailor Moon panel with sparkles

The Sailor Moon panel was about to begin as we entered. We quickly sat ourselves on the left side of the room. The panel was streaming online on Viz Media and the hashtag was #Moonpanel for those who want to give a shoutout. Internet tech at it’s best.

Saturday, February 14

panel after panel

Having a convention in a hotel is a good excuse to be lazy. Didn’t really leave the hotel room until the Funimation panel which was followed by the Aniplex panel in the same room. Not having to move is a good thing.

a bit of cosplays

I had a bit of time before the Masquerade to check out the Artist alley again and grab some pics of cosers.

The Chalk Twins were working on their next masterpiece throughout the weekend. Sadly, didn’t get a chance to grab a pic of the completed version but what is there looks great.

Masquerade Time

They presented a dedication prior to the start of the masquerade…unfortunately, I didn’t catch the name of the person. The masquerade was very good with only one truly novice skit despite the mistake of saying it was in the Master division. Otherwise, there were many good skits and they were very entertaining, complete with lights and effects. Cosplay with lights aren’t uncommon here…not for Katsucon. I had a few favs from the mix with lots of awesome stories. Not as many dance skits thankfully. They mix the walkons with the skits as well which were engaging and not just walking through.

a quiet evening of cosplays

If there was a negative to being at the Gaylord it will be that cellphone service is very bad inside the hotel/convention center. I apparently can call people, but they can’t call me. Texting or messaging is the best way to reach people since at some point in time, they would somehow be connected online. This is an aside as I had problems reaching friends for my Saturday shoots. ^^;

With the beautiful locations at the Gaylord, it is no wonder that there are photoshoots going on at all times. The atrium, the fountain, the area in front of the Sakura ballrooms, gazebo are all popular locations even in the evening.

Sunday, February 15

of panels and cosplay

Took a quick pit stop at the artist alley before heading to my last two panels, the first headed by Crunchyroll, ‘Working in the Anime Industry’.

Working in the Anime Industry isn’t as broad as the title of the panel is. It was more like ‘Working for Crunchyroll’ which isn’t bad at all. Actually, by the end of the panel, I’m sure many attendees would be wanting to throw their resume at Crunchyroll and relocating to Cali. They gave practical advice, interesting anecdotes and let us see into the daily life of a software designer, engineer and a Brand manager. Nice! Any work for a social worker/writer? ^_^

I ship it!

Following the Crunchyroll panel was the ‘I Ship It!’ panel which is the breakdown of the shipping fandom. They went through the intro of shipping:

    “- The systematic and somewhat militaristic pairing of fictional characters with other fictional characters.
    – Can be from the same or different series.
    – Sometimes people kiss”

Sometimes they do more than kiss. XD Of course, they went into homo, hetero and crack ships but more on that later. They defined the fandom language of yaoi, yuri, BL as well as noted that ‘shonen ai’ which was used very early on for the lighter side of lemon fics is a more antiquated term as people use BL more as Japan has done.

They asked for suggestions of ships from the audience and many called out their favs. Then they went through fandom etiquette…something that is sometimes rare on the internet. The main one is and has always been:

    RESPECT

Bolded and underlined for emphasis…as there is so little of it everywhere. the discussion of fandom trends online and the changes through the years were brought up. Have to note, it is weird to be of the era when the internet first came to being and the fandom exploded all over it. Yahoo groups, fanfiction.net…to have gone through all the conceptions of fandom, experienced it all and stil be with it even now, is certainly a journey to look back on.

    – Fanfiction.net
    – AO3
    – Tumblr
    – Livejournal/Dreamwidth
    – Kink Memes
    – Quizilla/Yahoo Groups
    – Doujinshi/Pixiv

Surprised they didn’t bring up geocities wheree much of the Sailor Moon fandom was in its plethora of fansite. They did bring up Anime Web Turnpike…but we’re speaking about the trends of shipping not the trend of fandom really so I concede.

Fanart was discussed since much of it displays the trends of shipping as well. More current example, when Free! appeared, the Shingeki fandom artists switched to Free! and there were less fanart. Same with fanfiction though both creative means is still going strong despite the transition.

As a whole, the discussions with the hosts were entertaining and relevant. In the fandom at large, shipping is unavoidable since everyone has their own shipping goggles during even the most unromantic of series. OTP or not, we must learn to accept that they exist and ignore them as we choose. But the sharing of thoughts, the love of the fandom is built up around the community and shipping is a part of the stories that we love.
pic time!

To close an awesome weekend of cosplay, I went to the National Pastime for dinner. My favorite pic of the weekend has to be this apple tart with ice cream. ^_^

katsucon in retrospect

The usual issues of last year remain: the ‘no pro’ photography which meant no tripods, light stands and umbrella reflectors. Again, the reason is because they wanted to prevent traffic and accidents during the photos. Since it was my 2nd year at Katsu, I got what they meant by ‘no-professional’ but it’s misleading. Photogs got used to using the registration hall and it’s actually working quite well for a few photographers. And then we have sunday evening and monday for all those pros with equipment to take over an empty gazebo. ^_^

One of the biggest problems is that they still have the check in luggage at the 2nd floor room. Even though I didn’t use it this year (checked out on monday,) I still heard that there were still no luggage tags. With no tag for the luggage, anyone could just claim one as their own without verifying it. (It’s a policy that works in Japan for cosplayers, but not in the US for an entire hotel.) My complaint remains: the room itself is not an issue. Even a singular staff standing guard is not a problem. Just ticket the luggage as always and confirm the piece when they leave the room. The concept just boggles the mind that the luggage was not tagged. Because of this, many friends dropped off their luggage in my room sunday morning.

Unlike last year, there was no WCS or Symphony Anime Orchestra. The formal ball remains a wonderful focus and without the threat of snow (though it did snow throughout the weekend), cosplayers had a wonderful weekend shooting and showcasing their awesome cosplays. Next year, Valentine’s have moved to sunday with Katsucon being 2/12 to 2/14. What will next year hold? I look forward to finding out!

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