This past weekend Katsucon Entertainment, Inc. celebrated their 20th anniversary at the Gaylord National Resort. The Presidents’ Day weekend also marked my first time attending this convention rich with cosplayers, video premieres and programs targeting a wide array of personas. The game plan was to simply soak in as many panels, videos and performances as possible.
Having scanned through the guidebook app, Katsucon has something for everyone and in many ways is identical to my all-time favorite, Otakon. So what’s a fellow like myself to do? Head to events I may not have noticed and or missed at other conventions. On the agenda for Friday evening through Sunday afternoon was a visit to the Lolita fashion show, watch Wolf Children, sit through Ellen Stern’s panel on the women’s role in anime, learn Asian brush writing techniques, taiko drumming, as well as watch the 18+ edition of Super Art Fight.
So how successful was I in following through with this game plan? Total fail is the best way to describe what happened. Katsucon may have one-third the paid memberships of Otakon Prime, but not fully understanding the layout of the Gaylord convention center e.g. knowing what staircases take you where, what elevators to take (or not take) led to missing nearly all of the above programs. Despite missing nearly all the checkpoints, I still had a great time. So continue reading to see why Katsucon is on it’s twentieth year and going strong.
Friday evening, I was able to attend the Lolita fashion panel topped with a quick display of types including OTT (Over the top sweet), gothic, punk, classic Victorian, late baroque, pirate and prince. Along with a quick run down, the two hostesses of the panel also delved into the fashion pieces involved and a brief history of how Japan adapted “Lolita” fashion. While yours truly may never get into cosplay, let alone “crossplay”, I was quite enamored with the prints and textures each model sported. Applaud-worthy was a combination that involved bat stockings, a marigold floral headpiece, a Tim Burton-esque skirt and Doc Martins.
A con without visiting an industry panel from Aniplex, FUNimation or Crunchyroll is like leaving the dealer room empty handed. It just so happens while failing hard at attending everything else on Friday and Saturday, I found my way to Crunchyroll’s hour long industry panel. Seasoned members should already know about the fifty plus shows streaming as well as the manga library, which has doubled in size since its inception. However, for those that didn’t know, Crunchyroll has done all of the above and is working on bringing the aforementioned programs onto the PS Vita. As usual, team Crunchyroll holds a q and a session along with a pop quiz for prize session after their announcements. Timid folks can sign onto their accounts at the dealer room for free swag.
For those of us that grumble over why this or that con is terrible, Katsucon held several panels for visitors to provide feedback. Aside from the KatsuSoFar panels, the Convention Chair Summit with Keith Mayfield was probably the most knowledge enriching program . For two hours, current Con Chair, Keith Mayfield along with Katsucon President, Grig “Punkie” Larson broke down all that is involved in making a con successful and provided an ample supply of information. Young contrepreneurs in attendance soaked up how to avoid common pitfalls, how common courtesy can go a long way and delved deeper into the legal side of throwing a convention. Icing on the cake came in the form of con chairs from Anime USA and Anime MidAtlantic providing some great feedback and guidance as well. Overall, I took in that con chairs are volunteers that truly abide by the “For the fans, by the fans” creed.
If you frequent anime cons, you may be wondering if you’ll still have the energy and leisure time for cons next year, the next five years and so forth. More importantly, with a slow economy, is there a future for sub culture conventions? VP of Marketing for the Robotech franchise, Kevin McKeever, along with co-hostess and supreme librarian, Sarah Hodge-Wetherbe, answered those very questions and some this past Sunday afternoon. As strenuous as weekend long conventions can be, I left confident knowing that if Anime Expo or Anime Boston can outsource customer service reps to streamline the registration and pre-registration process, Katsucon, Otakon and other conventions can do the same. Katsucon, I know this may be works in progress, but please take note as your patrons were highly upset with the pre-registration wait this year. As for the aging anime Otaku, there are definitely programs that appease our palates next year and beyond.
The final pitstop at the Gaylord National Resort was an informal q and a session with horror manga-ka, SENNO Knife. Those in attendance were treated to a history lesson behind Senno Knife’s illustration style, what inspires him as well as future endeavors. Personally, this was like a Ben’s Chili bowl half smoke (with chili and cheese of course) for dessert after some Nando’s chicken as I love horror manga. I have never cared for autographs in the past, but Knife san’s autograph session included a quick illustration for each patron. Nerd juices were overflowing with joy as I was queuing up for one.
So is Katsucon worth visiting? Absolutely. For those that love geeking out over powerpoint slides, dubbed and subbed anime, admiring well made cosplay ensembles, or simply kicking back to a round of humorous Japanese commercials, Katsucon has plenty to deliver. Katsucon 21 will take place on February 13 to 15, 2015.