This past weekend yours truly and fellow anime fanboy, Chris Anderson attended Katsucon 2015, better known as Katsucon 21. With a divide and conquer M.O. I asked Chris to cover panels and events he wouldn’t normally attend in previous conventions. And of course I’d do the same. So in a timespan of 24 hours, yours truly went to a Japanese Cuisine panel hosted author Robert V. Aldrich, observed attendees (mainly fangirls) pick the brains of world class cosplayers Svetlana Quindt and Yaya Han, noted what Otaku Nate would deem as the “Best Animes Movies You Haven’t Seen” as well as attended an NSFW AMV Awards Showing. On the agenda also was a late night panel called “Anime for Manly Men” and even a successfully Kickstarted documentary called “In the Name of the Moon”.
We’ve covered previous food and beverage panels and work shops at previous Otakons. This one hosted by Robert V. Aldrich this weekend was a high level overview of how Eastern cuisine differs from Western. Aldrich briefly went over what Japanese curry is inspired by (British curry and not Indian), proper etiquette, the logic behind why rice is the centerpiece in a Japanese meal while the protein and veggies are all considered side dishes. With a bit of history and humor dropped after each segment, I felt Aldrich covered all the basics without boring attendees. Memorable quotes such as “I don’t care if you’re a computer, I will punch you” during the many issues Aldrich had with Windows 7 and “Our salads aren’t really salads. Rather they are salad dressing delivery systems.” left many chuckling throughout the whole hour.
In past cons, I’ve always made it a point to attend an industry panel. Having seen the same Funimation, Aniplex and Crunchyroll folks several times, I opted out of anything related to winter and spring releases. Instead, I went to two cosplayer’s qa session. Not that I’ll ever get into cosplay or start making elaborate accessories. However, deep inside I did want to know the daily routine of a well respected cosplayer such as Yaya Han or Svetlana Quindt. Accompanied by her husband, Benni Schwarz, Sveltana Quindt aka Kamui Cosplay delved into what got her into cosplay, why she prefers making armor and accessories with worbla, why sewing just isn’t her thing and finally answering any undying questions attendees had. An interesting fact is when Quindt first started, it would take her nearly six months to complete an elaborate cosplay outfit. These days she can finish a whole ensemble in five days – again thanks to the wonderful material that is worbla. The dynamics of husband and wife resulted in side by side pro-tips to aspiring cosplayers. One of the funniest quotes of the evening had to be Benni’s remark on how Svetlana can burn the midnight oil. I believe he said something along the lines of “Humans have a Cosplay mode that bypasses malnourishment and daily functions.”
Wandering around the convention hallway, I eventually ran into fellow Anime Congoer meetup.com mates and accompanied them to a late night NSFW AMV (anime music video) contest. As the NSFW denotes, this was definitely better suited for those that can stomach the weird, the raunchy and possibly gory. I don’t recall much gore. However, the Kill La Kill themed anime music video with Right Set Fred’s “I’m too sexy for my shirt” was certainly the crowd pleaser and best pairing of top 40s tune to anime sequences. Especially when a bulk of the visuals were of the Nudist Beach rebel alliance frontman getting naked quite often.
Following the AMV contest, I caught the tail end of a panel called “Anime for Manly Men”. Much like other obscure anime must-watch like panels, this one listed out shows that anime fanatics of this generation have missed out on. In other words, its not all about slice of life or magical girl ensembles. Naturally Golgo 13 and Ashita no Joe made the list and I’m assuming clips of Crying Freeman and Lupin also were included. The panel was introduced in a very conventional pattern of powerpoint slide show with title, basic info followed by a quick clip. Unfortunately, with the overlapping of the previous event, I have no clue what other titles the speaker mentioned.
As mentioned earlier, one of my bucket list items was “The Best Anime Movies You Haven’t Seen” panel. Hosted by podcaster, Otaku Nate, the hour long program highlighted anime movies of yesteryear that self proclaimed otaku should know about. Responsible for Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell and Beautiful Dreamer, director Mamoru Oshii was mentioned quite a bit. Having seen Otaku Nate’s handout, I gotta say the man has great taste with Angel’s Egg and Memories on his must-see list. Memories was one of my best no research purchases back when Tower Records existed as a brick and mortar. As for Angel’s Egg, this is easily a title you can find on web to stream. However, as a tangible copy goes, no US distributor sought the rights to release it. And why its noteworthy? If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy cover art or Vampire Hunter D, you ought to know the name Yoshitaka Amano, who delivered the artwork for the film. For the Ghibli fans, Otaku Nate even showed a clip of “Only Yesterday” directed by Isao Takahata.
The final program for President’s Day weekend before I would call it quits at Katsucon was Yaya Han’s panel, “Cosplay: The Past, Present and Future.” Miss Han would go on about her experience as an attendee at conventions, eventually participating in masquerades while funding her cosplay endeavors with artist alley booth sales and art auctions. For the non-cosplaying attendee such as myself, it was indeed a shocker to hear that voice actors and animators would be chosen for cosplay judges rather than fellow cosplayers. That said, a voice actor couldn’t possibly understand how daunting the process is behind concept, creation to transportation and becoming the character. Much like Svetlana Quindt, Miss Han is also a huge fan of worbla as she showed us an end product from her League of Legends Katarina ensemble. As far the “Present” and “Future” elements of the panel went, Miss Han delved into the norms of cosplay practices such as print sales, which was once deemed as taboo, how far in advance to plan an outfit as well as how young cosplayers can pursue a career in this niche.
To sum things up, Katsucon did a magnificent job of compiling programs for the fans by the fans. With a weekend that starts Thursday night and ends on Sunday late afternoon, no one can claim there’s nothing to do at this con. And if you’re only interested in the cosplayers and dealers room, Katsucon patrons and dealers certainly delivers. We look forward to covering more fun events at Katsucon 22.