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)