A few weeks ago, I went to Katsucon over in Maryland. I’ve abstained from writing about it for the time being because I was going to another anime convention after that one, so I wanted to let the convention hype die down before I focused and actually sat myself in front of a computer screen to write about this. It’s a good thing I did because now I’m able to separate the two experiences, with one event providing insight for the other. But this is about Katsucon. And Katsucon was my first anime convention…ever.
Now, some of you might be thinking, “Hey, don’t you write about anime professionally and waste infinite amount of hours watching shows?” Yes. The answer is yes. I do, in fact, waste a lot of time watching anime, and I would do it all over again. So it would make sense that I’ve been to an anime convention. Except that’s not the case. I hadn’t ever been to one and, suffice it to say, I’m happy Katsucon was my first one.
Now, with this being my first ever convention, naturally I did not know what to do. I knew of people that were going to the convention, but I was faced with a problem: I did not know how to find them. So, with that, I wandered. Alone. At the convention. Which is, undoubtedly, one of the worst things that could ever happen to you at a convention. The whole point of a convention is for you to be surrounded by people who share in your interests. Luckily enough, I was with a bunch of people that really liked anime just like me. These people liked anime so much, in fact, that they were willing to spend hundreds of dollars to travel from wherever they were to stay in a hotel and cosplay with a bunch of other people who were willing to do the same thing. Now that is dedication and community. With this in mind, I kept it together and kind of meandered about.
Eventually I made my way to a somewhat central area for the convention. It was being held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center and that place was absolutely gorgeous. It felt like being outside but you were inside, if that makes sense. The whole place had a nice clean air to it and just felt very welcoming for all of these nerds. But there was me, alone, just sitting there with a camera and a bag of potato chips. I saw two cosplayers—Speedy and Green Arrow—sitting there. I started to talk with them a little bit and they told me that this was their first time going to a convention with one another. I related to that and I talked to them some more. Before I knew it, I had spent an entire hour just lounging around in a chair with two people I had never met before. It felt very welcoming and that is something to note. The overall atmosphere of Katsucon itself was very welcoming and warm despite the frigid cold of the winter. I had never been to a convention before, but those two individuals alone made me want to come back to Katsucon just because of that experience (whoever you are, if you’re reading this: thank you).
The Convention Itself
Now what kind of writer would I be if I did not cover the convention itself? A bad one, that’s what. Luckily, Katsucon was a well-put-together convention and I want to applaud the staff for their organizational skills and their direction. There was one point during the convention where a small electrical fire broke out (no one was hurt, thankfully), so both the hotel and convention staff worked together to timely evacuate the whole building. Just picture that: thousands of cosplayers getting evacuated out of a large convention center in a matter of minutes. Now if that isn’t a testament to how well the Katsucon machine runs, then I don’t know what is. The efficient manner in which the evacuation and relay that everything was safe is astonishing and something I had never seen before. It just goes to show that the Katsucon staff know how to run their ship.
Speaking of running things, a convention would not be the same without panels. There were some conventions with short lines or no lines at all—such as those primarily playing music or showing full episodes of shows—to those that had lines that wrapped around (Jessica Nigri, anyone?). Whatever panel you lined up for, though, was worth it. I watched Ian Sinclair and the Funimation panel, to name a few, but a vast majority of my time was spent in the dealer’s room, also known as “The Gaping Maw That Feeds On Your Wallet.”
The dealer’s room was vast, loud, and colorful. When I walked in there the very first time, I was overwhelmed. I actually had to leave the room and come back in because I did not know what to do. Luckily, by this point I had found some of my friends and we were walking together and they guided me around a bit. I stopped by a few booths, talked to a few people, and bought a few things. In my opinion, I feel like the dealer’s room may just be one of the finer points of Katsucon. Sure, you can always walk around and talk to people, but there’s nothing like taking something physical with you back home, something you can always turn to and say, “Hey, I got this from Katsucon.”
To sum it all up, I would not trade in my experience for Katsucon for the world. The only downside I had was the fact that I did not actually stay in the same hotel that the convention took place, so I missed out on all the hotel shenanigans. But next year? Next year I’m booking a suite and I’m going to bring some people with me. If an anime convention can turn me—someone who had never been to a convention before staying at another hotel across the bridge—into someone who is willing to drag a bunch of his friends into the pits of cosplay and throw a lot of money at a hotel just to be close to everything, then that means that they’re doing something right. Whatever Katsucon is doing, they need to keep doing it. This may have been my first time going there but it is most definitely not my last.
Until next year, Katsucon.Tweet