This month Confident Gamers attended their first Katsucon event. For Anime fans and anyone who enjoys anything geek related then Katsucon should be on your list for consideration.
When we first announced we were heading to Katsucon we still weren’t sure what we would be walking into. All we knew was that it was a convention that has been rumored to be one of the best anime event on the east coast. We just had to find out for ourselves.
On Friday night we packed up our camera and chargers and headed down to the Gaylord Marriot in the National Harbor to see all that Katsucon has to offer. We have been to events held at the Gaylord before so we knew going in that it was a prime location equipped with a very spacious area and ample parking. We had no trouble finding a good parking spot and as soon as we reached outside of the parking garage we could already see the flood of convention goers showing off their best anime cosplay, no matter how cold it was that night (such dedication). The nearest parking garage was at least 2 blocks away from the convention entrance so I know some of those folks had to be cold, but you couldn’t see it on their faces. There is something about the determination and spirit behind an crowd of anime fans.
As soon as you entered the convention center you could tell just how larger the crowds were going to be, and we still hadn’t reached the heart of where the main Katuscon festivities would be held. We went straight to retrieve our badges for the weekend. No granted we did have to walk back and forth a big before securing our badges because after being directed in the wrong direction twice by two different Katsucon Staff members we finally ended up right where we were heading in the first place to get our badges. But we just brushed it off and moved on. Now we were on to checking out what the night had in store. We quickly took out our phones and launched the Guidebook app, which has to be by far the best convention app out there. It held all the information we had with a personalized way in which we could tailor the event schedule to focus on just the events we choose as interesting to us. We could figure out not only when everything started but also where it was and who would be leading the specific event. We visited a few panels that caught our eyes before heading to the merch area to see what the layout there would be like. There were a few more interesting events that night as well as loads of cosplay to sit down and admire.
Now about the panels, they were all well planned and structured. Many panels were organized by the JCI itself. The Japanese Culture specializes in classes that explore Japan’s rich culture, crafts, and history, so you know that you exit those specific panels enriched with a deeper appreciation and knowledge of the culture. Understandably running, planning and event just working at a con can be an extremely stressful and busy time, however I didn’t expect majority of the panels we visited to start a little late because the panelist hadn’t arrived or weren’t ready yet. Again we just brushed it off and enjoyed it once they began. On occasion we were also provided with surveys asking us how we enjoyed the panel and how well the panelist did presenting the material. Which honestly was a great idea and I can truly see the value in conducting a survey like that. However I was very confused when we were provided with these surveys many times before the panel even started, while we were still waiting for the panelist to arrive. I wasn’t sure how to answer the questions but the volunteers were happily doing their jobs and I was happy to comply.
When we returned Saturday for a long day of interviews and b-roll collection we were energized and ready to go. Now it was a big buzz kill when we discovered that pretty much all of the cosplay special guests were not going to fulfill their scheduled press interview time as they were either still sleeping or getting their cosplay on. Which meant for us a lot of the interviews and coverage we were hoping for were dashed. We again brush it off and move on. We did get to snag a few interviews with some special guest which we will be sharing with you shortly and hope you enjoy. We truly appreciated their willingness to be there for us and answer our questions, regardless of how off the wall they seemed.
Now unfortunately another chunk of our plans were put to the side because an unforeseen incident resulted in the fire alarms being pulled and the entire convention center needing to evacuate outside. Mind you it was about 10 degrees outside and most of the guest and cosplayers had put their winter wear in at coat check and were unable to retrieve them. But all was not in despair as the convention center hotel staff was kind enough to begin to distribute as many blankets, towels and table clothes they could find to those in the greatest need. We did find it concerning though that where we were in the convention center we actually did not hear the alarm at all. A hotel staff member informed one of the Katuscon staff members who then informed the panelist we were attending to make the announcement. It wasn’t until we were released to begin returning to convention center that we heard the alarms and saw the flashing. Not sure if that is best fire safety practice but not Katsucon’s fault at all.
Now before the fire alarm incident I had sensed and saw that the Katsucon volunteers and staff seemed before fragmented and uneasy, and the stress of trying to aid in an evacuation of this magnitude probably did not help at all. I can’t even begin to imagine how stressful trying to pull off an event for 15,000 people can be. However I can say that this is not the first time attending an event of this size and this would be the first time I sensed such a heavy feeling of frustration from the team. Thankfully though the guest that we spoke to while there, asking them of how they were enjoying the event all shared that they were having a blast and really enjoyed themselves. And that is what is important. If the guest go home happy, then a happy con it is.
Over all I am super excited that we had the opportunity to attend and cover such an amazing anime focused event. We left there with a great knowledge and appreciation for the culture as well as for the fans of the culture. We would certainly consider one year returning as guest with the chance to just immerse ourself in the event and not be ‘working’ so we can focus on just having fun.