Katsucon is a large-scale anime convention held annually in Washington, D.C. by Katsucon Entertainment, Inc. an educational non-profit organization dedicated to bringing information about Japanese animation, society, and traditional and popular culture to fans everywhere.
Katsucon returned to the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center for its nineteenth year, located in the picturesque National Harbor area of Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. The popular hotel boasts beautiful scenery both indoors and out, allowing attendees to mingle and take photos without blocking convention center traffic. Panels and programing were offered around-the-clock, with some talks starting as early as 6am, and popular guests from the anime industry included Chris and Greg Ayres, Monica Rial, Steve Blum, Jamie Marchi, and Bill Rogers. Cosplayers were out in force and brought their ďAĒ game all three days of the convention, taking advantage of the photo-friendly location and Katsuís wealth of cosplay programming which included a masquerade, two daysí worth of hall costume contests, and the U.S. preliminary round of the World Cosplay Summit. Surrounding the convention center was a downtown area offering an endless variety of shops and restaurants. The only downside was that congoers had to share hotel space with a youth leadership conference, and mishandling on both sides caused some clashes as public areas were blocked and reports surfaced of unfortunate confrontations between the groups, though I personally did not experience or witness any negative interactions. Overall, I found this to be a fantastic convention and plan to return.
Iíve wanted to attend Katsucon for several years now, so I was really excited to go even though I was getting sick a few days before the convention and had completely lost my voice. Thursday morning Sketch and I drove eight hours to D.C. When we pulled into the National Harbor, I was pleasantly surprised to find such a quaint looking waterfront town a stoneís throw from the nationís capital. Our crew had decided to stay at the Hampton Inn across the street from the Gaylord, which was much cheaper than the host hotel and offered an incredible parking rate of $11 a day! After unpacking everything and settling into the hotel, Sketch and I headed over to the Gaylord for the evening to check it out. The place was already teeming with cosplayers, photographers, and congoers socializing, sipping cocktails, and enjoying themselves. The atmosphere was even more amazing than it appeared in photos with small lights twinkling and the fountain dancing with changing colored lights and classical music - everything felt almost magical!
Friday morning, after helping Bry-Chan shuffle out the door in her My Little Pony wedding gown, I got into my new Sailor Juno costume from Sailor Moon and joined Gale, AkaneSaotome, and several of their friends at the Gaylord for an Asteroid Senshi group. We did a really fun shoot with Lionel and had a blast walking around. After much confusion Doug managed to finally get a hold of our press badges and deliver them to us. Itís a shame that they donít hand out press passes until after programing has already begun, preventing us from covering events that take place earlier than Friday afternoon, and that the location to pick them up is almost impossible to find. For such a large and prominent convention, Katsucon needs to step up their organization on this front.
That afternoon I changed into Small Lady Serenity for our Princess Senshi group. It is a very comfortable costume and I felt like a six-year-old flouncing around in a princess dress. We met up by the fountain for photos, and after eight years of being fans of each otherís work online, I finally go to meet Tess who was playing my mom, Princess Serenity. I only wished my voice was cooperating so I could be more sociable! After a quick shoot with Lionel, it was warm enough that we did another shoot outside behind the convention center near the water. It was the first time Iíd gone outside and I was blown away by the scenery; there were gardens and a beach and all kinds of things to look at! After the group broke up, I strolled around taking photos of cosplayers including a phenomenal Digimon group who had made plushie versions of all their characters! That evening I got into my Blue Barracudas outfit and visited the decent-sized Artist Alley to hang out with Alyssa, Mookie, and Chi before calling it a night.
Saturday morning I felt worse, but got up and into Riddel and helped Sketch into Lynx from Chrono Cross. We had a great time wandering around in our outfits and met several new people. That afternoon, I joined Gale and Stardust to finally do our celestial Magic Knights Rayearth group, which came out awesome! We braved the cold to get some shots outside before we had to run in. Doug and Rob did a great job being our handlers and taking fantastic photos. That night we changed and headed out to Harringtonís, a fantastic Irish pub with live entertainment. Afterwards the rest of the gang went back to the con to interview attendees and hit up some panels, but I felt so terrible I just went to bed. Sunday we packed up and headed out; I would have liked to do some sightseeing but my body called it quits. Despite my bug I had a great time and really look forward to returning next year, where hopefully I can check out more panels and events!