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.
The 48 hours leading up to Katsucon's twentieth year were dominated by news of the blizzard scheduled to slam the entire 95 corridor between Wednesday night and Friday morning, canceling thousands of flights and trains for people planning to attend. Despite a lot of scrambling, over 10,000 attendees safely arrived at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Advertized as a 24-hour convention, panels and programing were offered around-the-clock, and guests included Chris and Greg Ayres, Steve Bennett, Richard Epcar and Bill Rogers. The Japanese Cultural Institute track ran panels on kimono dressage, tea ceremony, brush painting, and seminars on traveling and studying in Japan. A unique event, The Symphonic Anime Orchestra, allowed attendees with musical abilities to rehearse as a group throughout the weekend and perform an orchestral music concert on Sunday, while the preliminary round of the World Cosplay Summit allowed accomplished cosplayers to compete for the privilege of representing the United States at the international competition in Japan. The staff of the convention, however, left much to be desired; many appeared to be untrained and others were downright rude. This may have partially been the result of the weather, which upended both the staff and the schedule. Adding to the mess, the H1N1 flu virus ran rampant around the convention, with many attendees and staffers falling victim to it during or after the con.
Since we were driving, we had a tough time deciding how to time our trip through the storm, but settled on heading out at 8:30 AM Thursday morning with Sketch, Scarlett and EllyStar, who joined us last minute after her flight was canceled. Several other friends were prevented from attending entirely as flights across the country were grounded. Our drive was going OK until a white-out forced us to stop. We seriously considered turning back, but when the snow ended we continued on through New York, New Jersey, and Delaware, where plenty of cars were spun out or stuck in lanes which turned into snowbanks without much warning. As we passed through Baltimore around 6:30PM we were upbeat and thinking about dinner until thirty miles from National Harbor the snow started back up with a vengeance. The road was barely passable and exit ramps were littered with cars trapped by snow. When we finally made it two hours later we went straight to the bar for a stiff drink.
Friday I wore my revamped Sango costume, and was pleasantly surprised at how excited people were to see an InuYasha cosplay! After entering the Gaylord I went to pick up my badge, but the room was packed and there were no signs or staff members to direct me as to which line was which. When I finally found two staffers, they bragged about how long the wait was and belittled me for not buying a VIP pass. "That's rude," I responded and they started laughing and shouting "have fun!" as I walked to the back of the line. What the actual FUCK. Luckily Christa was near the front and offered to have me jump in line with her. Finally, badges obtained, we visited Mookie, Alyssa, Garth, and Leigh in the Artist Alley, then wandered the dealerís room before returning to the Gaylord to get some shots of my costume in the garden area. I also ran into Starlightslk, who was wearing her brand-new remade Kagome costume, and we got several photos together. It was nice to reconnect with a friend! That evening we wore our Candyland costumes, and other than missing our Princess Lolly who was stuck in Florida, we had a full group and it was a blast! That night we changed and walked a block to a Thai food restaurant which also had sushi. It was delicious!
Saturday morning Sketch wasn't feeling well, so we got him some drugs and had him rest up in the hotel room while we changed into our Sundae Best outfits from My Little Pony. Our Swirly Whirly was stranded in Texas, but the rest of us had a fun shoot with Gerardo and afterwards I hit up Kamui Cosplay's prop making panel with Kiarrens and Joe. Kamui specializes in amazingly detailed armor cosplays and props and it was interesting to hear about how she handles the crafting process and why she chooses specific techniques over others. That afternoon, Sketch attempted to join us and on our way to an event we asked the info desk staff where a room was. "Put your hand on the wall and walk," I was told, rather rudely. "Is it across the hall over there?" I asked. "No, put your hand on the wall and walk." Not knowing what else to do, I followed the directions which took us 10 minutes down the hall, circling back to the room - you guessed it - ACROSS THE HALL. My aching feet and under-the-weather husband did not appreciate that BS.
In the evening I changed back into Sango for a photoshoot with the lovely Starrfall Photography. We braved the horrifyingly bitter temperatures outside to get some beautiful shots of Sango in the setting sun, and Starrfall was lovely to work with! Check out her photos! Afterwards I joined my friends at the masquerade, which was somewhat disappointing. Other than a really funny Godzilla skit which deservedly won Best In Show and a clever Street Fighter/ Rocky IV crossover, nothing else stood out. It made me wonder if having WCS at Katsucon was a drain on the regular masquerade entry pool. There was also an absurdly lengthy musical act while the judges deliberated which had one song go on for over 30 minutes until almost the entire audience, including us, walked out. It was a shame because the performance itself was really good, but I have no idea how long it kept going after we left. We met up with more friends for an enjoyable dinner before walking Sketch back to the hotel to rest. I changed into Tomoyo from Tsubasa and hit up the bar for drinks with EllyStar and SweetPea for the night.
Sunday Sketch decided to stay in bed while we changed into our Madoka outfits. I was super excited to finally wear my Madoka costume; I'd spent the last two months making it and I loved how it had come out. We had a full cast but one was stuck in Florida and our Sayaka had gotten sick too, so just myself, EllyStar, and Gale did a small shoot with Christa. That afternoon I started feeling unusually cold and tired, but shook it off. I had a cold drink and met up with Starrfall who took some gorgeous photos of my Madoka costume before heading to the WCS preliminary competition which was a lot of fun to watch. There were some very interesting performances and Mario did a fantastic job hosting. After the show we returned to the hotel to change, and I felt undeniably sick. I put on PJs and had some ice cream, and once I laid down I couldn't get back up. Luckily we had the hotel until Monday, because I went through the same fever, achy chill thing Sketch had the night before. We were both miserably sick, but luckily Sketch felt well enough to drive us all home Monday. So far I am 0 for 2 getting through Katsucon healthy. We're going to have to give sightseeing another try next year...