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 twenty-second annual Katsucon was held at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in Washington, D.C. A 24-hour convention, panels and programing were offered around-the-clock, and guests, consisting of mostly voice actors, included Chris and Greg Ayres, Kyle Herbert, Jamie Marchi, Krystal LaPorte, Bill Rogers, and J. Michael Tatum. A personal favorite, "anime anthropologist" Charles Dunbar ran interesting talks, and the Japanese Cultural Institute's sessions were wonderful additions. Overall the convention still suffered from poor management decisions, including forcing panelists to purchase a $40 panelist badge, regardless of if they had already paid for a regular $80 badge, vendor space, artist alley table or were granted a press pass. This was introduced far too soon to the start of the con, and quite a few panelists ended up dropping out last minute as a result. At at the convention, the preregistration badge pickup was still a disorganized mess, and several incidents, including a fire which forced the con to evacuate on Saturday morning and some immature attendees who defaced hotel property, reflected poorly on the con as a whole. However, with a great location, entertainment and food close by, dazzling A-game cosplay and incredibly friendly attendees, this con remains a great deal of fun despite its internal struggles.
Sketch, EllyStar and I drove down to National Harbor Thursday morning and for once, after an uneventful trip, arrived at the Gaylord just after 6PM, catching a beautiful view of the sunset over the Potomac. It was our first year staying at the Gaylord itself, and it was an excellent choice; the Netflix in the hotel room was loaded up with classic Sailor Moon episodes before our suitcases were unpacked! Picking up our badges, however, was still an unnecessarily long process with a line that took an hour and a half to get through and a completely unorganized system smaller lines near the front that caused a bottleneck. Considering the con uses EventBrite for registration and the receipts have scan codes on them, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be a painless experience and Katsucon continues to be the only convention we attend where the preregistration line take more than a few minutes from entry to badge pickup on a Thursday.
Friday morning Punzy, Sketch and I wore our Kagome, Sango, and Miroku costumes from InuYasha. We got some great photos in the garden area and met up with a large group of other InuYasha cosplayers, which included a Shippo – a character I’ve never seen cosplayed in person! We wandered around and socialized for several hours before hitting up Nando’s Peri Peri for a late lunch with some delicious sangria! In the afternoon I did a quick shoot of EllyStar in her beautiful Princess Hilda from Legend of Zelda and Sketch and I manged to quickly grab some photos of my new Yuna costume by the water before the sun finished setting. Later I met a tiny Summoner Yuna who was only 3 or 4 years old, and we got a photo of her holding my Nirvana staff – she was SO CUTE! We checked out the dealer’s room before changing into our Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles costumes and doing a shoot in the mirror hall before heading out to Thai Pavilion for dinner. We stumbled back to the Gaylord full of wine, sushi, and sake, and socialized at the bar before heading to bed.
Saturday I spent two hours getting into my revamped Shiva costume from Final Fantasy X, while Punzy borrowed my Yuna costume to take pics with me. We finally got me all suited up and into my wig harness by 12:30PM. I was thrilled that this costume FINALLY looked how I originally wanted it too back in 2012! As we made our way to the elevators, we heard a siren in the distance and mentioned how someone’s toy prop must be going off. We caught an empty elevator and applauded our luck as we quickly descended to the gazebo level. Right when the doors opened we were met with a Katsucon staffer who said, “Please slowly and calmly evacuate the building.” Apparently the annoying prop was actually the fire alarm, and we were shepherded out into the bitterly cold and windy parking lot, where one fire truck was parked and another was quickly approaching. After a few minutes we were ordered across the street, wind gusts pulling at my wig. It was so miserable outside that we all tried to crowd into the lobby of the hotel across the street, which was a claustrophobic stampede. It was a bad scenario for me as I had hair which easily caught on everything and everyone, and after FOUR YEARS of work I was completely freaked out it was going to get wrecked with all the pushing and shoving before I even had a chance to wear it for five minutes.
Sketch and Punzy navigated me into a corner which made me feel better momentarily, but as we stood there for ten minutes, then twenty, then almost thirty, the discomfort of my costume started to really wear on me. I wouldn’t have noticed had I been walking, but just standing there I could feel that the harness was a bit too tight and starting to cut into my shoulders, and my body was tiring from holding it up. Finally they started letting people back into the Gaylord; apparently there was a fire in the maid café but it had been put out. I tried to hang back so I wouldn’t get caught in the crush of people rushing back into the building but it was impossible; everyone was bumping into and crowding me and one person got caught on my hair. My freakout face prompted one of the EMTs to pull me out of the crowd to make sure I was OK, to which I responded I just needed to get out of the crush. They let me cut through the lobby bar, where I finally had some space to BREATHE. I managed to last an hour in the costume after that; at the very least I got some photos but the harness was excruciating and I had to get out. I think if we put it on looser next time I’ll be able to last a bit longer - and hopefully I won’t have to deal with an evacuation!
We got a very late lunch from room service and I wore Summoner Belgemine for the afternoon which so relaxing after being in Shiva all morning! That night we all returned to the room and ate chocolate cake with two bottles of wine and watched Sailor Moon for dinner because WE ARE GROWNUPS. It was a fantastic way to regroup for the evening before getting into Rainbow Brite and hitting up the Gaylord club around 10:30. We found a couch at the club, grabbed some cocktails, and danced until 2:30 in the morning. It was a BLAST! We finally stumbled out of there and back to our room at 3AM, at which point we realized we should probably pack up our car with our stuff because it would be insane trying to do so in the morning. We grudgingly put boots and jackets on over our PJs and in varying states of drunkenness brought everything out that we didn’t need out to the car at 3:30 in the morning. The fact we passed at least 5 other people doing the same meant this was a really smart idea. It allowed us to sleep in and still get dressed and out the door in time for an 11am checkout Sunday. I got into Summoner Ginnem for the day, which is pretty easy as it requires normal makeup and no wig. We hung out a bit, did a few photoshoots, visited artist alley and did a solid loop of the dealer’s room before getting into regular clothes and hitting up Peri Peri for lunch and heading home, another successful weekend behind us!