February 12th - 15th, 2015
National Harbor, Maryland

Convention Stats:
Location: Gaylord National Resort
Event Year: Twenty-First
Reported Attendance: 15,444
Sketch's Costumes Worn:
Godric Gryffindor, Harry Potter
Flynn Rider, Tangled
Captain Steiner, Final Fantasy IX
Kurogane, Tsubasa
Shiva's Costumes Worn:
Sango, InuYasha
Rosette Christopher, Chrono Crusade
VICI the Robot, Small Wonder
Relm Arrowny, Final Fantasy VI
Madoka Kaname, Madoka Magica
Tomoyo Daidoji, Tsubasa
Coco Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot
Convention Photos:

Photo Credits:
Shiva, Sketch, Lionel Lum, Starrfall Photography

Katsucon is a large-scale anime convention held annually over President's Day weekend at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. Katsucon 2015 enjoyed a cold, but mostly snow-free weekend, allowing both attendees and guests to make it to Katsucon in relative peace after last year's blizzard disrupted travel to the convention. Guests included voice actors Chris and Greg Ayres, Josh Grelle, and Cherami Leigh, martial artists Daniel and Jillian Coglan, cosplayers Yaya Han and Svetlana Quindt, performances by Geek Comedy Tour and programming by the Japanese Cultural Institute. The World Cosplay Summit was moved away from Katsucon this year, allowing cosplayers to focus on the con's own masquerade contest. The convention still leaves much to be desired, however, which is a shame given its fantastic location and wonderful social aspects. Poorly run events and general disorganization continues to encourage attendees to "ghost" the convention, skewing attendance numbers and overcrowding the hotel lobby space. If Katsucon were to improve the actual convention it could encourage paid badges and alleviate some of its hotel-side overcrowding.

Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
After our death-defying blizzard drive down to Katsucon last year we were looking forward to sunny, boring drive as Ellystar joined us Thursday morning. Fate was not on our side however; we discovered 45 minutes into our trip that Sketch had forgotten his prescription contacts, so we had to turn back to retrieve them. During our second attempt at departure Ellystar's phone promptly decided to die, so we made an unplanned pit stop in New Jersey so she could purchase a new one. Despite the unexpected delays it was a much calmer drive than the previous year, and we pulled into the Westin National Harbor around 8PM. It was our first time staying at the Westin after two years of being across the street from the Gaylord at the Marriott; the Westin was slightly further away but much closer to all of the shops and restaurants, and our room had a beautiful view directly overlooking the harbor.

After dropping our stuff we walked two blocks over to the Gaylord; the wind was blowing like a hurricane and it was easily below zero out with the wind chill. We desperately hoped the weather wasn't going to be like this all weekend or getting back and forth to the convention center was going to be a struggle. When we arrived, registration was once again completely disorganized and mishandled; despite having a computerized system it took over and HOUR to pick up our pre-registration badges and the line wasn't even all that long compared to other cons where we have waited ten to fifteen minutes. It's completely ridiculous that Katsucon cannot figure this out, and we can only assume they are unwilling to tackle the issue or at the very least consider it a serious problem. Badges finally in hand, and we headed over to the Cadillac Ranch for a delicious crab cake dinner with margaritas so full of Tequila that they were disgusting but a few sips in we forgot why we cared!

Friday morning Shiva got into Sango from InuYasha while Sketch got into Godric Gryffindor and Ellystar wore her Lynnea Stark costume from Game of Thrones and we managed to walk over to the Gaylord without much trouble. It was cool but sunny, and the wind had died down a bit. At the convention center we wandered around, took photos, visited the dealer’s room, and chatted with many acquaintances. That afternoon we got into regular clothes to walk along the harbor front; we visited the Awakening Statue and the Peeps Store on our way to The Crab Cake Café for lunch, which was both affordable and delicious! Around Golden Hour, Shiva got into her brand new Rosette costume from Chrono Crusade and Sketch wore Steiner from Final Fantasy IX, and we made our way back to the Gaylord. This time, however, the temperature had dropped to only about 15°F and the wind had picked up. Shiva took a few photos of Sketch's costume in the setting sun before the metal chainmail began freezing to his skin and we had to run inside and warm up.

Once inside, Sketch took some nice shots of Shiva's Rosette in the brick building area of the Gaylord atrium. Shiva got a lot of positive feedback on her remade version of the costume, which made her feel like she was finally doing the character justice, and Sketch was swarmed with requests for photos with Steiner, which was a blast! We visited the dealer's room and Artist's Alley to check everything out and visit with friends, and Shiva got some fun photos of Sketch fighting the giant Marlboro sculpture which was sitting in the back of the room. Around 9PM we changed into more comfortable outfits to grab a later dinner and socialize around the con. It was so cold after dark that we jogged up the street to Thai Pavilion, and after a delicious sushi dinner, we full-on RAN to the Gaylord! Shiva decided to wear VICI the Robot for the night and we didn’t expect many people to recognize her, assuming most Katsucon attendees were too young to remember the show, but a few people did! We had a few drinks at the atrium bar and checked out the game room before turning in for the night.

Saturday morning Shiva wore her remade Relm while Ellystar was Celes and Sketch wore Ellystar’s Locke costume from Final Fantasy VI. After another sunny and relatively comfortable walk to the Gaylord, we met up at the fountains with some other FF6 cosplayers and took photos. That afternoon we headed to Nando's Peri Peri for lunch and loaded up on sangria, then enjoyed a good nap before we got into Steiner and Madoka and walked back over to the con. We met Cinnabunny as Beatrix and her friend Komouri who were both super nice and had awesome costumes, and we exchanged cosplay cards so we could find each other online later. Ellystar caught up with us a few hours later in her Presea costume from Magic Knights Rayearth, and Shiva got some good photos of her in the atrium.

When it was time to change for dinner, however, we exited the Gaylord only to be met by a blast of snow and hurricane-force wind out of NOWHERE. Sketch’s helmet and one of his other costume pieces went tumbling down the street and Shiva's Madoka hairbows went sailing into the night, never to be seen again. Ellystar had a simpler costume and kept running for the Westin, while Sketch chased his costume into a parking lot and Shiva did an about-face to the Gaylord. Apparently this is called a “river blizzard” and it SUCKS; we were all starting to think staying at the Westin was a really terrible idea. We were so miserable we ordered take-out for dinner so we didn’t have to go back outside.

Finally around 9:30PM we were fed and the storm had subsided, though it was still only 5°F out. Feeling better, we got into our Tsubasa costumes and headed back to the Gaylord with Ellystar. We enjoyed some cocktails in the atrium before heading up to the Pose Lounge club on the 18th floor. We had never been up there before, and it was a cool place, with changing light colors on the walls and floor to ceiling windows with a view of D.C. There was a large tile area for dancing, a huge bar, and white couches for lounging, and it was not crowded at all. Akanae Saotome, Kelli, and Cimerone joined us, and we chatted and drank before hitting up the dance floor. It was so much fun!

Sunday morning Shiva got into Coco Bandicoot for the day; she finished turning herself orange about the same time Sketch finished loading up the car. We checked out and had the car ready to go, and were feeling good about enjoying the con for the sunny morning. The wind, however, was not done with us; as soon as Shiva exited the Westin a huge gust blew her hair flower and bandicoot ears off and sent them down the street. Shiva grabbed the ears and a pedestrian grabbed her flower which luckily only had the gem break off in one piece, which we were able to stick back on with fashion tape for the time being. At the Gaylord Sketch did an awesome photoshoot of Shiva as Coco in the tropical-looking gardens, and it got a ton of recognition. We visited Artist Alley, had lunch at the sports bar in the hotel before changing and heading home. We had a fun weekend, but we had it with the weather and going outside; next year we're staying AT the Gaylord!