Katsucon 2018: Con-Crunch is real!

There needs to be another venue…seriously…

It was crunch time….
I will not lie… While I am usually one that plans ahead, I felt it. The nervous anxiety in the air. Katsucon looming around the corner…and I literally was still working.

Not on cosplay this time. I was in the fashion show and still had a few looks to add the finishing touches to. It was being put on at Katsucon by the Charm City Lolita community, who by becoming staff, had single handedly brought back much needed Japanese street fashion cultural programming to the convention itself.

There was also a variety of cultural programming put on by JCI and some great video and media programming in the video rooms. The merchants hall and artist alley were literally over-stuffed with great vendors.

The positives don’t overshadow the negatives though as many folks raised the issues of overcrowding, lack of organization in the overall event, lack of staff, cancellations, autograph organization issues. The list goes on.
For me I personally feel that since I didn’t stay at the Gaylord or in the local hotels I didn’t experience much of the issues that many did. I also knew my way around the convention center and wasn’t wearing any cosplay for the weekend. I had personally decided only to dress in Japanese street fashion styles to show support for the “new” department. I also feel that since I had a good set of folks to visit and hangout with that also made my experience much better.

However, even though my experience was mostly positive i am going to list the pro’s and con’s about the con that have been floating around the internet.
*these are not my personal views these are just what I have observed*

Pro’s:
More cosplay related programming
More japanese fashion and culture programming
Higher quality cosplay
Higher quality photographers
Good quality and variety in merch and vendors
Photo booth setup in the back of artist alley was great
Maid cafe was wonderful

Con’s:
Line organization
Lack of staff or rude/aggressive staff
Technical issues throughout multiple programs due to lack of communication
Technical issues due to venue
Cancellations
Autograph line handling
Rude cosplayers
Rude photographers
Photographers setting up and camping in public areas
Photographers shooting in safety hazard areas (i.e. staircases)
Rude congoers not allowing people with disabilities services they needed
Too many people
Outgrown the venue
Masquerade judging rigged
Masquerade prizes went to costumes for sex appeal/less effort than other entries
Food was hard to get or expensive
Hotel was hard to get rooms at and expensive
Hotel staff broke into rooms and stole belongings before folks were checked out
Hotel staff did nothing to remedy situations where their staff was at fault with photo evidence
People getting drugged (??)

Since we’ve covered the overall, I will break down my experience by day.

Friday:
Many folks say that Day (0) Thursday is the first day but Friday is when I get in. We weren’t staying at the hotel so if we had wanted to attend Thursday it would have been to pick up our badges…however since we were panelists this last weekend we weren’t able to pick up our badges till Friday.
Thankfully the line for pickup was nil and we were in and out within 10 minutes if that. We had time to kill so we walked into artists alley after it opened (There were some schedule discrepancies from the printed schedule, the online or Guidebook schedule, and what staff would tell us so that was confusing.) Then we walked around about a third of the dealer’s hall until it was about time to head up to Workshop 1 for our panel. We presented our panel on Thermoplastics and 3-D printing to a small crowd and I found out later that most folks hadn’t even gotten their badges by 1:15pm which is what I attributed the smaller attendance than expected. There were already tons of crowds starting to build up by the time we got out of our panel at 2:20pm and we decided to run and get some snacks from CVS before going around the convention again. I stopped to chat with a few friends by the legendary “Gazebo” and ended up getting roped into a small photoshoot for the NOVA Lolita and other local communities. While I was there I also bumped into a few other friends I hadn’t seen yet and got all my greetings in before having to depart. We got back and ended up attending a panel or two before heading out to “The Brass Tap” for a pint and some food before rehearsal for the fashion show. I headed out for the rehearsal a little earlier than my husband did because I was anxious and wanted to make sure my models were there on time. Lo’ and behold 1 of my models showed up late and one didn’t show up at all. Thankfully both issues were quickly remedied. We wrapped up rehearsal and headed home tired from the long day.

Saturday:
We got into the convention at 11am thank the con parking gods there was no issue finding a spot, even with the huge influx of people for the busiest day of the con. The amount of high quality cosplay around the convention floor was astounding and the attendees had really upped their game. I was still nervous. We had a panel in the afternoon and then the fashion show and following Q & A. All of this was back to back in a span of about 6.5hrs. We were super well attended for the panel of the afternoon which we presented on resin casting. It went well for the first time being presented and I even got a card at the end from some engineers who attended giving my panel positive marks! It’s always a pleasure to get feedback, negative or positive, to make my panels better in the future.
We wrapped the panel early, even with follow up from the crowd, and tried to hit up a few other events. Sadly many of the ones I wanted to go to had been cancelled or moved and were hard to find. It also didn’t help that getting around the convention itself was hectic. We got back in line to get into the dealer’s hall at some point and it snaked around the hallway to the point it was blocking the entrance to the artist’s alley and the access to the stairs on the lower level. We got in after about 10 minutes of waiting, which was a pleasant surprise and thankfully with the setup of the merchant’s hall it wasn’t hard to navigate through the crowds to get to the tables I wanted to hit up before we needed to go grab food (CVS again) and get our stuff from the car…It had gone from the balmy 60-70 degree weather the day before to snowing as we left the convention hotel and wandered out to the parking lot. We rushed back to the room where the greenroom for the fashion show was to find it wasn’t setup for us to prepare for the show. It seemed there had been a slight miscommunication and the room was being used for another event. So we sat outside and waited, taking much needed time to eat, before the door was open and we were able to prepare for the show. So many designers (There were 10 of us) including The Camp Site, Belladonna, A. Gato Designs, Ikemen Mode, Hard Decora, The Bloody Tea Party, Cogs & Creatures, Sweet Mildred, Puvithel, and My brand Strawberry Paper Doll.
Everyone was amazing and super pumped for the show. Everything went super smoothly for all the technical issues we had had the day before. It was so quick that after my segment wrapped up I even got to see some of the other designers work! Overall 10/10 would participate again if they held this event.
The Q & A held afterward was lovely as well, if a little cramped for space. It was nice to be able to learn more about my fellow designers and answer questions from folks that were into the fashion or interested to learn more. I feel that with more social media or advertisement this event could have been better attended. I feel like the show itself was well attended but the Q & A was a bit attendance anemic due to being scheduled up against other events such as the Masquerade and other high ticket events.

Overall. To me the work and everything put into those events were a huge success.

We ended up meeting up with my friend Spazzerbot Cosplay and her husband for Dinner at Cadillac Ranch and made some new awesome friends Heather “MCree” and company. We ended up getting food and then they bounced early because they wanted to hit up the formal dance. We finished our dinner and headed back into the convention to attend the final panel of our night “Dressing up with your Significant other” as held by The Camp Site. It was clever and informative. I enjoyed all the examples they had of how to create a cohesive fashion group with friends, partners and even your spouse. I even ended up winning one of the prizes they had at the end. I was super tired. Since we had to drive home we headed out that way but not before bumping back into Spazzerbot and another friend of mine Malika. Malika ended up winning a “best dressed” award at the formal for a lovely blue and gold fairy ensemble she made just for the event. It was a cherry on top of the nice day to see a friend being recognized for their hard work.
We headed home exhausted but ready to rock the next day.

Sunday:
I thought for the longest bit if I didn’t cosplay Friday or Saturday…for sure I would cosplay Sunday!…
Nope….Kigu for Life! I wore my Gatomon kigurumi. For those who do not know, a kigurumi is a pajama onesie that is usually themed like a character or an animal or some other cute marketable thing…(There are even poop themed emoji ones I kid you not). But I made my Gatomon one and knew that since it would be cold, I was just going to rock my Kigu and to heck with cosplaying for this con. We got in for 11am again since many things wouldn’t open till 9-10 anyway and there weren’t any panels we were dying to see. We ended up bumping into my friend Robbie and I invited him to get lunch with us if he was around later and available. After that we made sure to hit up the Merchant’s hall early and check in with my friends I hadn’t yet seen. Ran into Paulina, Consuelo, and Many Worlds Cosplay. We also made our last day purchases, super important to do. We wrapped up that trip and headed out to get lunch before heading home. We got to visit for the last bit of time with Robbie and his wife and then got a coffee before the long walk back to the car….

That was my Katsucon. Thanks to everyone I ran into for saying hi and sorry anyone I missed. There is always next time.

See You Space Cowboy!

Ichigogami

Cosplayer and Teacher of the Costuming Arts. Big fan of having fun at conventions and making memories with friends. You will often find her attending events for J-fashion or Teaching new cosplayers at Studio Cosplay.

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