Zenkaikon 2022: A Con Season Kickoff With a Side of Donuts!

After a three year hiatus due to COVID, Zenkaikon held its 2022 event in the Lancaster County Convention Center. Many attendees came as early as Thursday, excited to start the event.

Lancaster is located in South Pennsylvania. It is a quaint area with plenty of food options to choose from and even a few nerdy stores to browse during down time. The farmer’s market is one of my personal favorite places to stop by–and is right across the street from the convention center.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the popular maple bacon donuts which are a favorite among attendees.But before I ramble on about food, let’s get right into the review!

I arrived on Thursday night, amazed by the expansion of the center. The construction modernized the hotel rooms and added more rooms and space to roam within the Marriott. Two additional elevators were also added. Despite the expansion,  reservations for hotels still sold out quickly back when the room block was available.

I enjoyed dinner at Decades, a bowling alley, restaurant, and arcade. Staff offered complimentary tokens that night. I was excited to see an arcade version of Mario Kart and plan on coming back next year.  Local businesses know of the convention and I always get happy to see Zenkaikon encourage supporting them and vice versa.

My experience at Zenkaikon this year was brief, yet fun. I find myself getting into the habit of making  frequent trips to the gaming room. The gaming room received a wonderful upgrade. In the past, the room consisted of almost all console games. I was delighted to  come across arcade cabinets with racing games such as F-Zero and thrilled to see rhythm games, from DDR to Project Diva, and an intriguing game called Q-Beat. The gaming room has grown over the years–and I am proud of how it’s improved!

Another great point was how the artist alley and dealers room were combined in one location. There were familiar artists that were lovely to see again. As a long term attendee, it makes me happy to see artists grow as business owners and artists, expanding their tables and selection, and making their craft even better as years go on.

The Carolina Manga library was another highlight. The volunteers running this were lovely– and also understanding about the need for a quiet space to get away from the hustle and bustle of the event. The Manga Library had a wonderful collection and also had a few options to donate or purchase merchandise to support the organization. I picked up a  unicorn themed glitter jar, a cute(and sparkly) item that is quite calming! If you’re ever at a con and there is a manga library of some kind, definitely stop by if you need a break.

As for aspects that could be improved for the event, I think that there may be clarification needed for cosplay policies and rules, especially on safety.

Safety with any con is important, but I think approaches and enforcement of this aspect is just as critical. There was an increased security presence, something new this year.Badges were also checked a bit more than years prior. Both security checks and additional enforcements went well overall, but some attendees seemed a bit confused about policies due to the way they were phrased online.

Signage was excellent throughout the event and in key areas such as the Dealer’s Room. Attendees were reminded to wear masks and the convention checked vaccination cards during registration.

There were plenty of cosplayers walking on the convention floor. Demon Slayer and Genshin Impact seem to be quite popular choices among attendees. As always, I love looking at different interpretations of characters. I cosplayed as Cafe Ichigo for the con–a rare instance where I had brought just one cosplay at an event.  My own experience cosplaying wasn’t the focal point of the convention. Sure,my walk on the con floor as Cafe Ichigo did have some great highlights, such as meeting other fans of the show and even seeing someone as the magical girl version of Ichigo! But most of all, I think it was partially a reflection on how I view conventions and even how my role at events might be changing. And don’t worry: this change is a good thing!

Part of why I write blog posts is to help give feedback to conventions, both constructive and positive. But I also really enjoy helping attendees who may feel lost or need an extra hand. I want to make people feel welcome, guide them. I know how it feels to be judged for being a little ‘different.’ But there’s thousands of fans out there–Zenkaikon’s last event, after all, had over 5,000 people! Going to cons makes me recognize that there’s people out there who like the same things I do and they aren’t too far away.

It still feels weird to be back and for con season to officially begin.The con had its wonderful moments and some tough ones. But it makes me feel more determined to put myself out there. My friends  were very supportive of me and I’m grateful for their advice. This type of support ,whether it be acquaintances or friends, is a big reason why I go to these events. Okay, maybe also so I can play an excessive amount of rhythm games, too.



CinnaKnight has been in the convention-scene for over a decade! C.K. runs on candy, coffee, and sometimes ...chaos! She's an avid writer, foodie, and a big fan of the Kirby franchise. She will also remind you to hydrate and almost always has safety pins and Advil handy.

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