Katsucon celebrated its 18th birthday this year in the beautiful Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor, Maryland. The con offered its usual three day smorgasbord of panels, guests, and entertainments, including hosting the preliminary competition for the World Cosplay Summit for the first time.
The dealer’s room was full of interesting vendors, including some familiar faces such as Casta Diva, but unlike last year, model kits seemed to have more representation on the shelves.
Artist’s Alley also provided a wide range of anime inspired artists and web comic creators, including Danielle Corsetto of Girls with Slingshots and Randy Mulholland from Something Positive. The McPedro and Choo-Choo Bear plushies they were selling were absolutely adorable. Riki Simmons, who voiced the character Gir from Invader Zim also had a table in Artist’s Alley, and for fans of older anime, Kimagure Orange Road creator Izumi Matsumoto offered beautiful sketches in the alley on Sunday afternoon.
Katsucon’s Rave on Friday night was a lot of fun, featuring a wide range of music. Unfortunately, the acoustics of the venue were not the best since the rave was relocated to the area behind the game room this year, but most of the attendees did not seem to mind. The formal dance was also a great success as Katsucon attendees turned out in beautiful gowns, sarees, costumes, suits, and literal tails to dance to music ranging from Glen Miller to "Party Rock."
The Masquerade started forty-five minutes late, but it featured several really well-done skits, and some gorgeous costumes. This year’s Best-in-Show winner was especially fantastic, featuring a large cast, beautifully recreated costumes, and a skit plot guaranteed to impress anyone who has ever played The Legend of Zelda and the Ocarina of Time. Cirque du Cosplay’s painstaking representation of each stage of the game’s plot met with thunderous applause and a well-deserved Best-in-Show win.
The World Cosplay Summit competitors presented incredible skits as well, and the costumes they constructed for the event featured the phenomenal attention to detail required for competition at this level. As the name implies, the World Cosplay Summit is an international event, featuring teams from over sixteen countries who meet in Nagoya, Japan to compete for the title of Grand Champion. Each country is allowed to send a team of two participants, so competition is steep for the slots. Twenty-two different teams competed for the chance to represent the United States in Nagoya on the Katsucon stage, and the spectacle was incredible.
Competitors pulled from a wide range of elements to create their final product; everything from LED lights to six-foot tall wings graced the stage, and the judges clearly had a difficult choice in determining this year’s winner. A duo going by the collective name "Coconut Bubble Sex Cosplay" will be representing the United States for their Princess Tutu, while Cupcake Cosplay took second place with a beautifully choreographed Ah, My Goddess skit. Best of luck to Diana and Katie in the international competition from all of us here at GiN.
While Katsucon 18 was a great deal of fun, from an organizational standpoint, the con seems to have suffered a bit from trying to do too many things at once. The materials given to attendees were arranged according to the location in which they occurred rather than by time, by subject, or by any other system familiar to con-goers, leading to under-attendance at some panels and over-attendance at others.
Panel space seems to have been at a premium this year as a number of panels that would otherwise have been quite popular were scheduled at unreasonable hours-who’s really going to be up and moving at six a.m. at an anime con? More to the point, most attendees are not going to be willing to attend a gaming panel at four thirty in the morning. Furthermore, significant events and panels, even signings, did not make it onto the program, leading to confusion. Doubtlessly, some of these problems were caused by having an additional multi-hour masquerade event, but with good planning, the effects of having the WCS at the con could have been mitigated.
Fortunately, these issues are comparatively minor, so with a little more planning, Katsucon 19 should be even better. GiN will be there. Will you?