Written By: Johnny
Katsucon was last weekend and boy was it a blast. It was my first anime convention, but as a tested Otaku (DOAT Ep 6: Otaku Bell) it felt like going home. I was excited to be able to attend the con but due to overscheduling I was only able to go on Saturday. We wanted to make the most of our day so we left Philadelphia at 6 am heading south on I-95 towards Washington DC and the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center; turning around after only one exit because my fiancee forgot her phone. We arrived just after 9 and walk a quarter mile in the blistering cold towards the hotel.
We arrive in the lobby and immediately notice ALL THE COSPLAYERS. I completely underestimated how serious cosplay was taken at Katsucon, even under the warning there would be 1000 Eevees there on Saturday. After registering our press passes we take a look around the resort. It is a huge enclosed lobby with conference rooms and convention halls designed for panels and merchant areas on either side. Three stories encased under a glass ceiling with gardens and storefronts mocking a small village on the bottom floor. Almost every inch of it crawling with Anime and Video game characters ranging from (A)kame Ga Kill to Dragon Ball (Z). The majority of con goers were in cosplay, I estimated around 60% of them on Saturday.
After exploring the venue a bit we ventured into Artist Alley and I bought some Legend of Zelda Art (below). After walking through the alley for a while we got in a super long line to enter the merchant floor which didn’t opened until 10:30, unfortunately press passes couldn’t help us jump ahead. At 12:30 we go to our first panel, Voice Acting Reality Check Panel hosted by Jaime Marchi, featuring Austin Tindle, Kyle Hebert, Krystal LaPorte, Chris Ayres, Erica Mendez, J. Michael Tatum, Todd Haberkorn, Bill Rogers, and more! The panel was designed to show the issues that face the average voice actor but just as it was getting under way, it was cut short. The panel, the convention, and the entire Hotel had to be evacuated because of an actual fire! Firefighters showed up and saved the day but I couldn’t help observe Cosplayers dressed as Master Chief from Halo in armor designed to look like Captain America and Iron Man standing idly by. My Fiancee and I went to our car to warm up and shield us from the bitter cold. After we got the all clear we went back inside to eat and have a couple beers at the National Past Time Bar and Grill. We got patio seating which was fantastic because it gave us a front row seat to amazing cosplay.
After our meal we got to meet and interview Todd Haberkorn and Chris Ayres. These interviews can be found on DOAT Ep 59: Katsucon 2016. They were both fantastic and although I created very silly, non probing questions they handled them wonderfully. Todd is a fantastic voice actor and voice to one of my favorite characters, Natsu Dragneel from Fairy Tail. Chris Ayres was a generous guest willing to even get into character as one of the most sinister space emperors, Frieza, and give us a clip for our show. I have to admit, I was very nervous; these were my first celebrity interviews. After the interviews I ran into one of my favorite voice actors, Kyle Hebert, who was hanging out after a Space Dandy Panel. Kyle was an absolute Gentleman, and I’m so happy he let me interview him amongst the crowd.
After 12 hours of exploring and experiencing; we drove back to Philly. To paraphrase Agent Phil Coulson, ‘Conventions are a magical place.’ They turn a large building into a space filled with wonder and excitement for a few days and it is gone in an instant. In this day and age, Nerds rule the world; but so few people I know have ever made it to a comic con or anime con. They’re all around us, not just in San Diego in July. So I urge to find one near you, and go. It is so worth it. As for Katsucon, its one of the best cons I’ve been to and I can’t wait to go again next year.