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Katsucon 2007 Report
Writen by Ciello
Posted on March 03, 2007 at 01:30:00 am
Visit the gallery of pictures for this event       

Have you not been to Katsukon yet? Did you miss it? Do you want to go next year? Well then, you might want to read this.

        I can describe Katsucon 13 as nothing less than a smashing success. A quick view of their con forums shows that most other attendees agree! While it isn’t as large as the few other cons I go to, I’ve got to admit I’m already looking forward to next year. Would you like to know why? Well, in the words of Boxy Brown, lemme break it down for ya:


Staff:
        I’ll start here, since the people running the con where what surprised me the most. I have been told by veterans of Katsucon that it has been known for being… curt. I can say that this year, nothing could be farther from the truth. The con staff were friendly, helpful, and everywhere. An information table was set up centrally, right next to a giant map and revised schedule. The staffers there were even set up with radios, and had no problem calling in a question to help out any distressed con-goers. The few events with lines were handled with plenty of staff, and during the masquerade I even saw medical workers walking up the line handing out water to the people waiting in line. That’s above and beyond the call of duty!
        I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Aaron, the head of the game room, to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes. I’ll go into details in the section below on the game room, but to further emphasize the above point: after only a few minutes of talking with him, it was quite obvious that the con’s organizers didn’t just put a lot of work into the weekend’s festivities, but were also incredibly proud in their accomplishment. And with good reason!


Game Room / Dealer’s Room:
        The game room itself was huge, and split into a couple sections. The main section was two large rooms, one containing a complete arcade, and the other containing more TVs and game consoles than you could shake a stick at. For security reasons, you were not allowed to bring any bags into the large game rooms. However, rather then having to run back to your hotel room just so you can get your game on, there was a bag check at the door. This made a lot of people happy, especially after last year when gamers with bags just dropped their stuff in the hallway.
        The arcade was chock full of nostalgia, and I got to play games that I’ve never seen outside of an emulator before. The console room was just as fun, with a healthy selection of multiplayer games that are fit for these kinds of events. However, the buck doesn’t stop with the typical fare (guilty fear, smash melee, etc) Aside from the multiplayer madness, there was also a selection of games meant for exposure’s sake. Here you could try out games like "Resident Evil 4" or "Frequency", and then you’ll discover what you’ve been missing by not having seen them before! The game room’s head tells me that they include ‘sleeper titles’ in their selection for just that reason. Do you have something you’d like to see next year? Then hop on over to the forum and let him know! The game room’s selection is planned way in advance, and they’re always on the lookout for something new to showcase.
        The rest of the game rooms were split up into smaller rooms down the hallway, containing collectible card games and board games. I saw a large number of Munchkin boxes, which is always a welcome sight! There were also games like Settlers of Catan, Illuminati, Carcasonne, and more. Those rooms were far less crowded than the electronic game rooms, but the few people I saw in each all seemed to be having a grand old time. That is, except for the level one Elf in our last munchkin match, that poor guy was getting hosed.
        The dealer’s room also caught me off guard, as I browsed through various tables. Allow me to explain: I live near New York’s chinatown, so most of the items you usually find in a convention’s dealer’s room aren’t terribly exotic from my perspective. Much to my surprise, I found a lot of stuff that isn’t readily available elsewhere. There was enough swag in there to keep someone browsing through it for hours, so whatever your vices are, you won’t be disappointed!


Anime Viewings:
        What’s the major point of an anime convention? The anime screening room, of course! Katsu had three rooms showing stuff simultaneously. There seemed to be a good mix of older and newer shows, and while those who follow fansubs with zeal might not be terribly surprised at the selection, there was usually something there to catch your interest. I even discovered a couple shows I hadn’t heard of before, which is always a nice surprise. Check out Nerima Daikon Brothers, if you dare. It also helped that the con was 24 hours, so screenings would be running all night and all morning for those of you who think sleep is for the pansies.


24 hours, food, and hotel:
        Did I mention that the con is 24 hours yet? Yes? Good. Because that’s awesome and it needs to be said. Having the whole event situated in one hotel means that you never get kicked out for closing, and if you’ve got a hotel room in the actual hotel (rather than one of the cheaper hotels nearby) you won’t have to go out in the cold except for some non-delivery food. The hotel itself is quite a nice place. It’s kept clean, and while they did remove all the furniture in the lobby this year, it’s certainly a pleasant place to spend the weekend. They even have a pool and spa hidden away on the lower level.
        By the way, ‘Little India’ is my new favorite Indian restaurant, and it saddens me that the guy had to go establish his business in another state than the one I live in. If you like Indian food and you plan on going to Katsucon 2008, plan on visiting this place. The guy who runs it is not only incredibly nice, but an excellent chef.


Masquerade:
        This is actually the first time I’ve seen a masquerade at Katsucon, and it was quite a show! The skits were well put together (by con standards, at least) and the crowd really got into it. The MC, dressed up as Jack Sparrow, also did a great job. If you’ve seen any con masquerades before, then you’re used to delays between various skits. With 16 different groups of people using the same equipment, a ‘technical difficulty’ or two is practically guaranteed. This show was no exception, but banter between Jack Sparrow and the bodiless voice of the Tech crew over the loud speakers (aka the voice of god) made for some funny times while we waited for the next show.

The skits themselves were as follows:
  • “Over the Sky”, performed by a group of excellently dressed Last Exile cosplayers. Seriously, the costumes were great. The song was a difficult one to perform, and it appeared that the flute’s mic wasn’t set up correctly, so the music didn’t come out as awesome as was intended. But man, those costumes were great. I wish they had received an award for that.
  • A Valkerie Profile II skit. My memory fails me on this one.
  • House of Flying Daggers skit- I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve seen this scene before.. There’s a blind girl standing in the middle of a circle of drums, as a guy throws little beads off each. She’s able to hit each with her super-long sleves while not breaking her dance. In this skit, that scene was replicated by Hsien-ko (of Darkstalker fame), complete with her giant claws. Well done!
  • A Daily show spoof about filler and the US difference in anime. It was pretty creative.
  • an FFX-2 singing skit.
  • A Pokemon skit as a parody of those Mac versus PC commercials. Team rocket was “team PC” and Ash was the mac guy. It was a great idea, and they even got a blue screen of death to show up as team PC started “booting up again.” I really liked this one.
  • Dead or alive fighting skit. After seeing a bunch of lame battle skits in other cons, it was refreshing to see 4 people come out with what appeared to be a competent understanding of martial arts. The fight was well timed and even had somewhat of a story to it. Another one of my favorites for the night!
  • “Ask Anime Sensei” skit. This one was a cute skit about what anime would be like if it were dubbed in L33+5p34K. It was a good idea, but a little awkward in its presentation. They had an adorable little cosplayer as part of the skit, so the cuteness overpowered the awkward.
  • “FFX Sending Dance” skit, a straight take from Yuna’s dancing scene in FFX. It was well done, and yuna’s costume was incredibly detailed. I have to admit, from the audience’s view, the skit wasn’t very visually appealing. There was a whole team of people doing special effects (the souls rising from a turbulent water, for example), and they were pretty distracting from the center of the performance. However, this skit won one of the awards, and I can’t disagree with the judge’s reasoning. While essentially a one-person skit, a whole team had bonded together to make it happen. I can appreciate that kind of teamwork.
  • A Sakura Wars dance sequence. This one won a couple awards, I believe. I haven’t seen the game/anime, so the reference is lost on me, but the dancing was well done, they had a costume change that was pulled off pretty well, the costumes themselves were cool, and they made it look fun (despite a couple technical snags that must have been very daunting while up on the stage) Bravo, I say. Bravo!
  • Anime Jeopardy- apparently this was their second year running this skit. There were funny parts, but some of the jokes were hard to hear and I couldn’t tell if some parts were adlibbed or planned. But they had Sean Connery in there, and that’s all you need for celebrity jeopardy.
  • Gate Baby Magic- and FMA skit that crossed a bleach death god and the full metal brothers. Apparently, Al was about to get soul reaped but was saved on a licensing technicality by Viz media’s contract. It was a good idea, but the skit’s pacing was a little jumpy at times.
  • Pirate fighting amongst each other skit- This one I’m not sure what to say. Its tagline was that pirates should stop fighting amongst each other and all they need is a good verbal lashing, but the skit appeared to be nothing more than a mostly adlibbed rank-out fest where Captain Shanks went around harassing the One Piece crew. Meh.
  • Kingdom Hearts Dance to Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. Considering how emo KH2 is, I thought this was hilarious. And the dancing was really fun to watch, too. I never thought I’d say this, but I really enjoyed that KH2 skit.
  • Castlevania Goth-off- This was a truly epic dance skit. I forget the premise behind it, I think Alucard’s gothness was called into question. Whatever the story was, it erupted into a dance number that was very closely mirrored by an actual *music video* of the same dancers on the back screen. It came complete with a dead girl rising from her coffin at the climax. It was incredibly cool.
  • FF6 boss battle. Much in the same feel of the previous skit, this was an epic dance number, wordless, and timed to a dramatic orchestra piece. It included a couple summons and esper-terra, as well as all characters in their original Amano art style. The costumes were nearly breathtaking, and I always rejoice when I see a Locke cosplayer. It was a good skit to end with, and anyone who played FF6 can appreciate it.

After the masquerade were the awards and the fashion show. See our picture gallery here for photos of that. Some pretty nifty costumes to be had (they’re towards the end of the gallery).


AMV Contest:
        I watched the whole AMV contest, and didn’t realize that three hours had passed until it ended. A long contest, for sure, but an enjoyable one! There were 5 categories, and unlike other cons that make you wait until the end for the happy/upbeat ones, the AMV organizers mixed it up. It was a tremendous kindness, so thank you!
        The five categories were Action, Romance, Upbeat, Drama, and Comedy. They were shown in that order, and even though I’m partial to the comedy and upbeat ones, each category had at least one that I really liked. Once the winners are posted on their forums, I strongly recommend you check them out! Especially look for “The Confrontation” by Studio Eve or “Obey the Fist” by Anneke.
        Also, each category had sort of an interlude, where katsu staff made sort of a mini-amv to go with each title heading. Those were as good as the AMVs!

Peelander Z
        I had no idea who these guys where beforehand, but I saw their picture in the con’s magazine and decided I had to see what they were going to do. I wasn’t disappointed. I came late into their concert, only to see the lead singer playing his guitar one-handed while using the other hand to bop people on the head with a giant mallet.
        At several points during the show, they would stop playing long enough to throw valentines day candy at the audience, or to play mock baseball while trying to hit t-shirt balls out towards the crowd. A couple times they had audience members up on the stage, (giving each instrument to a member who claimed to know how to play it) and just plain ran amok in the concert hall.
        It had to be one of the most bizarre shows I’ve ever been to, and defiantly one of the most amusing ones. I don’t think 5 minutes went by without me busting into laughter at one of their antics. The room was also not nearly as packed as I was expecting it to be, so you could get as close as you wanted to all the action, if you felt brave enough to attempt it!

Reelay for Life Benefit Auction
        The last event that I attended for the con was the "Relay for Life" cancer research benefit auction. Artists, dealers, and outside companies all banded together to donate a big heap of swag. Everything there was auctioned off with all proceeds going straight to the research fund. One of the con's leaders, known as "Sir James" was the auctioneer for the event, and this guy showed up in full plate armor to start off the ceremonies. He kept everyone amused and warmed our hearts at the same time. I couldn't think of a better way to end the weekend.
        Especially in light of the recent cancer-benefit fraud with Animeff and its creator Aaron Ecker, I take an almost fierce pride in the success of Katuscon's benefit auction. I hope they do this again next year! Some of the highlight items were a World of Warcraft special edition (and autographed) game box, an Inuyahsa animation cell that I believe was signed by Kirby Morrow, several posters from the Iron artist competition, various decorative blades, DVDs, T-shirts, autographed webcomic books, the cutest little stone panda you've ever seen, and even a couple blizzard employee christmas ornaments. Probobly the biggest surprise was an applegeeks poster that sold for over two hundred dollars. Thanks Hawk!

Final Thoughts:
        Anyway, to wrap this up, Katsucon is pretty fun. If you have an easy way to get to DC, you’ve got an easy way to get to one of the most enjoyable cons of the east cost. It’s small enough to be fun and personable, yet large enough to keep you entertained the whole weekend through. And now, without further ado, the final breakdown:



Overall Score:
Location [10/10]
The con is easy to travel to, and centrally located on the east coast. Once you get there, it’s 24 hours a day. That’s hard to beat.
Cosplay [8/10]
A lot of costumes, and surprisingly enough, they were varied! They were well done and there were plenty of areas to snag some quality pictures.
Masquerade [10/10]
Sure, some of the skits were awkward, but I don’t think it’s possible to have an anime con masquerade without at least one blunder, so this gets a ten. A lot of effort was put into the show, the announcer (and his tech crew opponents) were very entertaining, and there were some fairly epic acts.
Events [7/10]
The events were enjoyable, especially the AMV contest. Some of the panels were cancelled and I met a few veteran con attendees who were hoping for more events to check out. There’s room for improvement, but you certainly won’t be bored.
Con Organization [10/10]
The Katsu staff seemed very polite and helpful, and the crowd control was handled with artistic precision. Of course, there were a couple exceptions, but this ship was tightly run. Can’t really ask for more than that!


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