This year’s Sakura-Con was a blast, just like it was last year. Last year’s focus was on Madoka Magica, while this year it was Sword Art Online. I was surprised I didn’t see as much Kirino and Asuna cosplayers as I expected there would be. I didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time taking photographs of cosplayers, as I spent a lot of time attending panels, and getting autographs.
I actually arrived in Seattle a day early so that my friends and I could tour Seattle a bit, and pick up our passes at a leisure pace. It cost an extra hotel night, but was worth it to not have to rush right to the con after arriving in the city.
One of the places we was the Seattle Public Market at the end of Pike Street. It’s much like the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, but multi-levelled, with a bit more heritage in it. This is also where the very first Starbucks opened. A great place to tour.
Since I have been to Seattle before recently, I was sort of the tour guide for this trip, and suggested we try the Crab Pot. Last time I was here, the wait time was over an hour. This time, since we were pretty early, and it was a weekday, wait time was only 20 minutes. Still a fairly long time, relatively speaking, but this was one of those touristy places that everyone recommends.
My friend ordered the Seafood Cioppino, which came in a bread bowl and was topped with half a crab. This restaurant did not disappoint. They have a Crab, Crab, Crab combo with three different varieties of crab. They basically put a large mat on your table, and just drop a mountain of food on the mat, give you a mallet, and a big steel bucket for the shells and discards.
I don’t know how it started, but one very interesting feature in Seattle is the Wall of Gum. This is only a partial view. You’ll find better pictures on the web. I’m not sure who started it, but it’s interesting because it’s like a world-wide community art piece that anyone can contribute to. This wall can only grow as more gum is added from all around the world.
I have to say, the magic of large-scale anime conventions just can’t be topped compared to the smaller ones in my local home town of Vancouver. There were lots of moments where I wasn’t sure if I was experiencing a sugar high from all the “emergency hydration supplies” of sucrose fructose beverages, or the incredible energy around me. The headiness was definitely not from any surrounding body odors of unbathed otaku, as this was not Comiket. This was a place of gathering. This was a sanctuary for otaku to feel accepted, and at ease with their fellow like-minded groups. While many of us didn’t know each other, we all shared that common bond and energy.
There were only short times where I sat down in the connecting atrium between the convention area and the massive Dealer’s Area, watching as people stopped and posed for photos, while others rushed by, heading to wherever they were heading.
Having press access has its perks, as I was able to traverse to any part of the convention, and participate in any of the events without obstruction. Of course, there is reason for that, being the responsibility to utilize this privilege to provide readers such as yourself, coverage of the convention.
I should have documented my time earlier, as now, those memories are slowly fading from me, with all that remains are these photos.
On the first day of the convention, people were lined up at the door to the dealer’s hall, waiting for it to open. As a press goer, I was free to wander in before anyone else, and take photos of people setting up their things and getting ready. As a perk, I made a couple of early purchases right off the bat.
It was actually rather interesting seeing the dealer’s hall so quiet with nobody around, the only sounds were the staff bustling about.
An opportunity to get a clear photo of the cosplayers at the Aniplex booth. Interesting how the official SAO costume doesn’t quite measure up to some of the fan-made ones in some aspects.
Pardon the grainy shot – this is a zoom-in of the Haruna Luna poster hanging on the wall behind the Aniplex booth. I suppose I could have asked the staff if I could step behind the table to the back to get a clearer picture…
There were only a very small number of exhibitors with open display of figures. I took the opportunity to snap a couple of shots while the hall was still empty.
I wish this massive SAO poster was for sale. This towering two meter setup would have been impossible to take with attendees swarming around. A smaller wall scroll version of this was available for purchase exclusively at the Aniplex booth merchandise area. I noticed the news on the back of the Sakura-Con convention guide book, and knew that a large number of people who were lining up outside were here to get this poster. I was right. I had come in to scout around the hall and basically find out where to guide my friends to line-up for this rare wall scroll. When the doors were about to open, I rushed back out to the entrance to meet my friends, and we made a b-line right to the booth. I seriously wished I had the opportunity to photograph/video record this happening from the inside as people zerg rushed in!
More goods for purchase.
A towering supply of merchandise, most of which I didn’t get a chance to look at.
The Artist Alley still undergoing set-up. Everyone was pretty close to being ready though.
There were approximately 6 rows of artists setting up and selling their goods. One of my friends, Rich was among them. He told me that signing up for the artist alley was a first come first serve basis online. Rich had deliberately streamlined his sign up process, and was able to complete the application within minutes after the sign up opened. And even then, he was immediately put on waiting list. Faaaar faaaar down the waiting list. Fortunately, as time passed, more and more artists dropped out (probably prior commitments, were trying to sell the space but nobody was interested, or whatever reason) and eventually he made it into the short list.
More setting up. Some fo the artists’ works were amazing, while others, I don’t even know why they were there.
This girl was the winner of the Sakura-Con 2013 mascot competition, and she was wearing the cosplay to boot! That’s super awesome!
One of the first photos I took of cosplayers while at Sakura-Con. It seems that these three characters will remain fairly timeless.
A close-up of the Sephoroth cosplayer seems to show the age difference and how it’s perfectly acceptable to cosplay at any age if you enjoy it, and are able to pull it off.
Tifa looks pretty good here too! I could probably zoom into her badge to get her name, and add her as a friend on facebook if I wanted to, but that would just be creepy.
Two of my favorite P4 characters right now. (I’m not very far in the game yet). While these figures look cute, I would never buy them myself. They’re too small for my collection tastes.
Wandering at the edge of the Artist’s Alley, I noticed something peculiar, and familiar – it was CDS’ “Starry Night” doujin. I was quite surprised! I never expected to see CDS’ work appear State side. I inquired the exhibitor and learned that CDS’ manager KC, had contacted them and asked for them to distribute it. I didn’t pry too much into the details, as it is a private agreement between two companies, but I did get more details on what this company did, which was distribute manga from indie artists and doujin groups through their channels, which so far consists of only conventions. I contacted KC afterwards and we had a brief discussion.
I flipped to my artwork, and showed the exhibitor. I think doing this enabled her to talk to me a bit more and reveal more details than what normally would be given.
More P4 cosplay! She was browsing one of the exhibitor booths when I noticed her, and just had to take a picture. As I took this photo, I found it interesting how some people who are extremely shy or socially awkward, find difficulty in asking a girl for a photo. It seems also that a key factor in this, as well as any sort of follow-up interactions, is to not seem like a creep. Basically, be a normal person, which from what I’ve noticed at anime conventions, is difficult for some people to do.
My friend Lisha’s artwork. She has A LOT of artwork, which she claims is from a decade of work. Check out Lisha’s artwork on pixiv!
Here she is making a sale.
While wandering randomly at the con, I discovered an older lady standing around, with this magnificent print propped on the wall. Turns out that it was a print up for auction at the charity art auction. She was the lucky winner of the auction at a good price too (I can’t remember what the price was, but it was good). She told me how her daughter and grand daughter were here, and she was just waiting for them. The grand daughter is only a baby, and she explained how difficult it is bringing a baby to a convention. You have to constantly keep moving, because when you stop, the child can get easily bored, or whiny. I never really thought about that before – a parent deciding not to choose whether or not to go to a convention or stay home to take care the the child, but to bring the child with her. While it may be difficult, the only other option would be to find someone to take care of the baby for a couple of days. The sacrifices one makes for what they love…
In the evening, a concert was held by Haruna Luna and Eir Aoi. I’ve got more pictures of the entire concert here.
End of our first night, and it was getting late, we did what all anime convention goers did when they were tired – watch anime.
More SAO. I recognize this girl as an employee of Sankaku Complex. She was one of the ones that interviewed Gen with me from last year’s Sakura-Con.
Psycho-Pass. The ceiling lighting worked quite well for this pose and perspective.
Doesn’t surprise me to see Minecraft cosplay. But I do like the Yuna cosplay over there.
This was one of the many line-ups for getting autographs.
No idea who they are. Can anyone enlighten me?
Four random dudes pose, showing their new acquisitions while the ink of the autographs were still drying. That wall scroll on the very left was the exclusive one I was talking about. I plan to sell it, btw if anyone is interested.
There’s Reki Kawahara doing his thing.
No idea what this is, but it could also be a trap.
More Reki, signing a poster of significance.
The official cosplayers got their stuff signed too! This girl is a cutie! 🙂
And here’s my signed goods!
A close up of my autograph. This poster is now considered rare, since it was a Sakura-Con exclusive. In addition, having this autograph should make it worth a fair bit of coin. Now the question is, should I keep it? Or should I sell it?
After the autograph session, press members got an exclusive photo op session with Reki and all the official cosplayers. I did this last year too with Gen and company (though I didn’t post it here). Even though this was the second time doing this for me, I still couldn’t shake this eerie weird feeling I had about the whole thing as we all quietly snapped away. Not a word was really spoken, and for the most part, the press were whispering with each other as we shot. I found myself whispering to Andrew (sutoraiku anime) as we took our photos.
Since many of us were all over the place, nobody really knew which direction to look. I think I should have taken more shots, but I’m glad that there was this photo that turned out good.
Here’s a photo of Haruna Luna and Eir Aoi doing something cute. I’m not sure why they chose this room to do the panel, as the lighting was absolutely terrible. The fact that I managed to get a fairly non-blurry shot is a miracle. Being press, I had front row, so that proved to be an advantage when taking these photos (since zooming in with the lens significantly lowers the amount of light the camera can take, which means lowering the shutter speed to increase exposure, but can result in blurry photos).
The questions asked were almost entirely pre-defined from Aniplex, so I didn’t bother recording it, as it’s probably not new information, and it seemed really boring anyway.
I’m not sure if these girls are cosplaying any particular characters. I can only fathom a guess that it’s Dynasty Warriors or some Chinese themed MMO, but I highly doubt it. Still, the costumes looked very elaborate and beautiful.
The super adorbs Haruna Luna giving out autographs.
Here’s my Haruna Luna autographed CD!
And here’s my Eir Aoi autographed CD! I really like her signature!
A random cosplayer dressed as Skyward Sword Zelda. Probably the best looking one out of the group of many cosplayers, with a brilliant smile too!
One of Lisha’s quick portrait drawings of a customer.
Some Code Geass love!
My friend (M) and (K), as well as their friend (A). All three beauties started up a joint cosplay page on facebook. Look them up! 🙂
Friend of mine, (K) and her friends dress up on the second day. Very pretty!
The cakes and whatnot are glued to the serving tray, and I’m assuming there is also a strap underneath to prevent it from flying out of their hands if they get knocked into. But, it’s still a comedic effect. There’s a picture of (K) somewhere with a person cosplaying an arcade unit. The way she holds the joystick is pro-style (like holding a wineglass).
A candid shot that turned into a pretty good one.
One other reason I go to conventions is to check out other peoples’ artwork, and possibly make new friends. Depending on how the conversation goes, I offer suggestions to their work, or see if there is any way to help them get further in their dreams to become a professional artist. At the very least, I take a moment to look through their porfolio, shake their hand, and get a business card. It’s very interesting to hear their stories, and what inspires them to do what they do. It certainly goes a lot deeper than “making money”, and every story is unique. This is artwork done by a new friend of mine, Aleks. Check out here artwork on deviantart!
Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service! I am hoping to find one Kiki at each convention I attend. She’s easy to cosplay, and easy to recognize. I don’t know why so few people cosplay as her.
Very beautiful Kimono versions of Saber and Rin. I did take a close-up shot of these two, but regretted doing so. This distance is prettier, I suppose.
Near the end of the second day, my friend pointed out an attractive Maya (Phoenix Wright) sitting on the side. Her cosplay was extremely well done, so I just had to snap a picture and ask her about it. Turns out that she is also from around my area. We had a good talk, and said our farewells after. I was actually very surprised at her age considering her appearance and maturity level. She seemed fun to talk to, so perhaps I’ll see her again at one of the local conventions.
She made the costume herself, which is super ultra awesome. (and considering the material quality, probably not cheap!)
This bad-ass version of Captain America would have been a great spin/take on a reboot. I decided to have a conversation with this man as well. He made the costume himself, and has spent a fair bit of money on the materials. He also has other costumes such as a Darth Batman which he had also been working on. His wife is okay with him cosplaying and building his costumes, but isn’t happy with the money that he’s put into it. Well, everyone’s got a hobby!
Captain Crunch and Captain America. When I saw Captain Crunch nearby, I just had to grab him and ask him to take a photo with the Captain America.
“Cap’n…” they said to each other.
After the awesome concert, the following day Haruna Luna and Eir Aoi did a photo op for their fans. Unfortunately, only those that managed to nab a T-shirt were allowed to sit with these angels.
After that, autographed posters were raffled out to those that bought their CDs (which I did buy, but didn’t win).
This about covers my coverage of Sakura-Con 2013. Hopefully, I will be attending next year’s as well! Maybe I’ll see you there!