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Con Report: Katsucon 2012

2012.03.01

Emmacchi and I went to Katsucon the weekend of February 17th at the National Harbor in Maryland. The National Harbor is a 300 acre resort town that was built on the shores of the Potomac in Prince George’s County, just south of Washington D.C.  It is an interestingly built-up area that is sort of plopped in the middle of nowhere but is super convenient for convention goers! The con took place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center which is a convention center as well as a hotel. It is very expensive however, so we stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites which is literally just across the street. The area has a number of restaurants and pretty much everything you need to have a great con experience!

National Harbor

Two of our friends, blurryeyes and rootboy, joined us as hotel roommates and cosplay buddies.  In fact, it was blurryeyes’ invitation that brought us down to Katsucon in the first place, and we’re very grateful!

Katsucon this year was very special. It was one of the locations of the World Cosplay Summit. The World Cosplay Summit is a cosplay competition that has preliminaries all over the world for a final competition in Japan. The competition is a two day event which starts with a parade and the second day is the main event. It is much more difficult than any individual convention masquerade and MUST be costumes from Japanese culture. The competition takes place in Higashi-ku, Nagoya, Japan. As a result, we were really excited to see some amazing cosplays at this convention.

Friday:

We arrived a little late on Friday, but after checking in to the hotel (and helping Emmacchi cover herself in make-up), we managed to find time to premiere our Prince Lir and Lady Amalthea costumes!

Unicorn and Lir

Hazard as Prince Lir, Emmacchi as Lady Amalthea.

Emmacchi made both of these costumes for our Halloween party this past year, and Katsucon marked our first time wearing them at an actual convention.  They’re a little difficult to get around in; Emmacchi’s make-up and long wig prevent her from carrying anything, and the faux armor on my shoes makes walking uncomfortable.

Prince Lir

A clearer view of Hazard’s costume, complete with uncooperative boots!

We weren’t the only ones debuting costumes, though:

Homestuck

blurryeyes and rootboy Homestuck-ing it up.  blurryeyes as Jake English, rootboy as Dirk Strider.

blurryeyes’ jacket for this cosplay is really something.  The white “panels” on the sides are actually blinking LED lights, painstakingly wiring and programming the whole coat and cuffs.  The lights don’t show up particularly well in daytime photos, but they’re unmistakable in person!

After taking some pictures in the Gaylord’s lovely atrium garden, I changed into some regular clothes and Emmacchi changed into Lolita style to hit the Artist’s Alley. The main person we were searching for was Michelle Ramon, the founder and designer of Atelier Enchanteur.

Atelier Enchanteur

The lovely Lolita behind Atelier Enchanteur, modeling her Amelia’s Locket JSK.

She is a biology grad from VCU and has created her own Lolita brand! Her prints thus far have all been beautifully designed; Emmacchi is a particular fan of her summer prints featuring sea life themes.  (In fact, Emmacchi was one of her first pre-orders for the Amelia’s Locket print.)  Michelle was nice enough to make a head-bow for Emmacchi that night which we were able to pick up on Sunday!

We also ran into VenusGal, a friend of ours from the Arizona cosplay scene, and her friend Taiga.  We love seeing old friends, as well as making new ones.

Venus and Taiga

Venus as Karina from Tiger & Bunny, and Taiga as Snow White.

Saturday:

In the morning, Emmacchi and I wore Miss All Sunday (Nico Robin) and Mr. Zero (Crocodile) from One Piece to the One Piece meet-up.

One Piece at Katsucon

The One Piece cosplayers Saturday morning at Katsucon.

One Piece at Katsucon

We had a great time meeting up with our friends Chibodee Crocket from Tenpa Kyouran Cosplay (cosplaying Franky) and Falcon Pawnch (cosplaying Brook).  These two guys are comedy gold at every meet-up where we see them:

Franky and Brook

They’ve got an angle on comedy, if you know what I mean.

Miss All Sunday and Mr. Zero is the first pair cosplay Emmacchi and I did, and even though we’ve worn them to many conventions, we always have a great time.

Mr. Zero and Miss All Sunday

Leaving the One Piece shoot, we ran into Venus, who was debuting her new costume: Eleven from the series Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro:

Eleven

Venus as the melty, marvelous Eleven.

We all rushed over to the Tiger & Bunny gathering to grab some photos of blurryeyes and rootboy, who were cosplaying the series’ two titular heroes.

Tiger & Bunny Group

Tiger & Bunny Heroes

Cosplayers cosplaying heroes in their hero costumes!  It’s costume-ception!

In case you haven’t guessed, the Gaylord is a cosplayer’s paradise, and a photographer’s as well; it was so easy to take beautifully-lit photos against the lovely white architecture.  Emmacchi had to grab a few shots of blurryeyes and rootboy before we headed off to our next event.

Tiger & Bunny

blurryeyes as Barnaby Brooks, Jr. and rootboy as Kotetsu T. Kaburagi.

Bunny

Bunny and his bunny!  (Fact: One of these bunnies was autographed by the creator of Tiger & Bunny!)

Photographers were out in force at Katsucon, and while we all go our photos taken a number of times, there was one photographer whose work really stood out: Joseph Chi Lin.  He took two photos (one of me and one of Emmacchi) that are really remarkable:

Crocodile

Miss All Sunday

Aren’t they something?  He’s got a magic camera, clearly!

After all the photos, we went back to the room and changed into our Umineko No Naku Koro Ni costumes, Ushiromiya Battler (Hazard) and Eva-Beatrice (Emmacchi). Meanwhile, blurryeyes and rootboy changed back into their Homestuck cosplays, Jake English and Dirk Strider, and we all went out to the Homestuck photo shoot.

There was what can only be described as a horde of Homestuck cosplayers at this photo shoot. After filling the atrium we were forced to move outside due to the sheer number of people in costume. A lead person from the forums was there and a video was made of everyone saying hello to Andrew Hussie, the creator of MS Paint Adventures. The photo shoot was led very well. The only problems were all attributable to the sheer size of the photo shoot (which lasted for at least a few hours).

Homestuck at Katsucon

This photo captured only a fraction of the cosplayers gathered at this meet-up.

Emmacchi, Chibodee Crocket, and Venusgal all left early on in the photo shoot to go get some food, and to get in line for the Masquerade while I stayed with blurryeyes and rootboy to finish up. We ended up leaving about halfway through the photo shoot since we wanted to get into the Masquerade and actually ended up beating the others there.

The Masquerade was not as exciting as we’d hoped it would be (though many of the best cosplayers competing in the WCS competition later that evening, this shouldn’t have been surprising).  Our friends at Level Up Cosplay performed a cute and well-choreographed K-Pop skit, and walked home with the award for Best in Master Class.  Other than that, there were a few decent skits and a really fantastic Legend of Zelda skit, which deservedly won Best In Show.  American Cosplay Paradise filmed the Masquerade and shared the videos online here.

Following the Masquerade, we decided to take a break and unfortunately didn’t get into the World Cosplay Summit Masquerade.  We did check out the skits later, though, and you can do the same right here.

What we DID do that night was go to a midnight photo shoot and tea party for Umineko! There were some great cosplays there, and the setting was gorgeous.  This has apparently been an annual event at Katsucon for some time, and it was so much fun, we’ll definitely want to go again.

Umineko at Katsucon

Battlers and Beatrice

Accusations flew with Beatrice and TWO Battlers!  (Hazard on the right.)

Eva and Her Furniture

Eva-Beatrice and her furniture.

After taking a bunch of photos, we gathered in a circle for iced tea and cookies.  We don’t often get time to really socialize with other cosplayers at meet-ups, so this was a really nice change.  We ended up spending some time talking with Ichigo Kitty of IchigoKitty Cosplay, who was wearing an amazing Dlanor A. Knox cosplay.  Sometimes it can be intimidating talking to famous cosplayers, but she’s really friendly (and hilariously funny)!

Besides, breaking the ice is easy when everyone is wearing classy moustaches:

Classy Staches

Magical moustaches are extra classy.

Fantastic Staches

Fantastic staches modeled by Ichigo Kitty and Alli.

One Class Act

Without question, this is the best photo we took all weekend.

Sunday:

We took it easy on Sunday, spending most our time checking out the Dealer’s Room and the Artist Alley. I picked up some awesome Tiger & Bunny pins for blurryeyes and rootboy, and some Gintama pins for myself and Emmacchi. Nothing really caught my eye in the Dealer’s Room but it was refreshingly spread out to prevent major traffic jams. We picked up Emmacchi’s head bow at Atelier Enchanteur’s booth in the Artist Alley before we got some lunch and hit the road.

Conclusions:

Hazard: I had a great time at Katsucon and regret that I didn’t have time to go to any panels. I will definitely be going back again, if only to take advantage of the Gaylord’s beautiful garden area for photo shoots. I heard from blurryeyes that the AMV contest was pretty mediocre so I may pass on that the next time I go, even though I usually make it a priority.

Emmacchi: Schoolwork kept me pretty busy during the semester, and I was worried that going to Katsucon might have been a mistake, but I’m so glad we went!  The Gaylord is beautiful, and the cosplay scene is unparalleled on the East Coast.  We had a great time seeing our friends and taking photos.  My only regret is that we weren’t able to attend many of the convention programming.  We’ll have an opportunity to rectify this next year, because we will definitely be returning for Katsucon 2013.

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