As many of you might already know, Sakura-Con is the largest anime-related convention in the Pacific Northwest. Very cool Guest of Honors, panels and fellow cosplayers whom may satisfy your thirst for anime and Japanese culture. In simple words; if you love anime, you can’t go wrong with Sakura-Con.
If you’ve read our past event coverages, we’ve concentrated on hot cosplayers and then some. This year, we’ve decided to try something different. Hot cosplayers are nice, but this year we decided to actually attend some of the panels to get the full effect of Sakura-Con. Before we jump into our article, we would like to give special thanks to Jessica, the press coordinator of Sakura-Con for making this coverage possible at such short notice.
ClassicMoments: Opening ceremonies was cheerful and exciting as usual. One of my favorite part was the performance by the Evergreen Glee Club. The idea of a choir singing nostalgic anime theme songs isn’t much new to me since I watch a couple of Korean variety shows, but nonetheless, it was my first time ever to experience anime theme music by a live chorus, and I think Evergreen Glee Club did more than what I’d expect from the Sakura-Con opening ceremonies. Too bad I was only one of few old fans who actually recognized these classic anime tunes to appreciate it.
Philosophy: What a great start to the con! Minus the technical difficulties that always pepper these kind of events (sound problems, schedule hiccups), the opening ceremonies not only introduced the guests and events of the weekend, but also highlighted traditional Japanese cultural and entertainment. It set the mood for the weekend and made us all glad we’d gotten there early enough to attend.
GillRider: As we mentioned above, Sakura-Con this year was was a different experience for all of us. I couldn’t help but notice a heightened sense of awareness and sincerity. This was very apparent from the get go at the opening ceremony, which was a treat, albeit, as Philosophy mentioned, plagued with technical difficulties. The ceremony opened with a messages from a representative of the Hyogo Business and Cultural Center, thanking all participants, and SakuraCon for all of their support for the earthquake relief in Japan. The Consul General of Japan in Seattle, Kiyokazu Ota, also gave a message of appreciation, but in a more humorous tone, fully clad in a suit of Japanese armor. These messages were a great way to kick-off SakuraCon 2011. I believe, to a certain extent, that these messages inspired in many of the participants, including myself, a sense of pride and joy to be a part of this movement to support people in need, whether it be financially or emotionally. It was just the right amount of seriousness, sincerity, and humor. But I’d have to agree with ClassicMoments that my favorite part of the opening ceremony was the Evergreen Glee Club performance. Just watching a group of middle-aged Japanese men sing what was most likely they’re favorite childhood anime theme song was awesome, not to mention heart warming. It just filled me with nostalgia. You can find out more about the Evergreen Glee Club here. All in all, the opening ceremony was great!
Roland Kelts’ Panels
Philosophy: Roland Kelts held several panels throughout the weekend, and we tried to attend as many as we could. Besides being well-read on the history of anime and manga, his casual presentations were easy to listen to and glean information from, and his first-hand experience with the melding of US and Japanese culture helped guide the discussion. His panel on apocalyptic imagery in anime and manga was particularly interesting, as world destruction plays a key part in a surprisingly large part of my anime library.
GillRider: To me, Roland Kelts’ panels were the highlight of Sakura-Con. I truly enjoyed listening to him speak. Check out my main article on Roland Kelts.
ClassicMoments: A very insightful lecture about Japanese culture. I didn’t expect such an intellectual discussion in Sakura-Con. When I spent my preteen years in Korea, obviously I learned more things to hate about Japan, with so many political complications between two countries. Then I spent more than half of my life in the U.S., lucky enough to learn that multiple cultures can co-exist without hatred. And through Roland Kelts’ panels, it made me understand better about Japan’s culture and its history. And such breakthrough always helps me enjoy more about Japanese pop culture such as anime. A big win-win for me.
GillRider: Ah~ cosplay. You could almost argue that cosplay is at the heart of Sakura-Con. We’ve enjoyed seeing cosplayers very very much in the past. However, I couldn’t help but feel that there weren’t as many cosplayers, and sadly, even less eye-catching ones. Don’t get me wrong, there were some awesome cosplayers out there; just not as much. And I don’t know, maybe I’m just not in the loop anymore, but there were so many characters I didn’t recognize. But I did get to see some great cosplays of characters from some of my favorite animes that I hadn’t seen before.
ClassicMoments: Maybe I’m too old, or maybe I just don’t watch enough anime, but I didn’t recognize many of the costumes. The overall quality of costumes may have risen, but my guess is that many people just buy their costumes online instead of make their own or purchasing and customizing it to their taste. Or maybe I didn’t pay much attention as I should. Despite my bitterness, I did witness handful of skilled cosplayers and I also enjoyed the Cosplay Costuming Contest very much. Too bad it didn’t go as smooth as participants might have expected.
Philosophy: Cosplay is one of the funnest cultural elements of conventions, and it sure makes people-watching more entertaining. We even attended one of several cosplay related panels which was a well put together discussion on craft and creativity. While storebought costumes are getting more popular these days (and possibly because of this), there is definitely a movement towards more obscure characters and series. There were a large number of costumes I didn’t recognize, but on the other hand I was very excited to see some of the more obscure characters from my favorite shows. It also seems that the trend of crossplay is on the rise, which is something I support. I actually saw quite a few men dressed as female characters this year, which was in some cases a compelling interpretation and in other cases a little bit horrifying.
And of course, we will be posting an article with bunch of cosplayers’ pictures so stay close!
Other activities / Overall
ClassicMoments: Even if I didn’t purchase anything, scouting the merchant booths is always fun. It was my first time staying late at a convention event, and moonlight just puts anime fans into a different mood. Dramatic opinion exchanges on favorite animes and its philosophy, yelling out silly stuff, yet all in the name of anime fun. What more can you expect from an anime convention? I definitely enjoyed it very much and I would do it all over again, next year of course!
Philosophy: I try to keep a finger on the pulse of the anime/manga business in the US, so I attended all the industry panels I was available for. Although piracy continues to be a problem, it looks like the current trends of digital distribution and simulcasts will continue, which is good news for fans. I’m also positive the toy and trinket dealers present at the con are doing well because I made more than a few personal contributions. But aside from the toys, the DVDs, and the samurai swords, Sakura-con left me with a new-found sense of fandom and appreciation for the comedy, romance, and drama brought to us by Japan. There’s something about conventions that make them entertaining and compelling all at once, and although this was my first time at Sakura-con, that recognizable energy was there in droves.
GillRider: As I mentioned above, Sakura-Con this year was a different experience for me. Despite the abundance of technical difficulties, and few eye-catching cosplayers, I enjoyed Sakura-Con this year more than ever. I think this was mostly because we actually tried to experience all that Sakura-Con has to offer. Attending panels, hearing heartfelt messages and watching so many people talk/shout/sing about something they love so much. After it was all over, it left me wanting to be more in touch with anime, more involved with the earthquake relief for Japan, and excited for next year.