Aki Con 2013 Report – Article and Photos by Michelle Tymon (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
November 27, 2013 by Michelle Tymon
Aki Con 2013 was held at the Seatac Airport Double Tree Hotel in Seatac, WA from October 25-27th.
Although it’s not big like Sakura Con that’s held in Seattle every year, attendees definitely had a great time cosplaying, attending panels, interacting with and getting autographs from the guests, and sharing the love they have for anime, manga, video games with fellow fans.
I’ve been attending Sakura-Con here in Seattle every year since 2004, but this year was the first time I attended a smaller local anime con, Aki-Con. Though it’s a much smaller con than Sakura-Con, the attendees seemed to really enjoy themselves.
The con last year had gotten a lot of negative reviews because of what happened with Artist Alley and the dealers’ hall, but it was very apparent that they were doing their best to make this year’s con the best they could, and I think they did a good job… and I think the attendees noticed as well.
Like most other days in the fall, the weather was rather wet here in the Seattle area during the con, but driving up to the hotel, you could see attendees all around, proudly wearing their cosplay as they headed to the nearby Taco Bell, Subway or Dennys for food. The venue, the Seatac Airport Double Tree hotel, was a great choice for a smaller con, as it wasn’t a huge venue, but was just big enough to hold a con of this size… though there were a few times it started getting overcrowded in the hallways. Overall, everyone seemed to have an excellent time.
The guests at Aki Con this year definitely brought in a huge number of the attendees. Guests of Honor for Aki Con this year were voice actors Johnny Yong Bosch, Monica Rial, Lisle Wilkerson, David Vincent, and Josh Goring. Other guests included reality TV personality, Molly McIssac, cosplay groups such as the Living Dead Girls, and the featured band was Johnny Yong Bosch’s own Eyeshine. (Click here for the complete guest list)
Attendees had plenty of activities they could enjoy throughout the weekend. They had huge cardboard cutouts of characters from various video games and anime throughout the hotel, and even had a room with various scenes set up where cosplayers could take photos using those as backgrounds. The venue itself had tons of parking, so that didn’t seem to be a problem. The hotel was pretty scenic and also provided various areas for photographers and cosplayers to hold photoshoots. The dealers’ hall was about the size of two panel rooms, but attendees were able to find plenty of stuff to buy.
“Attack on Titan” was definitely a huge highlight for cosplayers and the dealers’ room had no shortage of “Attack on Titan” goods. Artist Alley was held in a few rooms upstairs, and it seemed that the artists this year were much better accommodated than last year and each time I passed by, the rooms were full with attendees. There were a couple rooms dedicated to gaming of all kinds (old school arcade, console, etc) and there was even a room where they had a Hetalia Cafe. Anime viewing rooms were showing current anime that could be found on Crunchyroll.com and there was also a manga library. And of course, there were panel rooms and main ballroom for events with the guests such as panels, concerts, masquerades, and more.
The voice actor guests had a few panels together where they answered questions and fulfilled requests from the various fans that came to see them. They also had multiple signings, where each of the guests took their time and interacted with their very eager fans. One of the biggest events of this con that everyone was excited for was the Eyeshine concert Saturday night. The band performed a full set and stayed around to sign merchandise and take pics with their fans after the show. Possibly one of the biggest highlight for many of the attendees was the fact that because this was a smaller convention, the guests’ schedules weren’t as tight and they had a lot more time to interact with all of the fans. All of the guests took time to give autographs and take pictures with fans that randomly came up to them outside of their panels if time had allowed.
For individual panels, Johnny Yong Bosch answered various questions about his career, the voice acting business and told a few funny stories that had happened to him on his way to work. David Vincent held a panel where he not only gave tips and answered questions on how to get into voice acting, but he had people come up on stage with him and had them do various voice acting exercises and gave them personal tips and praise. After the panel, he even stayed around for quite a while and took pictures with fans, signed autographs, and continued to answer any questions fans didn’t get to ask during his panel. Monica Rial did a similar panel where she just opened the floor to the fans and she answered various questions about the industry and even called a friend of an attendee to surprise them. At each of these panels, all of the guests were extremely approachable, friendly, and down to earth, which I’m sure the fans all appreciated and it was apparent they all had a lot of fun.
Despite all of the things that may have gone wrong at last year’s con, it really was apparent that the con staff was working extremely hard to do a much better job at this con. The venue they got was great, the con staff was friendly, they booked guests that the attendees loved, and they did their best to make sure everyone had a great time. I think they did a great job, but I do have a few minor complaints… The lighting in the main ballroom where they held the opening ceremonies, the concert, and other big panels could have probably used better lighting.
During the opening ceremonies, the cosplay contest, and the concert, they turned off the house lights and had very odd red spot lights only on stage. It may have been for artistic effect, but it was incredibly hard to see anyone unless you were up close to the stage. Also, I thought that the registration was set up in a very awkward spot. It was located in one of the hallways and so when lines had formed, the whole hallway would be blocked. They did have it roped off, but at times it really was hard to get around. Also, there was slight overcrowding, especially on Saturday, but overall that is a good thing since that means they got that much of an attendance and I don’t think it ever got too bad that it wasn’t bearable.
Though it’s not the biggest anime con in the Pacific Northwest, Aki Con was a great con to go to for people who want a smaller convention, or want another event other than Sakura Con to go to since that’s only once a year. It’s also a great con for those who want to be able to interact with the guests more and not have to be around 10,000+ people like you would at Sakura Con. A smaller convention doesn’t mean that it’s not as great and fun. Both big and small conventions have their pros and cons and I thought that this year’s Aki Con was a great convention to visit for people who wanted another con to go to. If they are able to book the same venue again or a similar sized venue (if not a bigger one), I highly recommend fans in the area to check it out next year.
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