February 11th - 14th, 2016
National Harbor, Maryland

Convention Stats:
Location: Gaylord National Resort
Event Year: Twenty-Second
Reported Attendance: 17,005
Sketch's Costumes Worn:
Miroku, InuYasha
Gryffindor Student, Harry Potter
Kurogane, Tsubasa
Xenmas, Kingdom Hearts
Buddy Blue, Rainbow Brite
Shiva's Costumes Worn:
Sango, InuYasha
Summoner Yuna, Final Fantasy X
Tomoyo Daidoji, Tsubasa
Shiva, Final Fantasy X
Summoner Belgemine, Final Fantasy X
Rainbow Brite, Rainbow Brite
Summoner Ginnem, Final Fantasy X
Convention Photos:

Photo Credits:
Sketch, Ellystar, AmiePhotos, Shiva, Sketch, Ellystar, Shiva (x3), Sketch, Shiva

Katsucon is a large-scale anime convention held annually over President's Day weekend at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. A 24-hour convention, panels and programing were offered around-the-clock, and guests included voice actors Chris and Greg Ayres, Kyle Herbert, Jamie Marchi, Krystal LaPorte, Bill Rogers, and J. Michael Tatum. "Anime anthropologist" Charles Dunbar ran interesting talks, and the Japanese Cultural Institute ran educational sessions on everything from Japanese history and culture to workshops in kimono dressing and calligraphy. Overall, the convention still suffered from poor management decisions, including forcing panelists to purchase a $40 panelist badge, regardless of if they had already paid for a regular $80 attendee badge, vendor space, artist alley table or were granted a press pass. This was introduced far too soon to the start of the con, and quite a few panelists ended up dropping out last minute as a result. At at the convention itself, the preregistration badge pickup was again a disorganized mess, and several incidents, including a fire which forced the con to evacuate on Saturday morning and some immature attendees who defaced hotel property, reflected poorly on the con as a whole. However, Katsucon still benefits from its location, cosplay and socializing opportunities which make up for the event itself.

Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
We road tripped down to National Harbor Thursday morning with Ellystar and for once, after an uneventful trip, arrived at the Gaylord just after 6PM, catching a beautiful view of the sunset over the Potomac. After several years of staying at nearby hotels and fighting the wind, snow, and cold in our costumes to go back and forth to the con, we were staying at the Gaylord Hotel for the first time. This turned out to be an excellent choice; the room was fantastic and we streamed classic Sailor Moon episodes on Netflix in the room as we unpacked our suitcases! Picking up our badges, however, was still an unnecessarily long process with a line that took an hour and a half to get through. A completely unorganized system of smaller lines near the front also caused bottlenecking and a lot of frustration. Considering the con uses EventBrite for registration and the receipts have QR scan codes on them, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be a painless and mostly electronic experience. Katsucon, however, continues to be the only convention we attend where the staff cannot sort this out and the preregistration line take more than a few minutes from entry to badge pickup on a Thursday.

Friday morning we wore our Sango and Miroku costumes from InuYasha with Majodere as Kagome. We got some great photos in the garden area and met up with a large group of other InuYasha cosplayers, which included a fantastic Shippo – a character we've never seen cosplayed in person before. We wandered around and socialized for several hours before meeting up with Ellystar and hitting up Nando’s Peri Peri for a late lunch with some delicious sangria. That afternoon Shiva got into her Summoner Yuna costume and Sketch got into his Gryffindor student robes and we both ran outside to get some photos of Shiva's Yuna by the water as the sun was setting. It was absolutely freezing outside, but we got a few good shots and then immediately ran back indoors. Back inside the Gaylord we met up with Majodere and Ellystar and Shiva did a nice photoshoot of Ellystar's beautiful Princess Hilda costume from Legend of Zelda and also got some shots of Sketch's student robes. Sketch took some photos of Shiva's Yuna by the fountains, where we met a tiny Summoner Yuna who was only 3 or 4 years old. She was adorable and her mom got a photo of both her daughter and Shiva together, with the mini Yuna holding Shiva's Nirvana staff - too cute!

That evening we changed into our Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle artbook costumes along with Majodere as Sakura. Shiva had made both her and Majodere's costumes and it was the first time we finally all got to wear them together! Ellystar helped us do a fun shoot in the mirror hallway before extensively exploring the dealer's room and artist's alley in our comfy outfits. Later on we all headed out to Thai Pavilion for dinner, which took longer than expected but was delicious so we didn't mind. We stumbled back to the Gaylord full of wine, sushi, and sake, and spent a very enjoyable evening socializing with several cosplay acquaintances in the hotel lobby bar at the bar for the night.

Saturday Shiva spent two hours getting into Aeon Shiva costume from Final Fantasy X while Majodere borrowed Shiva's Yuna costume for the morning. Sketch stayed casual to wrangle as we weren't sure how long Shiva would last in her new wig harness. We finally got Shiva all suited up and into her harness by 12:30PM, and she was thrilled that the costume FINALLY looked how she originally envisioned back in 2012! As we made our way to the elevators, we heard a siren in the distance and mentioned how someone’s toy prop must be going off. We caught an empty elevator and applauded our luck as we quickly descended to the gazebo level. Right when the doors opened, however, we were met with a Katsucon staffer who said, “Please slowly and calmly evacuate the building.” What we thought was an annoying prop was actually the fire alarm, and we were shepherded into the bitterly cold and windy parking lot, where one fire truck was parked and another was approaching.

After a few minutes we were ordered across the street, wind gusts pulling at Shiva's wig. It was so miserable outside that hoards of attendees tried to crowd into the lobby of the hotel across the street, which created a claustrophobic stampede. Shiva's wig easily caught on everything and everyone which made her situation worse, and after years of work she was freaked out it was going to get wrecked with all the pushing and shoving before she even had a chance to wear it for five minutes. Majodere and Sketch formed a personal bubble around Shiva and managed to navigate her into a corner where she was insulated from the crush of the crowd. As we stood there for almost forty-five minutes, however, the discomfort of the costume started to wear on her as the harness cut into her shoulders.

Finally they started letting people back into the Gaylord; apparently there was a fire in the maid café but it had been put out. We tried to hang back so Shiva wouldn’t get caught in the crush of people rushing back into the building but it was impossible; everyone was pushing and shoving and one person got caught on her hair. Shiva's freakout face prompted one of the EMTs to pull her out of the crush back into the Gaylord to make sure she was OK. They let her cut through the lobby bar, where she finally had some space to breathe. Sketch and Majodere met up with her and finally we could relax and wander the con. Shiva managed to last about hour in the costume after that; at the very least we got some photos and paid a visit to artist's alley, but the harness was excruciating and she had to get out. Next time we'll try putting it on a bit looser! Instead, Shiva got into Summoner Belgemine and Sketch into Xenmas which were both very comfy for the afternoon.

That night we all returned to the room and ate chocolate cake with two bottles of wine for dinner while we watched Sailor Moon because WE ARE GROWNUPS. It was a fantastic way to regroup for the evening before getting into our Rainbow Brite costumes and hitting up the dance club. We found a couch, grabbed some cocktails, and danced which was a blast. We finally stumbled out of there at 3AM, at which point we realized we should probably pack up our car with our stuff because it would be insane trying to do so in the morning. We grudgingly put boots and jackets on over our PJs and in varying states of drunkenness brought everything out to the car at 3:30 in the morning. The fact we passed at least 5 other people doing the same meant this was a really smart idea.

We were not disappointed; our late night foresight allowed us to sleep in Sunday morning and still be up and out the door in time for an 11am checkout. Shiva wore Summoner Ginnem for the day, which is pretty easy as it requires normal makeup and no wig. We hung out a bit, did a few photoshoots, visited artist alley and did a solid loop of the dealer’s room before getting into regular clothes and hitting up Peri Peri for lunch and heading home, another successful weekend behind us!