February 13th - 16th, 2020
National Harbor, Maryland

Convention Stats:
Location: Gaylord National Resort
Event Year: Twenty-Sixth
Reported Attendance: TBD
Sketch's Costumes Worn:
Vash the Stampede, Trigun
Mirio Togata, My Hero Academia
Jiraiya, Naruto
Takashi Shirogane, Voltron
Shiva's Costumes Worn:
Felicity Merriman, American Girl
Robin Sena, Witch Hunter Robin
Princess Lenna Tycoon, Final Fantasy V
Lady Tsunade, Naruto
Avatar Korra, The Legend of Korra
Convention Photos:

Photo Credits:
Joseph Fox Photography, Shiva (x6), AmiePhotos (x3)

Katuson 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. As Katsucon 2020 approached, news had begun to spread of a new coronavirus which was, at the time, mainly infecting people who had recently traveled to China. There were only about 12 cases in the United States at the time, so while there was chatter on the con floor about upping hand-washing or avoiding hugs, most attendees paid the potential threat no mind. The con continued its enforcement of the badge/hotel room key requirement to enter the Gaylord which helped control crowding, and pre-registration was thankfully, once again, not a hassle. Guests included Johnny Yong Bosch, Cherami Leigh, Morgan Berry, and Mike McFarland, and a performance by Japanese rock band Initial'L The masquerade had a new director, and ran overly long with over sixty-six skit entries, turning even a typically long event into a marathon which most attendees abandoned halfway through. A new addition this year was the Cosplay Met Gala, organized by Cowbutt Crunchies and Jedimanda, which asked participants to design their own couture versions of characters. Costumes were then vetted at the con and the best selected for a Friday afternoon catwalk in front of a crowd of photographers and congoers at the Gaylord fountains. It was an interesting concept, and the creativity and skill which went into the entries was stunning. Overall it was an enjoyable weekend, and provided one of our last pre-pandemic experiences.

Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
We finished our last minute costume work and packing at a relatively reasonable hour Wednesday night, and were ready to road trip down to Maryland first thing Thursday morning with Majodere and Ellystar. We made great time down to National Harbor, and as we drove we talked about the recent coronavirus news. While we didn't think that there would be an outbreak at Katsucon, we all decided to play it safe and avoid touching unnecessary surfaces like staircase or escalator railings out of an abundance of caution. We also agreed that we wouldn't hug, high-five, or otherwise touch anyone outside of the friends' group. At the time these seemed like reasonable precautions, and for the most part we didn't think too much about the virus which would come to dominate our lives for the next several years. When we arrived Thursday night, we were relieved that we didn't experience the same vehicle backup we had the previous year trying to get into the Gaylord, and we were able to check in, unpack, and pick up our badges without much trouble. It wasn't overly cold, so we walked a couple of blocks to Granite City Brewery for dinner, and enjoyed a round of drinks to kick off the weekend.

Friday morning we were up unusually early to ensure we could get Shiva into her robe á la français Felicity costume for her 9AM shoot with AmiePhotos; wrangling her into all the layers was a two-person job and Sketch had her out the door right on time before getting into his Vash costume. It wasn't cold out but it was very windy, so Shiva had her shoot with Amie indoors. After it wrapped up we wandered, enjoying the thinner crowds for a second year in a row due to the staff's continued enforcement of the "badge or hotel room key" requirement to enter the building. We hung out a bit with Kiarrens and met some fantastic cosplayers, including the lovely CocoaSugarCosplay in her gorgeous fan-designed Anthy gown from Revolutionary Girl Utena and a pair of awesome Men in Black cosplayers, one of whom was the spitting image of Will Smith complete with Noisy Cricket prop. As we wandered, we were both surprised by how many attendees recognized Shiva as Felicity and were excited to see the costume; she was enjoying showing off her new creation but didn't expect anyone would know the character.

By early afternoon we were getting tired in our complex costumes and changed into much more comfortable outfits before grabbing lunch. Shiva got into her Robin costume from Witch Hunter Robin while Sketch got into his My Hero Academica training uniform, cosplaying Mirio from the Big Three along with Ellystar and Majodere. We caught the Cosplay Met Gala hosted by Cowbutt Crunchies and Jedimanda by the fountains in the atrium, which had so many creative and drop-dead gorgeous original designs of popular characters. It was fun to see so many exquisitely detailed costumes in one place. After grabbing some lunch, Sketch did a shoot of Shiva in her Robin costume in the mirror hallway and the docks outside, and Shiva got some great shots of Sketch and Majodere in their matching outfits in the late afternoon sun. Shiva's costume was pretty warm but as the sun went down it was getting chilly outside, and we went back in to check out the dealer's room and Artist's Alley. Shiva joked she met every Katsucon attendee over 30 who recognized her as Robin Sena, including several people who tried valiantly to jog their memory as they recognized her appearance from the old days of Adult Swim but needed some hints to recall the series' name. After dinner Shiva changed into Princess Lenna for clubbing, and did a photoshoot of Sketch, Majodere, and Ellystar as the Big Three around the atrium before heading to the club upstairs with the crew. We had a blast sipping cocktails and dancing to the wee hours of the morning.

After partying hard Friday night, we slept in late Saturday, and Sketch was unusually hungover - our drinks were stronger than we had thought! By early afternoon we were finally feeling better and into our Jiriaya and Tsunade costumes for a Naruto shoot with Joseph Fox Photography. We had a blast with Joe as usual, and got so many good shots, including plenty of funny ones! We spent the rest of the afternoon taking advantage of our comfy costumes to enjoy the convention, and met up with Ellystar and Majodere to walk downtown to Crab Cake Café for a delicious late lunch. Shiva did a quick shoot of Majodere on the walk back in the golden hour light. Back at the Gaylord, we changed into comfy costumes for the night; Sketch and Majodere got into their Voltron costumes while Shiva got into Korra from Legend of Korra and we hit up the game room. We had a blast playing games and hanging out at the con while Shiva was having fun dodging and exchanging barbs with an anonymous Amon cosplayer. They finally had a fake fight in the hallway and Amon stole her bending, which the surrounding crowd got a kick out of. That night we walked downtown to The Brass Tap bar for beer and pub food for dinner before socializing around the Gaylord for the night.

Sunday we had a late checkout, so we didn't have to pack up the car late at night and enjoyed a full night's rest. We walked downtown for boozy brunch at Granite City Brewery and then checked out the harbor, including the ferris wheel for the morning. We then did a last pass around the convention, saying our goodbyes before packing up the car and driving home, excited we had a wonderful weekend with friends. Little did we know at the time that this would the last time we'd see most of our friends in person for a long time as COVID-19 lockdowns began only a few weeks after we returned home. We are looking forward to revisiting our Katsucon traditions post-pandemic.