Another Presidents' Day weekend has come and gone, and in the case of the DC area, that means one thing: another trip to Katsucon, and this year, I may have outdid myself when compared to previous years.

Before I even get the to the convention, there's a number of things leading up to it and some of the concerns that I had to deal with. The first and least of my concerns was the weather. With an Arctic clipper heading to the East Coast, there were some concerns about it snowing on Saturday. To me, this was one that I was able to get over easily as the worst that would happen was that it would be very cold, with the snow being only about an inch at most (with the big mess being held back until after the con).

My real concern, on the other hand, was what happening the same weekend as Katsucon: the release of the New 3DS XL in America. In the weeks leading up to the convention, I thought I had the situation under control: the system that I pre-ordered would arrive while I was at the convention, with me heading home earlier than usual on Friday night so that way I can transfer everything to the new system. However, it was the Tuesday before the convention that I realized a major problem: since the system I pre-ordered was the Majora's Mask system, it was being shipped to the Gamestop where I pre-ordered it instead of being there when it opens. Even worse, the person who took the order never bothered to ask if we wanted to pay more for 1-day shipping, that meant the system would NOT be ready for pick-up at all during the con. Thus, if I wanted to have a New 3DS XL ready for Saturday, that meant having to wait for a store to open. Making things more complicated was that my local Toys R Us actually got the Mega Man Amiibo in, but couldn't sell it until day one of the con, meaning that I need to have my mother serve as a proxy for me to pick up the system. Luckily, on Wednesday, I did see that my local Wal-Mart did get some systems in, and my family was able to pick one up on Friday before I headed to the con and my mother headed to Toys R Us to get the figure. BTW, in case you think my concerns are silly, keep in mind that my parents themselves had concerns themselves that I felt were silly during the weekend (with my mother picking up ANOTHER New 3DS XL out of fear that there would be something wrong with the first system, although I knew exactly what I was doing with the system transfer, while my father wanted me to carry my stuff in a cloth bag because he didn't think my con bag would handle the stuff I was carrying in it).

Of course, the main reason why you're reading this is get an idea of what Katsucon was like this year, and boy was this a wild weekend.

For starters, my usual Katsucon trip consists of only Friday and Saturday, with Sunday being a "recovery" day. However this year, I was there not only for all three days, but also was there Thursday night as well. While the reason for Sunday involves something that I'll get to later, the idea of going on Thursday was actually my mother's idea. Given how I live at most twenty minutes away from the Gaylord, she thought that I should go ahead and pick up my badge that night in order to get it out of the way (which I can agree with, as badge pick-up wouldn't open on Friday until 10:00AM again, and doing it on Thursday would give me not only more time to look around Friday morning, but also a chance to see what's happening on Day 0). In the end, it turned out to be a smart decision, because the badge pick-up lines were somewhat of a mess this year. With all the people arriving to pick up their badge on Thursday night, it took me a little over an hour to get mine. However, it would only get worse from here in terms of the line. By the time I got my badge, the line was starting to expand outside of the room where badge pick-up was being held (luckily, the staff was able to funnel the line into the badge pick-up area before I left the hotel an hour later). Then there's Friday morning. When I arrived at the hotel around 8:30 AM, the line of people waiting for the doors to open was near the length of the Prince George's Exhibition Hall (the area where the Dealers' Room, Art Show, and Badge Pick-Up is located) and was about to circle it, with the line still expanding the length of the hall by the time people were lining up for the opening of the Dealers' Room, causing some mess between the two lines. Hopefully, the Katsucon staff will fix things so that way Badge Pick-Up will not be a problem next year (especially in terms of the line possibly interfering with the Dealers' Room line).

Speaking of the the Dealers' Room, this year's room had a mixed opinion from me. On one end, I did manage to spend a lot of money there and the Artist Alley (with me buying a handmade Espeon plushie to go with the Sylveon that I got last year). Also, I liked some of things that Katsucon did this year to give con attendees more time to visit the room ranging from longer hours on Friday and Saturday to having the VIP's enter at 11:30 AM, thus allowing for a normal opening time of noon (compared to the past two years where noon was the time VIP's were allowed to enter on Friday, with everyone else having to wait until 12:30). However, when it comes to some of the major things that I look for when I go to the Dealers' Room (i.e. video games and figures), it's been somewhat disappointing. When it comes to figures, you know that a Dealers' Room selection isn't that great when the main figure purchase for the month involving buying a Busou Shinki figure off of eBay at a decent price (BTW, Konami really needs to revive that line of figures, as I got into it during the tail end of its run, and it was very addicting). Meanwhile, I did get some decent video game gear (i.e. the Shulk Amiibo and a 64GB memory card for my Vita, which I plan to start using soon as a storage place for the bigger Vita downloads), I didn't really see anything in terms of video games that fits the following criteria that I look for in terms of import game shopping:

1. The game is region free;
2. The game is easy to pick up without understanding Japanese (there's the occasional text-heavy game that I pick up, but still I would prefer my import games to be "easy to play" for people of all languages);
3. The game is unlikely to be released in America.

Still, I did manage to pick up quite a few anime DVD's as part of a hobby that I've gotten into after Otakon (although I'm disappointed that I miscalculated the release date for season 1 of Space Dandy and assumed that the show would be available at Katsucon).

However, while the Dealers Room does feel lacking, when it came to cosplay pictures, this was one of my more productive periods since my early years of going to anime cons (with me actually expecting a bountiful cosplay experience this time around after what I saw at MAGFest a few weeks earlier). Naturally, part of the this can be attributed to the fact that I actually attended the con for all three days (and picked up my badge on Thursday), thus giving me more opportunities to take photos. However, it's more than that. To begin with, while waiting to get my badge Thursday night, I saw someone dressed as Gon from Hunter X Hunter in his "transformed" state (complete with the hairstyle that would make Marge Simpson jealous). After taking a couple of photos of the cosplayer (a regular one and an additional one to capture the long hair), I combined the two when I got home from the night into one big one (in order to give those who'd be seeing it an idea of just how big that wig was) and posted it on Twitter before going to bed. Within minutes of posting it, people were retweeting the photo, and by retweeting it, I don't mean the typical amount of retweets I get whenever I tweet a funny comment involving professional wrestling. We're talking close to 1.2K people (at last count) from all over the world retweeting it.

Another thing that contributed to the abundance of cosplay pictures this time around: after taking last year off, I once again returned to my tradition of attending the Katsucon Masquerade. Also, after the issue I had with seating two years (i.e. I lined up early for the event, yet got stuck sitting in a crappy seat located on the side of the ballroom), this year, I actually got a great center seat that was very close to the stage. When you combine that with some decent lighting, I was finally able one thing that I wanted to do since Otakon: use the camera feature on my smart phone to take some photos of the masquerade (as the "no flash" rule in terms of Masquerade photography has me preferring this over my regular camera. As for the Masquerade itself, there were plenty of memorable skits ranging from the cast of Princess Tutu (including Ahiru's two friends) performing "Do You Love Me" and a "performance" by the Runaway Five from Earthbound to an elaborate skit based on Final Fantasy IX (sadly, I was unable to take a photo of that skit). To see the photos that I took at the convention, which includes the Hunter X Hunter photo and those taken at the Masquerade, please visit here.

From one big contest to another: the AMV Contest this year was in a transition period this year as a result of the contest having a new AMV coordinator. The more noticeable of this transition involves some of the issues with the entry form (i.e. no section for an e-mail address, the category section only had comedy and action, with editors having to write in categories that weren't one of those two) and a shorter run time in terms of the contest and results show (with the results show being just the showing of the winning videos, with no trophies being presented a la earlier years). However, those that are "in the know" of the Katsucon AMV contest (and the problems involving the last coordinator) felt that the new coordinator was doing a better job than the previous one, and quite honestly, I can understand some of the reasons for that (one big plus: the Contest returned to the Main Events room this year after two years of being negated to Video Rooms). One last thing worth mentioning (and the main reason why I brought up the AMV Contest in the first place): this year, the AMV Contest did something new by including an AMV Hell-style compilation that is shown at the end of the contest. The reason why I brought it up: I actually made one of the videos used in the compilation. Now I can just get off my ass, get my creative juices flowing, and create something for Otakon and/or Anime Weekend Atlanta.

Finally, in terms of some of the other stuff I attended:

-I have huge regrets attending the Funimation panel, as it consisted mostly of trailers for anime titles that have already been available for months now and the only piece of news that the panel had was a cast announcement that was already made online days before the convention.

-I finally got a chance to watch the pilot dub of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders. While some voice actor choices could have been better (the main thing that comes to mind: the dub narrator lacks the enthusiasm as the one the original Japanese version), it's still worth it due to Jojo fans that were watching this as well, with one fan in particular going all Joseph Joestar (i.e. OH MY GOD!!! HORY *expletive*!!!) at certain points of the screening (more specifically, the technical difficulties as the start of screening and the scene where Jotaro's mother starts to feel effects of her Stand). Now to figure out what to do with the Jojo calendar poster that I got after the screening.

-The main reason to return to the convention on Sunday: another screening of Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos. What can I say: I'm hooked on the evil that is Tarako (although that's just part of the craziness that has me coming back for more).

In terms of next year, my Katsucon plans are still up in the air due to the planning for something big that my family is doing next February. However, given the research that I've been doing for the event, there's a good chance that I'll be able to attend Katsucon next year (with the only issue being money being tighter that year due to the "big event" although I have been putting money away in a savings account on a regular basis).

Barring any "impulse" trips (i.e. I may want to do a day trip to Awesomecon) or a guest that would make me want to attend Animazement, the next big convention on my schedule is Otakon in July.