Another President’s Day weekend has come and gone, and, as usual, it’s time for another trip to the DC area’s anime convention of the winter season, Katsucon. This year, things are more hectic for me thanks to Katsucon being part of a busy 31-day period that has me going to Disney World two weeks before the con and MAGFest taking place the weekend afterwards.

Of course, a busy month wasn’t the only thing that was hectic (thankfully, I budgeted myself to ensure that I not only have enough money for all three of these events, but also have some left for my everyday life). If you haven’t read by now, a fire actually took place at the Gaylord on Saturday afternoon. Based on both the time I was told to leave the convention center and information I got from my regular Otakon roommate (who not only attended the con on Saturday, but is also a member of the fire department in Prince George’s County), what I can tell you is that just before 1:00PM, a kitchen fire broke out at the Gaylord. As such, everyone was required to evacuate the convention center while emergency crews arrived to put out the fire. It’s one situation to do a mass evacuation of a convention center (especially given how I’ve already experienced this thing before at Otakon 2010). However, things are little bit more messy at Katsucon, since, unlike Otakon, you’re heading out to below freezing temperatures (with the area being covered by a dusting of snow hours before the incident), and you have quite a number of cosplayers in outfits that would leave certain parts of the body exposed to the cold air. Having to leave the Gaylord wasn’t a problem, as I just headed to the nearest exit, waited a little bit in hopes that I see a nice cosplay to take a picture of, and then head to a nearby restaurant for lunch. However, it does feel very crowded for a while once you get back into the Gaylord, especially in the Exhibition Hall area where the Dealers’ Room and Registration is located.

Speaking of the Exhibition Hall area, on all three days I was there, things were messy in terms of the lines in that area. A rundown of what happened on each of these days.

-Thursday: with the amount of people trying to pick up their badge the night before the convention, the pre-reg pick-up line stretched all the way to the fountain area of the small “village” that makes up the Gaylord’s atrium, with the line structure being confusing to those looking for the end of the line (thankfully, the mess was mostly cleaned up once badge pick-up began, and most of line outside of the badge pick-up area died down).

-Friday: with the registration lines once again circling the halls outside of the Exhibition Halls, there was once again another bit of messiness when it came time to line up for the Dealers’ Room.

-Saturday: For most of the day (when the fire wasn’t happening), there was a line that was circling the hallway to get to the Dealers’ Room. Don’t worry, the line was moving fast, and people were able to get into the room with not that much wait. However, the problem is that one of the exits is located in a place where it could interfere with the circling line. As such, there’s a few moments where staff had to “direct traffic” to allow those leaving the Dealers’ Room to get back on the convention floor.

Convention issues out of the way, it’s time to talk about the rest of the Katsucon experience.

Cosplay: Katsucon is usually one of the better places to go if you want to check out the cosplay, 2016 is no exception. Like most conventions, most people are dressing up as the titles are currently hot, and if you’re not really following the title, it does get somewhat tired watching seeing the same characters being dressed up in the same outfit. However, with the variety of cards in the mobile games, it was nice to see some unique Love Live cosplay you don’t usually see (i.e. Hanayo in her “orange” outfit, ice skater Maki). Also, while there’s plenty of Eevee-lution cosplay here, there was some variety in terms of the way they are being cosplayed. Finally, it’s fun to see the following:

-Someone already doing a cosplay of the infamous “Puppy Monkey Baby” less than a week after that Super Bowl ad aired (for those those who preferred last year’s Super Bowl meme, Left Shark was also at Katsucon this year as well);

-A My Little Pony cosplay that referenced makes reference to the best episode of the previous season, Crusaders of the Lost Mark.

-Some of the clever cosplay combinations, be it “composite” characters (where the cosplayer is dressed as one character on the left side and another on the right) or silly mash-ups (i.e. Colonel Sanders as Ryu from Street Fighter, Daffy Duck as Darth Vader, a Shinji Ikari/Madoka Kaname mash-up).

As for the Masquerade, there’s some good news and some bad news. The good news: not sure if the fire affected most attendees plan to wait in line or if the fact that happened in mid-afternoon during the second showing of the main AMV Contest and the Aniplex panel may have taken some potential viewers, but this year, attending the Masquerade wasn’t a hassle, as I all I had to do was simply walk in, let others sit down before me, and like that, I was able to get a great seat for the event. The bad news: unfortunately, this year’s Masquerade wasn’t up to par when compared to past Katsucon masquerades, with me opting to leave about midway through it.

Dealers’ Room: After some disappointing Dealers’ Room trips at Otakon and Anime USA, Katsucon was able to get a lot of the money that I had budgeted for this convention. To me, there’s a lot of elements that went into play here.

First, once again, I already had ideas of the main titles that I was going to pick up in terms of which anime titles were “must buys” this time around (in this case, Evangelion 3.33 and the two Lupin III vs. Detective Conan titles that I initially wanted to buy at Anime USA). With plenty of dealers selling DVD’s and Blu-Rays this time around (compared to only one at Anime USA), picking these titles up were rather easy. In the process, I also picked the final Hellsing Ultimate Blu-Ray and, to take advantage of Funimation’s free pin offer, a regular version of the original Fullmetal Alchemist series on Blu-Ray (better to pick it up now before the eventual day the US license reverts back to Aniplex).

Second, a lot of cool items came out in Japan between Anime USA and Katsucon, and as such, the Dealers’ Room had plenty of new stuff that would grab my attention and take my money. This included the following:

-An Armor Girls Project MS Girl Gundam MK-II figure (which, when you consider how much shipping from Japan is, was actually cheaper at the con than ordering it online);
-One of those Splatoon squid pillows;
-A Mega Man Nendoroid figure;
-The PS4 release of a fighting game based on the Sega’s “Shining” franchise.

Finally, there’s the usual impulse buy that screams “buy me”. In this case, it came in the form the Optimus Prime/Playstation Transformer figure.

Despite all the cool things that Katsucon had to offer, there’s still a few items that I passed on. First, a couple of dealers had Alter’s release PVC statue release of Black Heart from Hyperdimension Neptunia. However, given how it cost nearly $200, this wasn’t something that I can pick up just now. Second, given how I’ve gotten into them during my trip to Disney World last month, it was great to see one dealer selling the Disney Trading Pins at their booth. As tempted as I was to buy one, none of them that was offered was a “must buy” for me, and when I asked my mother if I should pick up some of the seasonal ones, she told me not due, as she can get them cheaper on eBay.

AMV Contest: This year, Katsucon had three AMV Contests taking place, and while I wasn’t going to stay up late for the adult contest (although I am curious about this one video that mixes the Rankin/Bass version of Frosty the Snowman with hentai), I did manage to check out the other two contests.

The first contest was the regular AMV. As usual, there’s a number of AMV’s that I’ve already seen at past contests (thanks to them, I can’t listen to the Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” without me singing the “chicken version” that Blake Shelton did with Jimmy Fallon and Nick Offerman). However, there’s also some fresh material, be it videos that haven’t played at either Otakon or Anime USA or videos that I were seeing for the first time. A list of some of the highlights from the main contest:

-A “Warriors” video using footage from two of the One Piece movies;
-Yuno from Future Diary singing Meghan Trainor’s “Dear Future Husband”;
-A Katanagatari video set to the Pussycat Dolls’ version of “Jai Ho”;
-A Black Butler take of “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast;
-Rin from Free as a “theme park shark”.

The other AMV Contest I attended was a “Saturday Morning” contest containing videos that can be shown to all audiences (whereas the main contest can contain some PG-13 material). Given how this is a new concept for Katsucon, there were a few videos overlapping in both contests. However, there’s still plenty of fresh videos for those who saw the contest on Friday to enjoy here. For instance, one video that was “Saturday Morning only” was a Usagi Drop video set to the MetLife Hong Kong commercial featuring a daughter’s essay about her father and all the things he does to ensure her a bright future.

As for my own AMV creating experience: I did enter the video that I entered at Anime USA, Yonkoma Heaven, in the Saturday Morning contest, with it making it into the finals. As the screening finished on Saturday, and as I was heading out, a hunch that I had since Saboten Con (where it finished second in Upbeat) was indeed right: my video is one of those “hidden gems” that can easily get overlooked thanks to all the great upbeat/fun videos that came out last year (with me feeling lucky that my video even made it into the finals at Anime USA and Anime LA, given what it was up against). As such, like at Saboten Con, Yonkoma Heaven was able to find an audience at the Katsucon Saturday Morning AMV Contest, with it winning the Upbeat category.

As for what’s currently going with me in terms of AMV projects:

-Unless any con is in need of entries in the upbeat category (in which case, I may enter one of my current projects once I finish it), I plan to retire Yonkoma Heaven from the con circuit after the Easter cons (especially given how the video in ineligible for Anime Expo).

-I managed to complete the AMV concept that came to me while I was at a McDonald’s at Anime USA. The video is a cute romantic comedy video setting Acchi Kocchi to Lindsay Rae Spurlock’s “As For Now”, and you can find information about viewing the video here. In terms of contests, due to the very early due date (i.e. the beginning of November), I couldn’t have the video ready in time for Katsucon. However, I have been entering this video alongside Yonkoma Heaven at other cons, with it making the finals at Ohayocon.

-My current projects are at different stages of progress (with video games and Legos not helping with the progress). The video that I’m furthest from completion is a short video that I hope to have done in time for spring. As of today, I am about halfway done with it, with the two things that stand in my way being all the things that I’ve been doing this month and trying to find other anime titles (preferably in the last ten years) that feature footage of characters with squirt guns (before you ask, Free and Higurashi are already incorporated in this concept).

Video Game Room: Early Friday night, the coat check at Katsucon wasn’t as crowded as it usually gets over the weekend. Because of this, it gave me a chance to check out the video game room, as Katsucon is one of the few cons that still enforces a “no bag” policy for that room. In terms of the Katsucon video game room this year, I can consider this a warm-up for some of the goodness that I could expect at MAGFest the following weekend.

To begin with, being the pinball fan that I am, Katsucon had a decent collection of pinball machines this year, with the line-up consisting of a few titles that while not as well known to the regular gamer, do have a following among the “pinheads”. A couple of examples of these titles include World Cup Soccer (a pinball machine themed on the 1994 World Cup tournament, which was held in the USA) and Rollergames (a table based on a short-lived roller derby show from 1989).

Moving forward into the room, Katsucon’s video game room also had arcade cabinets of the “Solo” (AKA the six steps) version of DDR Fourth Mix and Para Para Paradise. Sadly, DDR 4th Mix Solo was not on “Free Play” mode when I was in the video game room. However, I did manage to play a few songs on Para Para Paradise while I was there.

Finally, in the area where the Project Diva games are usually set up, a couple of gaming stations had the Playstation TV (the console that allows gamers to play Vita games on their TV screens). As such, a couple of the more recent rhythm games for the Vita were set up to play at Katsucon. The one in particular worth mention is the latest game from the same team behind the Project Diva games, Miracle Girls Festival. For those who haven’t imported the game (as something tells me that this game will probably not be getting a stateside release), Miracle Girls Festival has a music festival theme to it, with the story mode involving the player serving as a “manager” of various multi-day festivals. The big selling point of the game: the “performers” at the festival are characters from various anime titles, with each group performing the OP and ED of their respective shows during these events. When one of the titles represented in this game is one of my favorite anime titles in recent years, Kin-Iro Mosaic, I knew that this game was definitely going to be one that I need to pick up (with me getting the game among the gifts that I received this past Christmas).

With Katsucon weekend over, there isn’t much time to recover from it, because I’m heading back to the Gaylord again this weekend as well, this time for MAGFest (with this one quite possibly being the first one for my younger brother).

Before I go, here's my photos from this year's Katsucon: