SAOkura Con 2013

Written by Riri (@lillyums)

sakura-con-cover.jpg

Seriously, there was just not enough Kiritos and Asunas (*sarcasm*). There was also a lackage of Yuis, though I was glad I got to cosplay her, along with 2-3 other Yuis. Oh and one large man Yui. A Manui , but I digress.

With Aniplex’s huge Sword Art Online cosplay gathering event, the appearance of several guests of honor: Reki Kawahara, light novel author of SAO (and Accel World) and singers Eir Aoi and Luna Haruna (who provided theme songs for SAO) contributed to this year's heavily dominated SAO cosplay. It dominated even the other heavily advertised gatherings including Aniplex’s Magi cosplay gathering event and FUNimation’s Psycho Pass event. It is uncommon to see a specific anime title over populate Sakura Con, but this year was like, SAO overload.

Aniplex's SAO Cosplay Gathering

Besides this obvious observation, this year was also the first year we attended Sakura Con as Lifted Geek, and my first year taking off full swing with my cosplay.

My cosplay lineup included: Yui (Sword Art Online – yes I know, I definitely added to the SAO cosplay community), Irisviel von Einzbern (Fate/Zero),  and gender bender Super Mario.  Every part of my cosplay there was some part of it I made or heavily modified. My prized accomplishment starts with Kuroyukihime’s cosplay wings (super time consuming, which probably cut off 10 years of my life breathing in spray paint fumes), and then most importantly, I came with a completed Irisviel von Einzbern cosplay just for the Cosplay Contest which I was 5th in the waiting list for when I had applied.

 

Cosplay Contest

Allow me to discuss the process of the cosplay contest, in case some of you are thinking of participating in the future.  On Friday, we had to attend a mandatory pre-meeting at the specified time in the email (10:00am for us) which is when they do a role call – if you aren’t there when they call you, the people on the waiting list gets your spot. That’s where I came in – having been 5th on the waiting list, I made it in when a bunch of a people dropped.  Afterwards, we all had to sign up for a 10-15 min slot between noon and 6pm to meet with the judges – this is where the actual judging takes place.  When you show up for your time slot, there are 3 judges – or at least there were for me.  They were really nice and made the judging session comfortable; so I wasn't nervous at all. They reviewed the reference and progress photos I had sent in when I applied via the website and they looked at me, they looked at the photo, me, photo, me, photo….checked my stitches, talked a little bit more, asked how long it took, and that was about it.  Overall, they seemed happy with it and felt that the cosplay looked just like her.  We got to converse a little bit more since there was extra time, and they were all wonderful people.  Very social, had a sense of humor, and extremely nice.

The actual walk on for the Cosplay Contest took place Saturday night – packed house! We had to show up about an hour early before it began so the staff could organize us into groups and line us up in the order we need to show up on the floor.  Show starts, each of us go do a twirl on the floor, and then at the end the judges announce the following awards:

  • Best in Novice
  • Best in Journeyman
  • Best in Masters
  • Best Group
  • Best Individual
  • Judges Choice #1, #2, and #3
  • And finally, Best in Show

There were TONS of amazing cosplay and I felt that everyone deserved an award!! I was absolutely in awe seeing everyone's work and I hope that I can be as great as them someday.  Just for your reference, the Best in Show was Anne He (SeattleCosplay) as Diablo 3 Wizard which was absolutely amazing work:

Diablo 3 Wizard Cosplay - Best in Show


Experiencing this for the first time as an individual was really exciting – in fact, it was so exciting that I forgot my walk on song, and hadn’t really thought about how to parade around in my costume. So I kind of just winged it and hoped that I could stay on the floor for a whole minute.  Did I? No, I got tired of walking and waving, so I probably left after 45 seconds…

Would I do it again? YES – but only if I had some awesome prop to bring on with some awesome crazy outfit.  *sigh* Competition is tough.  But it is worth it in the end if you win something.

I Made Friends!

In the past, all I had ever done was walk around, sit around, throw my money around, get my photo taken by random people, and maybe attend the grand concert of the convention. This year,  I had scheduled shoots with Elite Cosplay, Riamux Creations, NW Cosplay, and made a quick stop with Cosplay in America.  Justin joined me in most of my photoshoots and we got to interact with each photographer. Socializing with the photographers was important to me, especially during the shoot as it helps alleviate any awkwardness and makes things less tense.  They are all great individuals and super fun to work with, and super nerdy like us! They are totally “lifted geeks” too! 

Elite Cosplay with Riri

Elite Cosplay with Riri

Closing Remarks

Leading into the last part of this post is what my experience was like as a first time Lifted Geek attendee. No, we didn’t get press badges this time around, but we had our first set of Lifted Geek business cards!  With us going in full swing to let the world know who we are, I socialized, approached cosplayers, took tons of photos with my not-so-real-point-and-shoot camera (it’s still a great camera!!!!), and passed out our business cards.  I also made sure to keep up with the social media aspect of Lifted Geek – while Justin was off taking tons of awesome photos with his REAL camera, I made sure that we had a continuous stream of Instagram/Facebook/Twitter photos with appropriate hashtags to reach out to more viewers.

The closer interaction with the attendees allowed me to really see how much work these cosplayers put into their costumes.  Our Sakura Con community is a close knit community where you will see strangers come together with a common interest to laugh together, hang out, take photos, and share what they love. Not only that, each fan organized group attracts photographers and supporters as well and you know how much cosplayers love seeing their photos!!

Fans and Photographers at the SAO community organized photoshoot

Of the last 6 years of attending Sakura Con, this is the most involved I had been with the community.  I’ve laughed with my photographers, laughed with other cosplayers, and enjoyed myself far more than any other time here. This was by far the best, most fun Sakura Con EVER! 

We can’t wait for next year and hopefully with upgraded badges and equipment, and I hope to enter the 2014 Cosplay Contest representing as Lifted Geek’s Little One!