Written by Riri (@lillyums)
Over 20,000 attendees were at Sakura Con 2014 this year, filling the Washington State Convention Center with cosplays from anime, manga, comics, games, tv, and much more. There was one thing different about our attendee status this year; this was our first time as press at Sakura Con! We were pretty excited about it, and now I'm here to report all the secrets... kidding!
The turn out was once again quite impressive, and the only thing that was less than impressive was the weather! Rain.. clouds... rain... clouds... At this time of the year, I was expecting sunshine! Saturday was pouring rain and most of the attendees stayed huddled inside the convention. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing for us as press either, because that meant more chances to capture more cosplays!
Aside from capturing some amazing hall cosplays, I participated in my 2nd Cosplay Contest at Sakura Con. For those interested in how the process works, I will go over that in the Cosplay Contest section below! In addition, we attended some press conferences to interview the Guests of Honor: Matthew Mercer, Leah Clark, Angelic Pretty/RinRin Doll, and finally the Attack on Titan press conference. AND THEN!! After minor scheduling conflicts, I got to do an interview/chat with Miss Sinister Cosplay, the perfect end to my Sakura Con weekend. That will be in a separate article, soon to come :)
In addition, one of the main highlights for Sakura Con are the concerts they hold every year, and this year they invited ELISA to perform! I didn't get to go, but one of our LG photographers got to go and is in this photo! This is a twitter photo tweeted by ELISA herself at the concert.
We captured a TON of cosplay photos, check them all out on our Facebook page HERE, and our top cosplay pick article written by Ninja-Dee!
All in all, we always know which cosplay dominates a convention, and to be honest, it's just as the title says.... Attack on Kill la Frozen. Just a bunch of AoT, KLK, and Frozen. I was in the middle of a shoot and took a quick peak at this AoT meet up and it was huge!
Even though AoT anime season 1 ended a while ago, the manga is still ongoing, so I can imagine AoT cosplays would continue to populate every convention! Frozen had some pretty amazing cosplays that we got to capture, including some really cute children cosplayed as little Elsa and Anna!
And then of course, we've had our fair share of half nekkid KLK cosplays including a few from the Nudist Beach organization! And of course a fair share of fully clothed KLK cosplays as well :)
The Cosplay Contest this year displayed some amazing craftsmanship across all categories. Here are some of the winners our photographers were able to capture for the Cosplay Walk On Contest! These are not all the winners!
The Cosplay Contest was definitely set up a little bit differently this year though. Last year it was in this big flat room, where the cosplayers would enter the floor from a corner and do a walk around in a square. This year, the walk on Cosplay Contest took place at the Main Stage, with a catwalk and everything! This change was a good thing as the room can accommodate more people, and gives the walk on cosplayers more of a spotlight. Literally. They also scheduled it right after the Cosplay Skit Contest, so it was during the day, rather than in the evening. I think this schedule worked out really well - gather all the cosplayers, get them up on stage, and just do all the awards at the end of both shows.
The process for this year's pre-meeting and overall organization of the contest events improved significantly, in my opinion. The way this works is that after you register for the cosplay contest on Sakura Con's website, you'll receive an email confirming your spot, with detailed instructions on when and where to meet for the pre-meeting, which is usually the day before the event. The newest addition to this email also included your judging time for that day. Last year, that didn't happen - basically we showed up for the pre-meeting, and then flocked to the one guy and all of us tried to pick a slot for the day. This confirmation email was great, in that it organized all the cosplayers before the pre-meeting.
So Friday, we showed up to the pre-meeting while they checked us all in and confirmed our judging time spots. I showed up for my judging time. It wasn't as I expected it, since last year, the judges conversed with me, asked me how I made it, why I did it, etc. This year, it was pretty quiet. The two judges circled me with their iPads, making notes, taking pictures, and asked me about two questions ("How did you make the sword?" "Did you make the wig?") I was actually almost hoping that I could have a conversation with them, explain how I did everything, and just wow them with my new skills.
The next day, I checked in at 10am (as long as we checked in between 9:30 and 10:30am, it's all good) to get a feel of the main stage before the event. Skit contest cosplayers got a change to do a quick 2 minute practice. The Skit contest started at 11am, and then the walk-on contest started at 12:30pm. The whole time we were waiting in the queue room (the pre-meeting room) and staff was calling each of us out to line up in advance to take us out to the backstage area. As far as I was aware of, the whole thing went pretty smoothly. After I did my walk on, I was informed immediately that I was a winner. Staff double checked and made sure all the winners were backstage and then to confirm what name we wanted to be called during the announcement. I used this chance to say, "Oh yes, Riri. R-I-R-I." She sure did type that in. Little did any of us know, the iPad autocorrected that to "TORI." So yep, my new name was Tori when I was announced as an Honorable Mention winner for the Intermediates category. I was still happy though!
Overall, there is definitely room for improvement but this year it was a significant improvement from last year's organized cosplay events. I look forward to next year's event, maybe even again backstage :)
This year, Sakura Con decided to go the route of organizing a press conference for each of the Guests of Honor, rather than scheduling interviews one on one with each interested media outlet. This actually helped both sides tremendously, and gives everyone a chance to ask or talk to the guest, and we get extra information when other people engage the guest with questions we may not have asked.
This Guests of Honor list wasn't as long as previous years, but it was still quite long! Among these, we attended press conferences for voice actors Matthew Mercer, Leah Clark, and then fashion artists/models dynamic dual, Angelic Pretty and RinRin Doll. In short, here are some highlights of each guest:
Matthew is most known for his voice acting role in Resident Evil 6 as Leon S. Kennedy. In addition, he is also a voice actor for our well loved character, Levi, from Attack on Titan (English Dub). He's got some super secret projects coming up soon, one with Valve in Seattle but due to his NDA with them, it remains.. well, super secret. He tends to prefer more challenging voice acting roles, like Leon S. Kennedy in RE6 and Kanji Tatsumi in Persona 4 (English Dub).
Leah has done voice acting rolls in Dragon Ball Z, Borderlands 2, and Soul Eater, to name a few. What I didn't know about her is she is the host on the Red Wine Chronicle Podcast, which is a podcast about wine....and sex. They even have a sex therapist on the show, and a hooker at another time. They are nearing season 3 and plans to revamp the production of the show. Aside from her voice acting career, she aspires to work in a live action musical as a web series.
Angelic Pretty/RinRin Doll
This conference included one of Angelic Pretty's icon, Maki, and official model, RinRin Doll. Angelic Pretty is a brand known for their cute Lolita style, and their collections and designs have been expanding outside of Japan. They have a US store in San Francisco and hopes to expand more shops statewide. Maki's designs are unique in that she works with original patterns to create a unique style of Lolita, with lots of pink, bright colors. Her inspiration is actually taken from Disney Princesses Cinderella, Sleepy Beauty, and Snow White - I can definitely see that in her brand!
RinRin Doll was scouted for Angelic Pretty at a show, and that's how she started! She loves harajuku styles and hopes to start her own line, utilizing popular Lolita fashion but envisioning an edgier look. Her website is in the works - keep an eye out for RinRinDoll.com!
Attack on Titan
The Attack on Titan press conference was by far the most interesting with some really great news for you Attack on Titan fans. To start, the Attack on Titan anime series took about 3 years to produce, when probably on average it may take between 1-2 years to complete a series. The author of AoT, Hajime Isayama, was naturally very protective of his material - if they were going to create a series, it had to be done right. And so, here we are with the first season done, and the fans continue to grow! It is such a great show, great animation, and it just keeps you on your toes. Here's the big announcement for their next move: they will be turning the whole 1st season into two separate films but unfortunately there won't be any new footage. Rather, the film will include the remastered animation appearing only on the blu-ray releases.
We also asked them what their thoughts were on anime streaming sites such as Crunchyroll, and how that has affected the industry. They've actually worked quite closely with Crunchy Roll to ensure episodes would be released faster than the fan subbers without compromising the quality of the product. So SIGN UP FOR CRUNCHYROLL!
As briefly mentioned earlier, we did get to do our cosplayer interview with Miss Sinister Cosplay! We will have an article up with the video and you can hear all about her cosplay life coming soon :) Meanwhile, here's a selfie of us goofing off.
At the end of the day, we are all tired but this con was a blast. The staff was wonderful and incredibly helpful to us press, and the event organization improved significantly from over the years. There were so many great cosplays as well, and we only hope our experience improves at next year's Sakura Con 2015, on April 3-5.
See you next year! Get Lifted!