Written by Chris Kwock (@kwock)
My small local anime convention isn't quite as small any more now that it had hit over 10,000 attendees this year! I've hit Kawaii Kon for the 8th year in a row now here on Oahu, and this was quite a milestone for our little Kawaii Kon!
There were a few changes this year though. This was the first time Kawaii Kon started doing badge checks for access to upper floors. This was a big deal because up until now, It was just badge checked to enter rooms containing main events, Dealer’s Room, and panels. And basically anywhere outside these rooms used to be free to roam without needing to show a badge. So this was probably a bigger deal for friends without badges who wanted to come and hang out with those who did have badges, or anyone who just wanted to use the free space. While it was something new and shocking to some, the new policy went over really well and I didn't see any issues during the con itself.
In previous years, the first floor was usually more open and free to roam. That was because registration used to be on the 3rd floor but they moved it to the 1st floor this year. In addition to the new badge check policy, there ended up being a lot more people on the 1st floor since it was the only floor that didn't require a badge check. I kind of missed having the first floor be more open to do shoots without people being around but having three floors full of people was really nice to see with this growing convention.
There were tons of cosplay groups going on throughout the weekend drawing in lots of people to watch and take photos. It seems like these cosplay groups were much larger this year too. League of Legends were plentiful followed by the largest group of cosplayers from Marvel. Tokyo Ghoul and Akame ga Kill! were also the more popular anime cosplays. One of the days turned humid and rainy, but as a photographer it didn't stop me from setting a shoot up! It killed my pretty afternoon/sunset light though T_T Here are a few preview shots of the cosplays I took. There will be more uploaded to our Facebook page, so keep an eye out!
The two Japanese musical guests that Kawaii Kon brought in this year were Eir Aoi and Akira. Akira even had an appearance at the Lolita Tea Party where attendees played games and took photos with her. Now I am terrible at knowing who sings what for the animes that I've watched but I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Eir Aoi perform songs from SAO and Kill la Kill - that I recognized. She is very energetic on stage and she announced that this was her first stop in her world tour!
Overall I’m really not sure where all my time went when I looked back on this weekend. There were a few shoots I did with friends, but other than that I felt like I didn't shoot much or catch too many things. I enjoyed seeing friends and catching up for a few minutes here and there before I went off to check the convention out. So many people and so many cosplays you really couldn't do everything in just 3 days! In my opinion, this year's Kawaii Kon organization was the best to date. Everything ran smoothly even though they added an extra badge check to the upper levels. Besides all that, I look forward to seeing Kawaii Kon again next year!