Sakura Punch Live! Sakura Con 2016 Con Report

Written by Riri (@lillyums)

Sakura Con has come and gone once again.  Every year, Sakura Con becomes more of a social event for me over anything else. The “Brotographer’s Corner” has grown larger year by year and has become the prime location for cosplayers and photographers and con-goers to go meet, socialize, relax, and take a quick few shots.   (In case you’re wondering where this corner is, it’s on the 4th floor of the Washington State Convention Center, in the back area by the entrance to Freeway Park.) Sakura Con is the one local anime convention of the Pacific Northwest that I just don’t want to miss because of how many of my friends attend.

Cosplay at Sakura Con rarely disappoints me, since it is a very cosplay heavy convention.  We had A LOT of One Punch Man cosplay and Love Live! cosplay.  These two had the largest cosplay gathering than all the gatherings that were organized (200+). What I did feel more strongly about this year was how much closer the community felt, especially through social media prior to the convention.  I’m sure this occurred in previous years, but it was just more noticeable to me this year how more people stepped up to ensure a gathering of a fandom or anime would be organized. Not only were there people who organized individual gatherings, but there were people who would ensure all the gatherings did not have location conflicts as well, and they organized all listed gatherings in one location so attendees and fans can view it. The majority of gatherings were outside in Freeway Park, so anytime we stepped outside, we’d always see groups together taking photos and poses. Here are some of the cosplays we snapped this weekend.

Myself, I was part of the big Sailor Moonie gathering on Saturday, as this was my first time being part of an organized Eternal Sailor Moon group – I was Eternal Sailor Chibi Moon.  Being a part of this Eternal Sailor Moon group got me more in touch with the cosplay community than I ever have before. I was recruited to be Eternal Sailor Chibi Moon for our Sailor Stars group.  This was a really fun experience working with 12 girls. 

Photo by Lucid Visual Photography

As people step up to host these gatherings, such as the Sailor Moon gathering, we build a stronger community of cosplayers and fans who support each other.  I’ve been to cosplay gatherings in the past, but I really felt like the cosplay gathering game was strong.   At Sakura Con, nobody cared whether you made your cosplay or if you bought your cosplay. As long as you were having a good time, that’s all that mattered.

We had a decent list of special guests, first timers and returning guests, including Abec (original character designer for SAO series and SAO Movie project), Reki Kawahara (author of light novel SAO and Accel World),  Kyle Hebert (anime/video game voice actor), Takeshi Kunitomo (GOUK fashion designer), and Band Maid (all-girl Japanese rock group from Tokyo) to name a few. 

We attended the GOUK Fashion Show, where Takeshi Kunitomo showed off his chic and elegant collection on these models. Check out a preview of his work from the show below:

I was able to attend a couple panels, including the Zapp Brannigan’s Spaceship of Love panel which I thought was hilarious – why haven’t I been to this before? They are a small improv group of guys who puts shows on at anime and comic conventions, and from what I saw, they are hilarious. We loved their panel and hope to attend again next year.  We highly recommend this panel for those of you 18+.

A preview of Zapp Brannigan's Spaceship of Love panel

Honestly, as far as the merchandise hall goes, I’ve felt like this area has either gotten smaller (=less exhibitor’s/sellers) or … they spaced them out more.  I can’t say that I’ve been really blown away by the merchandise hall anymore.  I’ve found myself spending more time outside with the cosplay community and their gatherings than visiting this area like I used to.   

Every year we end our convention weekend with the Anime Music Video finalists.  This year’s finalists were incredibly impressive! People from all over the world submit to compete in these categories and to multiple conventions.  The following categories plus the winner of that category at Sakura Con were:

Best Trailer:
“Deadpunch” by Rider4Z
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmM5X...

Best Drama
“Not a Dream” by OnyxAMVs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4yw0...

Best Fun
“One Hell of a Host” by BecauseImBored1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qK-xx...

Best Action
“Sleazy Swingers” by BecauseImBored1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCMww...

Best Romance/Sentimental – TIE!
“A New Day” by Vax
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04lKk...

“Awwkward" by VivifxAMV
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Uyn...

Best Comedy
“Ani-Mon” by Gene Starwind & GloryQuestor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CsIz...

Best Concept
“Spectrum” by NekoKitKat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upVQb...

Best of Show/Technical/Upbeat/Artist/Judge’s Choice
“Just Funkin' Dandy” by ShinAMV
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhh-0...

In the history of Sakura Con, this was also the first time anyone had won 5 categories. Personally I did love the Best in Show (+4 other categories), “Just Funkin’ Dandy” by ShinAMV.  Another favorite of mine was the Best Comedy, “Ani-Mon” by Gene Starwind & GloryQuestor and the Best Fun, “One Hell of a Host” by BecauseImBored1.  Take a look at all videos above, I promise you won’t be disappointed at their talent.  This is one panel I don’t miss.

Overall, while the merchandise hall felt smaller and less interesting than previous years, other areas of the convention got bigger and stronger, such as our cosplay community.  Freeway park is busier than ever, gatherings are larger, people are happier. We still have the strange glomp circle that appears to only ever be at Sakura Con and not at any other convention I’ve been to, so that’s got to say something huh?  We look forward to next year’s Sakura Con 2017!