20 Years of Sakura Con... 10 Years of Friendship
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Sakura Con 2017 has come and gone, the biggest anime convention in the Pacific North West has been a staple for my con going schedule for the better part of over a decade. As a fan of this convention ever since the days of good ol Baka Con (yeah… stupid name… pun intended) I always went by myself… that is until Sakura Con 2007 when I took my sister Lauren, best-friend Pookie, little-bro-from-another-mo B, and of course my best friend and Lifted Geek co-founder RIRI. This was our core crew and while our crew has grown over the years… it started with this little party of five weeby kids.
So this convention meant alot to us as a crew and while Sakura Con has stagnated a bit in recent years, this particular year felt strangely energetic. I don’t know if it was the anniversary vibe or us wearing nostalgia glasses, but this year was the most fun I’ve had at Sakura Con in a very long time. Ever since we started analyzing this con as a press/media outlet, I admit that the same excitement we’d feel every year… and the post-convention-depression… wasn’t the same as it was back in say 2009 (my personal favorite year of Sakura Con).
The layout has remained largely unchanged with the biggest difference being where they moved the artist alley. The main vendor hall felt wider and included more booths with the artist alley being moved across the street at the TCC… an ancillary building connected to the con. While some of my friends who vend at the artist alley had mixed responses to the move, from a logistical stand-point I found it an improvement over years past. The vendor hall felt more open than it has in years, and while Sakura Con doesn’t draw the same crowds that PNW con-heavies PAX or ECCC does, it has always felt just as cramped in past events. Walkways that felt more spacious and a good variety of different vendors made this year’s Sakura Con feel unlike any year in the past five or six.
Events wise, I found myself so busy running around various panels and shoots that unfortunately I wasn’t able to fully enjoy being an attendee as I have in previous years. RIRI was selected as one of the judges for the Cosplay Contest so that kept me running coverage solo for most of the con, with Lauren acting as RIRI’s handler and Dre unable to cover the convention with me… it was like a one man show. Luckily I did have some help from some LG friends who I was able to get passes for. Britany Quinn of Britany Quinn Photography and Anthony Vierra of Soul Studios (Website/FB) represented the Lifted Geek name as they covered the con for their own studios as well as for us.
Two of my personal highlights came from checking out the 6%DOKIDOKI and GOUK fashion show and the Loveline panel hosted by our friends at Zapp’s Spaceship of Love. As usual, the fashion show was a brilliant mix of unique J-Fashion from some heavy hitters in the industry. I’ve always admired GOUK from past shows but was more so impressed by the folks at 6%DOKIDOKI with their colorful styles accented with a whimsy you can only get from J-Fashion. The laughs were poured on heavy during the Loveline panel, with the guys from Spaceship of Love giving the best/worst advice to many a love-lorn geek.Kinda bummed there wasn’t the usual Zapp cosplayer hosting the panel but it was made up with a spot on Rick & Morty along with my boy Rob shedding his Bidoof mask for a Nic Cage mask… yes that happened.
My one scheduling complaint was the skits and Cosplay Contest, for some reason they decided to schedule these events… which granted are major draws for con-goers… at 9AM on a Saturday morning. I’ve always looked forward to checking these evens out, but with interviews lined up and prime coverage hours set during the morning, it was a shame I couldn’t make the time to cover it… especially since my partner was one of the judges along with my friend DJ.
Being with the core crew felt good, even though I live in the city we still always get a hotel for Sakura Con… it’s become something of a tradition and one I don’t intend to give up yet. Lauren, Pookie, RIRI, and B were there at the beginning so it’s fitting that we toast our 10-year CONiversary together. Despite where I can critique the show, it did improve this year and honestly I feel it wasn’t just because of the nostalgia. A more spacious vendor hall, wider variety of booths/vendors, and the panels that have become routine year after year are spiced up by the people that make this con worthwhile. My friends and fellow geeks, our fans are like family to us and though this year marks Lifted Geek’s fifth year of operation… it all started with a group of weeby kids ten years ago.