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Katsucon, Katsucon, How I Love Thee, Katsucon, Let Me Count the Ways

Well, maybe not that many ways. And it’s a little off from Valentines Day this year, though next year it’ll be right back to Valentines Day weekend, possibly leading to a reprise of years past, when an elevator in the hotel was completely blocked off so people could get to the restaurant upstairs. At least, that’s the way it will be when Katsu moves back to Crystal City after three years in Washington DC. So that made Katsucon 14 the last blowout for us at the Omni Shoreham in the Cleveland Park area of DC, just down the street from the zoo. I must say that it has been a fairly good home the last few years. Certainly not a perfect space: the panel rooms are somewhat weirdly laid out, the dealer’s room is claustrophobic, and the hallways are too crowded, but it did what it needed for as long as we needed it. I doubt the staff are sorry to see us go, though, after all the drunks in the hallways and some vandalism in various spots.

Friday night started off with what should have been a bang, the Anime Music Video contest. In my not so humble opinion, the video crop this year was fairly meager in quality. There were certainly some good ones, but not nearly as many as I generally expect in a contest. Tastes will certainly vary, of course, and if you really love Ouran Highschool Host Club it was the contest for you, but I really never got into the groove of it like I have at other contests. Hopefully Katsu 15 will have a better crop. What I did get really did groove to was the “Anime and Mythology” panel discussion. While it didn’t stick to purely anime subjects, it was immensely informative and I had a really great time. I even hung around for almost an hour after it was done to chat with the guy who was running it.

As is normal for most conventions nowadays, they had some bands in to perform. I missed the Japanese band echostream, but I was able to make most of Eyeshine, a band out of LA fronted by voice actor Johnny Young Bosch. For some reason they were calling themselves an “edge rock” band, whatever that means, but they were pretty much The Foo Fighters without the recent acoustic adventures. Very competent and enjoyable non-threatening modern rock. Once they were finished I dropped in on the “Hey, HEY! Tone it Down!” panel. Turned out to be the Katsucon gaming room staff having their own R-rated gripe session. Quite a bit of fun, if you were in the mood to be rather brutal to humanity. I was at the time. That killed the night, though, due to my need for sleep and the rather much annoying delays on the Metrorail system due to a lot of track work.

Saturday ended up being a really short day at Katsucon for me due to some other plans. Just like the previous year, I had a ticket to a concert elsewhere for convention Saturday, so it became a really short day. I did manage to fun into a friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while so it wasn’t a waste of a day or anything, just short. One thing I will not miss about the Omni is the incredibly claustrophobic and cold dealers room. The door open straight to the outside world and the room is really low, so it’s very much not an ideal space. I was also able to stop by the Greg Ayers “Fansubbing, Downloading and YOU” panel, due to a bunch of time changes. Interesting discussion on the economics and ethics of fansubbing anime, all the more relevant given the perilous times the industry is in right now. I finished off my afternoon with the Geek Comedy Tour 3000. It was, well, a bunch of geeks all from DC who do comedy shows. Needs more polish, and it’s definitely PG-13 rated, but I had fun, so that’s what counts.

This having been my eighth Katsucon, it certainly made some interesting reflections on how fandom and Katsucon have both changed since I started into all of this back in 2001 at the Hyatt Regency. Everything has become both more professional in some respects, more commercial in many respects and more … extreme. I don’t remember the costuming being quite as designed to shock in some way all those years ago. I may just not be remembering well, though. Hey, it has been over seven years. We’ve also seen a massive exodus of the industry from the convention scene. We get very few industry show-off panels anymore. Of the three that were scheduled I know Media Blasters and Bandai both canceled theirs, but Media Blasters makes a habit of doing that. The winds of change are blowing, to where no one knows. Looking forward to my ninth Katsucon, back where it all began for me, though. What goes around comes around. Especially con crud *hack*.

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