Dallas, TX, USA. June 1 – 3, 2012.
Reporter(s): Kouichi Kimura
Another 1,500 miles from home, and another A-Kon was upon us. As I mentioned to you all in last year’s report, I was excited to come back to one of the greatest conventions being held in the United States today, and in 2012, I was definitely not disappointed. With the official numbers being 21,982 attendees, it’s not hard to imagine the number of cosplayers enjoying themselves.
Among the talents invited to A-Kon this year was Mr. Vic Mignogna. As always, he was a pleasure to talk to, and brought along a whole array of prints that he would sign for you (for a not-so-expensive price). Several other voice actors available for autographs were Cherami Leigh (Witchblade), Kyle Hebert (Bleach, Dragonball Z), Quinton Flynn (Digimon Data Squad, Zatch Bell), and Rikki Simons, best known for his work as GIR from the hit Nickelodeon cartoon ‘Invader Zim‘. We were able to catch up to Mr. Simons for a quick interview at his booth where he and his wife were signing autographs.
On day one, I spent a majority of the time cosplaying it up and enjoying what the Dealer’s Room had to offer, which every year is never a disappointment. A-Kon pulls together a wide array of vendors selling just about anything you could want to satisfy your anime urges and insatiable appetite for STUFF! The line to get into the Dealer’s Room was not horrifically long, but if you wanted in sooner, it’s not the worst thing in the world to show up 30 minutes after the doors open, just to avoid any kind of “wait”. The hottest item this year was a pair of brainwave-controlled cat ears called Necomimi. Going for $120 a pop, these cute, fuzzy ears were demonstrated in the Dealer’s Room and were selling as fast as they could stock them on the shelves.
After being cornered in one end of the dealer’s room for a few photo ops, I felt it necessary to check out Artist’s Alley. There were the usual fuzzy cat ears and button vendors, but the thing that caught my eye was the artists selling fanart from popular anime. Due to Kon policy I could not get pictures of said works, but take my word for it when I say that for the prices they were asking, they are definitely a good buy. There are also quite a few that, for a higher fee, will do a commission of your choosing. If the Dealer’s Room doesn’t quite have what you’re looking for, spend some time checking out some of the talent!
Day two started out just about the same, but with my eyes on the Charity Auction, the main focus for the day. Having last covered it in 2011, if you are looking for treasures at A-Kon, but want to spend your cash on something for a good cause at the same time, this is the place to be! This year’s charity was to help the Japanese earthquake relief. Yours truly ponied up $340 for the prize of the day, a sword made specifically for A-Kon 20 (the name is right on the blade). Only three of them were ever made. Other items for sale were enough plushies to satisfy anyone’s appetite for cuteness, miniatures, small weapons like knives and prop swords, and even some retro gaming controllers for the PC/Mac.
If the Rave isn’t your thing (like it isn’t mine), Anime Hell is exactly where you want to be on a Saturday night. Just be sure to arrive early enough to get a good seat. I was detained for some wonderful photo shoots and ended up near the very back of the line, actually six chairs away from being shut out. As for the show itself, I must say, it gets more interesting every year. Plenty of candy and classic cartoon mayhem to be had. The back row (which almost never gets candy) got some love this year after someone handed out oversized pixy stix to them. I guess they’re trying to make up for the lack of a throwing arm. But the real “treat” came during the Hard Gay contest which takes place a third of the way into the show. Eight men waltzed across the stage like Hard Gay during the ramen shop episode in the hopes of being the best. It came down to two, and there was supposed to be a Gay-Off to determine the winner. Suffice it to say that after they started smooching, it ended up a tie. You heard me right… not even five seconds in, the two were making out like the contest depended on it. With Anime Hell ending, this reporter unfortunately had to get some rest for the journey home the next day, but not before getting a few snapshots of the crowd.
Before departing, I was able to get some other info on goings-on. Like how the Rave was shut down early due to someone spiking the water, and that someone had managed to steal all the light bulbs in the Sheraton elevators (except for one bulb in each, how nice of them). Nothing too horrible, but at least the staff there was able to keep things from getting too far out of hand.
Despite the ever-growing numbers that are going to A-Kon, this convention is still one of the greatest ones in the country. However, if you look at it the way I did, the more people that show up, the wider the variety of cosplays you get to see, as well as the greater the chance that it will be back next year. If you haven’t heard the news, However, if you look at it the way I did, the more people that show up, the wider the variety of cosplayer outfits you get to see however, be sure to go to A-Kon’s website and read up on the new location for 2013!