Portland, OR USA. September 4th – 6th.
Kumoricon is a convention like any other, but it holds a special place in my heart. Set right in the heart of downtown Portland, it’s the biggest anime con in Oregon and one of the largest in the Northwest, second only to the well-known Sakuracon in Seattle. Kumoricon is special to me because it’s everything I love right in the city of my birth, so it feels like home.
First and foremost, I felt it was necessary to cover Day Zero, the day before the con. It’s a wild, hectic, and exciting time just before the start of everything, a true experience of its own. Preregistered attendees show up to get their badges a day early, braving the many lines to secure their places. While it may seem like absolute bedlam to some, it’s a great way to meet people and catch up with friends. Also, it serves as a vital planning time.
I arrived at the Hilton early to meet with people and kill some time, and to my surprise I was able to go right up and grab my press badge early. As far as the lines went, it was a fairly streamlined process. It went by quickly enough, much more quickly than last year. The staff did their best to keep order, always keeping a smile and a friendly face. Kudos to them for keeping cool under enormous pressure.
After all the badge info was worked out for everyone, I made the hunt for my room and got settled.
The first day of the con was quite fun. I got up early and spent most of my time getting my bearings: getting the lay of the land, checking out what panels were happening, and connecting with friends. The only real issue was that the elevators had been sectioned off, some of them going up to guest rooms only, others only going up to con space floors. I didn’t go to very many panels the first day, as many more were happening on the second. Instead, I checked out the game room, which was very well set up. The space was a lot larger than it was last year, and it was much easier to get around. Heading in was a bit of a hassle, as you had to go downstairs into a parking area that was sectioned off. Later in the evening, I went to a rather hilarious panel titled “Where Fanfiction Goes to Die.” The premise of said panel was the reading of horrible, horrible fanfiction, the likes of which I wouldn’t be allowed to speak of in this article. It was even funnier because they had audience volunteers act out scenes. Among the fanfics read (and reviled) were those based on The Matrix, Transformers, and Twilight. Overall it was quite funny, and I’m glad that I went. However, since it was a later, 18+ panel, it was the last event I attended, so I retired shortly after hanging out with some friends for a while.
Saturday had a lot more going on, and I probably did more on day two than I did throughout the rest of the con, or any con, really. I woke up early and headed to the Exhibitors Hall as soon as I could. It had a good spread of stuff, a bit less than in some earlier years, but they had plenty that appealed to my specific tastes. At the Exhibitors Hall I also ran into the Artists Alley table of the one and only Sonny Strait, comic artist and voice actor for such characters as Maes Hughes from Full Metal Alchemist and Krillin from DBZ. We had a brief chat, and not too long after that I went to a voice acting panel hosted by Tiffany Grant, who many know as Asuka Langley from Evangelion. Sonny Strait was there as well, as was Todd Haberkorn, a director of anime dubs and the voice of Allen Walker of D.Gray-Man. This was a very interesting panel, during which they talked about what they liked about the industry, how they got started, and where they think the industry is going. Being interested in going into said field, I wanted to learn about how to get a break, which is much more difficult these days due to all the competition. After thanking the guests of honor, I made my way to the Exhibitors Hall once again to make a few purchases. I managed to pick up aFist of the North Star figure, some manga, and a beautiful hardcover Blade of the Immortal artbook.
Later in the evening, I made my way to the ball, which was put together by our local Ouran Host Club. This was quite a lot of fun, and dancing the night away proved exhilarating to say the least. The music was good, the crowd was good, and it was the biggest event that I attended. After that, I was off to the 18+ panels, where we watched some good old anime debauchery and had a hearty laugh.
As the con drew to a close, I connected with all the friends I met and stuck around just long enough for the charity auction. This year the proceeds went to the Oregon Food Bank, and it was set up in cooperation with the Portland Police Bureau. While I didn’t actually make any bids, it was nice to see all of the money going toward an important cause. Overall the day was uneventful, and at the end I returned home, happy to have had such fantastic experiences.