Seattle, WA, USA. March 29-31, 2013.
For all that Fanime will always have my allegiance as my home con, Sakuracon is swiftly becoming one of my favorites, and it’s only slightly because it is close and grants easy access to delicious food that friends and I look forward to months in advance.
This year’s Sakuracon took place over Easter weekend at the Washington Convention Center in Seattle, and with beautiful weather that was more reminiscent of California than Seattle, convention-goers were able to take full advantage of spring as it came in. The Seattle Convention Center is gorgeous and includes access to a number of nearby parks that provide backdrops for cosplay gatherings of all shapes and sizes. This especially was a plus because, although the convention center is large enough, it is full of winding hallways and passages that cause a lot of congestion, so being able to get cosplay gatherings and large groups out of walking areas was very advantageous.
The Seattle Convention Center is also extremely easy to get to; the light rail from the airport costs about $3 and ends two blocks from the convention center and surrounding hotels, something that was super-appealing to me as an out-of-towner. It’s also right in the heart of downtown Seattle, near the iconic Pike Place market ,as well as all the nearby shops and restaurants. If you forgot anything, it was easy to get it. Thursday, Day 0, was also the day that Gameworks, a huge arcade boasting both recent and classic video games (as well as an entire room dedicated to DDR variants), had its unlimited video game night, and it was clear that a lot of con-goers chose to spend their Thursday night there. Being right across from the convention center, it was an obvious choice for a great start to the con.
Sakuracon is a great mid-size convention; it’s large enough to have an industry presence— a few companies held release announcement panels and screening premiers—but small enough that fan panels also have a large foothold in the programming. There’s always something going on, but not so much that you get truly overwhelmed, like at the gigantic conventions. Friday’s big event was the masquerade ball, where everyone went the full nine yards and dusted off their formal-wear or made fancy costumes for themselves. Saturday had the Eir Aoi and Luna Haruna concert, the two singers responsible for Sword Art Online‘s openings and endings, as well as the Masquerade. Sakuracon also had a ton of showings ongoing at all times the convention was open, as well as some cool game tournaments, including mahjong, which I was really surprised to see. Dedicated showing rooms for things like AMVs or guest spotlights meant that those had their own place and could be showcased, but it also left space open for even more variety in the remaining rooms.
Sakuracon is an incredibly friendly convention, and spring in Seattle is a great time of year; even if it’s raining, nothing is very far away, whether it be the hotels or food. I highly recommend going and checking it out.