Kraken Con took place on September 28 – 30, 2018 at the Oakland Convention Center in gentrified Oakland, CA. Kraken Con invited guests such as Deedee Mango Hall, Courtenay Taylor, Kahri Wahlgren, and Xanthe Huyhn to their final show. Kraken Con gave us many memories and blessing for the few years they brought a fans for fans show to the East Bay. The convention started out at the USS Hornet and then became biannual event. The mid-sized convention attracted Bay Area locals looking for something between Fanime and Crunchyroll Expo, something not too huge, but has the same bombastic attitude towards fandom.
Programming at Kraken Con was very diverse. Throughout the convention, there was always something to do. There were hardly any lines; this wasn’t a line con. With the exception for autographs, you can get into any event. No need to line up before Cosplay Wrestling Federation – guaranteed seat for all! Programming consisted of video rooms showing fantasy and adventure themed anime throughout the con. This made fans of classic anime happy seeing Slayers and Lodoss shown to today’s newly audiences. We had game shows throughout the convention hosted by Ryoga Rocket. In every corner, there was something to do.
The dealers hall had the most excitement going on. There were plenty of anime type dealers selling ita bags, daki pillow covers, rubber stamps, and more. The artist alley had lots of enamel pins and fandom goodies. I ended up buying a few keychains, a Love Live tarot card set, and other knick knacks for presents. The dealers hall also had an area where you can do gladiator battles with friends and also try out archery. I did a few rounds of archery, but I can seem to hold the bow and arrow steady; guess I’m more suited to be a Saber than an Archer.
The dealers hall also hosted the video game room where there were live tournaments going on throughout the day. If competing live isn’t your jam, you can pull up next to a console and pay some classic games. The consoles in the video game room had Super Nintendo, Sega, etc consoles. A few imports like Super Robot Wars V was also available for play. Kraken Con’s game room is smaller than what you have a larger con, but it doesn’t have the wait times. There is plenty of opportunity to play Smash Brothers or Street Fighter with a friend or a rando.
Kraken Con didn’t have a rave, but they had the Atlantis Ball. The Atlantis Ball was held on the 21st floor of the Oakland City Center Marriott. This was hard to find because there was no signage leading up to the 21st floor. However, once you did enter the 21st floor, you got a pretty nice view of the San Francisco skyline. Water stations and seating were available for people to rest up and hydrate. For those coming in single and ready to mingle, there was a section of chairs where you can sit and be available for a dance or two. There was also a section for prom style photos, but bring your own camera. The dance was hosted by our copy editor, Jared the Greek. The song selection was interesting – a few traditional ballroom sounding pieces, and a few top 40 style songs. Overall, a very fun, formal event for otaku who want to dress fancy and have a ball they can call their own.
The atmosphere of Kraken Con was very friendly. Everyone was nice to each other. There was no sense of elitism or fame seeking. Cosplayers posed for photos without problem. The level of cosplay skills at this con was amazing; there was a lot of creativity seen here. We even had an official photographer in the dealers hall that took professional grade photos of cosplayers. The staff was super friendly and willing to help out attendees. However, Sunday had a very somber tone. Because the convention was coming to a close, the staff knew this would be their last day hosting Kraken Con. There was this air of people not wanting to leave and not wanting Kraken Con to be the last one. It’s one thing for a con to claim hiatus after a year and fade off, it’s another thing knowing that this would be the last.
Kraken Con 2018 went out with a bang. There was a lot of strong elements going for Kraken Con. Guests brought in a ton of Steven Universe and Overwatch fans. There was plenty of amazing things to buy in the artist alley. For the price of the three day badge, there was plenty of things to buy and artists to support. Cosplayers can get a free shoot with Oscar C (and photos back guaranteed!). Programming was strong and plentiful. This was also nice for families taking their little ones to their first con.
Kraken Con will be missed. This is the definition of by fans for fans that the Bay Area otaku community fosters. If there’s one con that summarizes Bay Area fandom as whole, it’s Kraken Con. There’s not many mid-tier all nighter conventions that are run anymore. The nail in AOD’s coffin has been hammered. Kraken Con will rest in peace alongside other cons that have came and went. Kraken Con was one of the first cons that invited us to be guest panelists at their show; this was the first con that valued us after moving from Boston to California. Though Carrier Con might be the next best thing for mid-tier events in Northern California, Kraken Con is a class of it’s own. Rest in Peace, Kraken Con. You may be gone, but not forgotten.