This year was my second time attending Katsucon! Katsucon 2017 was a lot of things, but the three things that stand out to me the most are: it was surprisingly warm, almost everyone was cosplaying, and so many photoshoots!
I traveled to National Harbor on Thursday, and it was my first time taking the Amtrak. I arrived at the train station during the late afternoon, and then took a cab from the station to the Gaylord. The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center amazed me just as much this year as it did last year. It's a gorgeous venue, located right by the shores of the Potomac. I love bodies of water (especially natural ones!) so it's always a pleasure to have some water in sight. There's also a pretty ferris wheel that's almost always visible from the con! At night, the ferris wheel lights up.
Thursday was a pretty chill day for me (mostly traveling). When I arrived to the con, I got a bit lost trying to find my hotel room. There are a lot of elevators and once you get to your correct floor, it can be confusing to know which direction you are supposed to go (even when following the signs). Maybe it's because I have no sense of direction, but I followed the signs closely but some of the numbers were misleading. The room I was located in was in a side hallway that had a sign with a different range of numbers.
I cosplayed Sara Crispino (Yuri on Ice) on Thursday night, and press badge pickup went really smoothly. There was no line, and when I got my badge, the staff member advised I download the Guidebook app for the con schedule. I actually already had the app and the Katsucon guide downloaded since my friend told me about it a week before the con. This was useful since the con can update the schedule in real time; as many of us know, sometimes panel locations and times get shuffled around during a convention. One of my friends was waiting in the long pre-registration line, so I waited with her to check out Linecon. The line was super long, weaving back and forth and around, and it was a headache to look at. However, people in the lines kept things fun. There were a bunch of people blasting kpop songs, so an impromptu kpop-party-in-the-line happened. They even took requests, which was cool! And of course, tons of people were taking selfies. I was surprised by how many people were cosplaying on Thursday. Usually, you would think on Thursday some people would cosplay but most people would go casual, but the vast majority of attendees were in costume. And many of them went all out with elaborate costumes as well!
Late night on Thursday, I had dinner at the National Pastime Sports Bar & Grill. I had such a delicious pulled pork burger... It is definitely something I would order again. The pulled pork was so flavorful, and my belly was very happy after. At the beginning of the meal, I went to the bathroom to take out my contacts and take off my wig, and when I came back, my friend Sandy exclaimed that I looked like Isabella (from Yuri on Ice). So dinner somehow became an accidental casual cosplay. I love light-hearted and fun moments like this! It reminds me of a time at AnimeBoston when I took off my wig and my post-wig hair reminded me of a completely different character, so I decided to just casual cosplay it.
Friday was the official first day of the con, and I had a pretty lazy morning. I was pretty slow with getting into cosplay, but once I did, I went outside for a photoshoot with my friend Rhy. It was still really cold (at least to me) during that morning. I was shivering and getting goosebumps and constantly rubbing my hands together and running in place. I really hope the photos came out well and I didn't look like I was freezing. Looking around, I noticed that tons of other people were having photoshoots outside as well. Katsucon is definitely one of those cons where photoshoots are very popular.
Once the shoot was done, my friend Rhy and I ran back inside. We did another impromptu shoot on the lower level, the level where the pool and fitness center are. There's an arcade on that floor, so we wanted to get some photos there since we liked the funky lighting. When we noticed a photobooth... we decided that we just had to try it. I've done a photobooth before, but I've never done it in cosplay. It has always been on my bucket list to get some cute photobooth prints in cosplay, so it was awesome to cross that off my list! The photos cost $2, and it wasn't anything fancy (not purikura or anything like that), but the quality was surprisingly... bad. There was flash in there, but for some reason, the photos came out really dark and grainy and the colors did not look accurate at all. But, it's the memories that count, right? It was fun to do, and the photos are a testament to that.
Later on Friday, I changed to Katsuki Yuuri cosplay. I missed the Yuri on Ice meetup (unfortunately, I didn't make it to any meetups/gatherings during this con), but I saw a ton of Yuri on Ice cosplayers everywhere. Not just on Friday, but on every day of the con! I knew Yuri on Ice was popular, but I didn't notice the magnitude of its popularity until seeing just how many cosplayers and fans there were. I got to meet some online friends I haven't seen in forever (and some online friends I met for the first time at Katsucon), so that was amazing. Katsucon has a lot of attendees from all over the United States, and from other countries too, so there are plenty of chances to meet new people. Sometimes, I felt like it was difficult to make new friends though. A lot of people were attending with other friends or with cosplay groups so it was difficult for me to say hi and socialize in certain situations.
For late Friday night, I changed to Kang Jaehee (Mystic Messenger) cosplay. We had a full group planned, but unfortunately, we never had the full group all in one place. People arrived at different times, and some people had even more late-night cosplay plans, so some cosplayers had to leave to change. Even when I was cosplaying Jaehee alone though, walking around or waiting for the elevator, I was surprised that people recognized who I was. It made me happy since Jaehee is my favorite from the game! I was considering being Jaehee for the rest of the night, but I wanted to check out the dance and I did not want to dance in a suit. It was a good time for me to change into some casual clothes (and rip off my wig and makeup).
I went to the dance for about an hour, after 1am, and at first, I wasn't quite sure how to dance to the music. Eventually, I eased into it. It wasn't that crowded when I was there. There were people dancing on the dance floor, but there was a wide open carpeted area that was mostly empty. In the areas against the walls, there were chairs set up where people could rest. I did note that the dance had plenty of water stations against the walls, and I never saw empty water which is definitely a plus. Hydration is really important!
Saturday morning was my official time with Yume Project, the reason I went to my first Katsucon in 2016. Yume Project is a cosplay dance cover group, and our debut live was at Katsucon 2016. I haven't seen any of the dancers since last year, so it was a great reunion. We weren't able to perform this year, but we had a fun photoshoot and broke out into some impromptu dance just for fun. There were some other people who saw us in the hallway and joined in as well! It was great cosplaying Love Live with a group, even though we didn't have a full group.
After this shoot, I met up with two friends and we walked to Starbucks (the one outside the con). At first, I thought they meant the coffee shop inside the Gaylord. Technically, the coffee shop isn't Starbucks, but it sells Starbucks products. When we went outside, that was my first time realizing how warm it was. It was so much warmer than Friday! And of course, on the warmer day, I'm wearing the more winter-friendly outfit. This seems to be just my luck at most cons. Katsucon is definitely in a great location; there's a lot of shops and restaurants in walking distance from the convention center, so you don't have to be "stuck" at the con if you don't want to be.
The rest of my afternoon is where my con experience went downhill, but this had nothing to do with the con itself. Just lots of health problems. First, my contact lenses for my next cosplay (Atsushi from Bungou Stray Dogs) burned my eyes for some unknown reason. When I felt the burn, I immediately removed both. My eyes got extremely bloodshot and were constantly watering, and I knew I had to stick with glasses. And of course, my chronic illness decided to flare up in addition to my burning eyes, so I was bedridden for a bit when I had muscle spasms in my legs. I was MIA for a good portion of the afternoon, before I felt well enough to head back to the con again. Despite being in a lot of pain, I knew I still wanted to take Bungou Stray Dogs photos, so I participated in a night time shoot with Arien and Jase and also took a few selfies (with and without my glasses).
Continuing to rest my eyes as much as possible, I changed into semiformal Sara Crispino for the Formal Ball. Sara and Mila got to dance together, which was fun! I tried to teach my friend the Argentine Tango but it turned into a bit of a disaster, but a very fun disaster. It's definitely hard to teach in a crowded environment like the formal ball. There was a good mix of music, from soundtracks to classical. I got super excited when they played a song from Moana! They even played History Maker from Yuri on Ice. After my Mila had to leave (she had to change to another cosplay; lots of people have intense lineups at this con!), I tried to teach 2 other strangers the Argentine Tango I think it was a productive time for dancing. Also did a little bit of East Coast Swing (or at least what I remember of it). The Katsucon Formal Ball was more crowded than the Dance from Friday night. I didn't attend the Dance on Saturday night, so I'm not sure if Saturday had a bigger turnout.
I left the Ball early to catch a panel that I had attended last year too: What is a Sword Boy? the Touken Ranbu Phenomenon. I don't really play the game anymore, but I still love Touken Ranbu and this was a panel that I enjoyed a lot. I remember going to it, wondering if it was the same one I saw last year... and I was pleased to see the same panelists there! The presentation changed a bit though, since there are updates now. Last year, I remember they talked about the anticipation for two Touken Ranbu animes. This year, one of the animes (Touken Ranbu Hanamaru) came out, so they included info about that in their panel.
Late night on Saturday, I had dinner past 11pm at National Pastime. For dinner, I changed into casual Sawamura Eijun (Daiya no Ace) so I could be comfy while eating.
After checking my luggage, I wandered the con in search of fellow Daiya people. Despite missing the photoshoot, I was able to meet quite a few Daiya cosplayers! Some were old friends, some were new friends, some were people I just met, but it was great to see everyone. I wish I got selfies with everyone I met though! There were some moments of just waving and quick hello's, other moments of hanging out longer. I also spent the most time in the Merchants' Hall and Artist Alley on Sunday. I only popped into the Merchants' Hall briefly on Saturday (and I didn't go at all on Friday). There were quite a few sold-out items at both the Merchants' Hall and Artist Alley, but I was still able to snag some goodies (and some great deals!). I bought Daiya no Ace merchandise (as usual), but I also got one Bungou Stray Dogs keychain. At the Artist Alley, I snagged a Seidou (Daiya no Ace) strap and 2 Daiya no Ace polaroid art prints. After finding some friends and saying final good-bye's, it was time to head back to the train station. I wasn't able to say good-bye to everyone, but that's understandable for such a big convention. It's difficult to find people in the crowds at Katsucon, even with hints like "Meet me by the gazebo" or "Meet me outside the Artist Alley."
Katsucon 2018 falls during Lunar New Year, so I won't be able to attend next year. To everyone who plans to attend Katsucon 2018, I hope you have a great con!
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