Kin-Yoobi Con 2012 took place on August 11 - 12, 2012 at the Hilton in Newark, California. The con was a two day weekend event and faced some rivalry with the NorCal Summer Gathering on the Saturday of the con. However, Bay Area otaku still came out to this small convention in the East Bay. Guests of Honor included Vic Mignogna, Robert Axelrod, and Cristina Vee. Scarlet Rhapsody attended on Sunday only. This was on a whim because I was in the Bay Area on business. I ended up cosplaying as Sailor Mars in support of the new Sailor Moon series that was announced for 2013. However, for a sixth year con, Kin-Yoobi Con had its ups and downs. The theme is inspired by Katy Perry's "Part of Me" top 40 song - a top 40 hit during the time of the con.
Location and Registration
The convention was held in Newark. While I did love the location - very nice for cosplay photoshoots, very classy and elegant - the downside was that it was far away from public transit. Most of the attendees were young teens and college students. While it was easy to find parking (and it was free), there was no real direct route from the Freemont BART to the con. My suggestion to attendees is find a carpool. Registration went by pretty fast. There was hardly a line - show up and pick up a badge.
Dealers Hall and Artist Alley
The dealers hall and artist alley were merged together. It took a hotel ballroom and a meeting room to accomodate for the dealers hall and artist alley. Though it was a small con, if you were into My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there were a ton of artists selling My Little Pony related wares. Additionally, I ended up picking up My Little Pony pins (Rarity!) and a Rainbow Dash figure for my brother. Fashion was also a highlight of the dealers hall. There were plenty of indie Lolita designers selling everything from accessories, hats, and outfits.
Exactly what the title implies, main events had a marathon of various anime trivia challenges throughout Sunday. While there was not hustle and bustle going on at KinYoobi, I decided to check this out. The set up had the same feel as Fanime's Anime Jeopardy - there were three fan contestants and Vic Mignogna. It was nice to see a guest of honor being pitted against otaku. Categories included Evangelion, Gundam, Pokemon, and Old School Anime. This was fun to watch since everyone involved in it kept it entertaining. I normally do not stay for the entirety of an Anime Jeopardy, but this was entertaining.
Sunday Fashion Show
Sunday's main event was the fashion show. This show highlighted indie designers in the Bay Area. The styles varied from visual kei, walolita (kimono style lolita), elegant lolita, and sweet lolita. Several designers were highlighted in this fashion frenzy. Our colleague, Ebie, was modeling cake hats from a local designer. The designer also makes wings and other cosplay accessories. Our other colleague, Charie, dressed up as Fluttershy, was modeling the pegasus wings. It was nice to see this runway show at the convention. It made me wish I wore classic Lolita at the con! Some of the outfits and accesories were given away as door prizes during closing ceremonies.
Cosplay Cafe was scheduled for a two hour long event. The hostesses dressed up as waitress and maid versions of Kingdom Hearts characters. I decided to check this out since this was on the tip of everyone's tounge. There was a long line for Cosplay Cafe and luckily we were the first. However, we did not know they were going to charge admission. While I did not mind paying $3 (I like supporting small cons in any way I can), I can understand if this last minute at-the-door price may turn people off. $3 got you a table with your personal cosplay hostess and a few snacks. I ended up getting the sparkling water and strawberry treats. Our table also played one round of Apples to Apples. The major problem I had with Cosplay Cafe was that it was in a small room and there were almost 50 people in there. Smaller tables would be nicer for a future event so it can keep games much more interactive and intimate. It would also be nice to have a room simply dedicated to Cosplay Cafe. The people who ran it were very nice and friendly and I hope to see this part of the convention grow because I did have fun here.
Snorlax's Leftovers: Nijo Castle
Right across the street was Nijo Castle, a fancy Japanese restaurant. I found out about the restaurant via Yelp. I decided to celebrate my birthday over there during the con. Though the place was nicely decorated to look like a Japanese castle, the prices were actually not too bad. I paid almost $12 for my philly rolls (tax and tip and green tea included). While we were noming, we were also watching the London 2012 closing ceremonies. Nijo Castle is a nice restaurant to get away from the convention for a little bit. The atmosphere is truly Japanese and it is a must-visit eatery if you are in the East Bay.
Ballroom Dance: More like the Oakland Two Step!
The ballroom dance was non-exstent. We arrived from dinner to find that the dance floor was empty. Like any high school dance, the girls were on one side and the guys were on the other side. It seemed no one had any real interest in dancing. While I don't mind fancy dances, I think timing was a huge issue since the con was practically empty by the time 8PM hit. It had potential, but it would have been much more successful had it been on a Friday or a Saturday evening.
Closing Ceremonies: I Got Some News for You!
The ballroom dance transitioned into the closing ceremonies. This was a very unique closing ceremonies. I'm normally used to the main events hall with the rows and columns of seats as the convention chair says parting words. Closing ceremonies ended up being a dance off. Ebie and Claudine wanted to get their groove on. Lily and I were just observing like chaperones at a high school dance. Since this would be the last NorCal convention for me for a while, I decided to request DJ Earworm's "Party on the Floor." The convention needed more shuffling. The dance off offered prizes from the Lolita designers. I ended up getting a frilly fan for my shuffling. Claudine ended up get a waloli outfit. We ended the con before 11PM in the evening and we were on our merry way home.
Kin-Yoobi Con was one of those spur of the moment events. If I was not in town for business, I probably would have not considered it. I would reccomend this to East Bay locals who like hang out conventions. I also reccomend it to photographers and cosplayers who enjoy photoshoots. This location is prime for fancy photoshoots. I wish the usual suspects (Lionel, EBK, etc) stopped by because there were plenty of amazing opportunities. The guest line up was pretty standard and kept to locals. Though this convention has been going on since 2007, it is still a fairly small convention. I only went on Sunday and I eyeballed out under 1,000 attendees for that day alone. The convention could be improved in certain departments, but it does not mean it was bad. I do have to give out respect points to security and the higher ups for responding to creeper issues. Thanks for looking out for the safety of the attendees.
Many thanks to Claudine, Ebie, Rico, Lily, Cheryl,and others for making this a really fun event. It was nice seeing people I have known in the cosplay community for a while. I really did enjoy my time at KinYoobi Con. Even though it was small, people were very friendly and open to conversation. If you are a local, definately give this con a chance. For more information about Kin-Yoobi Con, please visit their website.
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