[Sakura Con ’24] Reputation

Baby, let the games begin.

This is my second Sakura Con. I first attended in 2009. I decided to come back after having a positive experience in the Pacific Northwest fandom scene attending the Washington state Renaissance Faire and North West Idol Fest. After visiting Washington state few times a year before Sakura Con, Normally, I would attend Anime Boston during Easter weekend, but flights to Boston are expensive for my pocket book, and it does help that I had my college buddies also going up to Sakura Con.

Home of the Girugamesh! Whatever happened to that guy?

Downtown Seattle: Getaway Car

Sakura Con took up two convention center buildings – the old building, otherwise known as the Arch and the brand new Summit building. Most of the things I wanted to do was held in the new Summit building. You could get some amazing city scape photos on the terrace or on the fifth floor. However, having the cons spread out in two buildings about a block or so away made it difficult for people to navigate. It was very common to see attendees and cosplayers opt for cozier and walkable shoes. Hence, I brought a pair of red flats for my Sailor Mars and Nero cosplays.

The OG Arch building

We stayed at the Sheraton Grand in downtown. We generally had a positive experience. The front desk was even nice to give us free bottled water everyday. Unique restaurants in the area were plenty. Our favorite new discovery was a British pub called Elephant and Castle. We also checked out Neko: A Cat Cafe on Day Zero to meet some local furbabies. Also, if you walked a block or so from the Summit building, you could find some affordable Japanese eats. Kizuki became my go-to ramen spot for lunch.

Our home for four days and three nights.

No rain at all during Sakura Con! We were in for a lot of daylight!

It was like this all weekend


Sakura Con Programming: …Ready For It? 

As a disclosure, I was a participating for Cosplay Wrestling Federation: Sakurumble. I entered as Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon and Nero from Fate Grand Order. This was my first time doing Cosplay Wrestling Federation at a large scale con as a main entry. We had an amazing turnout for the main show. Our comedy show filled up the room on Saturday. We had a brand new stage (and bomb lighting) complete with a runway. It really did feel like we were Saturday’s main event! As a first time entry for Sakurumble, I was amazed with the amount of fans Sailor Mars was getting. Much love for the girl boss Sailor Senshi!

Sakurumble 2024

I love attending fan panels, particularly panels I can’t find in the Southern California scene. I attended Abner Senires’ The Anisongs of My Youth. This otaku in a smoking red jacket was singing classics from Macross: Do You Remember Love, Studio Ghibli, Evangelion, Sakura Taisen, and more. It really was a blast form the past singing along to “Geki! Teikoku Kagekidan” and not feeling my oldtaku age. Abner was also covering songs from Sound Euphonium and Bandori. This was a fun solo karaoke panel and I hope we get to see more of him throughout the con circuit!

Anisongs of My Youth

I also attended the Anime and the Philippines panel. Though it was held at the last time slot of the day, it still had a very captive audience. The panel went through the checkered history of anime broadcast in the Southeastern Asian country. The panelist focused on the mecha and super genre robot making a splash in the 1970’s, including how Voltes V became a national treasure and cultural icon against facism.  The panelist also covered anime inspired works from Filipino artists such as Trese, Barangay 143, and Manila Memories. This was an insightful panel wherein I learned a lot about Filipino localization of anime. Who could ever forget Dennis, our non-binary royal from Ghost Fighter?

Discussing Netflix’s Trese

And I was also a panelist at the con hosting “Back in My Day: Y2K Fandom” for the first time at Sakura Con. We had a really good audience filling up almost 3/4 of the room at 10AM on Sunday. People can flooding in once the main doors were opened. I certainly gave people a blast from the past discussing what conventions were like in the early 00’s and the price of Sakura Con pre-registration in 2001 – a whopping $20 for the whole weekend.

Myself and Azure Mage discussing the year 2000


Ballroom Dance: …So It Goes 

My Anime Los Angeles ballroom dance staff colleague, THE Craig Yamaguchi ™, recommended that I check out the ballroom dance. I was wearing Yor Forger and was on a mission…to do my job as press. Craig and I danced a few times to tunes from Studio Ghibli and Japanese RPG’s. We noticed that the music was very similar to what we typically play at our dance. The floor was pretty large and there was plenty of seating. I did appreciate the amount of water available because a fast waltz or a swing out can really take a lot out of me. The ballroom dance was only two hours, and I wish the dance was much longer since so many people come out and dress up for anime prom.

Christine Daae at the ball

Oh hi Lucifer!

Formal version of Bulbasaur

What are you doing Friday night?

Dreamland Maid Cafe: Gorgeous 

While I have attended Dreamland Maid Cafe during my past times at Anime Pasadena, I wanted to see how Dreamland faired outside of the Greater Los Angeles area. It was easy to book a spot on Sunday. There was even a ton of room for walk-ins on Sunday. I ended up ordering a drink, parfait, and a selfie with the maids. Much of the maids present remembered me from Anime Pasadena. I even made a new friend next to me and it was their first Sakura Con and maid cafe experience! I was treated to two performances featuring the maids dancing to the theme to Sailor Moon, Miku Hatsune, and others. Even though I have attended Dreamland in the past, the vibes were different in Seattle. We had a view of downtown from the Summit building and seeing new performances is always a treat.

Dreamland Maid Cafe

Dreamland is pricey, but well worth it for an authentic maid cafe experience on this side of the Pacific. And those keychains are pretty cute!

Dreamland Maid Cafe


Industry Panels: This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Sakura Con has a hearty dose of industry guests that I admired. I couldn’t get to the Gundam Seed guests because panel times occurred during my commitments with Cosplay Wrestling Federation and you had to spend $85 on a framed print for a guaranteed autograph for the voice actor cast. Instead, I went to the Spy x Family voice actor cast panel starring Alex Organ, Megan Shipman, and Natalie Van Sistine. The cast of the family comedy hyped up the upcoming US release for Spy x Family: Code White. The cast also talked about favorite lines they have performed in the show. Megan Shipman’s Anya yelled a line about breasts which got a laugh from the audience. Audience members were also welcomed to ask questions including if the cast shipped Yor and Agent Twilight. The most wholesome questions came from kids cosplaying as Anya who were actually into the show.

Spy x Family hype!

Spy x Family hype!

I also attended two Love Live Nijigasaki panels during the weekend. There were no concerts or solo performances for the voices behind Setsuna Yuki and Rina Tennoji. Autographs for the school idols sold out within the first hour of the dealers hall opening on Friday. The line for the open meet and greet on Sunday was already filled. To meet Setsuna and Rina, you really had to wake up early in the morning to secure a spot to meet your idols. The panels I attended focused on the school idols’ history with the Love Live franchise. Coco Hayashi would talk about how she watched the original Love Live with her father. She also talked about her favorite song, “Cherry Bomb” because it was her first time singing at Setsuna being the second person to portray her. Both actresses were very friendly to the audience – however, Bandai Namco screened questions prior to the panel; no open Q&A was available.

Love Live panel on Friday

Love Live panel audience on Saturday

The line for the free meet and greet. Capped at 100.

And it was very nice of Coco Hayashi to flash hand hearts at me!

Sadly no selfies with Coco Hayashi…


Dealers and Artists: Don’t Blame Me

Sakura Con’s dealers hall and artist alley could take a whole day to browse because there was so many! The vendor hall took place in the Summit building basement. It was about the size of a Kmart, even with that white Kmart lighting. I liked the fact that the vendor hall had tea dealers. I was looking for herbal teas to add to my collection as I do collect teas from places I travel to. They also had Royce, a booth that was selling fancy Japanese chocolate. Being that it was still March, I got their sakura themed white chocolate in hopes that senpai would notice me (yay for late White Day presents!).

Stepping into the vendor hall

The dealers hall also had a few industry booths including Bandai Namco showing off the latest Gundam Seed movie. There was a huge area for autographs for Western dub voice actors. The was even a section for local conventions to promote their events. Both Kumori Con (Portland, OR) and Kuroneko Con (Spokane, WA) seemed very promising next events in my exploration of PNW fandom. I also appreciated that both events promoted genuine inclusion for LBGTQ fandom. I bought a few cat themed pronoun pins from both cons.

If you thought the vendor hall was huge, then you should see artist alley. Artist alley was in the Arch building taking up two floors! This consisted of a small conference space and one large exhibition space. There was plenty room to walk and breathe. I was able to take my time on Friday to explore both floors in hopes to find old school anime goods and Ahri decals for my laptop. I was able to find Filipino mythology inspired pins, Utena themed berets, and more. There were a ton of Genshin inspired merch here and there. But the artwork that surprised me the most was from the Ghost fandom. There even was a Ghost stamp rally if you bought things from all the booths that sold Ghost fanmade merch!


Cosplay Culture and Vibes: Look What You Made Me Do

It wouldn’t be an anime con if I didn’t comment on the cosplay culture. Aside from Genshin and Honkai taking over, I liked how there was a variety of fandom taking over both the Arch and Summit buildings. Prominent fandoms this year included Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, Apothecary Diaries, Hazbin Hotel, Jujutsu Kaisen, and Card Captor Sakura. I mean, if you are going to cosplay as Sakura Kinomoto, might as well do it at Sakura Con!

Sunday brought in a ton of bunny ears

Sunday brought in a ton of bunny ears

While there were cosplay meet ups, these were fan organized and not sanctioned by the con. Therefore, this made cosplay meet ups difficult to find. You had to be on Facebook to figure out when all the gatherings were taking place. I wish I would have known this ahead of time – there were a lot of Sailor Moon cosplayers on Friday for the meetup and in turn, a lot of Fate cospalyers on Saturday when I was dressed up as Nero.

Sunday brought in a ton of bunny ears

People were generally friendly. Most photoshoots took place at the Summit terrace and at the outdoor garden in the Arch building. These outdoor locations served nicely for photo backgrounds. They were seldom crowded and people were very polite about sharing space. I didn’t book and photoshoots or worked with photographers due to my lackadaisical schedule. I mainly shot photos on my phone with a tripod and timer.

Summit terrace was a nice place for photos

The cosplay repair room was a heaven sent! While there were multiple stations providing tools and resources for a cosplay hot fix, the staff here was able to help me trim and even out the bangs in my Setsuna Yuki cosplay.

Setsuna Yuki!

Setsuna Yuki!


Final Thoughts: Delicate

Overall, Sakura Con 2024 was the first time I really had fun as a convention attendee in a while. I tend to treat conventions as business write ups where I’ll be like, “Yeah, that was cool. Onto the next one.” Yet, Sakura Con 2024 was different. I miss this kind of anime con being the norm – the all weekend party with a variety of programming from Japanese culture, karaoke, all night video gaming, rooms dedicated to anime music videos, chill and friendly cosplayers open to new friendships, and more. I feel this type of convention, at least in Southern California, has become such a rarity now with an emphasis on cramming as many voice actors in with limited programming availability.

That’s nice of them!

However, Sakura Con’s strength is that it celebrates both Western and Eastern sectors of the anime industry without it ever feeling like an overwhelming trade show. While the vendor and artist alley could take a whole day to explore, the variety and uniqueness of its programming really make it stand out. There were panels and events I wanted to check out, but they were at the same time as other panels. I had to plan accordingly depending on which building I was located in.

Magic Knight Rayearth – for your female lead isekai needs

Wearing comfy, walkable shoes is a huge recommend for this con. No one is judgey if you’re wearing flats or sneakers with your sailor senshi cosplay. We all know that we are getting our steps in just by going back and forth from the Summit to the Arch. The location is safe and nice; you’ll still see a few cosplayers walking around downtown Seattle at 10:00pm.

How about no?

Overall, I highly recommend Sakura Con. It’s becoming one of my favorite conventions. I do see myself coming back next year. I love getting to know the PNW anime fandom. As a queer anime fan, this environment has been the most welcoming out of all fandom regional communities I have been a part of. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to present my Y2K fandom panel and to perform with Cosplay Wrestling Federation as Nero and Sailor Mars. Here’s to 2025…!

Written by Cosplay Ancestor Eri
IG: @cosplayancestoreri
Twitter: @dameaznable
TikTok: @cosplayancestoreri

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