After hearing that a local friend had to leave Katsucon on day one because all flights were cancelled, I was checking my JetBlue app consistently. Having the sword of Damocles dangle over my head was unnerving. While I managed to make my own fun at Katsucon, I couldn’t help but feel unease that my flight may be cancelled or moved a few days up. That’s the risk that comes with attending winter cons; you never know what may happen to deter your travel plans.

This is my third Katsucon coming in from Boston. I have consistently have had a wonderful experience with what Katsucon offers. I love the maid café, karaoke, cosplay events, artist alley, late night programming, etc. The con is generally organized. Staff is very friendly. Everything is laid out in a way that makes sense. I’ll always been in love with the Guidebook app for ease and convenience. I always appreciate seeing the Japanese Cultural Institute present. However, this year felt different.

Mind you, attendee vibe is no fault of the con. I’m not one to talk about Livejournal level drama on the con report, but I felt this needed to be said. On Saturday morning, I ended up having a panic attack. Without going into too much detail, I went to find a quiet space to catch my breath and have my body normalize. I was on the gazebo level. I found a quiet corner to sit down and lay my head down. Two photographers told me I was in the way of their shot and insisted that I move. I told them I had a panic attack, but they still insisted I move. Jared was stern enough to tell them to show courtesy. It wasn’t this incident alone, but some cosplayers and photographers (some, not all) had brows held high, a very “don’t talk to me” vibe. One Sailor Mercury cosplayer went off the rails on Jared for accidentally stepping on her dress (these things do happen in crowded spaces). Of course, this type of mentality was more at the gazebo level. Otherwise, if you’re down at the fountains or general programming, cosplay and photography thirst is a non-issue. I love the cosplay hobby and I love making jokes about the gazebo, but this is the side of cosplay I don’t like dealing with.

Programming is always a plus for Katsucon. I wish I had more time to check out the Japanese Cultural Institute. I enjoyed the tea ceremony by the Comiku Girls. We live in a time wherein critics will call appropriation on non-Japanese people practicing and teaching the culture. However, though the JCI workshops are taught mostly by non-Japanese academics, they were very informative and I got a lot out of them. Keep the Japanese Cultural Institute – it’s a valuable piece to Katsucon programming.

Panels in general were a great variety. There were several repeats from last year, but we also had some new panels added into the mix. My favorite new fan panel would have to be the convention food panel. I was happy to mention some of the happy hour deals at local restaurants in Oxon Hill. Staying at the Gaylord can be pricey, but it doesn’t mean you have to pay an arm and leg to feed yourself.

Katsucon is a decent con if you’re local to the area. It is always a gamble if you’re traveling from out of the area. While one can book a hotel on Day Negative One, one cannot predict when the snow will come and go months in advance. It’s very tough to tell if I will be back for Katsucon next year. I do love the programming and the Gaylord, but the overall vibe of the attendees and thirst can be a major turn off. Katsucon is pretty much your standard anime con with some awesome late night programming, cultural presentations, excellent sized dealers hall and more. I really do feel you get what you pay for this medium sized con. I did enjoy the little moments I had such as being a part of both Love Live cosplay meet ups and really liked the people that I met and talked with. However, because of unpredictable weather conditions and what kind of attendee Katsucon (or rather the Gaylord) attracts, just does not motivate me to return.

Keep up the awesome programming, Katsucon! If you’re local to the DC Metro area, this is worth checking out. This is definitely a hotel convention; there’s always something happening every hour. While there are some precious cosplay backgrounds, don’t forget to also check out some of the programming Katsucon has to offer.

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