I know I said that I would be back to anime science again after the last post, but I have to talk about Katsucon 2018 this past weekend, as it was my first Katsucon since 2014. For those of you who don’t know, I returned from teaching in Mongolia for the last three years in July and while there is a Mongolian holiday (Tsagan Sar) that falls during the same time as Katsucon, it takes 2 days of travel to fly from the east coast of the USA to Mongolia. This made it all but impossible to attend Katsucon and make it back to work on time. Either way I was glad to be back as Katsucon is one of my favorite conventions. I love the location at the Gaylord National Convention Center, as it has plenty of room, which means even at this year’s con, which was much bigger than I anticipated, I never felt like I was packed in like a sardine.
The food options are great and while I know the Old Hickory Steakhouse is probably out of the price range of many con goers it is worth every penny. My favorite is the filet, with peppercorn sauce and mushrooms. The bottom floor sports bar National Pastime is another option, and offers a good burger at a more reasonable price. I know there are many other options in the area but I’m lazy during cons and I don’t normally venture outside of the con that much. I will say that the Walrus Oyster and Ale house is nice, if a little noisy at times. However, we don’t come to Katsucon for the food, we come for the anime, games, Japanese culture, cosplay, friends and fun.
Katsucon has always been a major cosplay convention with a large number of cosplayers and I think they actually outnumbered the people who weren’t cosplayers this year. Everywhere I looked I saw more people in costume than people like myself who were not cosplaying. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s awesome, and I love seeing all of the people and the attention to detail they put into their costumes. I just have no skill in that area, and I don’t really want to pay a huge amount of money ordering a costume online. I did cosplay as Rock from Black Lagoon once and I would love to cosplay as Kirito or Kira Yamato someday. (Don’t judge me- I know the shows have issues, but I still enjoy them.) I can be a bit of wimp when it comes to asking people if I can take their picture; being a teacher, I am always worried that the people I am taking a picture of are over 18 at the minimum. Either way I did get a few good shots.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid- Kana Kamui
Macross Frontier- Ranka Lee
Kiki’s Delivery Service- Kiki, and Spirited Away- Chihiro Ogino/ Sen
All I know is that it is from a video game
The last one is actually courtesy of my parents who decided to come down to DC for the holiday weekend. They enjoyed the museums around the National Mall, but they also ventured into the con for a bit. My dad loves Halloween and gets a kick out of seeing everyone in costume. My mom saw a really well done Asuka plugsuit cosplay and asked about the anime the character was from (not sure showing her Neogenesis Evangelion might be the best idea).
I love giving to and going to panels, so this year was a special treat as I had 4 panels at Katsucon 2018, Teaching with anime, Teaching in Asia, Anime Chemistry 101, and Sake 101. Thanks again to everyone who came to my panels, you guys are the best.
For the teachers out there, I started a facebook group where we can share our thoughts and ideas about using anime in the classroom.
Now for the panels I went to
Anime the Future: When science fiction and anime meet- This one was run by my friends over at Doomtastic and it did not disappoint. I enjoyed how they went through all of the different genres and subgenres of science fiction, giving notable Japanese and western examples of the genre and how they influenced each other. I also liked how they included a few books with each of their recommendations and examples.
A Pixel Perfect Life– It was a pretty decent panel about mental trauma, and how anime/video games deal with it and/or do not deal with it. There were a few too many clips that ran a bit long and I felt some rather good examples were left out (Neogenesis Evangelion and Full Metal Panic), but it was decent overall.
The Real Science of Voltron– As a kid who first cut his anime teeth on Voltron I wish I could have caught this one from the very beginning. It was a fun panel, and I only wish the text on the slides was a bit bigger so I could read it from the back of the room. Here’s hoping they might want to do a collaboration in the future.
This Bites: Vampire mythology in anime– Interesting and informative but too short, as they were done after about 20 minutes and left the rest for questions.
Women of Japan- The speaker clearly knew her stuff and it started off great talking about Amaterasu and Himiko, but she spent far too much time on later female poets, which was not exactly as interesting.
Saturday Morning AMVs– This turned out to be far more fun and engaging than I ever expected. That goes to the quality of the AMV’s that were submitted and the staff for picking the best ones to put in the contest. I mean it made Yuri on Ice actually interesting, and the Outlaw Star Guardians of the Galaxy mash up was great. Plus the Zero to Hero My Hero Academia one is an outright classic.
A Crash Course in Intellectual Property Law– A panel on law at an anime convention makes absolutely no sense, and yet perfect sense, considering how many fan artists, fan fiction writers, and other creative people are in attendance and creating works based on anime and video games, present company included. This video was also shown during the panel.
Taken by the Gods- If you don’t know who Charles Dunbar is and/or haven’t seen one of his panels, then where have you been for the last few years? His panels examine Japanese history and culture as it relates to anime. Not only are they informative, but also he knows how to work and entertain the crowd. One of my favorite lines was stating how everyone from a certain anime all needed to be slapped upside the head like Tony Dinozzo.
JET- Japanese Exchange and Teaching program– Not the best panel but it did explain what the JET program is and how it works. I was hoping for a little more in the way of specifics about the program, but I’m probably the outlier being a teacher with 10 years of experience, including 3 years overseas.
Nerd Work- Working full time in the geek community– This was the only panel I walked out of, not because I was just killing time before going somewhere else, or just using it to eat lunch, but because it did not help me. As someone who is hoping to make a little money on the side with his anime hobby, I was looking forward to learning a lot from this panel. My hopes were dashed because the panelist did not know much about the online aspects of the community. He gave some great answers to individuals asking about how the artist alley worked, but he admitted to not really knowing much in the way of blogging and being a Youtuber. At that point I knew I wouldn’t get too much out of it and left, but many stayed as it was relevant for them.
Afterlives of Anime- Charles Dunbar at his best yet again.
Cherry Blossoms, Sparkles, and Dokis: The Most Romantic Anime– This one actually surprised me as I’m not much of a fan romantic anime, but it was a good panel. They had some good recommendations that I might be checking out in the future. A little more analysis of some of the different types of romance in anime would be nice, but I always like the more academic panels.
What Makes Us Love Sports Anime?- It might surprise some of you, but I am not a huge sports anime fan, yet this was a good panel highlighting a number of sports anime. Surprisingly the martial arts sports anime like Hajime no Ippo and Yawara were left out. Like the romantic anime panel, though, a little more analysis would have been nice. I will be looking into the ping pong and badminton anime, though.
The Chrysanthemum and the Cross: Christianity in Japan- Charles Dunbar- need I say more?
Even though I didn’t buy much, I always love strolling through and seeing what everyone has created. One of the artists I bought some work from in the past had some new work that I picked up.
I didn’t buy much here either, which my wallet is probably happy about, but I did find the English dub of Great Teacher Onizuka, which I loved the first time around, and I’m looking forward to watching it again. I also picked up Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet which looks interesting. I was happy to find SAO progressive 3, and a few more chapters of Arpeggio of Blue Steel, some reading material for the stationary bike.
In closing perhaps the best part of the con was meeting up with convention friends, those friends you first met at a convention, and only ever see at conventions. I have been meeting up with Doomtastic at conventions since Zenkaicon 2014 and its always a fun time. If anyone ever wants to hangout at a con just grab me at one of my panels or shoot me a message.