Sakura-Con 2016

I spend a good portion of my year looking forward to Easter weekend, although not for the reason most would think. I look forward to Easter weekend because that’s when Sakura-Con takes place every year at the Washington Station Convention Center in Seattle, WA. Arriving at Sakura-Con every year kind of feels like coming home. It’s the con I’ve been attending the longest. In fact, this year marked my 8th anniversary attending! I know I’m always going to see good people, snag some awesome swag, and see amazing costumes at Sakura-Con. This year was no different.

This was my first year attending without staying in a hotel. Each day, I carpooled to the convention with a few friends. On Friday morning, I arrived with my friend Emma (DreamyFoxCosplay) at around 11:30 A.M. We wandered the con together before joining our friends for lunch on the second floor by the Juicy Café. It’s a regular resting place for my friends and I. It’s nice because it’s tucked away behind the escalators.

After eating, our first stop of the convention was the vendor’s hall and artist alley. There was a ton of great art this year, and much to my friend Sarah’s (Rose Quartz Latte Cosplay) delight, there was even a booth devoted entirely to pug art (Puglie). They had this really great pug Sailor Scouts poster I contemplated getting and even some plushies, which Sarah promptly purchased one of.

Sarah's look of joy at the Puglie booth.
Sarah’s look of joy at the Puglie booth.

By early afternoon, we opted to pass the time hanging out and taking pictures. I had purposefully left my schedule very open this year so I could just relax and enjoy some much needed time off. My senior year of college was taking a lot out of me and I had decided I didn’t want to do back-to-back photo shoots like years prior. I did, however, do an impromptu shoot with Emma, David (Ginger Ten), Sarah, and Jay (Raging Storm Cosplay). They were dressed as Emma Swan and Captain Hook from Once Upon a Time, Spider-Gwen, and genderbend!Elsa respectively.

After wandering the con for a few hours it was nearly time to go to a Love Live panel our friends were hosting at 4:30 P.M. The panel was super cute and informative, as someone that has never watched or played Love Live, I was definitely interested to learn more about it. Given how explosively popular Love Live is, I wasn’t completely clueless about it but I definitely learned quite a bit about the game play and about some of the main idols in the game and show. They even talked about the voice actors. Best of all, they started the panel off with a really adorable lip-sync performance complete with dancing! I really enjoyed the panel.

Love Live panelists: Bella, Gail, Raiphin.
Love Live panelists: Bella, Gail, and Raiphin.

The panel ended around 6:00 P.M. and since we only had an hour till the masquerade would begin I decided to focus on getting more hall shots before heading to the main hall. The masquerade is honestly one of my favorite parts about con. There’s just something really wonderful about seeing everyone all dressed up complete with beautiful masks. The songs are always pretty varied as well, so people aren’t stuck doing one particular type of dancing the whole time. To me, it’s always a delight to see everyone having such a lovely time on the dance floor. It’s like a beautiful, and extravagant, geeky prom or something. I got several great photos of people dancing together under the colored lights. The theme for this year was cherry blossoms.

After spending around an hour at the masquerade, I was pretty hungry and tired. So, I met up with a few friends at the Sheraton’s Daily Grill for some dinner before we all headed out to get enough rest to tackle day two of con, which is always the busiest.

******

On Saturday, I arrived with David, Jay, and Emma a little after lunch time and once again met up with friends by the Juicy Café for lunch before tackling the con. By the time we finished up, I had about 3 hours to wander before needing to head to a huge Sailor Moon meet up at 4 P.M.

I stuck around the second floor for a good hour or so, snagging pictures of cosplayers in the area. I even did a small photo shoot with Cheyanne, my friend Greg’s sister. Greg had modified his old Maka Albarn (From Soul Eater) scythe with gears and other embellishments to match Cheyanne’s steampunk version of the character. Cheyanne’s cosplay coupled with Greg’s excellent prop making skills looked wonderful. She was getting compliments all day long!

After that mini photo shoot, I decided to head up to park located outside of the 4th floor to take more pictures of cosplayers passing by. It was there that I ran into my friend, Celeste (Celestial Artistry). Celeste had missed the cut-off date earlier that year to apply for an artist alley table so she did the next best thing. She was walking around the park with a small portfolio and a stack of business cards with the intention of telling people about her art. Only, Celeste was feeling a bit shy and hadn’t handed out any cards when I ran into her. So, I helped her actually hand them out and engage a few people in conversations about her art.

Eventually it was time for me to head back to the 2nd floor to the large concrete stairs just outside the Juicy Café, where the Sailor Moon meet up was to be held. I was, once again, the main photographer for this meet up. I felt like I was slightly more prepared for the sheer number of Moonies I would be working with this time versus last year, but my goodness no matter how prepared you are that is still a lot of people to direct! I do feel like it went really well and there are a ton of great photos to show from it. I will more than likely volunteer to be the photographer again next year!

Once the Sailor Moon meet up was done, I was ready for a good long rest. I decided to head towards the cosplay chess room with Sarah. Greg, David, and several other of our friends were going to be performing in the cosplay chess and we wanted to be there to see the show and cheer them on. Thanks to my press pass, and being friends with the coordinators, they let me and Sarah in early to get good seats. We ate a snack and mingled before the game began.

Despite attending Sakura-Con for 8 years now, this was actually my first time going to cosplay chess! I can see now why this is a favorite activity for many con goers. It’s fun to watch your favorite characters interact with those of another series and battle it out.

I do feel like the game ran too long though. A lot of the battles felt like they went way longer than necessary and were often hard to follow. In the future, it may be best to give each battle a time limit. If people start to go over that limit, maybe there can be a “referee” that drags the losing player off stage or executes them to end the scene. It would have an added comedic effect and would keep the game running smoothly. I know it’s not an easy event to run and those are just my two cents on it all. I did hear that next year they are going to make sure to pair an experienced cosplay chess player with an amateur to ensure that a veteran of the craft can help the newbies along the way, and I think that will have a very positive impact on the game.

We ended up staying for both the regular cosplay chess and the late night one, as our friends were performing in both. As was promised by many, the late night cosplay chess was definitely funnier and, of course, raunchier than the earlier game. By the time the late night chess ended, it was nearly 1 A.M. and we were all exhausted. We skipped out on any parties that were happening and opted for a good night’s rest instead.

******

On the last day, we arrived a bit later, at 1 P.M. I grabbed myself a quick snack before heading up to the 4th floor in the corner at the top of the main escalators. I always make it a point to go there as most of the photographers and many cosplayers tend to convene in that area. We’ve actually dubbed it the “brotographer corner”. It’s a good meeting place if you’ve lost a friend or want to be able to easily meet someone before a shoot. This is exactly what I was there for, to meet up with some friends for a photo shoot.

I met up with my friends Abi (Abi Sue Cosplay), Jerica (Jerikandra Cosplay), Kristen (Kit Marie), and their friends Air Bubbles Cosplay, and Riley, for a Fairy Tail shoot in the park. Admittedly, I’ve never seen Fairy Tail, but I thought everyone’s cosplays looked fantastic! I’m also really interested in watching the show after taking pictures from it hearing more about it from my friends.

After the Fairy Tail shoot, I decided to take a last stroll through the artist alley and make all my purchases. I finally got some adorable pug pins and stickers from the pug booth! It’s a good thing I went when I did too: they were sold out of nearly everything! I really hope they come back next year.

I spent the last of my con mingling with friends and snapping some more photos of amazing cosplayers. Towards the very end of con, I even got a chance to meet up with my friend Jeremy (Cosplay With Me) from Texas. I was thrilled we managed to run into each other. I’ve known Jeremy online for a few years now but this had been our first meeting in person! We didn’t get to chat for too long before he needed to head out but we did get a selfie.

What I’ve always loved most about Sakura-Con are all the amazing people I get to see each year, and the new friends I always make.  Not to mention all the show-stopping cosplays people pull out every year that absolutely blow me away! Honestly, the cosplay game has only raised higher and higher with each passing year. Sakura-Con is always a guaranteed good time for me. I can say without hesitation that I will always look forward to spending Easter weekend with all the amazingly kind and talented people of Sakura-Con.

*All photos in this article were taken by Fearless Photoworks.*

 

 

%d bloggers like this: