Sakura-Con 2017: Cosplay Skits and Photoshoots

Easter weekend once more brought about my favorite anime convention, Sakura-Con, in Seattle, WA. Capping at around 20,000 people every year, it’s certainly one of the largest anime conventions in the PNW. I’ve been going to Sakura-Con for nearly 10 years, and every spring when I come back it feels like coming home.

Sakura-Con is always Friday-Sunday, however, if you’ve pre-registered for the con, you can pick up your badges on Thursday. Many people also check into their hotels Thursday evening, so they won’t miss any of the convention on Friday. For these reasons, everyone I know has always called Thursday “Day 0” of the con.

On Thursday, I arrived in Seattle around 6 P.M. with my friends and hotel mates, Beki and Joana. After checking into our hotel, we waited for Beki to change into her cosplay before heading to the convention center for badge pickup. For Beki and me it was a quick endeavor, since press and staff passes are held in a different room with almost no wait time involved. Joana however, had a long wait in store for her.

Many people still cosplay and gather for meets up and photoshoots on day 0. Which is exactly what Beki (Epona Tenjou Productions) and I opted to do while Joana was waiting in line to get her attendee pass. Originally, we had planned to get some battle-ready photos of Beki’s Weiss Schnee cosplay from RWBY, but it was too dark outside to do a shoot outdoors. So, we opted to head to the Sheraton and get some more refined photos in the lobby and by the beautiful marble staircase.

After the shoot, we ended up meeting up with Joana and Emma to grab a late dinner at the Cheesecake Factory across the street from both the Sheraton and convention center. We said our goodbyes, following a delicious and pleasant dinner, and headed out.

Both Beki and Joana realized they had forgotten things at home they needed for con. I ended up accompanying them on their trips back to their places. We didn’t return to our hotel until about 4 A.M., causing a much later night than any of us had originally expected. We knew we were in for a long day 1 of con, and hurriedly went to bed upon arrival.

* * * * *

Thankfully, I didn’t have to wake up too early on Friday, as I didn’t have to be anywhere until late morning. We arrived at the convention center as the cosplay contest pre-judging and skit contest check-in was starting at 11:30 A.M. My next appointment of the day was at 12:45 P.M., and I assumed I had plenty of time for the pre-judging. I hadn’t anticipated the time they would have us wait in the check-in room before heading to the main stage, nor did I realize at the time that our group was third to last in the cosplay skit line up. At around 12:20 I messaged my next appointment and told her our photoshoot probably wouldn’t be on time. She said that that was alright and to contact her as soon as I was done, she had most of the afternoon free, thankfully. I didn’t finish with the skit practice until about 1:45 P.M.

As soon as I could I ran to meet up with Swan Song Creations (Emma) for our photoshoot. She looked amazing in her Nora Valkyrie cosplay from RWBY. We ended up walking to the pillars area of freeway park for our photoshoot and got some fabulous photos. We were both thrilled with the results!

Since the cosplay skit dress rehearsal had gone so much longer than originally anticipated, the free time I had scheduled for lunch between my shoot with Emma and my next one was gone, and I had to immediately head to my next shoot. Funnily enough after I met with Kiara Cosplay at the convention center, we headed to the lower part of the freeway park, near the pillars. Thus, putting me right back where I started. We spent a few minutes talking about her character, Mikleo from Tales of Zestiria, as I had never seen the anime. Once I had a better idea of her character we got right to it. The photos turned out really well, the bright blue, teal, and white of her cosplay stood out from the surroundings nicely. I hope to get a chance to work with Kiara again.

 

By the time Kiara’s shoot was done, it was about 3:30 P.M. and I hadn’t eaten since the morning. At that point, I was closer to my hotel than the convention center. So, I headed to the Subway next to my hotel, and then up to my room to eat a late lunch, and rest my feet. I had made the mistake of wearing some newer shoes to Sakura-Con and they were proving to be pretty brutal for my feet. I hadn’t had any trouble with them before, but conventions mean a lot more walking and standing around than my typical day to day routine. I was already feeling very sore and I wasn’t even done with the first day of con!

I opted to stay in my room until it was time for my next shoot at 4:30 P.M. Unfortunately, I didn’t expect my feet to rebel on me so intensely, I was late to my next session by about 15 minutes. It took me much longer to walk through the park than usual. I apologized profusely when I arrived at our meeting place by the Juicy Café. I had been in communication about my tardiness, so they hadn’t been waiting with no idea if I’d show up or not, but I still felt really bad. Thankfully, I was working with my friend RyokoYuuki, whom I’ve known for years, and she and her group were very understanding. Also, as it turns out, we were waiting for a few others from the Seven Deadly Sins group to arrive, as well.

We ended up waiting quite a while for one of the group members to get a pair of contacts in. Eventually, we headed to the park, and ended up at a small garden area with some concrete steps nearby. We decided it’d be a good place to get group shots of everyone. Once we finally got started, the shoot started about an hour later than originally scheduled. We did manage to get group photos of everyone before a few people had to leave for other events. Then, we moved on to pairings and solo photos. Despite the timing set back everything went very well and everyone loved their photos.

After the Seven Deadly sins shoot, I really wanted to rest my feet. When I got back to the convention center I hung out for a while in the 4th floor lobby, located at the top of the main escalators near the entrance to the park.  We’ve all dubbed it the “brotographer” or “brotog” corner. While I was there I took the opportunity to snap a few hallways shots of cosplayers. Eventually, with too-tired feet, I headed to the seating area by the Juicy Café on the second floor, with my buddy Jay. We stayed there about an hour before it was time for him to leave, and for me to head to the masquerade located in the main stage room on the 4th floor.

The masquerade is one of my favorite events to attend at Sakura-Con ever year. I love all the beautiful outfits and masks people wear for the dance. The lighting is always dazzling too, and allows for some great dancing photos. I love to watch everyone dance and to snap photos of all that is happening around me.

I stayed at the masquerade about 45 minutes before heading to the virgin killer swear meetup at the brotog corner. The meet up was huge! It ended up getting so crowded that we opted to move the whole party to the 1st floor lobby, where there was much more space. It took a while for everyone to wander down to the meeting place, as it had been so loud and busy upstairs that a lot of people didn’t hear the announcement. It had been too chaotic for many group photos upstairs as well, but once we got downstairs we organized for group shots. These photos are hilarious, everyone was on their game. I had a blast at this meet up. Honestly, I love it when people embrace the newest “sexy” clothing meme, and have large meet ups like this. It’s just such a blast. Also, I think we may have had more guys wearing the virgin killer sweater than ladies! I’d say some of the cosplay highlights of the meet up for me were sexy Spock, Rarity, Batman, and Kakashi. I stayed at the meet up until about 11 P.M., then I headed back to my hotel to get some sleep. I had a very early wake up time the next day, thanks to the cosplay skit contest.

* * * * *

My alarm abruptly pulled me from my slumber around 7 A.M. on Saturday morning. My immediate urge was to go right back to bed, my whole body was still screaming at me from overdoing it the day before, particularly my feet. Alas, we all had to get ready for the cosplay skit contest, and call time was 8 A.M. So, Beki, Joana, and I got ready and headed to the convention center, where we met the remainder of our skit crew, Jay (Raging Storm Cosplay) and Holly.

Upon arrival at the contest green room, the staff provided us with free juice and granola bars. An apology for having to be there so early. Shortly after checking in, they lined us all up backstage where we waited for the show to begin at 9 A.M. Sadly, Since we were all behind the stage, we didn’t get to watch the performances before ours. Given that we were third to last, we missed nearly all the skits ahead of us. Judging from what we could hear both of the skits and from the audience reactions, the others did really well.

Skit video record by Capn Sanity.

Our skit, called Ice Cubed, was based off the transformation sequence in Disney’s Frozen when Queen Elsa embraces her powers and changes from her coronation outfit to the ice dress, to the song “Let it Go”. In our version, we had Beki playing the original Queen Elsa, and Jay playing a genderbend version, aka King Ellis. Our Elsa and Ellis transformed on stage with the help of Joana and Holly, our stage ninjas. They would pull parts of Beki and Jay’s outfits off on cue, by the end they were fully transformed. In addition to having tear away outfits for a transformation, both Beki and Jay used bubble guns to simulate ice powers on stage. If you’re wondering where I factored into this skit, I was Olaf! I had a brief cameo when Elsa “made me”, then I waved at the audience and skipped to the side. I came back at the very end of the skit waving around bubble guns gleefully before exiting the stage with the rest of the crew.

Admittedly, I was feeling kind of nervous that morning. Between all our busy schedules, and with Jay living in British Columbia, our first full cast rehearsal had only been the day prior. We had done a good job of communicating about routines and concerns online, but there was still that anxiety that something could go wrong. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about, not only did we do an amazing job, we won best in show! I am so proud of my group for all their hard work! It was a well-earned victory.

Stage photo by Charlie Liu Photography and the victory selfie is from my phone.

Following the cosplay skit contest, I headed back to my hotel to get changed out of my Olaf cosplay. As much fun as I had wearing it, there was no way I could spend all day in a fleece kigurumi. I was already overheating. On the way to my hotel, I grabbed a sandwich and ate in my room, before heading back to the con for my next photoshoot at noon.

My next shoot was with Loratail Cosplay. She was cosplaying Cranberry from Magical Girl Raising Project. The character is a forest musician, so we decided that the wooded area of the park was the best place to work. The photos turned out beautifully, the green and white dress, with the rose accents looked perfect among the trees.

After the shoot, I had about an hour and a half to kill before my next event. I opted to wander around and snag some hall shots. I first hit up the brotographer corner to see who was around. I hung out for about an hour before heading downstairs to the Juicy Café lobby to get ready for the Sailor Moon meet up.

The Sailor Moon meet up was scheduled to start at 2 P.M. on the large concrete stairway just outside of the Juicy Café. I’ve been the main photographer for the large Saturday meet up since 2015, and I love doing it. This year was the smoothest one yet, because I had my friends Erin and Natalie helping me keep everyone organized. It’s always so thrilling to see so many fellow Sailor Moon fans in one place.

Getting that giant group photo at the start of the meet up is always the highlight for me. It’s the show stopper photo! From there we always go in smaller groups, working from each sailor scout by themselves, villains, and then requested pairings. I always get a kick out of seeing which scout we’ll have the most of each year (minus Sailor Moon, that’s a given), this year it was Sailor Chibiusa. When there is time, I end the meet up by taking requests for solo or smaller group shots. This year a Neptune proposed to her Uranus during their photos! She totally said yes, btw. It was very sweet.

Once the meet up was done I had about 30 minutes until my next shoot with Calendar Girl Cosplay. I was meeting her by the Juicy Café, so I grabbed a spot to rest before we met up. We ended up sticking around the courtyard right outside the café. She liked the gardens and nearby buildings for her Lust cosplay from Full Metal Alchemist. It was a pleasure to work with her. We’ve actually known each other since middle school, but lost touch for a number of years. It was a real joy catching up and shooting with her for the first time.

At this point I was getting hungry again, so I stuck to the second floor and got myself something to eat from the Juicy Café. I swear this place makes a killing at every con, I go there at least three time each convention to either get a smoothie or a full meal. I hung out with some friends around the café until it was time for my next shoot, which I was meeting by the café anyway, so it worked out.

My next shoot was actually with my friend Desiree (RyokoYuuki) again. She and a few others had a Dragon Age group that day and wanted to get a few shots. They were all looking pretty worn out. We opted to stay in the outside courtyard area, instead of heading up to the Freeway Park, like originally planned. The photos still worked out nicely. We took some group photos by the big bell near the stairway, and some solo shots near the trees right there.

The Dragon Age group had been my last photoshoot of the day. The only other plans I had for the night were to watch my friends play cosplay chess. I had a few hours to chill before then and decided to head back upstairs to hang out with friends and snag some more casual hall shots.

Late night chess started at 11 P.M., I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was going to cheer on my friends, but my first time watching cosplay chess last year had been a little lackluster. The overall game had been lengthy and very disjointed, with battles often going on far too long. This year was nothing like that. There were a few bumps every now and then with people you could tell were new to chess, but they were paired with experienced players that helped guide the whole thing. Also, it was absolutely hilarious! Late night chess is definitely my favorite over regular, the jokes are funnier, and everything gets a little more risqué. I would say my highlights from this year were the Madagascar penguins, David S. Pumpkins, and Victor vs Yuri (which ended with Victor winning by wooing Yuri over to his side.) I’m so glad that I went again this year, it was a complete do over from my first viewing experience. I’m honestly looking forward to next year’s. After chess, we were all very exhausted and headed back to the hotel to get some much-needed rest.

* * * * *

On Sunday, I woke up so unbelievably sore from the previous days of abuse to my body. Thankfully it was my least busy day, with only two photoshoots to worry about and no other events to attend. By 11:30 I was all packed and ready to check my luggage into bag check before heading to the last day of con.

My first shoot of the day was with Rose Quartz Latte Cosplay in her Sakura Haruno cosplay from Naruto. We met up at the brotog corner and chatted with friends for a few minutes, before heading out to the park around noon. We shot in a few places at the park, but stuck to the area with more trees overall. I love how these photos turned out, the lighting was perfect that day. We stayed outside for a while after the shoot, catching up and enjoying the spring air together. When we eventually went back inside we met back up with friends at the brotog corner.

After about 30 minutes I headed downstairs to grab a late lunch at the Juicy Café. My body was also reminding me just how sore I was feeling from the rest of the weekend. I snagged a table and hunkered down for a bit. While I was eating, my friends Sandy, Hannah, Jen, and Kelvin showed up. I hadn’t seen them all weekend, I was so happy we ran into each other. Everyone save for Sandy are out of towners, I was bummed I hadn’t seen them during their visit. They joined me and we played catch up before they decided to head upstairs for some last-minute shopping.

By about 2:30 P.M. I was feeling rested enough to run over to the artist alley for the first time all weekend. I had about an hour and a half before it closed, which proved to be plenty of time. I got some absolutely adorable space cat art from s2Heart Designs, a rocker witch riding a guitar from Sean Donnan Art, and two of channelSQUARE’s Sailor Moon stickers. An excellent art haul, I must say.

Once I was done at artist alley my body was protesting yet again. So, I headed back to the brotog corner and sat down with the regulars for a good two hours. It wasn’t particularly productive, but not a lot was happening from 4-6 P.M., so I don’t feel too bad about it. Plus, I made new friends and got to spend more time with people that were attending from out of state. I always value the time I get to see those individuals thanks to Sakura-Con.

Finally, at 6 P.M., I met up with Beki and Joana and we left. Before heading to the hotel, we stopped at the pillars in the park, so I could do my last photoshoot with Joana as Yang Xiao Long from RWBY. Thanks to Joana’s willingness to climb around we got some awesome photos. This part of the park really is perfect for RWBY cosplays. After that we headed back to the hotel to grab our bags, and head home. Thus, concluding another fantastic Sakura-Con.

As always, I am greatly looking forward to next year’s Sakura-Con, when I’ll get to “come home” once more. Until next time I’ll spend my time reminiscing over this year’s events, and preparing my cosplays for next time. I’ve also promised myself to bring better shoes next time. See you next Easter weekend, Sakura-Con!

All photos were taken and provided by Fearless Photoworks, unless stated otherwise.

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