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Anime Washington 2024

Hey there, welcome to the first ever blog post reviewing my experience at a convention! This one is extra special only for the fact that this is the first ever Anime Washington to exist, so this will be a review of this cons first go around.


To start with, I want to preface that in no way is this a call out to slander anything with the con, as will be any review post of any con I go to. This is genuinely my own experience and my own thoughts going into the con, and how I felt everything was done or handled. Plus, this is only one persons experience, everyone has their own schedules, agendas and things they are into when they go to a convention; so everyone's experiences will be a little to extremely different depending on who you ask. I'm going to start this review with the main highlights that are good about the con, and than afterwards go into the main highlights that were bad.


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To start with going into it, I kept an open mind primarily because this was their first Anime Washington, but that doesn't mean I completely gave them the benefit of the doubt. Anime Washington may have only come to be this year, but the creators behind it are not new to the convention scene at all. Anime Washington is made by the people who are known for Washington State Summer con, a fairly large convention that happens in Puyallup every year at the Washington State Fair Grounds. Along with this con they also host The Gaming Expo and a Toy Show in the same place. I personally have not gone to either one, but I am hoping to go to the Gaming Expo this year, and if I do I will possibly write about that as well. So overall, this may be their first anime con, but it isn't their first con by far.


The convention was held in the Tacoma Convention Center, which honestly isn't a bad location, it's a shame that not many cons choose this location. Hotels and food are literally just a walk away, and I'm not talking in the sense of Seattle walking where you still need to walk a couple of blocks to get to somewhere, I am talking you walk out of the convention center, go down the street and there are plenty of food and hotel options. Being as how it was my friends birthday, their father paid for a very fancy room for us, but i am sure if anyone were to need just a regular room the price difference would be manageable if not the same or close to Seattle pricing.


I loved the atmosphere of the con going in because nothing felt too overwhelming, overstimulating or that you needed to constantly be someplace or doing something. The fact that the con was only two days with very little panels and open events that you can attend was a good medium for me as someone who gets overwhelmed very easily. The first time I went to ECCC I only went for one day and I almost immediately had a panic attack with how things were structured and the amount that was going on with the volume of people that were attending. A con of the velocity and structure needs to have control to an extent or things can become bad fast for some people. So obviously this con was way down on the other half of the scale when it came to that, but it wasn't underwhelming either.


Everything was super accessible to get to in my opinion, and even though it was in three floors, the escalators and elevators as stairs were never crowded to an extent that was too much. The Artist Alley, Vendors and guests were all in one area, and to some that may sound like it got crowded, but it never did, even for a con that sold out on compacity. I never felt over crowded, there was plenty of space for people to line up for guests and plenty of space for people to shop and vendors and artist alley. In fact Artist Alley was broken up into two sections so that way people saw artists when they first came up the stairs, and more when they actually entered the room.


Food itself was accessible in the con, granted the line was extremely long all the time, but as I wrote above there was plenty of food places down the street from the con, and hotels were very close if you wanted to go back to your room and eat something you brought. That was not the only food area either though, which a lot of people didn't realize. There were two other food carts in the con, one right outside the vendor hall and another on the third floor down the hall from the info booth. I ate their most of the time because it served ramen, sushi and had drink and snack items as well. I'm not too keen on buying overpriced food from a con, but I did save up to eat there so it didn't bother me too much, and the ramen and sushi were delicious in my opinion.


The guests that were announced and attended were very well recieved, as is a main highlight for the team behind these cons. They are well known for a large variety of guests from voice actors to actors to influencers and cosplayers, plus so much more. My friend got to meet the cast of RWBY, we met the voice actor for Fatgum and Frankie, and I got to meet Freckled Zelda and be in a video with her personally! The guests truly made a big impact on a lot of peoples experiences at the con, as I am sure it does for a lot of their other cons.


The gaming room was very fun to be in and we played a few games that didn't have too much of a wait time. It was brief being in there, but in that brief time we could tell if you stayed there for a while it would be well worth it since there was a lot to do there as well. They had a live broadcast going on of some popular gamers, and plenty of games to choose from and request. I myself played project diva and me and my friend played super smash bros as well. People were very respectful when asking for their turn next, and a few said good job and thanks for their turn. Overall a very pleasant game room to be in.


And another really great part was the Rave. It was very inexpensive to get in, only costing $5, and although it was a bit odd that they allowed kids in, you were still having to show your ID to the staff when entering. Later It was told to us that the children inside were staff's children, and they weren't in for too long at least, just an odd note I had. Drinks and snacks were offered at the rave as well, which was an amusing thing I noted when I came in. I am used to raves offering drinks of both water and alcoholic variety, but never snacks. I personally did not want to eat anything from it due to my own preference on health and safety, but I truly appreciate the staff for looking out for the con goers and keeping them as hydrated and healthy as possible. My only note negatively on the rave is that it could have been hosted in a bigger area, it was IMMEDIATELY made aware of how insanely hot it was in the room when you first entered; this was primarily due to a smaller space. But it also should be made aware again that this venue was a second choice it sounded like, according to a staff member they originally wanted the con to be in the usually puyallup fairgrounds, but it was unfortunately being used at the date they chose for the con.


xXx


Now in this section I will go into the overall negative points of the con, how I experienced and felt about them, as well as how some things may have been handled if they were at all. And I will state again, none of this is to talk smack, start anything or hate on the con. Every convention has it's flaws, even years after being a staple in a convention community. I just think we are in an era where reviews and reading about experiences is easily accessible, and anyone should take advantage of that to learn from it.


Alright, so the thing about this location, which was later revealed to us that it was the convention center and not the con itself, was the restrictions on everything when you wanted to enter. For anyone who plans ahead and brings snacks or water or other necessities of that nature, you were turned away and told to leave that stuff in your hotel room. I myself was turned away because I had a metal water bottle, not just for the water bottle in general, but the fact that i also had outside water I was bringing inside. Their rule was no outside food or drinks, and if it WAS an outside water bottle, it had to be in a clear plastic bottle. Look, I understand that in the sense of keeping the con goers safe; but nowhere on any post, website or social media did it say any of those rules. Instead they had employees at the front doors yelling these rules over and over as people got closer, in which many people sighed and begrudgingly went back to put away any snacks or drinks they had prepared for the day. I think I even saw a vendor being turned away even when she asked if she could because she was a vendor.


Again, it's understandable to keep con goers safe, especially for the clear water bottle; but as my friend stated to a con staff that asked us later about our experience "If someone needs food or candy for blood sugar problems or other medical issues, or water to take medication; a lot of con goers are strapped for cash and bring these things as a precaution for themselves. It's very dangerous to have to make us purchase these things and not allow us to bring in some necessities we have prepared for ourselves for this very reason". Which is EXTREMELY valid, especially with the fact that cons are known to hike up prices for this very reason.


So unfortunately Junko Enoshima had to trek up and down a hill twice in 3 to 4 inch platform boots to drop off the snacks and water we had prepared ahead of time, and also let other con goers know as she went so that way no one else had to endure the same fate. Oh well, I got my Cardio that day I suppose.


After that I myself had to go check into the cosplay contest that I signed up to be apart of, last minute I may add. As a background note, the staff is not very well organized when it comes to messaging and notifying people of things. I had signed up months in advance to do two panels at the con. One about wig styling, and the other about costume design in the cosplay world; both of which I was never notified if they were accepted or even received. I had also messaged them afterwards through email on whether or not I can sign up to be a cosplay guest or judge, I don't normally message through social media because I want to come across as professional and show that I do mean business; but at this point I am finding a lot of cons will not respond to emails very well. Again, I was never given a response, so as a last ditch effort to give myself some sense of business, I joined the cosplay competition. As a lot of people know it's not really my forte to do so. I join them to get my name out there, not to win; I'm not a competitive person and I would rather leave the spot open for someone who is.


But back to the check in, which unfortunately was another slip up. But let me preface, every time something like these were happening, the con took note and these mistakes and owned up to it. They were very kind to us and showed their apology truthfully and warned us ahead of time if something wasn't going the way they planned. As I approached the check in table, they handed us our papers to review and go over to make sure everything was correct because unfortunately their system messed up and scrambled everyone's entries so some things may be wrong. And that was a bit of an understatement. My entry was completely wrong in the sense that it got switched with the entry I did for Washington State Summer con the year before, so I had to rewrite everything by hand; which was embarrassing because my hand writing is terrible so I am sorry for the MC's. Along with this, I had actually gotten a message from one of my best friends that day that wasn't able to come that they got an email saying they got accepted into the competition, but they never once entered into any of their competitions nor was even attending this one. So that was very weird.


For the pre-judging itself, that too ended up as a bit of a mess to start out with. It seemed smooth at first, we were all told to line up outside of the room but in no particular order because they would call up everyone in the order they applied in. The first name was called and we all waited.... and waited... and waited. Unfortunately for us, the judges really took their time; which isn't so bad, if it weren't for the fact that they were on a time crunch. Especially since their time they wanted to be done at, and the number of cosplayers that needed to be judged, and the fact that they were taking at minimum 15 minutes per person; the math was not mathing at all. So you guessed it, but the time it got to me who was the last to be judged, I had about two minutes to word vomit out everything I had done for my Junko Cosplay, than they thanked me and I was off to the races because I was less than 15 minutes until the competition started. Thank the beings above that the competition was just down the hall.


Now, do I dare talk about the judges? Look, I've been doing this for 20 plus years, and have entered many competitions. Sure I have not won a lot of them, but again I never entered them to win, it was never my priority when I entered them. But I have had my fair share of judges interactions when entering them, and it's extremely funny that a lot of them are structured in the same way whether intentional or not. You generally have three judges, maybe one more if it's a duo team. One is usually super enthusiastic about being there and seeing the cosplays presented, one is usually happy to be there and knows the ins and outs of costuming and is usually the one to poke and touch the materials to see how it's made up close; and finally there is the one that usually wants to get the main points, is pretty stoic or tired and has pretty much made their decision early on. This isn't totally fair though for this case because things were running late, I am sure they made their choices early on already, and I was the last one to be judged. But there is gentler ways of going about asking questions, even in a rushed situation. They all let me word vomit the things I could, and as said above, one walked around and touched my work, but with the one that was a bit stoic, there simply was no time for the other two to ask any questions because it was simply "What was commissioned and what was bought". Which, I'm sorry, is a bit offensive after I already told them I made everything except for the bear pins and the boots. So I was a bit salty from that interaction, but mainly just because of the interaction. They could have also been tired, but I am still a firm believer that it should never be taken out on anyone even if you are tired.


The event itself went off tremendously smooth from my perspective, aside from the wrong order of people towards the end, but the lady that was helping out apologized profusely for messing that small bit up and all of us were super okay with her. She was super sweet and was doing her absolute best. The MC's also did an impromptu quizzing session with the audience when the judges went to go discuss their choices and it took a little longer than they thought. They did awesome, especially with the fact that I am sure they had to read a lot of different handwriting due to the system screw up that morning.


And to to give a shout out to the judges, each winner was SO well deserved. Due to the long wait for pre-judging, I had the time and honor of speaking to a lot of different cosplayers and contestants. Some of them were first time competitors and so nervous about the competition, even asking if this situation was normal for future competitions they want to enter. It surprised us that were in the expert category that these beginner competitors hadn't won anything yet because there were SO many amazing cosplayers in there. The winners of each category too were so deserving, especially with some of them that had just started or hadn't won anything yet. I'm personally so happy for the journeyman entry that was bumped up to expert because of their extremely awesome craftsmanship on their dress. But I also do understand as to why it may have been done too; since there were only four of us in expert and it was probably already decided who would be overall craftsmanship, the three awards would have HAD to gone to me and the other two. And don't take this as a personal jab to myself, I totally understand why they wouldn't want to just give me an award because I was the last one left in expert and all I showed up in was a short skirt, open top and a huge wig. Even I would have given my award to the person who was moved to expert because my award would have just been a given at that point since there were only three of us left.


xXx


Overall those are a majority of highlights I have from the con in both a positive and negative light; and as a quick key points it's simply the fact that communication needs to be done better, organization needs to be done more precisely, location needs to be thought out thoroughly, and entertainment needs to be handled more efficiently. Conventions are a wondrous adventure to be apart of for anyone involved, whether it's con-goers, staff, professional guests or even hosts. But generally the people behind a convention are just humans, humans that make mistakes and are primarily just wanting everyone to have a good time. As someone who worked for a small scale anime con for a while, I know how extremely hard it can be to organize one, and I have no doubt this team can really go far with their conventions. I have generally always enjoyed every con of theirs I have gone to, and I plan to continue to attend others as the years go by, hopefully be a part of them in some way as a guest role or judge as well; but only time will tell on that part.


For now, I truly recommend this convention to anyone who is wanting to dip their toes in an anime convention, it's a great start for anyone getting into it. And I am sure as the years go by this con will get bigger and bigger, like I am sure they are wanting it to be.





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