Sakura Con

Sakura Sunday

An unexpected trip = unexpected buys! Or another way to avoid further cramming for those finals!

by Susan Hsu

Sakura Con was the first convention in the States that Iíve had the pleasure of attending. I mean, Iíve attended Anime Evolution in Burnaby, BC (in Canada) last summer and the summer before that, but my friend Jen once mentioned that they weren't real cons, and that they were merely a thingamajig made up of a bunch of salespersons who wanted to make big cash at the end of summer, sucking away at the bulk of our savings from our summer part-time jobs. Well yeah. Me being an avid spender, that turned out to be the case, which is also the reason why I cannot afford to ever quit my jobs.

The thing is, weíve set our hearts upon going to the Sakura Con in Seattle for the past few years, but weíve encountered hurdles, such as forgetting to retrieve our passports from the safe at the bank, or sleeping-in altogether. This year, an important family member passed away in Asia, so my friend and I had completely abandoned the idea of actually going to the con, and had set our hearts on studying for the upcoming April Finals. But then, life is full of surprises.

The first thing that Mom said to me after her month-long stay in Taiwan was "So when do you want to leave for the Sakura Con?" I was dumbfounded. I thought going to the con was completely out of the question because of Grandmaís funeral. Moreover, it was almost noon on Saturday when they got back to Vancouver, so I simply figured that my parents would be too overwhelmed by this unfortunate event that they would completely forget about some convention that they had promised to take me to. After all, it was a three-hour drive to Seattle.

Sakura Con

But they didnít forget, so I thought itíd be a great idea to take advantage of Momís offer. Ha.

We left the next day at 5:40 AM. It was a cloudy Sunday on April 10th. Nothing unusual happened along the way, save for the fact that my friend Jen almost lost her wallet at a gas station a little way past the border. Jen and I were dropped off at the Hilton Sea-Tac Hotel at roughly 9:20 AM.

Someone once told me that one could tell how good a convention is by looking at its lineup. Well if that is true, then Sakura Con is one heck of a con! The lineup was incredibly long! People were already in zigzags, and about thirty of them even had to wait outside of the hotel! Maybe that was why I thought I heard my jaw drop when the info desk volunteers pointed us to the right direction. They told us to hurry because there were only 250 tickets left! I counted about 180 people in the lineup and decided that it was best to join the crowd.

Sakura Con

What seemed like ages passed, and we were finally able to get the Day Pass. However, after we walked to the Marriott Hotel (the Dealersí Room was held in a separate hotel), we found out that its own lineup was more than 20 meters in length as well. Grr. And this was ten o'clock in the morning! And no, Jen and I didnít join the lineup this time, for we found it much more interesting to observe people in their cosplay outfits than to idly stand there, only to be frozen by the morning breezes. These otakus ranged from cross-dressing Sailor Moon scouts, with their butt cheeks showing and all (and no, I swear Iím no pervert! They were just really really obvious, thatís all!), to a girl in normal daily dress, but with an oversized red plastic diamond hanging above her head. My friend and I thought it would be rude to ask what she was cosplaying as, so we didn't ask. Some people even went as far as cosplaying Piccolo and one had his entire head painted green. I was later told that a girl cosplayed as Chi in bandages! I never thought that anyone would want to take the role of a Persocon in bondage (wow she must have lots of confidence in her body!).

We saw people cosplayed as characters from more popular anime after we walked out of the Gaming Room (yes, I managed to literally kick some butts in Fist of Lotus on Xbox!). There were lots of generic Gundam soldiers, Goth princesses/fairies in elaborate tasta wings and the like. Younger girls (the ones under 10) tended to cosplay as Ed from Cowboy Beebop and as the little girl with a goat plushie from Last Exile. I even saw Robin Sena and many different versions of Card Captors, but I didnít take any picture of them (Iíll get you next time, Li!) because the shutter of my camera wouldnít open initially, but I managed to take some Utena and Final Fantasy X-2 pictures after that (an effect of the Occult, perhaps?).

Sakura Con

The only real workshop that we went to was the What Not to Wear when Cosplaying workshop. The speaker was very enthusiastic; she managed to go off-topic for roughly an hour. Apparently, she can sew and she custom-makes costumes for people at roughly $20 per hour on top of the material fee. I must have dozed off, because the only thing that I learned from the workshop was that a simple uniform, if custom-made by her, would cost $350US. According to Jen, though, the bottom line was, "If something doesnít look good on you, donít wear it!"

It was already past noon, and we didnít want the remaining two hours or so to go to waste. I gulped down a hot dog while watching an old Gundam movie at the Hilton Hotel, then we dashed over to the Marriot Hotel to do some last-hour buys. The Dealersí Rooms were amazing! The 3 rooms were jam-packed with people even at 1:00 PM, and whatís more remarkable about the dealers was that their sales were based on an honour system; none of the vendors gave any receipts, yet at least a dozen units sold similar merchandises.

I was also surprised by the number of units that carried only Bleach and Peace Maker Kurogane merchandises, though it came as no surprise to me that Inu Yasha goods were found at almost every single stand. As I am a huge fan of the anime, I ended up buying a stack of Inu Yasha stickers and clear files, two Bleach folders (well since their goods -- ranging from cardboard bookmarks to bamboo tapestries -- were everywhere, I thought I might as well buy some!), and a shoujo game by Anime Play called the Hourglass of Summer. Samurai Deeper Kyo seems to have fallen out of popularity, as one of its wall scrolls, licensed by Anime Works, was only priced at $10.00, yet very few people bought any. My friend even managed to buy the wooden box set for merely $80.00 (weíre talking six DVDs!) without bargaining with the vendor.

Sakura Con

Iím not sure why, but it seemed to me that over half of the games or DVDs sold at the con were either yaoi or hentai. I for one was too lazy to read all of the DVD titles, so I randomly picked up DVD cases to look at their covers, and they all turned out to be hentai titles. I mean, how many Bible Black copies could be out there? A reporter from Anime Corners even interviewed the vendors who carried numerous dozens of imported yaoi and hentai games on why these games were so popular. I didnít stay and listen to their interview, as I was sure that the article was going to be published in their Mayís issue, but I regreted that I idled there long enough to hear one of the vendors sing his very own yaoi song that sounded something like this: "Yummy, yummy yaoi! You want yaoi because yaoi boys are easy! Theyíd do it with anyone!"

Ouch and double ouch. It would take a couple more of April Exams to get that jingle out of my head.

It may be because we were in a hurry, my friend and I did not see anything new aside from a new variety of the DDR machine in the AMV room. From what I gathered, the machine could detect your body movements, so the playerís entire body would have to move a lot. The game also required big, wavy arm motions during a round.

Before I knew it, the con was over and as I went home, I almost regretted not having pre-registered for next yearís con for a mere $25.00.

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