Katsucon 20


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Katsucon 20 2014

14 - 16 February 2014 | Written by Maxxum

Katsucon has reached its porcelain (20th) year, now being roughly as old as its typical attendee. It almost didn't happen.


The weather outside...

Starting on the 12th, a snowstorm covered much of the East Coast and though by the 13th main roads in the DC/MD/VA area were clear, numerous flights around the country were grounded and several guests, one musical group, and an unknown number of attendees had to cancel.

A colleague had commented a few days before the storm arrived that it's a Katsucon tradition for bad weather to occur during the event. I didn't agree; my previous two Katsu's were in pleasant albeit frosty conditions, though this year's weather was absolutely unwelcome. Even with just a short walk from the parking garage to the hotel, the wind shear was painful - I can only imagine how much worse it was for cosplayers wearing no winter protection.

However, had I not heard from the Katsu staff that cancellations had occurred, I wouldn't have known that the weather had an impact on attendance - the event was as crowded as I've ever seen it in the three years I've covered the event.

Cosplayer's Paradise

At Katsu, I stay focused on three things: the main concert, one or more distinguished guests, and Cosplay Burlesque. The third item on that list is important, and if you've attended Katsucon you might be wondering why I wouldn't spend time photographing cosplayers, because after all Katsucon is a cosplayer's paradise. It's very simple, their costumes are as elaborate as any you'll see at Katsucon, moreover I know for certain that all their performers are old enough to be photographed.

CB has its finger on the pulse of nerd culture, and this year was an exceptionally apropos show - the Friday performance was themed on the Gaylord Hotel's gazebo that has come to be known as the center of Katsu's cosplay photography universe. (Hell, the damned thing has its own Tumblr page.) Also featured was an elaborate homage to 'Attack on Titan'.

Cosplay Burlesque Cosplay Burlesque

Saturday: Cosplay

If you've been in cosplay for a year or more, you've probably heard of Yaya Han. She has been in the scene for 14 years, and initially came to my attention after I heard some derisive comments made about her by other cosplayers. Her wiki page yields nothing except stub info about her work in TV, so I had no idea why there was cosplayer angst being directed towards her. I spoke with her on Saturday and came away impressed:

What I thought was most intriguing was that her early experiences in cosplay are representative of many cosplayers. After seeing her on TV, I was expecting to hear from Yaya that her work was for entertainment's sake, not that her cosplay was a hobby turned career. She also raised a point that I hear often from other cosplayers; that their friends and family are not supportive of their interests, and that there is strain or worse because of them.

Saturday: Main Stage

I like concert photography. It's almost as challenging as street photography in that timing is a key element. Photographers tend to hold onto their shutter button and hope to get good shots that way, but I feel that it defeats the purpose of creating art if one is going to essentially play lottery with the camera. This year's concert was presented by Lolita Dark.

Lolita Dark is a young LA band fronted by "Ray" who also co-stewards an event called "Tokyo Status", a show that showcases new artists and musicians. Photos and interview follow:

Rain of Lolita Dark Ray of Lolita Dark Patrick of Lolita Dark

Saturday: Nerd Treat

I've interviewed the Epcars at a previous Katsu event, and I enjoyed talking with them. They flirt on camera constantly, and you can tell they enjoy life. Also, as a nerd, being able to speak with the voice of "Batou" from 'Ghost in the Shell' (artistically just great anime) is a very nerd-ego building experience. It'd be like a NASA engineer sitting down to a talk with someone from the cast of 'Star Trek'. I asked to speak with them again this year because while my previous interview covered a lot of their work, it didn't actually bring up anything about them personally. Keep an eye on Richard at 9min 35sec into the interview, it's the moment when off camera I lose it and have to ball-up to keep my laughter from affecting the recording.

World Cosplay Summit

Katsu hosts the WCS, which I attended Sunday afternoon. Winners are chosen to represent the USA against other teams from around the world in Japan. There were a number of well made costumes to photograph, but I leave you with the photo of a costume that I saw up-close prior to the event with the shot below from the performance. The team didn't win, but it was one of the most intricate handmade costumes I've seen at an event.

End of line.

Photos and video by Maxxum, with audio recording by Richard Baldovin