Saturday (the 20th), we went to Sabakon, the anime, video gaming, and pop culture convention held this last weekend in Las Vegas. The whole Vegas team was there, Lydon on camera, Ramsey doing PR, and I was doing a bit of photography and chatting with attendees and vendors.
I’ve been to a dozen-ish or so cons, and I definitely still feel like a stranger to the magically strangely wondrous land of conventions. Despite this, I’m still surprised by how different each convention feels. Sabakon was definitely even more different than other cons I’ve been to recently, but a good different. While each convention seems to “feel” different, depending on the promoters, the organizers, the venue, etc, I’d gotten to the point that I sort of expected each convention to be a bit cookie cutter with 80% the same layout with 20% of “this is how we’re different!”. Sabakon didn’t seem to be trying to copy the standard con format I’m used to, or if it’s copying a format, it isn’t one that I’ve been to. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the “anime” format, but if you’re reading this and you have only been to comic book/pop culture conventions, when you go here (you’re going to check it out, right?), you’ll get what I’m feeling. At least for me, Sabakon will always be the convention other similarly formatted conventions will be copying, rather than the other way around. 😉
When I first walked into the con, there was a frenzy of activity. People going everywhere; volunteers busily handing out badges, and plenty of people seemingly just hanging out. The convention was spread throughout the hotel, so there wasn’t any single entryway that opened to the rest of the convention. Instead, after getting your badge, you could go due West into a lounge, gaming area, back out and West to some sort of hangout area (we met with the cosplaying Kiba corgi for an interview there, later on, it’ll be up soon!), and finally you could head past the pool towards the main hall and meeting rooms.
For me, the chaos of rooms sprawling around the entrance along with signs and volunteers running around just made it more “homey” to me. I talked to a few other visitors as well as some vendors, and they reiterated that feeling to me. There is something magical about a smaller con that seems mostly run by volunteers but has still reached that critical mass so that there always seems like someone new around the corner. Sabakon is at that point. I really liked it immediately.
There was a lot of great content. There were great artists (we commissioned a squirrel girl, viewable below! check out his work here), all kinds of anime and pop culture themed toys, props, and cosplay items, and some really great cosplays on display here.
There were AWESOME cosplayers. Which is great, because that’s kinda what we do after all. 🙂 I love conventions, art, pop culture, etc, but cosplay is our focus at these conventions, and this convention delivered in spades.
Unfortunately, I didn’t go to any panels, but there were many panels covering all kinds of different things that I haven’t seen as much at other cons. Ball dance lessons, a very skit-focused cosplay show (including people singing and doing dance routines!), and comedy shows! The panels were diverse and interesting enough that I wished I had scheduled a bit of time to enjoy these panels (in the interest of reviewing them here of course! ;)) as opposed to just focused on our Squirrel Girl LV & Friends show. Next time I’ll definitely bring enough crew that I can wander off and do, see, and report on everything!
The cosplay show I just talked about, the Masquerade, was very cool! We originally were focused on interviewing cosplayers and taking pics of the con, but enough of the cosplayers talked about the Masquerade that we decided to try and record the show. We recorded about an hour of the show before our equipment gave out. We had started with about 5 hours of battery life starting out, which was expected to be enough for the interviews, but even with frequent charging from nearby wall sockets, we couldn’t quite stretch out to the full 8 hours required to film the rest of the show.
The masquerade really highlighted both how brave many of these young cosplayers are, and how welcoming and supportive the community can be. From beginner skill to more advanced skills, everyone was welcomed, clapped for, and walked off the stage happy.
So in summary, I don’t know if all anime conventions are similar to this type of layout, but I think I’m hooked. I really appreciate Momokun making us aware of Sabakon, and we appreciate the Sabakon organizers for being so welcoming! I’m looking forward to the next Sabakon and we’ll make sure to schedule some other anime conventions into our normal mix of pop culture, comic, and SciFi conventions.
Until next year, please share with us your experiences, maybe tell us about any panels you experienced or whatever else I should try and experience!