The Anime Convention That Wouldn’t End!
by Kim Godwin
This article was originally published in PGCC’s newspaper, the Owl.
On February 14, 2003, hordes of anime fans trekked to Crystal City’s Hyatt Regency to participate in the madness that was Katsucon 9. Katsucon offered a wealth of Japanese and American guests, such as the Japanese rock band, Duel Jewel, Hiroaki Inoue, (founding member of Gainax: Neon Genesis Evangelion), Fred Gallagher (of the ever popular and now published webcomic, Megatokyo) and Rosearik “Rikki” Simmons, the voice actor of Gir from Invader Zim. All of them proposed to make the convention another hit!
And then on Saturday night, the “Blizzard of the Century” reared its ugly head and left many guests, hotel staff and fans alike trapped within the hotel. Many guests left early Sunday morning in efforts to escape the impending storm as did many otaku. But for those who were trapped, the closing ceremonies on Sunday evening only signaled the beginning of “Katsucon 9.1” (Keith Mayfield) which would continue until everyone was freed from the hotel.
The next day, the convention was very much alive if not a condensed version of the actual convention within a single room that used to house Katsucon’s Art Show; that was, not very much unlike our college’s Mini Con. There was an anime showing in one corner of the room, video games in another, many artists were still selling their artwork and there was even a group of people playing D&D! But by then, the mini convention had been renamed several times: “Blizzard Con”, “Survivor Con”, and “Katsnowcon”. But on this day, Monday, came the problem of food. Many otaku had used the last of their money to pay for a hotel room for another night and many didn’t have enough money for food! People had started talking about cannibalism but luckily, it didn’t come down to that because a couple of fans got together and braved the storm to buy lunch for the starving masses. Then a collection was taken up from all in the room in order to go out and buy food for dinner, and the donations paid for over half of the cost for food! (The other half was paid out of pocket by one fan named Tweener.)
How was the actual con itself you ask? It was a lot of fun with the energetic rave (techno dance, at which no drugs were present); a powerful concert by Duel Jewel that left many American female fans swooning; and with an endless amount of informative and interesting panels. In the fans themselves we saw many good, kind, and generous people, and many dedicated and talented cosplayers (those who dress up in costume). Several new anime series premiered, such as Chobits and DNA 2. And there was even a packed showing of uncut Invader Zim episodes hosted by the voice of Gir and right from the hands of Invader Zim’s creator Jhonen Vasquez (who we now know lives down the street from Rikki Simmons.)
All and all it was truly a weekend to be remembered.
NOTE: Otaku is a word that literally means, “house.” In Japan, the word is a derogatory term for people who have an unhealthy obsession for anything including anime, comic books, weapons, porn, etc. Many Japanese people feel that all otaku are antisocial perverts. Knowing this, it makes you wonder why anyone would call themselves otaku if it is so bad. To tell the truth, this is where cultural differences come in. Here in America, to be an otaku means that you are a part of a large family / circle of friends who share a common interest in the Japanese culture and there are many otaku in Japan who also feel the same way.
Kim Godwin is the President of the PGCC Starlight Anime Society & Security Staff for Katsucon and Otakon.
Photo has a Dark Chii cosplayer (left) with Kim Godwin cosplaying Chii (right).