Katsucon 2023 Experience and Review || 08 Mar, 2023

Back at it again with a post about a recent convention I went to! Just like with my MAGFest entry, Katsucon is another convention that I had been attending since 2019 but am only writing a blog post about it now.

Katsucon is a convention held in the same venue as MAGFest, the Gaylord Convention Center located at the National Harbor in Maryland. What makes Katsucon different from MAGFest is that it is primarly focuses on anime, manga, and Japanese culture in general. This means that you'll find panels, events, and a plethora of Japanese merchandise and other various goodies. Due to the sheer number of merchandise, the halls are split into two: the Merchant Hall and Artist Alley (although some artists have upgraded from Artist Alley to the Merchant Hall. Good for them!!)

I usually like to attend conventions in cosplay, so this time around I was dressed as Spamton from Deltarune! It was great when people recognized me. :'3

Merchant Hall and Artist Alley

Having recently gotten a new job, I was really excited to be able to indulge myself on buying everything I wanted within a reasonable price range! I don't have a picture this time since I got A LOT of stuff, but my favorite purchases included a new sweater cardigan and a t-shirt with a Phở theme! Like a proper nerd, I also got some figures from Demon Slayer, SPYxFAMILY, and Monster Hunter. I think we'll need a glass case at some point because we're running out of room lmao.

As much as I loved the Merchant Hall, I personally loved the merch that the artists would make, including acrylic keychains, pins, buttons, etc. There were even a few that sold bath and body products including lotion, lip balm, and sugar scrubs! It's really nice to see how far artists have come in providing really high-quality products, and I hope I can make some of my own someday...even if they would have mostly obscure and unpopular characters. At least Trigun isn't unpopular anymore!

Events and Panels

I am personally not as interested in attending panels or events as I am with buying merchandise unless there is a chance to meet a favorite voice actor. We did see a few voice actors in the Exhibit Hall, but none that I recognized, so I'll talk about something that happened in the past!

I think it was the first Katsu I attended, in 2019, when we accidentally stumbled upon Johnny Yong Bosch setting up his table in the Merchant Hall. In case some don't know who he is, he's considered a veteran among anime dub fans, with his first(?) role being Vash the Stampede from the 1998 anime! Since then he has provided Vash's in all of later Trigun iterations, including the film Badlands Rumble and most recently, Trigun Stampede.

I remember we were just about to leave the Merchant Hall since we were starting to get pretty tired. As we passed by one of the tables, Sam noticed the sign said "Johnny Yong Bosch" and immediately upon seeing the man at his table, she excitedly yelled, "JOHNNY!" to which he replied with equal enthusiasm, "YEAH!" Since he had just finished setting up his table, we happened to be the first people to see him. He signed a Trigun poster for us, and I managed to get a video of him saying Vash's iconic "Love and Peace!" while doing the famous gesture. He told us his manager said fans should not ask for videos of him, but he was more than happy to do just one for us.

To respect him and his manager's wishes, the video has not been posted anywhere and is still in my phone as a treasured memory! It's great to see that he's always excited to voice Vash.

Overall Experience

Judging from the positive words I've said so far, I wouldn't be surprised if you assumed that I had a good time at Katsu. Even though I was able to find a lot of good stuff, I actually didn't have a good time there. I had fun with Sam and Dan, but I think the number of people was too much for the venue.

Lines have always been a thing for any kind of event, and we usually waited in line on Day 1 to get our badges. Not wanting to risk the line impeding our enjoying the first day of the con, I recommended we get the badges the night before. Even when we arrived the night before the con, the line was long enough that we had to wait 2 hours to get our badges. It also didn't help that there were some particularly rude (and drunk) people in line who blasted music from their speakers.

The lines getting into the Merchant Hall and Artist Alley were pretty bad, too. They weren't as long as waiting to get our badges, but compared to MAGFest where we were always able to stroll right into the Exhibit Hall, I always found it weird that we always had to wait at least 15 minutes to just get into any one of halls at Katsu.

On top of the long lines, the venue was crowded to the point that there wasn't an area where you wouldn't accidentally bump shoulders with a stranger. I also found myself frequently holding on to either Sam or Dan's sleeves so I wouldn't get separated from them. It reminded me of how crowded it was when I used to regularly attend Anime Expo. Having crowds this large would definitely pose safety issues if the convention staff continues to take in more attendees each year. Not to mention that I can't imagine how difficult it is autistic, ADHD, and/or physically disabled attendees to navigate within the convention center. I'm glad that we were required to show our vaccination cards while picking up our badges, but good GOD the crowds did not help with my general paranoia with the pandemic still being present.

All I can hope that the convention staff will actually put a cap on how many people can attend, but until then, the crowds at Katuscon were unbearable and this is coming from someone who has been to mulitple conventions and concerts.

Closing Thoughts

Anime conventions continue to grow with each year, and I'm honestly so happy about that. I enjoy anime conventions because I like being able to buy items rather than shopping online, but I don't think I'll be attending Katsu or any other anime conventions until they limit the number of attendees, and my spouses agree. I think Awesomecon would be ok, but we'll have to see. There always seems to be a trend of the staff not knowing how to manage lines at anime conventions. Is it because they really don't know what they're doing or are the higher-ups constantly trying to get more attendees, even if it means reaching or going over the maximum capacity? What do you think?

All I can really do is hope! Even if it means I might not get the chance to buy a ticket on time, I would rather have that than to suffer through massive crowds again. In the meantime, here are some photos I took of awesome cosplayers!!

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