A huge part of the wonderful experience of being an otaku is going to conventions! I am not new to the convention world. I’ve been to all sorts of conventions around the west coast and Hawaii and I’ve even given a few panels. But even after all that, I was not prepared for Sakuracon 2018 in Seattle, Washington. Thankfully for you, I have prepared a few tips of how to survive such a big convention as well as a brief overview of my time at the con!
3, 2, 1 is Not Enough
3 hours of sleep, 2 meals, and 1 shower every day is a starting place for self care, but it surly won’t allow your con experience to preform at maximum quality. To enjoy your time to the fullest, get as much sleep as you can! I need 9 hours of sleep to function, so I budgeted that time for myself respectfully. I’m not much of a heavy eater, so instead of meals I ate healthy snacks all day long. This is a good way to give yourself a little energy boost when you might feel a tad tired or peckish during a panel or event.
Too Many People
I am a huge introvert. It doesn’t mean I don’t like people—I just don’t like too many people. Sakuracon had over 20,000 people attending. That’s frightening! My suggestion is to make sure you know where the manga library is before you do anything else at the convention. The manga library is an introvert’s paradise! It’s quiet and spacious, and they check your bags in so all you have to worry about is which book to read! When I got too overwhelmed, I went to the library for a while to regain some lost energy before I was ready to move onto the next event.
I tried to read as much of Tokyo Ghoul as I could because I found the art so appetizing. I also found a manga about a mother raising a child with autism. It was entitled, With the Light. This was a heartfelt read for me as it reminded me of my childhood helping my parents raise my autistic sister.
I’m Not Ready For My Panel
This one is very much a mea culpa. My vice president and I held two panels at Sakuracon. One was on the Myers Briggs personality types (we are self proclaimed experts if you want to chat with us about it on Twitter) and the other was on spirituality in anime, or more specifically, spirituality in Japan and its effect on anime. We didn’t realize just how much time it would take to finish preparing, mostly because we kept changing our minds about the direction we wanted the panel to go. I did a fair amount of research that we decided to not even include, so we had to find something else to fill that space with. Luckily, Joseph Campbell came to the rescue! And we had about ten minutes to spare before we presented…
It turns out that the audience really liked the direction we finally settled on. My vise president would explain the history and basics of a religion/philosophy in Japan and then I would cover a mono myth that related. This worked greatly to our strengths. We should have created the slideshow centered around our specific talents in the first place—that would have saved a lot of time. My VP excels at research and connecting pieces of information together. I prefer the wonder of stories and relating it all back to Christ. If you are doing a panel for a convention, I suggest that you start creating it a month before the delivery and if you have partners that are doing it with you, you play to your strengths.
If you are going to a panel, plan ahead! For our Myers-Briggs panel, we had over a hundred people line up behind the door waiting to hear our thoughts on personality. This was much to our surprise, especially when the tech helpers called security in need of some crowd control. Plan to arrive half an hour early to the panel to stand in line. It may be a long wait, but you wouldn’t do any different at a theme park. Sometimes, they have staff walking around the long lines with the job of crowd entertainment! You’re going to have fun no matter what.
Wallflowers at the Ball
My absolute favorite part of Sakuracon was the ball. It wasn’t a dance–it was a full fledged ball. Classical music, flowing dresses, masks—it was a perfect evening. What I love about dances at conventions is that boys actually ask you to dance! I feel lovely when a masked stranger walks up to me, bows, and ask for my hand to dance.
Gentlemen, ask ladies to dance! Unless they are obviously preoccupied, they probably won’t say no. Many ladies line up on the walls just waiting to be asked. Taking this step to make a girl feel special is a great way for you to make new friends!
Ladies, never turn a guy down to dance! I just had a meeting with the male RA’s of my dorm and they advised the women that it takes a lot of courage for a guy to ask a girl. You can spare one dance of the night to encourage a guy to be a gentlemen. But very important as well is be confident enough to say no to a second dance if you need to. A gentleman should respect your boundaries.
Sakuracon was in many ways a dream come true. I never would have guessed when I started watching anime that I would be confident enough to get on stage and share my passion, let alone speak on the love of Christ with a mission mindset. For those of you who may not know, I was a huge Beneath the Tangles fan girl before I came on as a writer. My press badge represents how far I’ve come from a simple high schooler watching Sword Art Online instead of doing home school to club president of an anime missionary club. I always thought of myself as weak, physically, and especially emotionally. After all, anime had the power to greatly move me to tears! But God has shown me that he can take my passion, even passion for anime, and make it something productive for the kingdom. And most of all, that I am not weak, no matter how many times I needed to introvert in the manga library.
If you want to watch the rest of our panels on YouTube, check out my club’s page : League of Anime Warriors.