Six Hours at San Japan

When I received a message from San Japan press staff informing us that we were approved for passes to the convention, my first thought was, “Didn’t that con already happen?”

It hadn’t—it was a week or two away, but I’d forgotten that I applied as press for the convention. Thankfully, I was able to find some time to drive to San Antonio this past weekend to check out San Japan for the first time. The con was hosted at the city’s convention center, which is beautifully situated on the Riverwalk. Although I was there for only a short amount of time—literally six hours—I enjoyed the atmosphere and especially the conversations I had with a number of cosplayers.

My last convention experience wasn’t great—if not for little, unexpected flourishes, it would have been memorably bad because of disappointments in interview scheduling. My expectations were lowered because of that (I think I’d previously been spoiled by the excellent response of IKKiCON and Anime Matsuri press staff) and because of the amount of time I was visiting. Still, the experience was nice. The crowds were manageable and the convention seemed well organized, especially registration. I also noticed security everywhere—an increasingly common (and necessary) sight at cons.

I attended one enjoyable session on females in sports anime—this was definitely the right panel for me, as it started with discussion of Oofuri and Cross Game, two of our favorite series on the blog. In fact, I messaged the host afterward and discovered that she’s considering writing her masters thesis on Mitsuru Adachi. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to read a dissertation!

The highlight, though, was in doing what I specifically came for. Beforehand, I arranged interview times with over half a dozen cosplayers as I work toward a new series of articles on the blog (and a spin-off Instagram) involving cosplay. It was really fun connecting with them. You only get to know people so much through Instagram, and the individuals behind those accounts are often far different than you’d think. In a way, that’s something remarkable about cosplay: people dress up as characters they see as special, and we’re attracted to them for that transformation, but once stripped away, each demonstrates characteristics that make them just as special, without all the costumes and props.

I wish I could have stayed longer and enjoyed more of the convention itself, but I’m glad that I was able get what I did out of it and to experience San Japan for the first time. I hope to go back again, this time more prepared—at least I know that next time, I’ll remember that I was planning on attending.

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