Neko-Con 2021

Conventions and other events, fandom, stores, manga-ka, animators, and other people, etc
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Guyver I
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Neko-Con 2021

Post by Guyver I »

Hey there, everybody! I hope all are doing well!

I just wanted to see if anyone was headed to Neko-Con this weekend, in Hampton Roads, VA. I just got here, kind of a dreary day outside, but hopefully that changes. I did, however, get a compliment on my Voltron hat from the front desk staff, so that's a good start.

I'll be doing a talk Sunday on the influences of early science fiction on anime and manga; been about two years since I've given a talk, so hopefully I won't goof it up too much! And probably...let's see...five years, since I went to an anime convention of any kind, if I recall correctly.
Nathan Vernon Madison

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George W
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Re: Neko-Con 2021

Post by George W »

Wish I could be there!

You're going to do great!
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DKop
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Re: Neko-Con 2021

Post by DKop »

I got an AMV in the contest, but not sure what will be played. I'll find out the results of it after this weekend if I get anything for it.
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Re: Neko-Con 2021

Post by davemerrill »

I hadn't heard anything about Neko-Con coming back, but I'm glad it survived the pandemic. Let us know how it goes!
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Guyver I
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Re: Neko-Con 2021

Post by Guyver I »

I figured I’d write up a little something, now that Nekocon is over. All in all, it was good times; I think the convention did a great job of running things, taking into account Covid rules and everything that comes with them. Pretty well attended, although it didn’t seem as crowded as I was somewhat expecting, which, if the case, is likely a response to Covid more than anything else. I thought the hotel was great, as was the convention center, both easily-navigable and big enough to accommodate Nekocon, but not big enough to the point of being a confusing maze, as some of these places tend to. The hotel staff was probably among the most helpful and friendliest I’ve ever encountered.

My talk went really well, and was well-attended, with a few folks needing to stand in the back along the wall, due to seats being filled; I prefer discussions more so than an outright lecture, so it was roughly about 30 mins of me talking, and then opening up the floor for 30 minutes, and it was great all around. I think I’m a little rusty in my public speaking, but, after the last two years, if that’s the worst I can say, I’ll take it!

A few things I noted, just because I can’t help thinking of history or my own experiences in years past. And none of this is really a complaint at all, just some things I noticed as I was wandering about. The last anime convention I attended was Matsuricon 2015, so it’s been a few years, but I think this is the first time these changes have been prevalent enough for me to take notice; I'm sure others have noticed these things far earlier than this year, as well. Some changes are likely owed to anime becoming more mainstream; and anime conventions themselves becoming more of a social activity rather than one based around a small subculture.

Video rooms didn’t seem to be as big of a deal as they used to be, which is understandable given the growth of the domestic market, and particularly streaming services that either have some anime or are dedicated entirely to it. That just stuck out to me since conventions started out largely as video rooms before moving out on their own; and the place where, for many people, they saw series and films that they likely would not have seen otherwise. But, the internet has changed a great many things.

The dealers’ room was interesting, in that DVDs and manga were largely absent, with only one booth offering DVDs and two with manga. Now, streaming has obviously cut into the DVD market, and the proliferation of manga at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc., is likely a factor for the latter, so less of both is fairly understandable. I also noticed a difference in the types of products offered; that being more American-made anime products, as well as tons of non-anime items. The growth of anime’s domestic market I’d imagine explains some of that; and I would argue that very same growth has led to anime being thought of, in many minds, as more of a “popular culture thing” than an “anime thing,” in and of itself, if that makes sense.

I don’t recall seeing many Japanese video games or Japanese-language manga; and I don’t believe I saw any cels, wall scrolls, art books (aside from ones for American video games), or other items that were kind of staples of these shows, at least in the years I was attending the most. I would say the most common thing, at around 70% of the tables, were model kits/statues/posable figures. Regarding the lack of those “traditional con items,” it struck me as representative of a (perhaps generational?) change, regarding some fans’ connection to the medium, as I think there is a difference between, say, valuing a cel from your favorite show, and placing more value in a figure of one of its characters. Not good or bad in favor of one or the other; I’m not making some sort of “real fan” or “fake fan” argument here, just that I think there’s a difference there, that I may not be able to articulate quite well, at the moment. Both still demonstrate a love for the source material, so again, nothing wrong either way. There was a table there selling nothing but doujinshi, which enjoyed both a fairly extensive inventory and constant patronage; also, one booth in particular was selling tons of Japanese snacks, Pocky, gummies, ramune, UCC Coffee, and so on. So while some things may change, others certainly don’t.

That being said, I don’t want to give the impression that this didn’t feel like an anime convention or something of that sort. There’s a particular feel, energy, and atmosphere that you only find at an anime convention, as opposed to a general science fiction, or horror, or any other manner of convention, and that was fully on play here. Anime was certainly, undoubtedly, the overriding theme and overtone of the weekend; tons of cosplay, tons of people running around, yelling, hugging, dancing in the hallways – all of it was there, and it was a welcome sight, especially these days. Artist alley had some super creative folks; there were some great panels; and I wasn’t sure how a video game room would work, given the current climate, but it turned out really well, I thought!

Overall, it was a great time, a great weekend – a return to some of the stuff I love most, and have the fondest memories of. It was suggested to me by a staff member that I give my talk next year, and I’m certainly looking forward to returning, whether I’m a speaker or not.
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davemerrill
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Re: Neko-Con 2021

Post by davemerrill »

Thanks for the Neko-Con report! AWA felt similarly a tad smaller - not hugely smaller, just less crowded. I know a lot of friends who typically hit AWA noped out this year due to caution, and I don't blame them, "less crowded" is still crowded, and everybody has their own comfort levels.

The AWA vendors seemed to be selling more manga than DVDs/BDs, more t-shirts than manga, more figures than t-shirts, and more plushies/stuffed toys than figures. Seemed to be way more sword vendors this year. One guy was selling "tactical knives" with an amplified pitch like he was at a county fair or trade show.
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Re: Neko-Con 2021

Post by DKop »

davemerrill wrote: Fri Nov 12, 2021 2:54 pm Thanks for the Neko-Con report! AWA felt similarly a tad smaller - not hugely smaller, just less crowded. I know a lot of friends who typically hit AWA noped out this year due to caution, and I don't blame them, "less crowded" is still crowded, and everybody has their own comfort levels.

The AWA vendors seemed to be selling more manga than DVDs/BDs, more t-shirts than manga, more figures than t-shirts, and more plushies/stuffed toys than figures. Seemed to be way more sword vendors this year. One guy was selling "tactical knives" with an amplified pitch like he was at a county fair or trade show.
Yea I didn't get that either. That's something you'd find at gun shows too, which makes sense since that's where you go to also find knives as well. I find it odd that you got a guy selling knife sharpeners with vendors selling foam cosplay swords. You know, since both go hand in hand :roll:
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Re: Neko-Con 2021

Post by Guyver I »

DKop wrote: Fri Nov 12, 2021 5:35 pm
davemerrill wrote: Fri Nov 12, 2021 2:54 pm Thanks for the Neko-Con report! AWA felt similarly a tad smaller - not hugely smaller, just less crowded. I know a lot of friends who typically hit AWA noped out this year due to caution, and I don't blame them, "less crowded" is still crowded, and everybody has their own comfort levels.

The AWA vendors seemed to be selling more manga than DVDs/BDs, more t-shirts than manga, more figures than t-shirts, and more plushies/stuffed toys than figures. Seemed to be way more sword vendors this year. One guy was selling "tactical knives" with an amplified pitch like he was at a county fair or trade show.
Yea I didn't get that either. That's something you'd find at gun shows too, which makes sense since that's where you go to also find knives as well. I find it odd that you got a guy selling knife sharpeners with vendors selling foam cosplay swords. You know, since both go hand in hand :roll:
Indeed! At Nekocon there was one table selling nothing but knives and other small weapons, and some replica Captain America shields; I want to say another table was selling similar things, amongst other items, as well.

Another non-anime booth was Wild Bill's Sodas (or something along those lines), where, if you purchase a mug, you can receive free soda refills from their soda fountains throughout the weekend. I did get one of those a few years back when Wizard World came to Richmond; the mugs were metal, giant, and had the convention logo etched into them, which I thought was kind of a cool keepsake. This time around though, the mugs were nearly double the price; I think the refills were only good for the day; and you could choose from a variety of mugs that were a good deal smaller than before, and nothing unique to the convention itself, etching or otherwise. Owing to all of that, and the fact I don't really drink soda, I skipped that.

Another booth was nothing but, I guess what I'd call, rave gear, neon flashing masks and other similar accoutrements. Which I didn't think was that odd, considering how popular dances and raves are at conventions.

There was a company there that, while not anime-related, was a tea grower that had free samples of some really tasty stuff that I'll probably actually order from in the future.

All in all, a pretty diverse mix of stuff; but, me personally, I would have liked to have seen more anime-centric items, and particularly some of the cels, books, etc., that I mentioned before.
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DKop
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Re: Neko-Con 2021

Post by DKop »

Guyver I wrote: Sat Nov 13, 2021 9:05 pm
DKop wrote: Fri Nov 12, 2021 5:35 pm
davemerrill wrote: Fri Nov 12, 2021 2:54 pm Thanks for the Neko-Con report! AWA felt similarly a tad smaller - not hugely smaller, just less crowded. I know a lot of friends who typically hit AWA noped out this year due to caution, and I don't blame them, "less crowded" is still crowded, and everybody has their own comfort levels.

The AWA vendors seemed to be selling more manga than DVDs/BDs, more t-shirts than manga, more figures than t-shirts, and more plushies/stuffed toys than figures. Seemed to be way more sword vendors this year. One guy was selling "tactical knives" with an amplified pitch like he was at a county fair or trade show.
Yea I didn't get that either. That's something you'd find at gun shows too, which makes sense since that's where you go to also find knives as well. I find it odd that you got a guy selling knife sharpeners with vendors selling foam cosplay swords. You know, since both go hand in hand :roll:
Indeed! At Nekocon there was one table selling nothing but knives and other small weapons, and some replica Captain America shields; I want to say another table was selling similar things, amongst other items, as well.

Another non-anime booth was Wild Bill's Sodas (or something along those lines), where, if you purchase a mug, you can receive free soda refills from their soda fountains throughout the weekend. I did get one of those a few years back when Wizard World came to Richmond; the mugs were metal, giant, and had the convention logo etched into them, which I thought was kind of a cool keepsake. This time around though, the mugs were nearly double the price; I think the refills were only good for the day; and you could choose from a variety of mugs that were a good deal smaller than before, and nothing unique to the convention itself, etching or otherwise. Owing to all of that, and the fact I don't really drink soda, I skipped that.

Another booth was nothing but, I guess what I'd call, rave gear, neon flashing masks and other similar accoutrements. Which I didn't think was that odd, considering how popular dances and raves are at conventions.

There was a company there that, while not anime-related, was a tea grower that had free samples of some really tasty stuff that I'll probably actually order from in the future.

All in all, a pretty diverse mix of stuff; but, me personally, I would have liked to have seen more anime-centric items, and particularly some of the cels, books, etc., that I mentioned before.
All of those people were at AWA and have been at any big anime con ive ever gone too. Cons have raves so therefore sell rave gear. Cons have steampunk people so therefore sell steampunk gear.

The soda stand their gimmick was you can bring a mug the next year or in five years and pay 10 bucks for unlimited daily refills that day. I get the gimmick and it seemed to work since it felt that half the congoers got a mug and were walking around with them (maybe 30 percent or so). I wasn't all that interested in the soda since its better to drink water while at a con. On a business side, its a great sell for people that are able to pay less for drinks as long as the dealers room is open when they want another soda than paying 4 or 5 bucks for a 20oz bottle of Coke.

Anime cons are really "general nerd cons" in reality, but being a general nerd con you get to keep the con going financially. Who knows how that is going to shift in 10 years where some other kind of con scene pops up and the general nerds go there, which means less attendees at anime cons. I kind of doubt that, because nerds like to get out of the house and spend money around other nerds, so nerds are going to go wherever there is any kind of con that pertains to their interest.
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