Sakura-Con is the oldest and the largest Anime convention in the Pacific Northwest. The convention is put on by the Asia Northwest Cultural Education Association. The entire event is nonprofit, all the staff including board members are volunteer. This greatly reduces the costs of admission. Even if you wait to pay for membership at the door it is only $75 (2017 prices) for attendance to all 3 days of the event. If you obtain attendance early through the website, it is as cheap as $50 (2017 prices) for membership (even cheaper if you register at the convention on Sunday for the following year). Registration cannot be sold or transferred, and only registered members are allowed to attend. This pretty much eliminates the scalping of admissions (which I will say is VERY rampant for badges to attend other more popular events at the same venue). Usually you see loads of scalpers outside of the venue with stacks of badges but I didn’t see any of this at Sakura-Con.
Sakura-Con takes place in the Washington State Convention Center usually in the month of April (if you are planning on attending the event from out of town, look into my Seattle Parking write-up for possible tips to save $ on parking). The event draws a fairly large crowd. With attendance reaching roughly 25,000 and taking up most of the event center. The event hosts a large exhibitor hall, as well as a huge separate section for artists selling a wide variety of works. I was also surprised to see the many areas dedicated to console gaming, retro gaming, PC gaming, card games, role playing games, and a large section with arcade games. There are also separate sections for autographs, and of course large panel rooms to accommodate a huge number of spectators for each speaker. There was even a very large area dedicated to playing anime clips and music, a great place to get some rest from all the walking around at the convention.
A unique part of this event that I have not seen at many other conventions are the number of after-hours activates offered to attendees. Normally at other events, once the exhibitor hall is closed attendees scatter to do things within the city, or to attend after hours’ parties usually hosted by organizations other than the event organization. This event has panels that stretch well into the evening, and hosts a dance that stretches into the early morning of the next day. Some things like the console gaming areas and theaters are open all day! If you are a registered member, you are welcome. This is really a huge contrast to other events I have attended, where after hours’ activities seem to be contingent on who you are or who you know (ie: bars, parties, group activities, company hosted 'by invitation only' gatherings).
The cosplay was also something that was very surprising to me. I am not one that follows or has strong interest in anime or manga, so most of the programming was not much interest to me. What surprised me the most was the amount of attendees who were in cosplay. I have never attended an event before where it seemed like most of the people who came were in some type of costume. I was snapping photos all day, and always seeing new cosplay everywhere I looked. There was simply too much of it there to catalog. I have attended comic-cons in the past with upwards of 85,000 attendees and this still seemed like more here than at other events. I believe it was the sheer portion of people who show up who were in costume (Seemed like 1/3 of ppl were dressed up. Compared to maybe 10% at other events). The overwhelming amount of cosplay there is enough for me to return next year, regardless of my affinity towards anime or manga.
I feel as though this event really caters to the attendee. I have attended events in the past where it seemed like regular attendees aren’t included in everything. That it’s more for VIPs, for the exhibitors, for the major companies and celebrities in attendance. It seems that this is more apparent in the gaming conventions I have attended though vs the comic conventions, but there’s still traces of dignitary treatment in comic-conventions. This event seemed like it was for you, and that there was no catering to specific people. This is probably most apparent because there is not a “VIP” badge/ticket available to anyone. You registration doesn’t give you anything more or less then someone else. All activities are available to everyone, and after hours programming are not limited to invitation only. This really gives the event a sense of equality. I felt like because I could participate in everything there I was really part of the event. I think this is something that other events can really learn from.
last edited 4/19/2017 by Tristan