Naka-Kon a gathering of all things anime.
This past weekend I attended a Kansas city convention called Naka-kon. With a few thousand attendees every year it makes for quite the sight. It was their seventh year, and this would be my third time attending. I was immediately greeted by a creation of Dustin “the balloon guy” Reudelhuber. He’s been a regular guest for years, making game and anime themed props for patrons and even the events themselves. Not a bad sight to start the con.
Naka-kon is an Anime and gamer themed convention. For those that didn’t know anime is a term for Japanese animation, such as Dragonball Z, Pokemon, and Cowboy Bebop. When you say anime most people think of well dressed girls in kimonos or school girls showing panty shots, others think of giant mechas and over the top fight scenes. Others even think of the crazy fluid covered tentacle monsters violating super heroes. Naka presented all of this and more. The best conventions give you a wide range of genres to choose from and my first stop to the game room definitely had range.
Offering games from the Original Super Mario Brothers to today’s hottest Guitar Hero, this place was packed all weekend, even at seven in the morning. I loved the old school games set up because many of them are hard to find and it gives young gamers a chance to play games that were made before they were born. I watched as an impromptu DDR throw down occurred between a maid cat girl and a raver-punk, maid cat girl creamed that raver-punk in experienced mode! What a place!
I wandered over to the tables set up in the room and saw guys playing Magic The Gathering and Yu-gi-oh. They brought binders full of cards to trade and play with. As I watched, some friendly girls waved me over. They were playing Pokemon and needed a fourth. I had never played but joined in for the experience. I was destroyed in under two minutes by an Eevee.
Now if you decided you want a more active con life there is always Samurai Dan Coglan and his wife Jillian, of the Kojokan Shinbutai. These two travel to many conventions across the country giving demonstrations and history lessons of 16th century samurai life. They are honestly some of the coolest panels you can attend, as they blend humor, honor, and audience participation into their sessions.
After all, who doesn’t want to be a samurai.
If you’re not a gamer or and active person there will always be the three 24-hour video rooms Naka had set up. Sit back, relax, and watch the movies roll. This a great way to sample anime for free, catch up in the latest craze such as Gurren Laugen, or watch a classic such as Outlaw Star.
Now you can’t spend all weekend getting butt sores and muscle apathy so if you wander into the Vendors room you’d be very impressed, tee shirt stalls featuring nerdy apparel, various Japanese sweets & drinks, and about a million little toys and key chains. The Artist Alley was placed in the same room, and shown the same respect as the vendors, this is a nice touch since I have been to cons where artists are shoved in back hallways where there is no traffic. It is great to see such equality.
Why would one ever want to leave and with a convenient lounge area set up in the middle of the room you’d never had to!
The best part of the convention for me has always been the Masquerade, or Cosplay Contest. Slated to start at 6:00 pm on Saturday, I had time to go to my room, freshen up and be in a seat for the show by time it actually started at 6:35, this isn’t a huge suprise because these things never start on time. It is almost reliable how UNreliable they are. After a few brief announcements the show started, mostly walk-ons showing off their costumes and only a few skits. As a theater geek I was impressed by a few costumes and laughed out loud at the skits, but was disappointed in the technical crew. First of all the already dull M.C’s were muffled over half the time by the D.J’s horrible volume. Also the D.J’s track mix for the walk-ons was poorly timed. Having Ghostbusters to introduce Sailor Moon? A “love Me” Japanese Pop song playing with Pyramid Head taking the stage? The lighting was so dim I couldn’t tell the difference between a few costumes. Also, the large amount of no-show’s disappointed the crowd, Five minutes backstage to do a final head count and a little extra prep could have saved them a lot of grief.
Fortunately some of the Cosplayer energy and attitude made it worth it. An adorable Chun-li posed for flashes of cameras. A ninja did kung-fu down the stage, but moon-walked back making the crowd roar. Sakura from Naruto did an awesome bo-staff form. A moving Kingdom Hearts skit made me tear cheer. Last but not least a duct tape marvel of Stardust Dragon from Yu-gi-oh made fans scream.
Overall I have to say the Naka-Kon was worth the 5 hour trip for me. If it was further, I think it would still be worth it. I’ve been there for three years and look forward to making it a fourth. Special thanks to Vendor room director Beth for answering all my annoying questions.
Look for Naka-Con next year, and you’ll get to see things like this!
And of course, lot’s of this…..
Thanks for reading!