Sakura-Con 2016 Overall Look

Not quite sakura, but Japanese pink magnolia (which I actually prefer!) near the center

Every year, Sakura-Con is held during Easter weekend–a busy time of year that brings together a widely celebrated holiday, the ending of the anime winter season, and the beginning of the anime spring season. To add to the already hectic schedule, Seattle also hosted presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ rally and the Washington State Democratic caucus. Somehow KWoo and I survived yet another year of the convention, bringing back with us a good handful of merchandise, plenty of cosplay pictures, and a few choice panel transcriptions.

My Sakura-Con coverage this time around will be structured slightly different, particularly with the panels. In the past, I’ve varied between doing multi-day coverage and single-post coverage. I’ve decided to strike a balance between the two by discussing the general convention in this post, while dedicating individual posts to each of the guest panels whose discussions I transcribed. These more detailed panel posts are linked in this entry, as well.

  • The Anthem of the Heart Feature Film Screening
  • Panels
  • Cosplay
  • Dealer Hall / Artist Alley Haul

Aniplex features The Anthem of the Heart Feature Film Screening (sub)

I feel I ought to dedicate an entire post to this feature film, but given that it hasn’t been released yet in the U.S. and I cannot provide screenshots, I might as well talk about it here. KWoo and I actually almost skipped attending this film. We were exhausted from the first day of the convention, and there was a good break between the previous event and this evening one that nearly pushed us to go home. Thankfully, we stuck it out and sat in with the thought that once we started falling asleep, we’d sneak out.

That moment of determination never came–from the very beginning, The Anthem of the Heart (Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda.) enchanted us with its storytelling, characters, and art. In a way, I’m reminded of the Pixar film, Up, whose opening sequence wrenched the audience’s hearts open before the main story even began. A similar event occurs here, where we see the main character as a little girl with fairy tale dreams and a free spirit. After a misunderstanding and slip of the tongue, her family breaks apart, and we jettison to the present time. Jun, now a high school girl, does not speak. She does not smile. Her words have been sealed away by an “egg” to prevent her from hurting the people she cares about.

When Jun is chosen seemingly at random by her homeroom teacher to be part of a four-person Community Outreach Committee, she finds her inability to speak challenged by the kindness of a certain boy, and the notion that music can portray her heart where words cannot.

Not once during this movie did I yawn. I laughed, I teared up, and I applauded the efforts of these young souls to connect to each other. This is very likely a film I’ll pick up once it comes out on Blu-Ray. If you’re very lucky, this might actually be in a theater near you.

 

Panels

I took no risks this year with my notes and took along my Surface. I’m no court reporter, and my audio from last year was too annoying to try transcribing from. Bear in mind that almost everything noted is provided through the lens of a translator, who is already rephrasing the original Japanese. At times their translations are rough or repetitive, so I tried to clean up where I could without changing the meaning. Please click on the individual links below if you’d like to read through some brief commentary and longer Q&A.

  1. Toshihiro Kawamoto & Rie Matsumoto Art Panel
  2. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress and More by WIT Studio
  3. Funimation and WIT Studio present Seraph of the End Special Event
  4. Hiroyasu Kobayashi & Shigeto Koyama Guest Panel*
  5. Reki Kawahara and abec Panel
  6. How to Become a Content Creator and Animation Director in the Anime Industry? By Toshihiro Kawamoto & Rie Matsumoto
  7. Designing/Working in the Anime Industry with Hiroyasu Kobayashi & Shigeto Koyama

*Regarding the Hiroyasu Kobayashi & Shigeto Koyama Guest Panel, I was unable to take many notes because of the very conversational approach they took. They were two guys bullshitting with one another about themselves and their outlook. I loved listening to them, but was no way able to keep track of everything for their first panel.

Cosplay

This was probably my most active year taking cosplay pictures since my first time at Anime Expo. I’ve always been shy asking others to snap their pictures. This time, I took note of several photo shoots over the three days, including Hunter x Hunter, Steins;Gate, and Noragami. The quality is more up in the air since these photo shoots are casual get togethers for fans of the respective anime and you mostly get group shots. They’re also wonderfully convenient for getting a ton of shots at once. If the group has a good organizer, you’re guaranteed to get every combination imaginable with hardly any delay between poses.

Hunter x Hunter

 

Bleach

Tokyo Ghoul

Steins;Gate

Noragami

Prison School, One Punch Man, Full Metal Alchemist, Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu no Sekai, etc.

Haul

As always, I find myself drawn mostly to the Artist Alley, the only spot where you’ll get more current anime goods. We always have a few of our favorite artists from year to year, including Crayon Monsters and zzyzzyy. We only recently finished framing all our art from the past couple of years–now we’re going to have to get more frames and mats for this year’s pieces. ;_; Other artists featured are R. Trigger and Zearyu.

A fun find was ENFU. I love their food designs, and grabbed several wood blocks for hanging on the skinny walls in the kitchen. I also picked up one of their wrist pouches, and Ken was kind enough to not only sign the back, but also do a quick sketch of me!

Aside from the Blu-Rays, DVDs, and manga, my most special findwas Aria-shachou, who peeked out at me from the Kinokuniya booth as soon as I entered the Dealer’s Hall on the first day. I almost never see any Aria merchandise at this convention, so to say the find was unexpected is an understatement.

 

KWoo and I rushed the Pony Canyon booth in hopes of picking up Hibike! Euphonium goods since we were uncertain at last year’s convention that we would even like the series. Sadly, they mostly only had t-shirts of the previous anime seasons, their focus now on their newer works Garakowa and, disappointingly, on Rokka no Yuusha.

Final Impressions

Sakura-Con has quickly become my preferred convention for its proximity, size, and organization. I don’t think I’ll be returning to Anime Expo any time soon until they limit their attendance or do something miraculous about their lines, particularly for panels. Sakura-Con’s 30-minute rule on lining up was annoying the first year, but now I appreciate it since it allows me more time to check other areas out and have a guaranteed time to shoot for to ensure a decent spot.

I also usually find the guest list pretty commendable, though I have to admit that this year seemed less varied than the past. Staff from the same studios were present and talking about many of the same works–I attended two panels focused on Studio WIT and two panels focused on Studio Khara. If I had tried, I could’ve attended two panels on Sword Art Online, but I ended up skipping their film event. Next year, I’d like a bit more variety, as well as more of an effort put in to stagger the guest panels. Nothing makes me more annoyed than seeing two or three panels I’d like to attend to support the Japanese guests layered on top of each other!

To the online friends I was able to meet briefly, some once more and others for the first time, it was lovely seeing you!

Random Pictures

2 thoughts on “Sakura-Con 2016 Overall Look

  1. I was surprised how much I liked Anthem of the Heart, I thought that the whole musical worked out way better than it should’ve and really enjoyed their cover songs!
    I’m betting that PonyCan will start having Sound Eupho merch later in the year since the first disc isn’t out yet but both Rokka and Garakowa are, that’s my guess anyway?

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    • I, too, was surprised with Anthem of the Heart! I started out falling asleep on my feet, to sitting straight up with my eyes riveted to the screen. That mash-up at the end with the final song worked so much more than I could have expected. It makes me yearn to get a piano again🙂

      I’m pretty good about avoiding online purchases, but if PonyCan does come out with Eupho merch at any of the upcoming conventions, you can bet I’ll be all over that. I’ve stayed away from figurines for so long, but this is definitely a show that would bend my will. Also notebooks, and key chains (I want a drum one with that face!). Maybe they shouldn’t bring anything within my vicinity so my wallet stays put…

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