Sakura-Con 2008

My first Sakura-Con ever, filled with awesomeness, bad inside jokes and cosplay!

On Friday, I drove to my friend’s house to pick him up for the trip down to Seattle, Washington for Sakura-Con. I arrived around 3:20 PM, loaded up my car with some sleeping bags, mats and pillows for the hotel room. There were going to be seven people in the room (room stuffing, yes it’s bad, I know), so we needed the extra bedding because two beds isn’t going to hold said amount of people comfortably.
While loading up, the rest of our group were supposed to meet us at my friend’s house before heading down to confirm the route and review our itinerary. By 4:00 PM, they still hadn’t shown up and with the evening rush coming, me and my friend decided to cross the border and meet up with them at Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham. This would be easiest rather than sit and idle at the border crossing for a couple of hours or so.

Upon arriving at the border, we were expecting a 45-60 minute wait. More like 20 minutes and the lane we were in was going through pretty quickly. However, we had a nice run in with the US Customs and Border Protection officer who was asking where we were going, what’s anime, why we’re going to the convention, what we were going to buy and if we were selling anything. He let us through after we proved to him we weren’t planning on selling anything.

We made it to Bellis Fair Mall before it started to snow and wandered around, peeked into Hot Topic and ate dinner before the rest of the troupe appeared. After a brief rest, it was off to the I-5 and down to Seattle!

What really amazed me was how fast we got to the hotel and how well the car handled. I think we went through every weather system possible: snow, rain, sleet, wind, clouds, some sun. We got into Seattle at around 7:00 PM using only 2/8ths of my tank. Amazing, considering this was my first ever drive (well, with me behind the wheel) to Seattle.

The rest of the gang appeared after us and we went up to the hotel to get the parking, room keys and all that. We then bolted out and up to the Washington State Convention and Trade Center to pick up our badges and check out what was going on. The Washington State Convention and Trade Center is huge! However since we got in so late, the pre-registration at the con was closed, so I was a little disappointed. I was exhausted from being up so early due to work and the drive, so I crashed while everyone went and got drunk at the pub downstairs.

Saturday morning came, so me and one of my friends got up early to get some epoxy for his costume. So, here I am at 7:30 AM, dressed as Naruto, in Downtown Seattle, standing outside a Walgreens waiting for the store to open so we could buy some glue. It was pretty interesting seeing a Naruto wearing rainbow coloured toe-socks trying to keep warm outside a pharmacy in the morning. Sadly, when they did open, the stuff that we bought didn’t really work so my friend wasn’t able to complete his cosplay (he was attempting Blueno from One Piece).

Once we got up to the convention centre, it was a blast. Breezed through Pre-Registration, but the others who didn’t pre-register learned a valuable life lesson in anime conventions: LONG LINE IS LONG. The rest of us all wandered around the centre, took lots of pictures and video, and checked just about everything out.

Something interesting happened to me though. While I was posing for a picture, I had a little plastic shuriken in my hand. It couldn’t have been much larger than 10 cm and incredibly dull. After the photographer had snapped my picture, a girl came up to me and asked “Do you know where peace bonding is?” I had remember seeing it while heading up the escalators earlier to collect my badge, so I politely provided the directions to it. “You need to have that peace bonded” was her reply before she strode off.
So without arguing, I made my way to the peace bonding table where I encountered a somewhat frightening sight — the staff member handing out the orange ribbon for peace bonding was cutting it off the roll with a fairly large and sharp folding knife. I wondered how someone who has a non-lethal piece of plastic that can’t cut butter could get in trouble while a guy, staff none-the-less, with a sharp and deadly knife, was in charge of peace bonding. Mind boggling.

After that unpleasantness, I returned back into the crowd. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: this place was huge! Apparently, word buzzing between the attendees were some 12,000 people were out and about. It was pretty amazing to be in the middle of all this and seeing some amazing costumes.

I wanted to get Vic Mignogna to sign my Fullmetal Alchemist DVD cover, but the line was too long and wasn’t accepting any new people. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to wait until Anime Central when he’ll be back along with Caitlin Glass (Winry) and Aaron Dismuke (Alphonse).
While in the Dealer’s Room, I found someone by chance… I also got proposed to by a Sasuke offering a bowl of ramen. I’ve never experienced something like this before, so I was confused, but amused in a way.

Anyways, the Cosplay Skits were supposed to start at 6:00 PM, but so many people showed up that it didn’t start until almost after 7:00 PM. The line up was massive. It snaked around the upstairs portion of the convention centre a few times, so much that the line was at least 3 rows deep in some places.

I finally got in and found some seats while waiting for the rest of my friends to return from picking up dinner. I stayed for a little bit for the first few skits which were pretty funny (there was a Final Fantasy 9 one, I have video!) and left after a little after the rest of our group had gone out for the One Piece showing.

Sunday morning finally dawned. Me and a friend wandered up to the con early so I could catch the Vic Mignogna panel and that my friend could try out some of the gaming rooms. I didn’t get my DVD signed since Vic was having an autograph session at 2:00 PM and we were going to try and leave around then. After wandering around the building for a bit, I returned to the hotel to get the others and check out Downtown Seattle.

We made our way down to the Pike Place Market where they too were also having their own sort of event with outdoor barbecues, vendors, and other exhibitions. Once we were able to figure out where we were going, we found one of our targets, the very first Starbucks store. It was pretty crowded inside, so I got some of the coffee that’s only sold in this store and a drink for myself. The interesting thing about this place is because it’s so busy, they ask for your name so that you get your drink. One of the baristas came up and shouted “HEY, NARUTO!!” as I was ordering my drink. Awesome! I should have said my name was Naruto instead of Frederick. Next time!

Then we walked up to Westlake Center and took the Monorail out to the Space Needle for some more touristy actions. Too bad there were a lot of people on the Monorail as we wanted to sing the version from the Simpsons (“I hear those things are awfully loud”, “It glides as softly as a cloud”).
We spent some time around the Space Needle taking pictures and playing with the machine that flattens pennies with different designs on them. Then we realized these devices could take Canadian coins… well, everyone had to get their change out.

We then all bid our farewells as I left Seattle around 2:00 PM to head back home. The others stayed back for a little bit to check out Artists Alley and pick up some more stuff. Good thing I left at the right time because there was a large bottle neck on the I-5 going north. A single lane accident will somehow disrupt five lanes of traffic.

That’s my weekend in a nutshell. I was overall pleased with my first visit to Sakura-Con and look forward to returning again in the future. Photographs are available on Gallery.

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