The easiest way to tell its spring time in Seattle is to make a stop at the Washington State Convention Center for the annual Sakura-Con anime convention. This year’s event gave fans of Japanese culture and entertainment a chance to enjoy anime, manga, music and gaming over the Easter long weekend of April 19th – 21st, 2019.
Photos from the weekend are available to view on Gallery.
This was my eleventh Sakura-Con and this year, I brought along a new cosplay: Shoto Todoroki from My Hero Academia. I brought two other outfits: Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach and Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto Shippuden, although I wouldn’t wear the latter due to time and convenience.
We continued our tradition of staying at the Sheraton Grand Seattle, mainly because of the convenience as it is located right across the street from the convention centre and is central to plenty of dining options and parking. Our favourite places for food are MOD Pizza on Sixth Avenue and The NYC Deli Market on Seventh Avenue. If we get a chance, we’ll pop down to the International District Station using Link Light Rail for dinner at Uwajimaya.
Arriving on the Thursday afternoon, we checked in relatively quickly and did some unpacking prior to going out for badge pick-up. As I wanted to keep myself entertained in line, I brought my Nintendo Switch along, however it was not needed. The lines for pre-registration pick-up inside the Conference Centre were short and before long, we had our badges and goodie bags. The evening was free for us (and my Nintendo Switch) to capitalize on.
Friday morning, I donned Ichigo’s robes, grabbed my badge and headed out for breakfast. The morning on the first day is relatively quiet; the exhibitor’s hall doesn’t open until 12:00 pm and we wandered around, with me taking pictures of the amazing cosplay. We sat down for a few panels, one of which was for Justin Briner, the English voice actor of Izuku Midoriya in My Hero Academia. Justin was quite cheerful, answering questions and sharing his experiences in working as a voice actor for Funimation.
One of my favourite places to wander is the exhibit hall with all its wares and goodies. Manga. DVDs and Blu-ray. CDs. Figures. Posters. Wallscrolls. Plushes. T-shirts. Swords. Masks. Bags. Wigs. Frozen treats. Novelties from Japan. You could very well blow a whole pay-cheque in here and still feel unsatisfied. Everything tempted me, but I had to hold onto my cash so I could browse first and then determine which vendor had the better price on an item I wanted.
We met up with a group of friends from Texas and settled on dining at Hamanasu on Fifth Avenue for some delicious sushi. I ordered a plate of sashimi, nigiri and California rolls with chunks of imitation crab. For $30.00 USD, this was a delicious and satisfying meal and made some in our group a little jealous.
Saturday was the big day: we wanted to see Sumire Morohoshi, the Japanese voice actress of Emma in The Promised Neverland, plus get her autograph and then catch the ROOKiEZ IS PUNK’D concert in the evening. But first, I would wear my newest cosplay, Todoroki in his U.A. High School uniform and head down to Pike Place for breakfast. The uniform is almost fleece-like and kept me warm this crisp Seattle morning. Once we arrived, the stores we usually grab breakfast had colossal line-ups – dejected, we walked back up Pike Street but veered off to Piroshky Piroshky’s location on Third Avenue for flaky, hearty Russian pastries.
As the voice actress for The Promised Neverland was in attendance, we knew it would be one of the more popular events. When the autograph line opened up, my partner and I briskly made our way into the designated aisle and waited 40 minutes for her to sign the pre-printed handout of animated residents of Grace Field House (the primary location in the series). We made a brief stop at our hotel room to drop off out autographs and then return to get in line for the next event, the Q and A panel for The Promised Neverland. This time, the queue was massive and snaked next to the arcade games before being ushered into large room for the panel. No pictures or video were permitted during the session as is commonly requested by the Japanese guests, so I left the camera off and put away as we listened to Sumire Morohoshi speak about her work on the show. We were then treated to the English language dub of the initial episode, a first before anyone else.
After the panel concluded, there wasn’t enough time to sneak out for dinner, instead opting for savoury gyros on the first floor of the convention centre. Then it was back up and into the Main Events stage for ROOKiEZ IS PUNK’D. Fortunately, we were allowed to take pictures and record the concert. The band opened with In My World, the opening to the anime Blue Exorcist and instantly, the floor was awash with cell phones up and recording. The energetic crowd bounced in tune, causing the floor to shake like a small earthquake (I didn’t want to jinx it). It was a fun evening, exhausted; we called it a night after the last encore.
For Sunday, I considered wearing Naruto, but due to time and the fact I had gained some weight, I wouldn’t be comfortable in the costume for a full day. Instead, I packed up and by 10:00 am, we were transporting all our luggage down to the storage area in the hotel’s ballroom so we could focus on the last few hours wandering the exhibitor’s hall and perusing the artists’ alley in the Conference Center. I splurged a little bit, helping my partner purchase a huge wallscroll of Deku (My Hero Academia), while I picked up a few shirts and figures for myself. The last thing I bought was a discounted registration for 2020: at $40.00 USD, this was the cheapest you could buy.
Sakura-Con for 2019 was a wrap and I found this year quite enjoyable with the events, guests, vendors and artists. It’s always fun to stroll through the halls and see the amazing work fans put into their outfits, or admire the huge photoshoots held outside in Freeway Park. Since I pre-paid for next year’s badge, I definitely am returning.
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