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Kawa Kon 2012 - A Festival of Fandom

Kawa Kon 2012 was held at the Sheraton Westport Plaza in St. Louis, a move from several years of being held at Kawa Kon 2011's Crowne Plaza in Clayton. The new location had quite a bit more space for convention events, but most appealing was the lovely plaza adjoining the convention center.
Plaza Pic

Next year I hope the convention uses the plaza for more official photoshoot sessions. It looked pretty awesome out there in all the pictures we took outside. NatsuCon, another St. Louis anime convention, took place here in 2010, and I thought it was a pretty great location. The only downside is that hotel rooms are a little more expensive. (We still got one 5 minutes away for $30).

First thing we attended? The date auction of course! I'm always a fan of the date auctions, as it's a great way for Alucard to buy new victims... *cough* kidding! Everyone in the auction looked like they spent a lot of time on their costumes. We have quite a few pictures in our Kawa Kon 2012 pictures gallery.

Also, the artwork on the Kon's program book was pretty impressive, so here it is spread out front and back:

This year's Kawa Kon focused on an evolution in programming from previous years, changing the convention's focus from anime to all fandoms, adding in multiple multi-fandom tracks: apocalypse survival, art and writing, ball-jointed dolls, Japanese culture, Harry Potter, and steampunk. Most fandoms enjoyed dedicated rooms for the weekend, with five different panel rooms running every single day. With so many rooms and fandom tracks running, there was always something to choose from, and an impressive selection for a convention with a few more than a thousand attendees.

The schedule was jam-packed.

Some fans railed against the new fandoms, while others embraced them. For the past three years, Kawa Kon has been billed as an anime convention, with other fandoms occasionally included. This year attendees, who were accustomed to other St. Louis anime conventions that focus entirely on anime and voice actors, were divided on the multiple event tracks, as Kawa Kon tries to differentiate itself. Instead of inviting four or five voice actors, this year's Kawa Kon 2012 included guests from TV, music, and Japanese culture, including both a Geisha troupe and Samurai instructors. Regardless of the vocal complaints, I noticed that most of the fandom panels were filled near capacity all weekend. Organizers rallied, stating they are planning to continue with multiple fandoms while simultaneously adding even more anime programming for next year. Every year I've attended, Kawa Kon has offered more unique panels-per-person than many other local conventions, so it won't take much for them to match other cons in number of anime-focused events.

Speaking of events: There were a ton! The schedule was absolutely packed with over a hundred to choose from. Aside from specialized events like "Anime for Harry Potter Fans" and "Dr. Who-lympics," there were events for all kinds of fans as well, including the costume contest, rave dance, Good Vs. Evil tea, and Karaoke.

Besides having a larger event selection than many other conventions, another great part of Kawa Kon is all the cosplay. Yes, cosplay is a part of every anime convention, but Kawa Kon's attendees are all about it (yes, that would be a reference to "Adventure Time," and there were a few "Adventure Time" cosplayers attending). Many anime conventions are attracting more and more congoers who don't go so much for the fandom and costuming, but for the partying with a large amount of geeks in one place. But almost 80% of Kawa Kon-goers were in costume, encouraged by the convention's $5 discount for people who come in cosplay. I could only imagine if cons like Dragon*Con started doing this, they would find themselves with many more costumers, rather than being over run by non-fans and partiers (specifically the ones who make the con less fun except for other partiers... to be honest, I like rum as much as the next person... or a lot more than <3).

So far, Kawa Kon is a multi-fandom convention that somehow isn't a "partycon" like every other multi-genre event out there. That means that dealing with drunks, bullies, and crazy people just doesn't happen at Kawa Kon (which is very, very nice). Look forward to next year!
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