Kumoricon 2014 • Esther Short Park • Vancouver, Washington
I spent Saturday morning working out small issues with my costume. I’d been so busy and tired in recent weeks that I had no energy for the tasks prior to the convention. Plus my bad arm mades it difficult to even change clothes, much less put on an intricate costume. However, I’ve come to the realization that given my vision problems and my restriction from wearing contacts lenses that this is the last year I’ll be able to cosplay. So I ought to go out with a bang.
My new costume is Senketsu, so I was dressed as Ryūko Matoi
from Kill la Kill
. Saturday is Kumoricon’s biggest day, and I wanted my newest outfit to be featured – a hot property from a series that is not yet a year old. Cutting edge! (Although I did not have a giant scissor blade.)
I had targeted 8:30 am as my optimistic departure time and to my surprise I was only 20 minutes late. Traffic was light as expected, and it took less than a half hour to drive to Vancouver – about 1/3 the time it took me on Thursday afternoon. I was in Vancouver at 9:20am (actually a bit earlier than usual) – and received my first surprise – the parking structure was full. In all the years the convention has been in Vancouver, the parking structure has never been full. At the intersection between the parking structure and Esther Short Park, I turned north onto Columbia and looked for a place to pull over and park. I found an empty parking space on Columbia just north of 9th St. I did a quick search using my iPhone and learned that street parking is free on the weekends, so I was good where I was – a block and a half north of Esther Short Park.
The weather forecast was for a mix of sun and rain showers. It’s been a long time since we had rain at Kumoricon, and I’ve dreaded its return – especially with Kumoricon’s location situated in two hotels quite some ways apart. Already the rain sprinkle was enough that I had to pull out my rain cover for my camera. I’ve never had to actually use it before. Turns out that rain gear on a camera is a real pain. Some of the switches I need to use are on the front of the camera, so I have to leave the cover open enough to get both hands inside. And I have to constantly move the cover away from the eyepiece. It’s all very awkward – but at least the camera stays dry. I could tell already that photography was going to be a problem.
The morning rain showers also helped keep the attendance in the park rather low, so I walked through the Hilton, including the garage – and not really finding much to photograph. At length I made my way back to the park, where the sky remained overcast but the showers had stopped. A small glomp circle had started. Glomp circles are my favorite place to take Kumoricon pictures, because everyone has let their guard down, there is high energy – and occasionally a really good hug. Basically this is the best spot for me to luck into a picture for my annual photo calendar. I split my time between the glomp circle and the rest of the park.
At 10:45 I headed back to the Hilton and slowly worked my way down to the Red Lion, attempting (and mostly failing at) photography on the way. It was 11:00 am when I stopped at the Red Lion restaurant for my annual tradition – a bowl of clam chowder for lunch. They have pretty good clam chowder. Lunch was good – and fairly quiet as usual – although there were other Kumoricon attendees there. (I even received praise for my costume.) Generally, lunch at the Red Lion is a nice time to relax in peace, catch up on email, and get away from the bustle of the convention.
By 11:45 I was finished with lunch. One of the little secrets of the Red Lion is that the restrooms just outside restaurant’s entrance are really secluded and almost always vacant. I like to take advantage. Afterwards I decided to visit both of the Exhibit Halls, which were located at the Red Lion this year. There was a very short line for the Main Exhibit Hall, and I was able to get in surprisingly quickly. Not bad at all. Maybe everyone visited the Exhibit Hall on Friday, the new Day 1 of the convention.
I didn’t expect to find anything that I wanted, but it was fun to browse. It’s maybe more fun to listen to the other people talk about items. I overheard one couple: “No! No more figurines!” I heard another person tell a friend how he always checks eBay before coming so that he knows the difference between good and bad prices.
I did make one purchase. At the C&L booth I bought a Kyubey plushie on sale. I thought he would go nicely with my Homura cosplay on Sunday.
Also at the Uwajimaya booth I learned that my Kumoricon badge gives me 10% my total purchase at the Beaverton store all weekend. Cool!
Finished with the Main Exhibit Hall I went over the the Centennial Exhibit Hall. The vendors here seemed to be mostly second-tier – many booths had non-anime-related items. There were some artist booths (probably a step up from the vendors in Artist Alley). It didn’t take long for me to cruise by these tables. When all was done I had spent an hour total for both Exhibit Halls.
The problem was I had a bag of Kyubey, which was going to be a hindrance. I decided to drop him off at my car. The Red Lion is on the equivalent of 2nd street, and my car was just north of 9th. Walk and photograph... I was used to it. After securing Kyubey in my car, I decided to take a roundabout way back – going east to Washington St. For all the times I’ve been to Vancouver, I’ve never explored downtown, so this was a nice change. I took Washington street south to the Plaid Pantry, where I did my now traditional purchase of a Coke Zero – and sat on the bench across the street to enjoy the breeze. Then it was back to the park for a final round of photography.
It turns out that this year two events were happening in the park at the same time – Kumoricon – and CouvFest NW
– a music festival. The music added welcome yet incongruous energy to the cosplay in the park. Too bad it wasn’t anime music! But the bands were entertaining.
The glomp circle had grown much larger and was located close to one of the stages. The music drowned out the usual glomp shouts and declarations, but that didn’t slow down the group. I hung around and took more photos.
Around 2 pm I decided I’d run out of steam and considered heading home. Photography was hard and not going particularly well... and it seemed I was just struggling to go upstream. While I was mulling this over, I decided I’d check out the offerings at the Ice Cream Renaissance tent in the park. I sampled their Honey Vanilla flavor, which had too much honey for me. (I like honey and I like vanilla – better separately, it seems.) I was going to ask a question about a different flavor when without warning the heavens opened and a sudden downpour crashed the party. I dashed under the canopy.
Most of the cosplayers in the park took shelter under the trees. I don’t know what the people in the plaza did – got soaked, I guess. I figured it was only right that I buy some ice cream since I was using the vendor’s tent. I chose the Dreamcycle flavor (but I think I would have done better with Cookies and Cream). I did have a nice chat with the people at Ice Cream Renaissance. Fortunately, the rain didn’t last long – maybe only 10 minutes? Blue sky chased the clouds away. Situation normal in the Pacific Northwest.
Still, I took the drenching and subsequent dispersal of the crowds as a sign that I should wrap it up. But I dragged my feet. After all, the sun actually came out – new light! I wandered for 15 minutes looking for more photo ops, but not really getting anything good. One quick swing through the Hilton... one more quick pass through the park... and at 3 pm I was ready to go home. I walked back to my car.
I didn’t drive straight home; I made two stops on the way. One stop was at Uwajimaya where I could exercise my 10% discount. Pocky! (I bought a big bag). (There was plenty of Pocky at the Uwajimaya booth at Kumoricon – but I would have had to have paid sales tax. Back in Oregon – no sales tax and 10% discount. Double win!) All told it took me an hour to get home. I arrived shortly after 4 pm, bearing photos to process, journaling to be done... and a Kyubey.
Kumoricon 2014 • Hilton Vancouver Washington