Saturday, February 19, 2011

On the road still: Katsucon, day 1

Scott is on winter break and wanted to attend this con and a nearby gaming convention, so I find myself wandering the halls of my first anime convention and gathering impressions.

This event is big, with last year's notching over 6,000 attendees and this one supposed to host even more. That's bigger than all but the very largest World SF conventions of years past--and way bigger than modern ones.

The hotel is a wonderful venue. Spacious, clean, and new, with enough function space and rooms that it's hosting this entire con and still has plenty of non-con guests, it's one of the best con venues I've ever visited. I can't recall being in as nice a one-stop-with-everything hotel for any WorldCon. If I were a DC area fan looking to host a WorldCon, I'd tour this place.

The fans are young and diverse. Where SF cons are increasingly geriatric affairs, the halls here are thrumming with youthful energy. Young fans of all shapes and hues are excitedly going about their con business.

Reading is a minority interest. I walked by every single booth in the immense dealer's room, and not one novel was on offer anywhere. Not one. Manga, yes, and plenty of graphic novels, but not one novel.

Costuming is huge. At SF cons, masquerades seem to be slowly decreasing in size. Here, about half the fans are in hall costumes, and the queue to get into the masquerade was vastly bigger than any line I've ever seen at any WorldCon. Marty Gear, my friend who's been coming to this con for many years in an attempt to convince the costumers to come to SF cons, clearly has understood this fact for a long time.

Most of all, I realize that this is not my event. I like some anime, but it represents a tiny portion of my viewing time. I don't recognize any of the character costumes, nor the artists, nor the videos. I was able to chat somewhat knowledgeably at the tables selling ultraviolent Asian live-action films, and I fared acceptably in the Halo: Reach games I joined, but those were the only points of intersection between my life and the stuff going on at this con.

If I were here doing market research for a publisher--which I am not--and if I were willing to take this con and my other SF and mystery con experiences as my only data points--which I am not--I would have to conclude that the novel is dying with the generations that still read such books. I sincerely hope that is an incorrect conclusion.

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