Last weekend’s Kintoki-Con, held at the Hyatt Regency in down town Sacramento, would’ve been an anime/manga and even video game fan’s ideal con. However, pricing and the con website’s contradicting information prevented this.
Kintoki-Con had almost everything an anime/manga con could need. The heart of the con, as with most pop cultural conventions, was the masquerade (also known as a cosplay). This event included performances based on anime, manga and video game characters as well as ones on traditional Asian culture. Besides acts by costumed performers like the one dressed as the blond sailor girl from Sailor Moon, there were intermission performances by traditional Japanese folk groups such as Sacramento’s Taiko Dan and a Japanese fan dance group (fan as in the hand held cooling device, not fandom). There were tournaments for video and collector card gaming. Like most cons, Kintoki offered a concert–the band Moon Stream’s debut performance, as stated in the con’s program booklet. The dealers’ room was filled with a variety of booths devoted to anime and manga merchandise including DVDs, books and action figures. The artists’ alley had a number of tables displaying work of which most of were devoted to the two genres.
Panels and workshops with their special guests were divided into fannish and professional topics. Some of these topics were on costuming, rock bands, RPG, getting jobs in the anime/manga industry, marketing and promoting your art, and how to produce your own web comic. And no anime con would be complete without a video screening room, in which Kintoki had two–one for full length anime and live action Asian films and another for TV anime. Both rooms showed productions in their original Asian languages with English subtitles.
To complete an anime/manga con even more would be to include a maid café which Kintoki did. The café consisted of a staff of 20-plus maids and butlers, all in semi traditional dress for their roles, who greeted customers at the entrance. They were very friendly and inviting, but the prices weren’t. Not only was the price of food sky high, but the café itself had a five dollar admission fee. After yours truly asked the caterer at the food item table the price for a sandwich, which appeared to be home–made on Wonder Bread or some such non-gourmet brand, and was told seven bucks, he thought that it had to be a joke. Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t. On top of this, the selection of food was very scant: bananas, five inch chocolate chip cookies, and 16 ounce cans of soda, (each item individually sold, of course). Plus the customer had to purchase the food at the item table and take it to his/her table. So much for maid and butler service! But although this contradicted the con’s website stating availability of wait service, the maids and butlers’ quality entertaining of the guests was true to the site’s announcement for café entertainment.
Speaking about contradictions, pricing of admission between the con and the events within was very inconsistent. The website stated that admission to certain events, such as the maid café, could be purchased separately for a lesser price without having to buy a badge for the full con (which was 20 dollars for the day). But when yours truly asked at the registration table about the admission prices to the con and the ones to its events, the attendants said that to participate in these events a person had to pay full price for a con badge in order to get into them plus have to pay each event’s own admission fee (as was the case with the café)! These additional fees included the concert’s, according to one vender, until it was announced the fee would be waived.
Kintoki-Con’s events were amusing enough for any anime, manga or video game fan. However, admission prices and website information that contradict features of actual events were not very pleasing. This was the con’s first year, though, so hopefully its organizers will learn better for next year.