Momocon 2013: Branching Out and Turning Heads

Remyelle March 19, 2013 No Comments »
Momocon 2013: Branching Out and Turning Heads

It’s 10 a.m. at the Hilton in Atlanta, Georgia, and the motions of ‘just another Friday’ are already well underway. Snippets of several one-sided cellular conversations echo against the high ceilings as leisurely loafers and hurried high-heels syncopate the back-beat The week has one day left and the heroes and heroines of local boardrooms and offices are off to make their final stand.

Today though, they’re not alone.

The line for coffee at the hotel’s cafe is markedly longer than usual, and it’s obvious that the caffeine deprived are doing their best to cope. A brunette in a well-tailored suit taps out her sense of urgency with a leather-on-tile beat that would put most metronomes to shame. Behind her, a green-capped blond fidgets with his elongated, pointy ears with a sigh. A tribe of Konoha ninja make the best of the wait for their morning soda, and prime the secret attack ‘frothy mess no jutsu’ with every flail of their animated discussion.

The barista announces a ‘venti latte for Junior’, and a grateful archaeologist wraps his palms around the warm cardboard comfort of his Starbuckian grail. With a sip and invigorating inhale of steam, the coffee works its magic…and he sets out for his destination with a shake of his head and a mutter.

“Cosplayers…why’d it have to be cosplayers?”

Because Conventions, Indy!

With notable events like Dragon*con and AWA occurring annually, Atlanta hardly even bats an eye when hotels and streets flood with costumed enthusiasts each September.

With notable events like Dragon*con and AWA occurring annually, Atlanta hardly even bats an eye when hotels and streets flood with costumed enthusiasts each September.

But it’s not September, now is it? It’s March, and March is Momocon season.

Momocon? What’s a Momocon?

Momocon is a Georgian celebration of anime, games, and costuming that has been around longer than you might think. In 2005, Georgia Tech’s Anime O-Tekkus put together a free two-day convention in the humble venue of the university’s student center. The same passion and commitment that landed the O-Tekkus a ‘club spotlight’ in Newtype Magazine that year also drew a respectable 700+ warm bodies through their first convention’s doors.

Nurtured by that same passion for fandom, Momocon’s been growing ever since. In just six years, the convention was large enough to rank as number 10 on Animecons.com’s Ten Largest North American Anime Conventions of 2011. (Just how many warm bodies did they have? OVER 9000! *achem* I mean, 10,300 or so.).

2012 upgraded the convention from two days to three, moved venues to the Marriott Marquis, and separated it from Georgia Tech entirely. The conversion from a free to a paid convention dropped attendance slightly from the previous year, but still entertained and impressed over 8,600 fanboys and fangirls with its ever expanding list of panels and guests.

Now it’s 2013 and Momocon has taken root in Atlanta’s Hilton with expectations of bigger crowds than ever. It boasts over 900 hours of event programming catering to fans from many genres, hands on workshop offerings, a gigantic dealer’s room, and family friendly options. There are big names on board as guests, and the media coverage has increased significantly.

Animation Nation: Anime, Animation, and LittleKuriboh Infatuation!

Considering that Momocon began as an ‘anime convention’, it’s no surprise that the events geared toward their otaku fanbase are exceptionally strong. Anime screenings can be found around the clock, and several panels sport themes specific to series like Ouran Host Club, Fairy Tail, and Hetalia. Panels such as “What is a Sephiroth? Kabbalah in Anime” and “Anime in Academia: Research Methods,” promise unique perspectives for otaku to consider.

American animations like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot are represented as well with fan panels, screenings, and guests. Speaking of guests, Momocon has snagged Sifu Kisu, the superstar martial artist behind some of the bending techniques featured in Airbender and Korra for several demonstrations, panels, and even some hands on workshops!

Voice actors Steve Blum, Marianne Miller, and Brina Palencia are in attendance to offer autographs and insightful (often hilarious!) panels of their own. From prior roles to the art and business of voice acting, these veterans are a resource aspiring actors won’t want to miss. There are a smattering of panels for artists interested in flash as well, and Mike Reiss (Simpsons animator & The Critic co-creator) is scheduled to host panels on animating in Hollywood as well as his personal industry experiences.

Also on the roster for 2013? The scourge of youtube banbots everywhere, the father of the abridged series, the master of memes…Little Kuriboh!! (If you don’t know why this is exciting, then shame!) Unaware of their son’s destiny, LK’s parents initially gave him the username “Martin Billany”, but I’m pretty sure he outgrew it when he created his first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series. I’m also pretty sure that mystical fairies live under his ever-present hat and whisper secrets of the funny directly into his brain. Momocon not only gets you the chance to absorb some of the excess awesome from LittleKuriboh’s presence, but features panels, Q&As and a premier of a new episode from his series as well!

Japanophelia: If You Can’t Read It, Chances Are It’s Awesome!

The love of all things Japanese seems to go hand in hand with anime where conventions are concerned, and Momocon knows it. Fashionistas have panels devoted to everything from traditional kimono wear to street-styles, as well as a fashion show demonstrating the latest and greatest from Harajuku and Tokyo. J-Pop, K-Pop, and Visual Kei are the topics of their own panels, and give music enthusiasts the chance to hear something new or learn something about styles or groups they already liked.

Workshops give guests the chance to get hands on with cultural crafts like origami, bunraku (a uniquely Japanese puppetry method), and bento making (the ancient art of making meals adorable).

Get Your Game On! Industry, Fandom and Gaming

Momocon has guests from companies like Hi-Rez, Bioware, and Riot Games lending their expertise and talent to the gaming track this year. If you ever wondered how your beloved button masher came into being, pondered what it takes to get involved in the industry, or maybe just wanted a little extra insight into games like the Touhou Project; fans and veterans alike will be holding panels and Q&As throughout the weekend.

If you’re more interested in actually playing the games, your biggest decision will likely involve “which one?”. Six rooms serve as dedicated host tracks for video games, tabletop rpgs, card games, and board games. That’s about a third of the Hilton’s second floor, which means you can banish any fears of the claustrophobic gamer closets that some conventions tack on. Each genre has free play for most of the convention’s duration as well, so gamers won’t have to sacrifice seeing a panel or demonstration due to scheduling conflicts. Several tournaments are pre-scheduled for games like Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Rockband, Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic. Other tournaments occur whenever sign-ups have reached a minimum number, but don’t worry about having to wait around– once your tourny is ready, the friendly staff will give your cell phone a call!

Costuming: Saying Yes to the Dress, the Matching Paulders, and the Polearm!

What convention would be complete without the hordes of costumed fanboys and fangirls? For many, crowd-watching and photo-ops are just as important as the content of the panels they attend. Momocon is no different, and accommodates a wide array of cosplay from across the fandoms with various photoshoots and contests over the course of it’s three day run.

Are you still in the ‘maybe next year I’ll dress up’ boat? Or maybe you’re a dedicated cosplayer yourself looking for new techniques? Maybe a LARPer or fan who just can’t get a piece of weaponry or armor to look right? Wherever you fall in the spectrum of costume enthusiasts, a host of talented and industry costumers and prop creators have come to provide inspiration, instruction and insight with a plethora of panels and workshops! Momocon’s panels cover a broad range of topics from ‘101-style’ introductions to advanced crafting techniques. Learn to work with leather, or catch up on make-up trends! Find out how to make your wig look less wiggy! What do you know about mold making or foam building? Nothing? Me neither! But Momocon has enthusiastic experts to show us the light!

Whether your curiosity stems from interest in putting down that first stitch, creating foam appliances, or producing large scale props, there are panels and guests galore to help get you going.

Aural Fixation: I Learned Something Today

Do you know what ‘Nerd-Metal’ is? …Without doing a google search?

If ‘Order of Tyr’ was included in your answer, I’ll have to figure out how to e-mail you a cookie. OoT is one of several groups giving performances at the convention, and while they may not shoot pyrotechnics out of their pocket protectors, they are one of those bands you’ll wish you’d heard of sooner. (If nothing else, you’ve now learned a great new genre!)

Momocon also boasts a Friday night rave, karaoke, and karaoke tournaments and scattered panels involving various music.

Momocon is Not Your Grandma’s Convention…But You Could Bring Her Here!

It’s worth noting that Momocon has not only acknowledged that they have a younger crowd, but actively work to make the convention more family friendly as a whole. From the panels to the dealer’s room, adult content is banned completely. Sure there are still provocative poses in wall scrolls and paintings, but parents (and/or grandkids) can rest easy knowing that the car ride home won’t involve any awkward attempts to explain the birds, the bees, or the special love that can bloom between a tentacle monster and a schoolgirl.

While there’s not a smidgen of actual smut to be found visually, there are still a number of panels with adultish content and dialogue that might teach Little Billy a few new words if he wandered in. Momocon does not provide leashes at the door, but does take the time and trouble to indicate which events are ‘all ages appropriate’ right in the program guide for you! A ‘**’ next to the title means you, the kids, grandma, and your anthropomorphic talking dog are safe from any salty language, or unsavory insinuations– so head on in!

How Does Momocon Measure Up?

Momocon is thriving because it’s a great convention run by passionate people. The single hotel set-up is extremely convenient, and self-contained, and the timing is a great way to spice up the cooler months for Georgia fans. While it’s not as mind-blowingly big as Dragon*Con or Comi-Con, and as such is denied the ability to sport a roster of features ten miles long, the guests and events that they do have are quality and clearly chosen with care. To that end, the combination of a concise program booklet and a convenient app for my phone make it super easy to plan for the day. The halls aren’t jam-packed. The lines are relatively few. The atmosphere is exactly what you would want from a con claiming family-friendliness.

With all evidence pointing to bigger and better things year after year as awareness rises, it’s a safe bet that Momocon is here to stay, and already I can’t say enough about how much fun it is!

If you didn’t get a chance to check it out this year, start planning for next year now because Momocon…is just peachy.

 

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