Seishun Con! 2013
1st year attending
This year Seishun Con was held at the Hilton Atlanta/Marietta Hotel & Conference Center. Incidentally, that means that the only way it could have been any closer to me is if my next door neighbors hosted it. (Pro: We’d all probably get some awesome homemade pies. Cons: Constant fights for couch space and gardening tool mishaps during the garage rave.)
All personal convenience based biases aside, the Conference Center is tucked away on Powder Springs Road just off the 120 loop. All that adds up to a scenic location, simple directions, and easy access for just about anyone.
There’s plenty of stuff in either direction to provide anything that out of towners or lazy packers might need, including the stores and diners of nearby Marietta Square.
Although I’ve likely passed the Conference Center on several occasions, I’ve never been inside. From what I’ve gathered, that puts me in the minority. Popular is something of an understatement when it comes to this venue: from weddings, receptions, seminars and any given special occasion it seems most in the area have been to something here before.
It didn’t take too much sleuthing to figure out the cause of the Center’s success. From the gardens to the golf course, to the opulent looking furniture in the lobby, to the random canon, to the citrus infused water… This place wasn’t just really, really nice: it was nice to the point where it went out of it’s way to demonstrate just how nice it was!
Seishun Con events and panels occupied two basement level event rooms (Lyon and Sanford), as well as one ground level hallway containing 5 “Break Out Rooms”. The dealers’ rooms and artists alley took residence in three basement level meeting rooms, and the rave was held in the super-spacious Joe Mack Ballroom.
The staff was friendly and helpful, and convention attendees were treated with all the courtesy of hotel guests. Pitchers of ice water and cups were set up in every convenient place you could think of. The bathrooms were clean and obviously well kept. I never found a single empty paper towel dispenser and what was even more impressive was the fact that there were wet-naps built right into every restroom trashcan!
Now, putting aside any offense I could work up (I mean, hey…it’s not like the subtext is something like: “Wait! We read the studies and know that you probably didn’t take the time to hygenie-up your filthy meat-paws, so here! We’ll make it easier to not be disgusting!” …right?) it’s really nice to know that anyone at the con encountered this too-easy-to-pass-up chance to kill germs before leaving the loo.
Attendance & Atmosphere:
I’m so bad at estimating numbers that I almost left this column off entirely… Daily attendance might have broken 1,000 people. (According to their facebook, Seishun Con had over 1200 attendees this year! I was close…-ish!)
The hallways were never congested to the point of inconvenience, but occasionally had brief people jams. Areas outside the larger halls frequently had big groups of fans mingling, resting, or playing games of their own invention. Panels held in the smaller “break out” rooms occasionally encountered standing room only, but most often there was a comfortable amount of space left in any event without the feeling of vacancy.
I would classify this as a family safe convention…but after dark the target demographic seemed to take a definitely shift toward late teens and up. Explicit content only popped up after 11pm and was clearly labeled for what it was in the program, but several night panels feature [adult swim] level comedy long before that. A cocktail cart by the dance entrance pretty much sealed my opinion on who this con was meant for.
That’s not to say that only 21+ers or even 18+ers can, will or should enjoy it. In fact, younger, more boisterous crowds seemed prevalent during the daytime hours, and there were more than a few chaperoned youngsters and obvious clumps of school-agers during the same period. Those running the panels had a really great habit of warning audiences and even checking with the room before featuring certain videos if the content was questionable and the time was on the earlier side of night.
So yes: family safe, but programmed for an older crowd.
Getting Your Anime Groove Back offered brief snippets of anime with the intention of piquing your interest and maybe sparking a new favorite series. Point goes to whoever compiled the list as it managed to get my interests up enough to put an anime about jazz as well as an anime about basketball on my “to watch” list.
Iron Panelist managed to successfully combine Who’s Line is it Anyways improv skills and geek-themed challenges to make a really unique and hilarious show down of veteran convention panelists at their BSing best.
In addition to these stand-outs, Seishun Con also featured many of the video tracks and panels that have become standard affair. Two of the five break out rooms were solely devoted to anime screenings from a variety of series. Amvs, wacky japanese videos, music videos and other fan favorites featured in various iterations across the rooms and time slots, and karaoke came in several flavors.
However, the tone of this convention was set apart by an enormous display of cosplay-centric material and resources and a novel surge of academic and self-help related topics. Although there were a few other notably creative events at Seishun Con, this trend definitely holds the most promise moving forward.
Although there were a few panels that explored themes and trends in various aspects of the industry, the panel I went to expecting mindlessness and fangirling wound up being the most thought provoking. Now, assuming you know what BL is, imagine for the moment that you read “BL Manga Review” as a panel name. What would you think?
You might think you’d get the scoop on the best new manga and anime in a genre primarily written for women by women about male homoerotic relationships. I guarantee you that you wouldn’t assume that you were walking into a discussion of gender issues and roles in this genre, and I bet you a small french poodle that you wouldn’t have any adequately well-thought out answers for some of the questions posed by the presenter.
Frankly, I’ll admit to being a little surprised that the presenter was not only a male, but also the same gentleman who had introduced himself as a professor earlier in the day as he interviewed people about their anime experiences. There’s too much to say about Dr. Brent Allison and his panel and impact to cover here though, so I’ll save that for another article entirely.
Equally impressive was the very existence of panels designed to build our fan community up on a personal level. From pro-fitness to anti-prejudice, it was nice to see an effort to improve more than just our costumes. Along that theme, the “Seriously Dan” panel definitely had lifting our community up in mind as it brought the inspirational advice podcast of the same name alive. Speaker Dan Carol’s positivity and humor partnered well with his straight-forward strategies for making order out of chaos and achieving personal goals. Earnest anecdotes pulled from the speaker’s life ranged from hilarious to touching and definitely left an impression.
Self-help and empowerment is rarely something that features at these events, and seeing this offered here definitely made me hopeful where the direction of conventions is concerned.
Cosplay chess and an eating contest are about the closest you’ll get this year. Opening ceremonies made mention that although they would like to have a gaming track, they have yet to find someone willing to run it.
Larger open areas tended to sport impromptu gatherings (often seated in circles), but featured what looked more like variations of truth or dare and similar activities. No Cards Against Humanity groups this time around…
Tiffany Grant: Voice Actress and convention veteran. Best known for the role of Asuka in Neon Genesis Evangelion, she has over 1000 voice credits and has also written over 200 dubbing scripts. Was described to the person picking her up from the airport as a very tall woman. Is not, in fact, very tall.
Dr. Brent Allison: Assistant Professor at the University of North Georgia. Dr. Allison wrote his dissertation on how anime fans teach each other and learn about Japanese culture. Currently he’s also on the editorial board of Mechademia as well as the Journal of Fandom Studies…both of which sound way too awesome to be real.
If you like cosplay, are involved in cosplay, or are in any way curious about cosplay…this is an awesome convention to attend!
Not only were there an enormous amount of cosplayers wandering the halls, but as previously noted in the “panels” review, a large portion of the programming seemed to be aimed at those engaged in or interested in this captivating hobby.
From 101 style workshops to Cosplay chess, topics covered included, Judging Craftmanship, Gunpla Modeling, Beauty, Cosplay Site Building, Posing, Armor Building, Couples Cosplay, and Cosplaying on a Budget.
Seishun Con was almost the opposite of a consumer convention.
The dealer’s room spanned two basement slots, which certainly made it feel smaller as a whole. With around a dozen tables over all and a few instances of product repetition from table to table, variety and abundance weren’t very high.
There was an entire table of snacks and edibles, a kimono vendor, japanese import vendor, and then several other booths featuring limited dvd stock and various knickknacks and apparel.
While a great place to gather information about local vendors and maybe stumble across discounted items or even used products with a sweet discount, it wasn’t anything that was going to compel you to throw caution to the wind and spend spend spend.
The artist’s alley featured around 6 tables of handmade goods. Most impressive were some of the print vendors, at least one of whom I recognized from AWA several years ago and has amazingly enough managed to get even better. Other vendors had some really cute jewelry and knit items, and I’d venture a guess that if you were determined to buy a keepsake, these would be the folks who clenched the honor (and your cash).
The Conference Center pub was front and center food-wise and definitely provided a great view of one of the walkways if you chose to sit at the bar. While the menu items were a little on the pricey side (not unusual hotel affair), the servers were super friendly and the nommables were excellent. Themed drink offers were also available at reduced prices.
Simple, but effective. We had previous recommendations from friends around town about this convention and bought our tickets at the door, so little interwebery was needed.https://www.facebook.com/SeishunCon
As with Mizucon, I discovered their facebook page after the fact. It seems to update frequently even after the convention’s end and will likely be my first stop for information next year. I suppose social media really is the future. :Phttp://www.yelp.com/events/marietta-seishuncon
Only notable if you’re looking for hotel reviews, and also because it’s the first time I’ve seen a yelp page for an event. It also has an unkept promise or two, but I can’t even be sure that this is official. No gaming tracks to be found, let alone tournaments however.
Fun convention with some real promise to its future if it keeps building up those key elements that make it unique. I enjoyed all the guests, but actually got a bigger thrill out of the “non-celebs” this time around.
Star Power: 3/5