The Grandeur of Saboten 2011
By Gackto and Frenchie
Saboten-con was held at the Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix for another year. The programming schedule seemed very packed, that it came down to making tough decisions on which panels and events to attend! Many people looked forward to the festivities of this convention, because it is the first one after the commencement of school. So, many people brought their absolute best cosplays and outfits to showcase for the attendees!
This year’s show was hosted by Mikoto. With previous experience in running fashion shows in the convention scene, this one outweighed the others by far! The show was held in a very large panel room, so there were many seats to go around. Although the entire room wasn’t filled up to capacity, the designs were really worth sitting through it from beginning to end. There were designs by Strawberry Black, Dictator Fantasyland, Cake Shop and Mikoto’s line, Poison Sugar. A lot of these designers have been showcasing their designs for a long time and as somebody who has watched their designs come out at each convention, I can see a lot of their progress but most importantly their identifying factor.
The highlight of every convention has to be their masquerade and with Saboten-con being one of the largest in Arizona, it has a reputation to keep up for the best cosplays and skits. Besides the long wait in line and possibly horrible seating once you get inside the room, I would say it’s definitely worth it. One pair that stood out was Princess Zelda and Peach. I really have to hand it to them, their cosplays are impeccable but their skit outweighs that by so much. A few more cosplays included Lightning and Vanille, which made some audience members anticipate for the release of FFXIII-2. There was also a fangirl favorite, No Face from Spirited Away. Although the only thing that he did was stand there with his hands out, girls were throwing around cheers while guys were pondering why he gets the most attention in one minute. Whatever the case may be, the masquerade was full of creative and awesomely witty contestants.
In an anime convention, the term “cosplay” gets used loosely every year. Does it necessarily mean costumes from anime or anything else that you fan girl over? At this convention, there are lots of anime-related cosplays, from Hetalia to Fairy Tale. But also, there are miscellaneous cosplays such as the Power Rangers, Spiderman, and the numerous Captain Jack Sparrows. One could also ask whether or not you prefer to wear a “cosplay” for Halloween or a “costume”. What also adds on to the fun of cosplay at a convention is to be able to do group cosplays. I spotted a really nice Final Fantasy XIII group consisting of Lightning, Vanille and Fang. Hats off to all the group cosplayers, solely because it’s really hard to plan and coordinate who is going to do which character and for having awesome communication! There are also cosplays in which the costume wearer requires attention from the attendees. From this convention, there was a lurking Spiderman that kind of seemed like Richard Simmons in that he was very active in every single way, at every single corner of the hotel, at every single minute. He was even caught trying to get a yoga group started outside of the masquerade hall and doing high five trains! That just goes to show the crazy, interactive side of cosplay.
Gaming this year was done by none other than AZHP. The room had a fairly close resemblance to last year’s layout. If we’re talking about traffic, it’s had its ups and downs. It cannot be assumed that every otaku out there plays videogames, but when they do, they play hardcore! Speaking of hardcore, many of them probably signed up to participate in one of a few dozen tournaments, with Super Smash Brothers being the largest. I suppose there is something to that game that really triggers the gamer mentality deep within the otaku. There were quite a lot to play this year, from Rock Band to Call of Duty and Arcana Heart. However, I was slightly to find out that their custom-made arcade machine took a vacation. The staff decided it finally had a good run of seven years. If you don’t know, this arcade machine was custom-built by the staff and it took them about a half a year to make one entity that could hold a billion of the most classic games ever built, like Atari games. Hopefully for next year’s convention, there will be a new one.
To be honest, the vendor’s hall did not change too much, except for the rise in amount of Gloomy Bears and (real) food. Once you enter the room, the first store you see if filled with these cute, cuddly and colorful creatures. I must say, it was very tempting to buy one, yet extremely difficult to choose which one to buy. On top of that, there were a few Gloomy Bears that ooze of chocolate instead of the classic red blood. I found it kind of amusing that all of the colorful and cute items were showcased closer to the entrance, leaving all of the dark and grim sellers near the opposite corner of the hall. I felt that it was a theme spectrum, maybe it was planned out by Saboten, maybe it was coincidence. Some artists had a lot of clever artwork, such as a tofu character with “Miso Hungry” written across the drawing. There were also a good handful of designers from the J-Fashion Show selling their unique clothing and accessories. It is really hard to imagine having to sit for what seems to be a countless number of hours in the same place, greeting customers and perhaps seeing a friend here and there. But all of them can tell you that having that much space at such a popular convention is worth the endurance, because it’s business.
As far as events go, The Hetalia Café had a really good turnout! There were about 5-6 tables in the entire room and only 3 maids to accommodate everybody, crazy! The three maids must be serious servers outside of the convention scene, because any other person would freak out having to serve 16 people at one time. On top of that, there were multiple sessions for the café. Although the maids were probably not tipped, they sure made a lot of attendees very happy. And if you were also there, you probably saw a North Korea cosplayer wearing a midriff and waving the North Korean flag, acting like Hard Gay. So, everybody also got a show! Besides that, the panels this year really brought something different to the table. Although it was first thing in the day, there was a panel called “No More Kawaii: How to Speak Japanese 101” which was really informative. The panelists were two ASU Japanese majors who made a really colorful presentation on the do’s and don’ts of the anime language. The first surprise was the turnout, as the room was filled almost to full capacity and the room was filled with roundtables of 8-10 people each! Another panel focused in on that cute egg Pokémon, Togepi. Panda Cubed hosted a panel featuring the rise and downfall of Togepi, which was basically a narration of how Togepi came onto the pop culture scene in his/her acting career. Lots of the photos (taken from TMZ) were definitely real, portraying Togepi’s first career move, to Togepi’s first one night stand, to Togepi’s recent incarceration. I’m really hoping that they come to the next Anime convention. Obviously as nightfall comes onto the convention, so does the theme of its panels. What I’m talking about are the Adult AMVs. I have never heard of such panel before, and I was curious to know what they mean by “adult” so I went there. At first, I thought I was running a little, because the room was a little empty when I got there. However, I walked in on what was supposedly the most interesting scene of a Yaoi! I was in the back looking at the audience and they all seemed very intrigued by this event, so I left in an instant. That’s the best timing I had at the convention thus far.
The convention nightlife continues with the dances, or raves. One thing was already bad about it: It was on the second floor. On my way to the dance hall, I felt heavy trembling on the floor thinking that it was an earthquake. Once I got to the entrance, I was discouraged to find out that bouncers were guarding it, letting people in as other people leave. Throughout the night, most of the people that left early were dissatisfied that security had to tell them to stop jumping once they realized it was problematic. One good thing about it though: Alcohol. And there was a lot of it for the taking next to the entrance! Once you finally get inside the dance hall, you could see why people wanted to just jump up and down. The music is just plain catchy! With all things considered, the dance was satisfactory. It could still be better planned as far as location goes, because 30 feet away was the nearest hotel room which is crazy. However, the DJ that came from out of state conventions gave a really nice set which kept a lot of people inside.
Final Grade: B+
There were a lot of trade-offs that made a good balance to the convention. Location was one of them. The drive from the Tempe area wasn’t all too bad, minus the car accidents on the way. I never really heard many complaints about panels and events starting late, so the staff really had good mechanics for getting everybody in and out of the right panels. The new food discount was a really fantastic program, especially for the Otaku budget. On top of that, Troy Baker had to cancel his appearance, which wasn’t something we could hold against the staff. In all essence, the convention staff cannot make everybody happy. But they get mad props for trying.
See you next time!!!