Talking Point: Planet Comicon and Naka-Kon

I’m not calling these a review this year. 2021 at conventions is full of anxiety and fear, but also excitement. I knew I wanted to go, I also knew I didn’t want to get sick. So, while I was invited as press for those 2 events, I only went one day to each. I didn’t see everything and I won’t cover everything. It simply wouldn’t be fair to them. I also attended some smaller one day events, that I only stayed at for a few hours. So what I did was made one big video to feature. I visited 5 local events for both Hackinformer and also to get the word out for my own personal gaming event in early 2022. So there is plenty of article below, but there is also a 45-minute video for those interested. Enjoy!

Planet Comicon:

So one of the first things that I noticed upon entering Planet Comicon was simply the “normality” of it all. And by that I mean is that it didn’t look too affected by our current pandemic situation. I primarily stayed in the vendor hall while I was there. Again I wasn’t terribly comfortable sitting for long periods of time next to an individual so that meant that panels were out of the question for me this year.

But back to the normal aspects of the vendor hall. The first normal thing that I saw was the number of vendors, Artists, authors, guests. There was an abundance of tables that were familiar and had been there in previous years. There were however I would estimate about 20% that we’re not there again this year. The bottom line is I am uncertain if they don’t exist anymore because of the pandemic or because they felt unsafe coming and selling in such a crowded environment or if it was simply because they didn’t want to travel due to uncertainty as to whether or not they would make back their money.

All that I know is for every vendor that was not there from a previous year there were definitely new vendors in their place. It was definitely nice to see fresh faces and tables as opposed to seeing the same people. Sometimes they appear jaded, but even if they’re generally happy,  it doesn’t matter. I definitely get tired of seeing the same faces/products and it makes attending conventions a bit more lackluster if not questionable at best. So what made this year feel a bit more new.

Another way that it felt normal was the sheer amount of attendees. I went on a Friday and Fridays do not normally have an overabundance of people. They might have maybe 50% capacity and so it is spread out much more evenly across the tables that people are visiting. That means you have more time to discuss products with vendors or the process with artists.

Of course, there were definitely new artists as well and I always make sure that I find people that I don’t recognize. Artists deserve more recognition than what they get at conventions. Attendees tend to flock toward the celebrities or to booths that have big ticket items. Very rarely do I see artists’ booths swelling with visitors, the same goes for authors as well. Unfortunately, I don’t have money for everybody to support them all so I make sure to just simply try to follow them on social media and retweet them when I can.

The next bit of normalcy was all of the extra items that were in the room. When you go to these events during the pandemic it might be that they don’t want you to touch any surfaces or things of that nature. But they still had interactive booths for people to use. Whether it was the booth that had arcade as well as arcade tournaments or it was the crafting area for the kids. There were other interactive events as well for those wondering. But I digress if you were wanting to have more hands-on experiences you could still get them. The only bummer was I saw a distinct lack of sanitation methods at booths.

The last point of business in terms of normalcy is to say that they were the good all normal Planet Comicon. They seem to push the envelope in terms of getting different people as celebrity guess. There was also a much bigger eSports presence than I seem to remember there being in the past. They also made certain that the concessions were still open and that they were adequate places to eat. They were more ways that they push the envelope but again I didn’t get outside of my comfort zone so those things I cannot touch upon. But the fact that they still had them in these trying times is something to commend them for.

Now, it wasn’t all butterflies and sunshine. There were definitely things that had to be done in order to make it a different or “new normal” for the event. If you attended you’ll find they “required“ masks. This was always something to remain to be seen at events. Do they require it or do they not require it? If they require it, do they enforce it,? If they enforce it, do they enforce it with simply a warning or do they ask the person to leave entirely? There are a lot of variables and things to consider and/or require when you are in a city under a mandate.

Mandates are technically laws and in the city when there is a mandate it’s deeper than that. It is not just a mandate for the individual to wear a face-covering, but also for the event or business to enforce it for risk of a citation. I would say if we are grading Planet Comicon on their enforcement of the rules, they did pretty well! They gave adequate warning before the event. There were also rules that you had to agree to before purchasing your tickets. There were signs everywhere, too. Best of all, they had their own employees wearing masks two to really set an example (and keep them safe). The eating places were designated so that you to take your mask off to eat.

I did not notice very many people not wearing masks. I am uncertain if that is because they were walked up to and told to wear their masks or because everybody was respecting the rule. But truly I could count on two hands the number of people that were not wearing masks which is an incredibly low percentage considering the attendance. I think that means that Planet Comicon did a great job in a city that has a high number of decent individuals that care about their own health and those around them. The few that I did see not wearing masks or generally nursing a drink of some kind so as to not get told to wear a mask. I hope those people did not get sick, but if they did… Shoulder shrug.

All in all, I would write this as a pretty good return to form, I would like to see more variation with regards to the number of tables that they get that are the same. I would like them to not approve every same application but instead start to approve other ones and maybe have a tear or smaller businesses and have a place that planet Comicon with affordable tables. I was also very happy that they still had the cosplay competition and while I didn’t attend it if you watch my video there are definitely all the winners represented and as far as I’m concerned, they all earned their trophies!

Naka-Kon:

Naka-Kon was a different beast. I also went to that on a Friday. Because, as I said, most conventions have a lot fewer people on the first afternoon. That really gave me the opportunity to meander around and look at things at my pace and not feel any kind of anxiety whatsoever. Nakano is much more of a stroll in the park comparatively. The size is smaller and the amount of stuff to do is less. But once you find your comfort level you truly forget about all that and for me anyway, I really just honed in on one thing. Of course, this was after Checking out everything.
As I could remember, the number of tables and booths was more the previous time that the event happened in person. I’m uncertain if this was a conscious choice or if there were simply lesser vendors, authors, and artists willing to put themselves out there yet. Either way at least the ones that were there were pretty great ones.
I didn’t get much for pickups but one of the pictures I got contained a lot of stuff. So if you are interested in my pickups, feel free to watch the video down below. But what mattered more to me was talking with the different booths for a little while and making a connection. Now here’s a pro tip for everybody, if the booth is busy, don’t stand there and talk to the seller. Completely leave so that others can buy stuff. You can always come back later to talk.
As always,  there was a photo area with the whole entire setup so that you could look like you were straight up in Japan. This is because the whole core concept of the event is to celebrate Japanese culture. I think this was a nice touch without seeming like it was making fun of the culture. I feel like the event itself does not promote cultural appropriation. If anybody comes there and decides to make a mockery of it, they usually get shunned by other attendees.
The other point about that giant hall where all of those things were contained is that it to had a designated food area. And while I do not partake in any of that for several reasons, I can at least appreciate and respect the people that do. As long as they are maintaining safety and distance I see no reason that they cannot enjoy themselves and have a nice dinner.
At this event, I also did not attend any panels for the same reasons as Planet. I’m just glad that they still had a few panels each day. That’s good news for anybody who is comfortable with that. Where I did end up roaming around and ultimately staying for the rest of the time was in the arcade areas. One room had sit-down arcades and consoles to play at. The secondary room had what I can only assume was fighting game tournaments. It was hard to tell for certain. There were some more TVs, but everybody was huddled around them and we didn’t want to interrupt! The third room though was the room with rhythm games. And anybody that knows me knows that besides horror games rhythm games are my jam.
I tried to play a little of everything in the room. But there is one star of the show that I had to commend the event for making sure that it was in attendance. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the Stepmaniax machine! My friend and I had a ball playing on it! It is more like DDR than pump it up is. But it still has some extra buttons for more advanced players. And while I will never give up on DDR, I made certain to get the contact information of the owner of it. I hope to see him at other events. Or see if we can pay him to attend other local events as much as possible. This machine deserves to be played by everyone!
We also took the time to sit down and chat with some local game developers on a game that they are building out for PC and mobile. It’s a hand-drawn fighting game that’s today. Somewhere between old-school Mortal Kombat and guilty gear he will find this game. I intend to reach out to them when the game is in a full-on demo mode so that I can cover it here on Hackinformer.
All in all, I would say that this event felt like a safe event. It definitely wasn’t 100% Naka-Kon, but you could still have a lot of fun! And it was deliberately reduced capacity though, which made me more comfortable overall. It also shows that next year can only be better and that has my hopes incredibly high. If you missed it this year or we’re not comfortable coming this year, no worries. You should definitely attend next year instead. It will presumably be back to his normal self, I’ll be at even beefier. I just hope that they do more enhancements to the “Japanese” aspects of the event. I know that there were likely more that I didn’t see. But I want it everywhere! Let’s paint the walls with Japan!

Final Thoughts:

Both events did a great job with regards to improving their safety while keeping their events as “normal” as possible. And if you’re wondering, I had a blast at both of them. I spent more time at Planet, but that’s to be expected. The sheer size of it being the key difference. They both have points of growth that I would like to see out of them. Otherwise, it makes me question if I want to continue to attend as I get older and my interests evolve. Just some sensible changes and I’ll continue to be there 🙂

Video:

 

 

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