Six Weeks, Six Cons Pt.3: Kin-Yoobi Con

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    Sushi Killer

    September 13, 2013

    **In this series of articles, I am gonna give a quick rundown of the six conventions I went to within six sequential weeks, as well as their highlights and “lowlights,” so that those of you who are California locals can make informed decisions on which cons to attend in 2014. For you non-Californians – don’t go anywhere – these same con-qualities could make or break your experience at your local con, so look for the type of must-see events you can’t afford to miss!

    (Catch up on Week One HERE, and Week Two HERE!)

    Con Three, Week Three – Kin-yoobi Con AKA Foodie-con

    Overview

    Kin-yoobi Con started off five years ago as a one-day (Friday) con, hence the name meaning “Friday” in Japanese. It is put on by the members of the Chabot College anime club in Fremont/Newark and has been growing slowly, but steadily for the past couple of years. Now, it is a three day convention that takes over the entire Newark Hilton. With local musical acts in concert pretty much constantly, two rooms and a hallway full of artists and dealers, a swap meet, karaoke room, and maid cafe, this is a little con with a whole lot of cool stuff going on.

    What I did

    I was unable to attend the first night of programming on Friday because of a previous engagement, but I got to the convention pretty early on Saturday to scope the place out before I set up for the swap meet. The registration process was very fast, only requiring ID confirmation to pick up our press badges. We walked around the convention grounds checking out the dealers and artists, the panel rooms, the big main events room, and the giant corner full of Homestuck cosplayers hanging out. Chips and I were both in costume this time, and spent quite a while at the professional photo booth by Star Studio Models (that had been set up in the dealers room) getting some awesome pictures taken. **All photos in this article taken in front of the blue or white backdrop are by Frank Jonas at said booth.

    Then, the time to set up for Swap Meet came around and we headed to the parking lot to set up. The event only had three sellers and lasted about four hours, but we did very well for the day, financing our next two con trips. We then packed up and headed to the cosplay masquerade, which had a great showing of impressive costumes and creative skits. Once the judging verdicts were announced, we found that we were extremely hungry and went across the street to Yama Fuji Sushi Boat Buffet. After dinner, we headed back to the con hoping to catch the Violence in Anime panel and do a little formal dancing at the ball, but the panel hosts were a no-show and the main events room was running a bit behind, so we decided we were tired enough that we didn’t want to wait for it and headed home.

                

    The second day was a lot more low-key with a lolita/J-style fashion show, karaoke through most of the day, and more great deals to be had in the dealer’s hall. I had made enough at the swap meet to go grab some hand made pottery from Earth Nation Ceramics, and stopped by my friend Liz’s artist booth to do some bartering for a custom pin she made. Although I wasn’t in cosplay, we stopped by the photo booth again so that Chips could get some pictures in his brand-new Shizuo Heiwajima costume (and I hopped into a few shots too). We went to the open mic karaoke room which was full of amazing singers being very supportive of everyone else, cheering full force for even the shiest of singers.

    After a while, we got hungry and went down the road for Vietnamese sandwiches (the sushi place was already closed for lunch) and had an amazing meal. We returned to the con for more karaoke open mic and did some networking. Then open mic closed and the room cleared out, which was surprising considering there were so many excellent singers and the next event in that room was the karaoke contest. With only myself as a participant, I sang some songs open-mic style to kill time and was awarded first place by default. After some time, we went to go check out the maid cafe, having been told by some of the staff that it was $5 to enter (the details were not publicized in advance), but after standing in line only to be told it was actually $12, we were frustrated and decided to head home.

     

    The Highlights

    • The Food: While I know that the convention can hardly be held responsible for the food we bought offsite, I still feel compelled to put it at the top of my list of highlights. I have never been so well fed at a convention before. Considering the $21 flat rate, the all you can eat sushi buffet was surprisingly high quality; we were allowed to order whatever we wanted without limit, and basically ordered round after round of sashimi which would normally cost about $8 per plate. Keep in mind that at lunch, all of our favorites would have been available for $7 less than at dinner, and even dinner felt like an amazing deal! The Vietnamese sandwiches were no slouches either, and they were huge and tasty for the price. Usually Fremont is too far for me to drive to for food, but knowing that the convention hotel for Kin-yoobi Con is located so close to such amazing restaurants only makes it more appealing as a convention!
    • The Photos: I had never been to a convention that boasted its very own professional photo booth before, but Kin-yoobi’s booth was a welcome sight! It’s often very difficult to find high quality pictures of oneself at a convention in various costumes, but this photo booth was a consistent and high quality way to make sure every outfit of the con was documented. Frank Jonas, the photographer and owner of Star Studio Models which sponsored the booth, was a fabulous director to compose each shot. He was also a great photography coach, letting me take over his flash setup on my own camera, helping me set it manually to capture the setup, and giving me tips on camera angles. I’m not a very experienced photographer, despite the success of the CONsent project, and this was pretty invaluable coaching for me. I hope to see Frank and his setup at other local cons in the future!
    • The Swap Meet: This convention was very much worth my time as a swap meet participant. With only $10 for a spot (with pretty much unlimited space), I was immediately in a great position to make a ton of sales. I sold one box and half a suitcase full of my possessions at this con (something I had been trying to do at Fanime, on Ebay, and on Facebook for months before), and more than paid for my convention expenses and shopping budget. The other two sellers also seemed to do very well too, and given the amount of excitement some of what I had to offer was generating, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the attendees who spent their money with me were equally happy.
    • The Music: One extra benefit of having the swap meet outside in the parking lot was that I got to spend a lot of my downtime watching the concerts being held there as well. All of the musicians are locals who either cover popular anime songs or write their own geek-culture/Japanese based music. Some names I had the pleasure of watching were Valkyrie Kiss, The Shogunate (my personal favorite of the day), and akai SKY. Their presence, voices, and musicality really took me by surprise, and I only wish I’d been able to go closer to the stage and really participate – though the Shogunate went out our side of the parking lot for a call-and-response part of their song. “I can be your Megaman! I can be your Protoman!”
    • The Staff: Everyone who I interacted with on staff was a complete delight to work with. From the registration table folks who checked us in, to the volunteers checking badges, to the maid cafe head who kept trying to direct more traffic my way and wrangled some maids to promote the swap meet, to the Masquerade organizers and judges – everyone was really helpful and accommodating. I’d had trouble with staff members at various cons in the past, and it’s always a relief when so much of the con is controlled by genuinely nice people.

     Valkyrie Kiss, The Shogunate, and akai SKY: photos by kollunz on Flickr

    The “Lowlights”

    • The Cosplay Awards: While there was undoubtedly a huge number of very talented cosplayers in the masquerade that deserved awards, there were so many awards that they became undervalued. Even after Best in Show was announced, more awards were given out; the ceremony and judging took a long time. It dampened the excitement of an otherwise completely excellent competition.
    • The Panels: The panels we were most looking forward to (including Violence in Anime) were cancelled without warning since the hosts never showed up. This was super disappointing, but could probably be fixed in the future with a better check-in system for panelists and presenters.
    • The Karaoke “Contest”: While I won’t complain about the prize I was given (and getting to know the karaoke room staff while we played around waiting for more entries was a very fun experience), it sure was a letdown that nobody else was competing after so many people utterly killed it in open-mic. Instead of saying “open-mic is over” and clearing the room, maybe a seamless transition into the contest will encourage more people to participate.

    Image by by kollunz on Flickr

    Final Verdict

    Kin-yoobi Con is a really fun, low stress and low pressure anime con. For a Bay Area native, a con this local and small might be overlooked, but it shouldn’t be underestimated. This con is really ideal for cosplayers that want to hang out, grab some high quality photos, and simply relax. This con should also be a major draw for foodies who want to come together for a con and pig out on cheap sushi,. And, of course, people who have some stuff they’d like to unload at a low-pressure, high profit swap meet! I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Kin-yoobi Con next year, and I hope to see the same staff working in 2014!

     

    About Sushi Killer

    Contributing Author : Sushi is a long time comic-reader, costume-creator, comedy-performer, and California-con-goer. Geeking out is her favorite pastime. facebook | twitter | tumblr | email
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  • Events
    Events StarStudioModels was the official photographer at this event. Thank you Sushi Killer for the mention of SSM
    December 20, 2013