MCB hit the road to Lansing this past weekend to pop in at the first annual Shuto Con at the Lansing Convention Center. I'm a big fan of conventions, of just about any type, this is no secret. There's something about a group of people with a singular purpose, depth of interest, and shared references that really gives me a tickle. For a lot of con-goers, it's the time they are most uncensored, letting their geek flags really fly, making all those jokes no one else would get, and sometimes, in very special cases, literally dressing the part.
This was the first Shuto Con, and the organizers' intent was that it be an experience a bit more like what one may find in Japan: Not only do people dress as their favorite anime/manga/comic/movie characters, they act as the characters as well. What they were calling "Interactive Cosplay."
Or, as it was explained to a small group of registrants by the loud and lovely Sarge at the desk, "What we're doing here is INTERACTIVE COSPLAY, so if you are in costume, and someone runs up to you and does something weird, don't panic!"
Once registered, my first stop was the dealer room to OD on the rows and rows of candy-colored cuteness. At an anime convention in particular, there are two things I'm going to focus on: the direct-from-Japan toys and goodies, and the panels.
Where Shuto Con was concerned, there could have been more panels. Some of that was limited, in my case, by the fact that this was a Friday-Saturday con, and I was unable to make it up there before noon Saturday. The con only had one panel room, though, in addition to the large Main Events room. There were also game and video rooms, naturally, which were bustling any time I peeked in.
Very amateurishly gaging by the dress of the con attendees, variations on Lolita are still pretty popular. Cool with me – it's some of the stuff I like, and make myself! I did see the fashion show on Saturday, featuring several different subgenre of the Lolita style.
The Lansing Convention Center is easy to find, roomy and clean, but only next door to the con-selected hotel. Typically, a con would take over the meeting/banquet rooms AT a hotel, giving con-goers the opportunity to have room/suite parties, pop up easily for costume changes or – and this can be important on a long weekend – a quick nap.
Generally, what you get at this sort of event is what you'd expect from a gathering of largely pre- to early-teens: A lot of squealing, running around and sitting on the floor in loose circles.
The preliminary numbers on the con currently are that there were about 1,400 attendees, vendors and artists at the con; a damn good turnout. My main intention was to take a good sampling of photographs, which is not my usual gig, so take it for what it's worth. But next year, oh next year, I may bring my own foam sword.