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Katsucon 2018

This Katsucon 2018 report was written by Brent Allen Thale on February 19, 2018. Please do not use these pictures for any commercial purpose or post them on any web site without written consent from Brent Allen Thale, the copyright holder. It's ok to share these photos on social media, but please credit me correctly, "Photo by Brent Allen Thale".

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Dr. Strange! Katsucon is an awesome anime and cosplay show held near Washington, DC in February. It's widely known for its intricate and advanced costuming usually inspired by Japanese anime culture. This year's show was held February 16-18, 2018 at the amazing Gaylord National Hotel in National Harbor, Maryland, just a stone's throw from Washington itself. A Kawaii Death Knight! The photography team of me (Brent Allen Thale), Melissa Case, and 11-year-old Tobias are currently based near San Francisco, California, so traveling to the East Coast is a bit of an effort for us, especially in winter with the frequent flight delays, but Katsucon is always worth it. The weather ended up being spectacular, with a little taste of everything. One day it was cool and dry, the next almost warm but transitioning to cold rain and even some snow, with the last day cold with puffy white clouds and blue sky. I had to make flight plans months in advance, so to be safe, I added three extra days before the show just in case there were weather delays. We used the extra time to explore Washington, DC, the capital of our nation.

Daenerys! Fortunately we were able to get tickets to take the official tours of both the White House and the Capitol. After a slight snafu regarding my birthday not matching my ID, the Secret Service cleared me for the White Emma Frost! House tour and we got to explore almost the entire first floor, which contains meeting rooms and formal dining rooms filled with painting and historical furniture and sculpture. One thing I learned is that the Oval Office is not in that round part of the White House that faces south, the Oval Office is its own thing in the West Wing of the White House complex, connected to the main building by a long hallway which was blocked by security. We didn't get to see anyone famous at the White House, including the President, but we did run into Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin later on at a restaurant and he shook Melissa's hand!

The Djinni! The Capitol tour was quite nice as well, it's a guided tour with a short movie and then an hour-long stroll through the large building, with lots of statues and artworks, and of course the big Capitol dome. Zelda! It's a little awkward because the Capitol is actively being used by Congress, so tours kind of get in the way of Congressmen and the press there, but oh well. We also signed up for the viewing galleries of both the House and Senate and we were able to hear debates going on about high-speed financial trading, immigration, and real estate. The chambers are mostly empty for these types of debates, but we saw high-profile members of Congress like Chuck Grassley, Chuck Schumer, and Maxine Waters on the floor. After wrapping up there, we took a stroll on the National Mall, visited the brand new Museum of the Bible which was quite nice, and then finished with the Jefferson Memorial. Mina! Daddy's L'il Monster! Cammy! Archer!

Dragon Tamer Tristana! We were staying near the DC attractions for all that, so on Thursday we took the short drive down to National Harbor, Maryland to the Gaylord National hotel for Katsucon itself. National Harbor is a neat little development Eggsy! kind of off by itself on the banks of the Potomac south of Washington, DC. They keep building more and more stuff there, even a big MGM casino that was quite impressive looking! There are plenty of restaurants and stores in the town itself, so there is no real need to drive around once you get parked at the hotel. On Thursday night we ate at an Italian place called Bond 45 which was having a slow night, but a group of people sitting one table over turned out to be cosplayers from the UK visiting Katsucon for the first time. We ran into them a couple times in costume later at the show, and they were awesome.

A Little Sister! I thought I made it home free of the dreaded "con crud", I felt fine all show and until Wednesday (yesterday), when I started to get a sore throat and now I am sick as a dog. Arghhh! I shall defeat you, honorless con crud! Anything for cosplay! Kasumi Fuu! Android 21! Hat ears!

Fran! So on Friday Katsucon officially started with its programs and cosplay in full swing. Cosplay trends this year leaned toward some newly popular animes, "My Hero Academia" was incredibly popular, I've never seen it, will have to watch. Video games were well represented with Overwatch and Borderlands groups. Mila Malevich! Kill la Kill seems to have dropped off a bit, but there were some good Ryukos and Setsukis. One timely cosplay was the Tide Pod Lady, who lured our poor Tobias into her wicked ways of improper detergent use. We spotted "Brendan the Shapeshifter", who we often see at Dragon Con, three times in three new costumes, he is always great. Overall Katsucon attracts a very high level of cosplay, and we spotted many of the highest profile cosplayers like Jessica Nigri, Danielle Beaulieu, Stella Chuu, Lisa Lou Who, Holly Wolf... and so many others I often don't recognize because I am bad at recognizing cosplayers in different costumes. Hair and makeup make such a big difference. Dhalsim! Cotton candy! Mera! The Tide Pod Lady!

Zombae! Katsucon is a party con, some people go mainly to meet their friends and party the night away in certain public areas and their hotel rooms. We were in room 17-215, which had an awesome atrium/Potomac view, but was apparently right under the party lounge on the 18th floor. One night people partied there literally the entire night until 8AM, but fortunately I was tired enough from walking around to sleep through most of it. Get off my lawn, you whippersnappers!

A vampire hunter! Lots of people come up to us at cons and ask us about our camera gear, so I like to mention it on the blog. This year we used two cameras, the Nikon D7100 and D7200, and four Cheetah/Godox flashes to create a "studio on the go". Two of the flashes are mounted on either side of the lens on the camera I am holding using a Promedia "Boomerang" flash bracket doubled up to encircle the lens with an even fill light, kind of like a ring flash does. Melissa holds our key light Back to back! , a Godox AD360-2 flash in an Elinchrom 28-inch Octabox. Tobias holds our third light, the Godox AD-200 Lithium flash, using the mini barn doors and gels for rim/hair lighting. Both of those lights are mounted on paint poles for maximum portability and extension. The Nikon D850 camera just came out, so I'll be evaluating that as a possible switch for main camera, although I would hate to give up my Sigma 18-35 1.8 and 50-100 1.8 DX lenses, which are super-sharp and give me an awesome look. I noticed Micah of "Beat Down Boogie" cosplay video fame had a brand new D850, looked sweet! Nearly all photographers there are great, and there are tons of them, but sometimes it can be frustrating to have to wait in a 15-minute line to shoot with high-profile people. Oh well.

Lisa Lou Who! Katsucon's photo gear policy is pretty lenient, which is nice since we try to use good lighting in our photos. Basically, anything is ok as long as you aren't setting up stands or anything that sits on the floor, our gear is all carried. A Dragon! Even so, a couple hotel guards scolded about us about our gear even though it was completely legit by Katsucon rules. Fortunately, they listened to reason and trusted us about our gear and did not throw us out. Some photographers were using light stands so I'm not completely sure how that works. The con tried to manage the crowd on the gazebo level a bit by roping off the gazebo itself and having a line for photo shoots at this precious resource. Not sure it really helped, since it was still really crowded.

Sedusa! Battle of the Shoes: Melissa has been shaming me lately with a couple victories in the Battle of the Shoes, where we wear awesome shoes and see who gets the most compliments. Melissa went with her reliable cat-covered sneakers and thought she would phone in the win, but my beautiful shimmering blue Michael Jackson formal loafers won the day with six full points, followed by three more points for my Calvin and Hobbes/Han and Chewy high tops, for a final score of 9 to 1 Batty. Aw yee. A balrog! Starbuxx! Ryuko!

Formerly Red!

So, Katsucon 2018 was awesome! We salute all the great cosplayers who work so hard on their costumes, poses, and expressions! Next stop: Colossalcon!

A Demon Hunter! The Night King! Ahri! An anime conversation!

Boondocks! Stella! Puppet Master! Satsuki!

Marvel-ous hair! Princess Peach! Wings!

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