Convention Adventures: Naka-Kon 2021!
Hey Anime Gang!
Today’s post is a little different than what I usually post! This time around I applied to be part of the press at Naka-kon, an anime convention located in Overland Park, KS! Starting off as a single day event at the University of Kansas in 2005, Naka-Kon as since then grown to a three day event with more than 10,000 attendee in 2016. It’s a fun filled conventions with fan made panels, a large merch hall, and a number of fun events that include, but not limited to: sake tastings, maid cafe, karaoke contest, and a night dance party with a live DJ! Naka-Kon focuses around anime and Japanese culture. Despite the limitations with today’s pandemic environment the Naka-Kon team did a great job with running in Con in a safe manner! Masks were required, panels had socially distanced seating and a large number of hand sanitizer stations were spread throughout the convention center. Naka-Kon was actually my first convention back in the day when I still lived in the midwest, so to be able to come back as part of press was a really exciting experience, and to be completely honest…surreal!
The Convention Experience
Like I mentioned above, the Naka-Kon team did a great job of making sure the Con was safe and welcoming despite the troubling times that we were in. Though as it is, there are financial issues that have hit the community and there were a number of way to donate! One way was a temporary Shinto Shrine that was blessed by a Shinto Priest, which even had instruction on how to pray. It’s a pretty cool experience and a creative way to help out but if you want to help they also have a charity option on Amazon Smile if that’s more your route! I was sad that a number of the popular events were cancelled because of the pandemic (Sake Tasting, Maid Cafe, Evening Dance Party), but there were a number of new events that kept the Con excitement up such as the Test of Courage and a number of industry panels!
The panels this year were a lot of fun! There was the Right Stuf Anime Quiz Bowl that featured a number of anime trivia with prizes waiting for the winner of each round (I got third place on the second anime opening round but it wasn’t enough to win lol) which included figures, DVD sets, and other cool prizes! There were a number of fan panels on a variety of topics such as Kingdom Hearts, Atlus, Visual Novels for beginners, and How to be a Voice Actor. Though the two that I wanted to highlight is the Right Stuf Anime Industry Panel and the Naka-Kon Idol Fest!
Right Stuf Anime Industry Panel
This panel was dedicated to the merchandise that Right Stuf Anime had at Naka-Kon as well as the new releases that they would have in the coming soon:
- Neon Genesis Evangelion Blu-Ray Set with the original 90’s english dub (limited run)
- Exclusive Aniplex items that included Demon Slayer merchandise
- Anime Soundtrack Vinyls for Cowboy Bebop, Promare, and Neon Genesis Evangelion
- The Irresponsible Captain Tylor Blu-Ray
- Sayonara Zestubou Sensei Blu-Ray
- El Hazard the Magnificent World Blu-Ray
- Every single Gundam to be released on Blu-Ray
- Interspecies Reviewers [UNCENSORED] with the artbook
Just to name a few things that they announced! They also brought a number of trailers to watch of some of the shows above as well as some shorts of BTS of what they do as a company! There was also a live demonstration of their packaging…which proved effective as the volunteers kicked and threw the package around…and the product came out as if nothing happened! At the end they have a raffle for prizes and of course two of my friends won a prize! The luck!
Naka-Kon Idol Fest
On the last day of the Con, there was the new event known as the Naka-Kon Idol Fest! This was the first of its kind at Naka-Kon so as a fan of all things idol, I had to take a peek! It was a well organized event that encouraged bringing light blades/sticks! I brought my blades that I had bought for Aqours concert in LA for Anime Expo but there were free glow sticks for those that didn’t have any! It was a packed event with 12 groups!
- Sunshine Rush!
- Instagram: @sunshinerushidols
- Happi Time Idols
- Instagram: @happi.time.idols
- Sirene Idol Club
- Instagram: @Sireneidolclub
- Love Rivals Idols!
- Instagram: @love.rival.idols
- Prismatic Dance Crew
- Instagram: @prismaticdancecrew
- Fuwakumo Idols
- Instagram: @fuwakumo_idols
- Sorbet Sunrise
- Instagram: @sunrisesorbet
- Project Restart
- Instagram: @projectrestartkc
- Candy Paradise Idols
- Instagram: @_candy_paradise_idols_
- Instagram: @rosarium_3
- Shiny Dreamers
- Instagram: @shiny_dreamers
In between some of the performances were wotagei (a type of dancing and cheering gestures performance by wota, fans of Japanese Idols) demonstrations! The idols came up and showed the audience different chants and ways to wave your light blades or glow sticks in the air to cheer on the groups. It was really fun to see the audience get into the chanting and it really livened up the performances! I really hope that Naka-Kon is able to bring back the Idol Fest because it was so much fun!
Of course, you can’t go to an anime convention and not take photos of cosplay! Even with the mask requirement, the cosplay throughout the convention were stunning! There were a lot of cosplay that found a way to incorporate their masks along with the cosplay and I’m just amazed at the level of creativity! (If you see your cosplay here and want your socials attached to the photo, send me an email on my contact page!).
Overall, Naka-Kon 2021 was an absolute blast! As press, it was probably the most productive Con I’ve been too (even though I didn’t cosplay!) and honestly…it was a nice change of pace! I can’t wait to come back next year and fingers crossed that the dance party comes back! If you live in the midwest and love to go to anime convention, Naka-Kon should be at the top of your list! I want to thank Naka-Kon again for the opportunity to experience and write about the wonderful experience that I had and also to all of you who made it to the end of this long article lol! Until next time!