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Youmacon 2015 Review
It was the night before Halloween and all through Detroit, the cosplayers were gearing up for a most fun Youmacon night. That’s right! My crew traveled from Buffalo, New York to downtown Detroit, Michigan for Youmacon 2015. Let me tell you, it was so worth the six hour drive as it is every year.
Just as the past four years, my friends and I prepared for one of our favorite anime conventions in the United States before Halloween. Collecting our cosplay costumes, scanning the potential schedule of events, and all out geeking about what we were going to see. This year was going to be just a bit better than the past few have been since we had the largest crew since we first started going to conventions. Alongside myself was my photographer Z-is-Eternal, and a group of nine of my closest friends, including Aaron A.K.A. @PantslessShorts.
Youmacon 2015 was held in the same venue as it was the last year, occupying the GM Renaissance Center and the Cobo Convention Center. I don’t exaggerate when I say that these locations were filled with thousands of attendees. Again this may be considered an Anime convention, but you get people from all walks of life coming around to enjoy the geek environment. Everyone from gamers, movie geeks, anime cosplayers, average citizens of downtown, heck even GM workers from the Renaissance Center took part in some of the fun.
Since the two venues are located just a few blocks from each other, the walking isn’t too much of a strain. Not to mention the view of Detroit from the street is pretty impressive in the city. Now if you wanted to go to this convention and had gripes about getting that extra exercise, or just are tired of a 15 hour long day of being on your feet, you can always purchase a “people mover” pass. This pass is actually very helpful to get around the town. Normally it would cost $0.75 for a token to ride, but for $5.00 you get an unlimited amount of rides, which is well worth it if you are spending the entire weekend at Youmacon. The “People Mover” itself not only stops at the GM Center and the Cobo, but also takes you to the baseball stadium and to Greek Town, where you can get away from the con to get an array of food and other forms of entertainment.
Some of the main highlights of this year’s convention were; Youmaidol, where ten contestants would battle each other belting out amazing songs for a live audience and Karaoke, which consisted of fellow congoers singing their favorite Japanese songs and anime themes. Just as every year Youmacon hosted a Maid Café that allowed guests to sit in the private area and be served pastries, drinks, and sweets for only ten dollars. The servers are dressed in the traditional Japanese style maid outfits and provide entertainment while you eat.
Running at almost every anime convention is a cosplay masquerade, and Youmacon is no different…well maybe a little since it’s one of the largest in the country. Hundreds of cosplayers come from all around, not only the United States but from other countries, to compete in this competition. An entire hall is setup with thousands of chairs for the live audience to experience these talented cosplayers show off their newly created pieces of art as they display them on stage. Most of the participants spend countless hours crafting these delicate designs to share their love of the craft with us all. It still amazes me on how detailed some of the costumes get. A lot of the detail you wouldn’t be able to see from the audience seating, but when you are able to speak with the cosplayers, you truly appreciate all the hard work they have done.
Now on to the special guests of Youmacon for this year. Now there are way too many guests for me to display on here, but you can find the complete list at here. The guests that I was actually able to interact with this year were;
Todd Haberkorn who is a working actor in L.A. and has done voice work on Sailor Moon, Fairy Tail, Full Metal Alchemist, Soul Eater, and some of the Call of Duty series. He definitely seemed to have tons of energy and his interaction with the congoers was well appreciated as I was told.
Tia Ballard, who if you don’t know I’d be very surprised, who voices Happy the Cat from Fairy Tail, Hannah from Attack on Titan, Porche from Piece among many more. Tia was her enthusiastic happy self, talking to pretty much anyone that she could find. I just said hi to her and we had a small conversation in which I was extremely happy to finally meet her.
Steam Powered Giraffe, The talented musical group from California brought their full costumes and performed a bunch of their sets to an audience that got to experience the show for free (with a convention badge). I didn’t have a chance to sit down with the group either, but in passing they were very happy with coming to this con and plan on performing again in the future for the Youmacon fans.
Now for these next two gentlemen I was very excited for Jon St. John and D.C. Douglas. These two are pretty much my idols, and I love being able to see and speak with both of them. I have heard Jon speak since I was a child as the voice of Duke Nukem, the wonderful first-person shooter that gave me my satisfaction soon after Doom was released. I met him last year during Midwest Media Expo and dude not only remembers me, but was able to strike up a conversation we had before this con. D.C. is another man I recall from my games, as he is the voice of Wesker (Whiskers is what I call him) from Resident Evil. This man is a complete trip. Seriously any type of conversation you have for him whether it be serious or comical he is always on. Definitely a true performer in all its forms. Now the reason that I gravitate to these men is not because of how beautiful they are (and they are), but because they truly care about their fans. Throughout the entire span of Youmacon you can find them performing their hearts out at panels, meeting congoers on the convention center floors, hell these guys will even have a few drinks for you at the hotel bar. I am not exaggerating at all when I say that they do these conventions for us, and that in itself shows how much they care.
Now I know what you’re thinking, where the hell are all the video game talk. Well the games at Youmacon will truly overwhelm you. There are entire ballrooms filled with arcade games, consoles, pc, board games, and table top games. If you can’t find a game to play in this place then you are doing it wrong. But best thing is…you can play them all for free. In fact my group was able to be the first ones to play test a mech deathmatch open world fighting game. Each of us sat in a pod, which simulated a cockpit of the mech you will control. And talk about choices, there were over 50 different mechs to choose from that all had their own benefits and drawbacks. After your battle each player gets a printout of the entire scenario, breaking down not only kills and deaths, but also individual stats per each player. Big Kidz Games provided these machines and can be found at www.bigkidzgames.com to test these babies out yourself.
If you’d like to see more on the gaming section and swag area of Youmacon 2015 please check out my buddy Aaron’s video here.
Also more photos like these can be found at Lockport Expeditionary Force
I would like to thank Morgan again for putting together, in my opinion, the best anime convention in the U.S.