We were privileged to join in on the inaugural Kraken Con event, held this year in South San Francisco. The continuing popularity surge of Japanese animation over the years has brought with it quite a few Anime conventions, but Kraken Con's organizers have definitely stepped up on the organization side. Everything was meticulously planned and executed to a degree we have yet to see in events of a similar scale.
The layout for 2013 consisted of a single large event room containing the artist alley, vendors, anime viewing area and video games. Smaller rooms to the sides of the main room were reserved for guest speakers and panels, and food was catered in a side hall next to several panel rooms with sufficient space for everyone and we never experienced overcrowding. With a final attendance of around 1000 people after initial expectations of 500, this was no small feat!
Anime conventions tend to draw attendees through industry guests, and Kraken Con was no different. Chris Sabat of Dragonball Z fame and Jessica DiCicco, the voice of the Flame Princess from Adventure Time, were both in attendance for 2013. Chris proved to be an extremely animated (ahem) speaker, more than able to bring stories from his many years of voice acting for the Dragonball franchise and his recent work with his own studio on video game voice acting. Jessica also captivated the audience with stories of her involvement in Adventure Time, with no shortage of fans in attendance - some even dressed as the Flame Princess herself.
Speaking of cosplay, like many conventions Kraken Con also had a cosplay contest. This was possibly the most crowded part of the convention, and could have used a larger room, but it was managed well given the limits of space in the facility. Each cosplayer was given an opportunity to go on stage, explain how they created their costumes, give two poses, and then exit for the next contestant. It was a bit brief, but it worked well given that Kraken Con is only a single day convention.
Aside from our photography, my wife was also present as a vendor in the artist alley. This gave us additional perspective on the convention, and having been a part of several anime/comic events both large and small we found the vendor process to be more painless than any other we've attended. The rates were reasonable, signup process simple, everything was well marked in terms of location and vendor name, and due to the central location vendors were not only never slow but also invited to take part in presenting the Kraken Con scavenger hunt for a set of cute convention-themed collectible cards.
Will we go again? Definitely, if Kraken Con can pull off the same attention to detail and creativity as this first year it's looking to be one of the better conventions in the SF Bay area for both vendors and attendees. Have a look at our photo coverage at the link below to see more, including the outstanding work of many of the cosplayers.