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Nan Desu Kan 2012 Review

Nan Desu Kan or NDK, is a Colorado-based convention that has brought joy and fun to thousands of people every year it happens. This year marked their 16th year as a con, and it was probably one of the biggest turnouts I have ever seen. This time around, we’ve decided to do something a bit different with a convention review. We’re going to split it up into several reviews, with this one being the descriptive one, outlining all the features and our thoughts and opinions on it. The other articles will feature the AMV(Anime Music Video)Contest, the audio interviews we did for 3 of the VIPs in attendance, an editorial describing the personal feelings about NDK 2012 from the con-goers themselves and finally, an article with naught but the plethora of pictures that were taken by ourselves and other people. Also, this article was written as collective both between myself and our Co-Director, Jason W. So without further adieu, let’s get to the action!

Panels


Panels are held at EVERY convention. Typically, panels are conducted by the con-goers themselves and at times, panels are held by people in the industry or voice actors/actresses. In fact, Koku Gamer held their first ever panel this year….and it was put on video…much to my chagrin. The link can be found on our YouTube channel. Anyway, panels are a great way to offer information and tutorials on a variety of different things, so long as it pertains to the subject matter of the convention itself. I mean…heh, you can’t have a panel on how to detail a car at an anime convention…it just doesn’t fit the scheme. This year showed off a lot of talented panels, such as:

Cosplay Make-up 101
Objectification in Cosplay
Beginner & Advanced Creature Costuming

I know there is a lot more, but I mean come on…don’t make me list them. I DO have to sleep eventually.

Videogame Room


Every NDK has a videogame room. Within this place, con-goers can play a variety of competitive games both casually and within tournaments. This year saw several new games being played by everyone, including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Persona 4 Arena! Of course all the fan-favorites are back as well, like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and BlazBlue. Whether you are looking to unwind or stomp someone(DIGITALLY!), the videogame room was the place to do it in! Oh, did I mention there were some table-top and card games going on, too?

Cosplay Contest


Now this is where things get very interesting. The Cosplay Contest is probably the one of the most anticipated events at NDK. There, the true talent of cosplayers shine, and you get a front row seat to see it. The competition is divided up by the following categories: Children’s, Beginners, Intermediate, Master and Cosplay(Skits). The entrant is announced and the make their way on stage. From there, they do a variety of poses, all the while a song from that character’s game or anime plays in the background. Afterwards, they exit the stage and the next entrant follows suit. Simple, right? Now, the skit portion is a bit different. Instead of giving the performers microphones, they make them lip synch to pre-recorded dialogue. In my opinion, I think this is a stupid idea because it lowers the validity of the skit and makes it difficult for the performers, as ad-libbing can turn out to be very humorous! But what do I know? I’m just a journalist.

Anyway, after all entrants are done the judging commences. Of course, I’m fairly sure the winning contestants were already decided prior to show, but I could be wrong. I mean, after all I’m just a journalist. Anyway, the winners are announced and since I don’t feel like going into detail myself, here is the winners for this year’s cosplay contest:

Specialty Awards
Video Game Award: Madaline R. as Nephtis from Zone of Enders: The Second Runner
George Robbert’s Traditional Award: Frederick M. III as Sakata no Kintoki a historical Japanese figure

Craftsmanship Judge Awards
Christina: Kimberly L. as Yuuko Ichihara from xxxHolic and Ruben F. III as Watanuki Kimihiro from xxxHolic
Kimu: Drew M. as Seth Nightroad from Trinity Blood
Storm: Madaline R. as Nephtis from Zone of Enders: The Second Runner

Area Head & Director Awards
Katie (Cosplay Area Head): Samantha C. as Princess Shoukei from Twelve Kingdoms
Jeremy (Director): Emma O. as Princess Kraehe from Princess Tutu

Audience Favorite: Brad B. as Guru-guru or Song of Storms guy from Zelda Ocarina of Time

Beginner Category
1st place Craftsmanship: Michael A. as Riku from Kingdom Hearts 2 & Samantha S. as Kairi from Kingdom Hearts 2
1st place Performance: Brad B. as Guru-guru or Song of Storms guy from Zelda Ocarina of Time
1st place Beginner: Arielle S as Eruruu from Utawarerumono

Intermediate Category
1st place Craftsmanship: Barbara D. as Articuno from Pokemon
1st place Performance: Melissa D. as Diva from Blood+
1st place Intermediate: Emma O. as Princess Kraehe from Princess Tutu

Master Category
1st place Craftsmanship: Cheri A. as Kitsune from Japanese Mythology
1st place Performance: Melissa S. as Nia Teppelin from Gurren Lagann & Christian L. as Simon from Gurren Lagann
1st place Master: Maya L. as Clow Reed from Card Captor Sakura

Cosplay Category
1st place Craftsmanship: Paopu Guardians – Julie L. as Alyssa Zaidelle from FFXIII-2 & Kayla P. as Hope Estheim from FFXIII-2
1st place Performance: Ever Free Cosplay – Shareece T. as Autumn Kitsune from Japanese Mythology and Tyna R as Winter Kitsune from Japanese Mythology
1st place Cosplay: East Blue Cosplay – Lauren S. as Rasiel from Dantalin no Shoka, Emma O. as Flamberge from Dantalin no Shoka, Madison W. as Lady of the Library from Dantalin no Shoka & Steve M. as Huey Anthony from Dantalin no Shoka

Best of Show: Felix as Mello from Death Note

Koku Gamer would like to congratulate all the winners this year! To all the entrants that didn’t get picked: Hey, you did a fantastic job! Don’t give up just because people don’t know what they are talking about! We love you all!!

Balcony Contest Entrants


Below are a few pics of the entrants in the Balcony contest
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And below is the winner of the balcony contest!
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Dealers Room


The Dealers Room hasn’t changed much over the years. A few vendors have come and gone but for the most part it has remained the same. There are few of the vendors that are regulars every year such as:

Anime Depot– Has very extensive choices on anime, wallscrolls, and messenger bags.
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Wizzywig – The one-stop-shop for snacks, such as Mochi, Pocky, Melon Bread, Ramune, Hi-Chew, and more.

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Cartoon Passion – Carries a large assortment of plushies.
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J House Rock – A purveyor of J-rock clothes, magazines, CDs, DVDs, and more.

Anime USA – They tend to have a large and varied selection of figures, models, pins, patches, and plushies.

Now of course there are also some more local stores that sell their wares in the Dealers Room as well such as Rainy Day Anime, based out of Colorado Springs, and this year marked the first for Black & Read, a local used bookstore with several Denver locations.

Now I will be honest with you, I probably spend more time walking laps in the Dealers Room than I spend anywhere else in the convention. I often look for plushies or DVDs I want and then scour every booth looking for the best price and since there are multiple vendors selling similar goods sometimes this pays off. The variety in the dealers room is nice enough that I always find several things to buy.

Artist’s Alley


The Artist’s Alley tends to change a lot over the years. While the Dealers Room is more licensed merchandise, Artist Alley is for people to come and share the fruits of their labors including drawings, prints, hats, jewelry, pins, buttons, and more. As I said, the vendors in the Artist’s Alley tend to change every year but you can almost always find someone selling full-page color prints, steampunk-style jewelry, and someone willing to do commissioned drawings. That Artist’s Alley is a great place for any artists to display their wares, and a table there is available to request for any artists wanting one, for a small fee.

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Attendee’s Perspective


Both during and after the con I spoke with some attendees to get their perspective on how NDK 2012 went.

Overall the response was good as many people thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The new Guidebook app seemed to go over very well and I personally used it during the convention. I found it absolutely amazing for navigating the convention and finding my way to panel rooms that I had no idea where they were, as well as keeping track of my schedule with the handy alerts letting me know that a panel or event I wanted to attend was fast approaching. A number of people remarked that the organization this year was an improvement over previous years. There were many people who enjoyed themselves and have every intention of attending next year as well, but as with any event there are always people who had issues with the convention.

There were a few things that were mentioned by almost everyone I spoke with, and that was the amount of attendees and the issues that it caused having that many people crammed into the Marriott. Many people felt that NDK has grown too large for the Marriott to support it anymore. A few years ago they implemented an attendance cap of 7500 people but had never actually reached it, until Saturday of the con. A large number of people have been commenting on how the con needs to move to a larger venue as the number of people made it had to navigate the halls or get pictures of fellow cosplayers without causing a pileup in the halls.

A few people commented to me about the organization of the Pre-registration Badge pickup as well. The line was divided by last name, but I can tell you the lines for A-L or so was so long that it wrapped down a hallway and into the area for the Artists Alley, where as my line for my last name “W” was so short I got in line and I was the immediately at the front of the line. It seems like maybe next year they may want to reorganize their line structure seeing as the first half of the alphabet or so had an extensive wait where as others had no wait at all. Maybe cutting the first 2 lines to 3 instead might alleviate some congestion that was caused by the wait in badge lines.

For the first time ever there was a line for the Dealers Room at all times. In the past the line would be present for a few hours after opening but this year the line wrapped around the inside and then lead outside of the building from opening to close each day! This meant a rather extensive wait just to enter the Dealers Room. The Large amount of people on Saturday didn’t just affect the Dealers Room though. The Rave had a cap placed on it as well and due to the large number of people there was a line waiting to get in there as well.

Now I understand the need to limit the number of people in any location at one time due to fire codes and such but it just seems like the con just keeps getting bigger and there is no more room for it to grow, but many people voiced concerns about attending in the future if the venue does not get any bigger. Hopefully a larger suitable venue will become available as I know in the past NDK staff have commented about not wanting to move to the Denver Convention Center due to the need to increase prices if they did, plus it wouldn’t be attached to a hotel thus putting con-goers at risk when walking to their hotels.

Overall most people seemed to enjoy themselves quite a bit this year and if not for the crowding caused by the rise in popularity, it seems there would have been significantly less concerns.

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