Kumoricon 2021 Con Report

After being an online convention for 2020, Kumoricon 2021 returned to being an in-person convention. Certainly, part of this is undoubtedly related to not having an order from the City of Portland or the Governor that would prevent the convention from being held in person, and in the process setting off the Force Majure clause of their contract. That said, Otakon 2021 was also held in person and managed to be held without a significant COVID-19 outbreak, which was a positive sign. Further, the Oregon Convention Center had its air filtration system upgraded part due to the outbreak (both because of being a vaccination site and possible field hospital last year) and also because of being an evacuation site due to the wildfires last year, I felt safe enough to attend the convention in person, so it’s time for some thoughts.

First off, it’s important to mention that Kumoricon 2021 was a much lighter attended convention than the last in-person Kumirocon, but still above the first Kumoricon at the OCC – we were at the 7K attendee range. Day one had the lightest number of attendees, while the rest of the con had the usual levels of crowds. That said, the con also used the same amount of space as earlier conventions, but with the size of the panel rooms doubled in size to allow for social distancing, which was generally respected by attendees.

However, this lead to an unexpected consequence – the con had no viewing rooms. This in turn lead to the lack of those spaces as an outlet for attendees who are in-between panels to just sit down and chill, which meant that all the available seating space throughout the convention center was generally taken up by people – which made it really difficult to just find a space to sit down when I had, say, 45 minutes to kill before my next panel I was attending. It was… frustrating.

Additionally, the number of industry panels was down to just one – Dark Horse gave Kumo a miss (but I don’t fault Carl Horn for not wanting to come to a convention). We did have a panel for a new manga service called Comikey that I attended, but unfortunately the panel was not entirely enlightening on the service. It sounds like the service, rather than using a subscription, charges for “keys” that unlock individual chapters for purchase. It’s different, and could potentially work, but I am wondering if Shonen Jump, Azuki, Mangamo, and Manga Planet (never mind Crunchyroll Manga and Comixology Unlimited) have set the expectation that services outside of Bookwalker and similar E-book stores (where you’d often be buying full volumes), would be subscription services.

Also, the idea of buying “Keys” to unlock books in bundles seems off – it’s banking somewhat on the idea of the user ultimately having to buy more “Keys” than they need at one particular time, as opposed to just paying for chapters individually or in group lots in an ala carte manner.

It felt like we had a lot more informative panels this year as well, as opposed to the heavier balance towards Cosplay In Character panels that we’d had in previous years. I was not able to go to as many of the panels as I’d like – there was a Japanese superhero panel that I wanted to go to that conflicted with another panel I was interested in, and several panels conflicted with Anime Jeopardy and the AMV contest.

Speaking of which – this year was the first year I took part in Anime Jeopardy, and I not only qualified – I placed second. By way of explanation, Kumoricon Anime Jeopardy, which is held by the folks at the Anibros Creative podcast, uses (this year) three rounds, with three players playing each round, and the winner of each round advancing to Final Jeopardy. I made it but had the lowest point total going in, and everyone else went all in for their wagers. Now, had the other two guessed wrong, then I, who didn’t go all in, since I had to pick my wager before I knew the answer for the category, might have won. However, someone else guessed right and – even if I had gone all in – I couldn’t have taken first.

I did not go to the concerts this year, though I did seriously consider it. I think my main concern was that while I was comfortable with going to the main parts of the convention, going to a concert felt like too much of an ask for me. Perhaps next year.

In all, I had fun at Kumoricon 2021, and I have already purchased my pre-registration for next year. Hopefully I’ll get to see some of y’all there.

To wrap up, here is an image gallery of the various cosplay photos I took across all 3 days of the con.

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