Shadocon is a young convention that has grown in popularity over the past four years. It's main focus is on promoting the unity among fans of anime, gaming, and all things affiliated with otaku culture. Taking place in the Grand Hyatt hotel in Tampa, the weekend comprised of many fun events, fantastic shows, and tons of cosplay of all kinds. It was the kind of quality experience that con-goers strive to receive when attending various events, one that was both unique and special in a variety of ways. This was an awesome convention experience that I was not prepared for.
Throughout all three days of Shadocon 2013, dubbed the Time Paradox, attendees were treated to all kinds of panels and special events that provided great entertainment for everyone. Anything from Kingdom Hearts to Homestuck to tips for cosplaying, one could find a panel for just about anything. No matter what area of otaku you may come from. The panels weren’t the only main attractions though, as they were only part of the total package that was Shadocon 2013. Some of the special guest attending for the weekend included Dante Basco, Sean Schemmel, Kyle Hebert, Cherami Leigh, and many others; all of which generated crowds of excited fans looking for an autograph.
Exploring the halls of the convention, I felt a sense of joy and excitement that is seldom present at other events. This is something that is really credited to the staff that helped run and maintain everything during the course of the weekend. Not only did they do their job with swiftness and efficiency, but did so with an attitude of positivity and friendliness to everyone who attended the convention, which is something many other conventions should take example from. It truly made the environment safe, but also enjoyable even for the sternest of convention goers.
The Dealer’s Room was in a separate area outside of the main convention area of the Grand Hyatt hotel. Merchants gathered together in a tent in the parking lot, where they sold all kinds of collectibles and rarities. It would have been nice have a larger area to explore in the dealer’s “tent” as more options to buy collectibles is always welcomed, this is mostly due to the placement of the Dealer’s Room was. Those who wanted to spend their dollars on souvenirs and still stay within the vicinity of the con’s main area spent more time in the artist room on the second floor. There artist of all kinds showcased and sold off their work, the variety of artwork available was great and it was cool to have it placed near other panel rooms at the convention.
The biggest highlights of the entire weekend of Shadocon 2013 were the shows that went on in the main events ballroom. All three events that took place really provided great entertainment for everyone in attendance and showcased a different kind side to what conventions can really offer to attendees. The Breakdance Breakdown mashed up a great blend of comedy and fun storytelling that kept the audience on the edge of their seats and laughing non-stop. What was very cool was the implementation of video backgrounds to set the stage for each scene, as well as some hilarious video clips from the 4th Wall breaking Deadpool.
Along with some fun dancing and really good music selection, the show was a huge hit among everyone at the convention. In a similar yet finely different fashion, the Shado Tournament “Journey Through Time” show blended aspects of traditional Chinese theater story-telling and modern humor. The cast of characters from various anime shows and games were portrayed very well and generated great reactions from the audience. The stage hands definitely need to be given a lot of credit for their work keeping the audience immersed in the story by maneuvering various props and set pieces.
The best show of the weekend was the Final Fantasy Ball. What made this show more unique from other shows during Shadocon 2013 was the superb level of audience interaction and immersion. Not only did attendees view a great show with original story-telling and direction, but they also had the chance to dance alongside some of their favorite Final Fantasy characters, as well as with each other. It is seldom ever seen such a well-executed way of bringing the audience involvement into the show, especially when the cast themselves are encouraging people in the audience to take a chance and ask someone for a dance.
In addition to this, the story told throughout the entire show was an emotional roller-coaster ride that generated many sentiments from the audience. Moments where characters faced emotional turmoil or cute moments brought out the best of the actors and of the audience. The cosplay outfits for the actors, as well as the choreography and direction of the entire show was top-notch and definitely deserved all the praise given from everyone.
Shadocon 2013 was quite simply an awesome convention. Not only were there tons of great people everywhere I went, but there was plenty of fun things to experience that made the entire weekend something special. If there was one thing that truly shined about my first experience at Shadocon, it was the courteous and friendly nature I felt everywhere I went during the entirety of the weekend.
The main events and shows were fantastic, the convention staff were friendly and excellent at their jobs, and the attendees who went were a pleasure to be around. Shadocon is a convention that con-goers should definitely make note of to attend at some point, and other conventions should definitely take example from when handling their events. The experience I had at Shadocon 2013 was simply unforgettable.