Some local Arizona cosplayers affectionately call Taiyou Con “Nostalgia Con” for it always being a memorable event in their pasts, and I believe this year was another one to remember. After what seems like a Dragon Ball Z styled eternity, the staff of Taiyou finally moved the convention out of the Mesa Hilton hotel and to the much more roomy Mesa Convention Center. This expansion was a much needed improvement, and made for a much cleaner and less congested experience for the convention’s attendees. There was much more elbow room both inside and out, and the soft grass outside the convention center saw many attendees lazily enjoying the area with their friends as well as photographers and cosplayers teaming up for some amazing shots.
The vendor hall was similarly increased, and unlike previous years the artist alley shared the same space. The creative competition was at max, with interesting and unique art prints as well as a plethora of geeky handmade crafts throughout the hall. It seems some vendors couldn’t quite figure out the Mesa sales tax however, and seemed unprofessional when trying to sell some of their nerdy wares. It also seemed like a Frozen cosplayer ran rampant in the vendor hall, as many people complained the room was absolutely frigid.
The increased space also afforded Taiyou to increase their overall hours of programming, with a considerable amount listed this year in their programming guide. Programming filled the convention centre and spilled out into the nearby hotel panelist rooms. In between these panels, attendees who had the latest Pokemon game could also track down Taiyou staff acting as gym leaders, and beat them for a neat little ribbon to add to their badge. Those attendees cosplaying from some of the more popular anime of today could also meet up at official gatherings around the convention area.
Those who stayed later in the night later in the night on Saturday were able to attend the much anticipated Persona concert featuring Shihoko Hirata, Lotus Juice, and Yumi Kawamura. The room was packed for the trio’s first ever US performance together, as was the Persona inspired lounge that followed the show. Another event following the Persona concert, the Masquerade, had quite the slow start due to technical problems, but once it kicked off the audience was dazzled by costumes and performances the contestants put together.
Taiyou Con surely grew up this year, but no convention gets through it without those growing pains. All in all, the space Taiyou used was used positively for the attendees. Technical issues may have arisen here and there, but overall the events ran well and both guests and attendees had a lot of fun. Let’s all hope that the staff takes lessons learned from this year and applies that knowledge for an even better convention in 2016!