What can I say about Saboten Con, I’ve gone all six years, I’ve watched it grow from a rather small con to the biggest anime convention in Arizona. It has sentimental meaning to me, like going back home and seeing friends that you left behind. In its six years, Sabo has changed its venue from Mesa, to the Pointe in Phoenix, and now the Renaissance in Glendale. I have to say, I rather enjoyed the move, the hotel is nice, the staff was friendly, we had plenty of room to roam around, and, it was located in the middle of the large shopping center Westgate. In fact, in my travels to find nutrients during the con, I made my way to McFarlane toys. Even the workers there were excited for Sabo! I chatted one up, and he said it had given the area a lot of business, they were seeing more people than they usually did within the week. I guess that’s one thing I appreciate, a symbiotic relationship the convention has with the city it’s in. Giving small business owners business, and in turn, several of the businesses in the area actually offered discounts for those with a badge. It made things a little more reasonable in price, and, was nice to know the convention worked with those outside of the actual con.
But, lets stop stalling and get on to the actual convention. I arrived late on Saturday, early afternoon. I walked into the hotel and immediately started looking for registration. Registration was hidden away, it almost felt like a maze as I tried to navigate to my location. In fact, several other people were lost trying to find it. After several minutes of searching, I managed to find it. After some trouble getting my media pass, which the staff were helpful and apologetic, I got to explore the con. First thing I usually hit up is the vendor hall, wanting to check out what kind of stuff I can take home. The vending hall was spacious and had plenty of items to offer. A good variety of artists, designers, and retailers. It was nice I could actually move around. There was enough space that it didn’t feel like a super enclosed area. If you’ve been to some bigger conventions, I’m sure you know my pain.
Also in the vending hall was something I have never seen in my eight years of con going, laser tag. I was extremely confused first, but, then, thought it was pretty cool! If you didn’t want to go shopping with friends, or sit down and relax, you could literally go across the way and play a few rounds of the game, or as the announcer reminded us “Making new friends and then shooting them.” I can imagine this was also good for people who may have come to the convention who weren’t so much interested in the convention itself. It gave them something to do while their children, friends, what have you, ran around the vending hall, or con itself.
Anyways, Saboten con did something I thought was rather cool, and it was having an unofficial theme. By that I mean, it seemed the theme was Evangelion, the popular 90s anime that was later rebooted in last 2000s. The cosplay café ran by Electric Lady was Eva, they had almost the entire voice cast, and I saw a larger number of Evangelion cosplayers then I have in a long time. I hope they continue to do this, I think it’s a good idea, and something that brings structure to the con. When talking to friends reminiscing I can be like, “Remember Sabo the year it was Evangelion?” instead of “What con was that again?” It works, keep doing it please! While the cosplay that seemed to take the convention by storm was from “Attack on Titan”, Evangelion wasn’t far behind.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the amount of activities they had this year. The car show, the pool party, the raves, all the cafes, there was always something to do. Each event was ran in a proper and professional way, making it easy to relax and have a good time. They even had live concerts! Going with some first time con-goers, they were really excited to see live music, along with all the other things they had to offer. It was a plethora of entertainment that weekend. Saboten Con wanted to make sure we weren’t bored, and we weren’t. One of the hi-lights for me personally was the EVA café. The cosplayers were wonderful, and they very much played up to the theme of the con. The fashion show had its usual amazing local designers and I got to see some new clothing by them. The maid café was cheerful as ever, and pampered us beyond belief, and the masquerade truly had some amazing costumes that competed.
The guest line up was very impressive. When I heard they had gotten Yuko Miyamura, I was floored. It isn’t often we get Japanese voice actors or actresses to attend. On top of that, like I had previously stated, they had a Evangelion voice cast reunion! That was great, the panels with all of them were hilarious and heart warming. Getting to see a group of people who have worked on one of the greatest animes of all time was amazing to watch. Not to mention they did have Travis Willingham, voice of Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist, I don’t think I need to say further then that.
Where could they improve though? I don’t have too much to say, but, I have a few things. Registration seemed a little hidden away, perhaps moving it at the front of the hotel would be easier to locate. Though this may not be the con’s fault, perhaps security keeping more of a lookout on hotel damages. I witnessed people throwing trash into vases, and damaging the hotels furniture. Other than that, I really have no complaints. I would love to see Saboten Con continue at this location for many years to come.
So, six years, and the convention has continued to carry on strong. Hopefully we’ll see six more years of this con, and even more!