WakuWaku graces Brooklyn Convention Center and the Wythe Hotel for the first time on August 29 and 30. For its inaugural event, dozens of sponsors and guests convened including Dragon Ball Z ad Dragon Ball Super screenwriters Koyama Takao and Koyama Makoto, producer Inafune Keiji, Baby the Stars Shine Bright designer Kano Masumi, PUTUMAYO designer Hasegawa Shunsuke with model, Kurebayashi Haruka along with culture guests, fashion director Misha Janette, Shihan Kimono teacher Emi Kikuchi and Chef Saito Tatsuo teaching us proper bento assembling. Music guests include singer Hayami Yu, DJ Nakajima Keiichiro and even artist Masuda Sebastian DJ-ing on saturday night. American guests include VA Max Mittelman, Justin Cook as well as guest speakers, Kathryn Hemmann, Mike Toole, the always loved Roland Kelts and many many more. Unfortunately, with time being so limited, I couldn’t see any guests this time but stuck with the events at the Convention Center. There were enough surprises to keep many busy. Time to check out the latest from Japan!
Getting our badges was easy and I unfortunately found there was no bag check. However, they agreed to hold my food since outdoor food wasn’t allowed.
The courtyard held the registration area and all the food stalls. There were so many, almost like a festival. Ippudo NY, Totto Ramen, Curry Ya, Benton and Dotonburi Kukuru and more. Taiyaki, takoyaki, yakitori, ramen…there were so many good food there. We took a look around and decided to head inside to the Dealer’s room…away from the sun.
The NHK booth greeted us at the front where attendees could take pics of Domo-kun. There were so many official sponsors of the convention which meant alot of different events and swag.
Royce had a booth and was giving out sample chocolates. Their matcha almond choco is so good!
The panels and video showings were at the Wythe Hotel which was accessible by shuttle bus or walking. There was also the special Masuda event at the park. However, being that there was enough to do, I stayed at the convention hall.
Introducing Shinkalion, a shinkansen…which transforms into a mecha! The shinkansen exists under Hayabusa rails but it was the geniuses at Takara Tomy who decides to make it transform. Henshin time!
The above Dr. Who dress actually lights up.
The stage to the left held events throughout the day and off to the left side of the hall was another small wing where the autographs were held.
Capybaras…’the emotional stability animal’. lol (So Japan has an obsession over capybaras, noting that they are such calming animals. Growing to be very large but very gentle. ^_^)
I greeted Ed Chavez since Vertical was present at the con even though they didn’t hold a panel. (I believe Kodansha was the only one who had a manga panel.) He wasn’t in cosplay this time. ^_^
One of my favorite freebies was at the travel booths. There was a booth which allowed us to pick a background and take a pic against green screen. There were backgrounds of Times Square, one of the temples in Japan, bridges, etc. They printed the pic and placed it in a holder for us. That is so cool! Airlines have all the money for swag like this.
I got a few shots of the two famous Japanese cosplayer guests, Jacky Dosai and Kasyou Rosiel.
Beard Papa had a booth inside as well with delicious desserts.
Domo-kun had alot of love this weekend too. Aside from the pic, subscribing to the NHK site will allow us to spin the wheel and try to win a Domo-kun plush. Everyone else with a white ball gets a balloon. The plush became a status symbol: since there weren’t people selling large Domo-kun plushies, they knew that whoever has the plush won the lottery.
The event ended at 8pm and security already stopped people from returning inside the convention center at 7pm. The shuttle also stopped running around the time so we walked to Verboten, the site of the rave. In order to get into the club, ID needs to be shown. Age 21 and older gets a bracelet so we could drink.
Initially, they said ‘no luggage’ since that was a general rule for the bar…but realized that it wouldn’t work with the rave being in connection with the convention. Everyone coming from the con would be touting some sort of bag and many with luggage due to being in cosplay.
A mascot character was on the floor…. I don’t know if it was the Wakuwaku dog, cat or even Sebastian Masuda’s character (since he was a DJ) but it’s awesome to see it dance in a crowd. It was a treat to hear Masuda-san DJ-ing as well as m-flo’s Takahashi Taku-san. A rare appearance for both. Someone was even doing tricks with kodama to the music. Definitely a great way to end the day.
con in retrospect
Wakuwaku is in it’s first year and it was definitely a blast. Because of the sponsorship, the Dealer’s Room/Artist Alley was pretty amazing and having event at the stage made the con center a great place to see things aside from shopping. The food area had food that was a bit overpriced but as expected of con prices. A few dollars more since it was at a venue makes perfect sense. The food was really good and I wish I tried the ramen since everyone was raving about it. Guess I’ll go to their actual restaurant location for some grub. ^_^
The other venues were pretty spread out. Utilizing the hotels in the area was a good idea, but walking it was terrible. The shuttle I heard was good but of course, it doesn’t have the freedom of traveling on your own time. Also, it makes meeting people harder. However, for a con in Brooklyn which is not an ideal place for a con, was already good enough.
Why not ideal? The location was far from the subway. It’s already a bit of a walk to get to the water and the convention center is close to the water. The convention is not large enough to house all the events so it must spread to other locations. It’s not ideal, but as Wakuwaku has shown, it is doable and people had fun which made this convention a success.
Another reason why the first year of Wakuwaku was a success was the presence of the staff. The instructions were clear, there were no issues with misunderstandings and the staffers were easy to find. Bright green shirts everywhere. I have heard comments about how nice they are so I don’t have to praise my own friend who is awesome enough as is.
This year, we had discounts on Groupon available which made this event more than affordable. Even at general prices, it was acceptable since there were very good guests at the convention. Dates for next year have not been announced yet, but as a NYer, this con is definitely one that I would return to. Let’s look forward to Wakuwaku 2.0!