Naka-Kon 2018

Merchandise. Dayum Naka's merch room is huge compared to other midwest cons! While most of the merchandise vendors had an overlap in offerings these overlaps definitely benefitted the con-goers with good ol capitalistic competition driving down prices (I managed to snag a figure I've had my eye on con-after-con at a $30 discount). Still, there was an amazing assortment and it was difficult to leave the merch room empty handed....even after the 5th walkthrough

Artist Alley. Kansas City is a hot spot for artwork. Placed in the heart of the USA, it draws artistic talent from all around beyond Kansas and Missouri - Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, even Colorado.

Organization. Naka-Kon is one of the most organized cons I've had the pleasure of attending. The signage is accurate, plentiful, and non-overwhelming. Lines, while long, did move relatively quickly and were well regulated by convention staff so that they were non-disruptive to other convention events.

Panels. Naka-Kon is definitely a well-loved convention that hosts a strong Kansas City community presence. There were a great variety of panels that made it friendly and open to just about any attendee. I would like to give a shout out to Naka's 18+ panels for not only variety, but also quality. Often, it seems options are limited to hentai with snide commentary, or oversexualized panels of fan-favorite characters and (while these panels are fan-favorites), it's refreshing to see something new (ex: Yaoi Panel, Nier: Automata Panel, Adult AMV contest, Night Life in Japan, etc.) Conversely, the main flaw in Naka's panel offerings is that the con itself seems intent on deterring the fan-favorite character panels that draw large crowds at other conventions, most notably Yuri on Ice, Free!, and Haikyuu mini-game/dare/Q&A style panels.

Venue. Whomever is responsible for venue management at Naka-Kon does their job incredibly well. The Overland Park Convention Center and (attached) Sheraton Hotel are ideal hosts. The space is the perfect size for Naka-Kon, and there are plenty of other nearby hotels that are sufficient for overflow space for attendees. My one complaint is that Overland Park is a ways out of Kansas City. This means that out-of-state visitors for the con who fly in are forced to have a friend or a pricey rideshare bring them to the con from the airport. This also prevents out-of-state attendees from maybe taking some downtime to explore what Kansas City proper has to offer. 

Guests. While Steve Blum, KABUKI, and Ian Sinclair may have spotlight as most-anticipated guests of Naka-Kon 2018, Moderately Okay Cosplay stole the show with his excellent cosplay and his loveable persona which he presented on stage in a rave cameo and during the cosplay competition. It was truly a treat to get to see him at Naka-Kon, especially as his popularity in the cosplay community skyrockets.