Nan Desu Kan (NDK) was low-key this year. I can count the number of activities I attended on one hand. And there was a general feeling of malaise among the crowd, or at least, that’s what I perceived. The number of attendees appeared lower than usual, and the cosplay was fairly subdued. I think that the current political climate and the affects of hurricane Harvey are being felt by all.
It’s a bit strange to say that this was a low-key year, because I said the same thing about the con last year, but last year really wasn’t low-key in comparison to this year. It was the 20th anniversary of the con last year, and there were many high-profile guests in attendance. This year, the guest list was much smaller, and a number of main events were simply missing or were identical to events put on last year.
This year was my sixth NDK and my tenth year attending an anime con, and this year, I desperately needed a distraction from life. NDK is one of the best anime cons for that. It’s big enough to get lost in, but small enough not to feel overwhelmed. There are enough people in attendance that there’s usually a strong air of enthusiasm, but there aren’t so many people that you can’t get into most panels. It’s a positive community and an excellent way to spend a long weekend. And it’s a great way to shake off the long, hot summer and embrace the coming autumn. It often makes me feel refreshed and helps refill my creative well.
Still, I only attended a couple of events this year. On Friday, I did something a little outside of my comfort zone and attended the Burlesque Show: Talk Nerdy To Me put on by the Royale Revue from Louisiana. The burlesque show was put on last year, I believe, by the same troupe, and Queen D, a featured guest, acted as M.C.
The small group drove all the way from Louisiana, straight through the hurricane, just to perform. I admired their dedication, as well as their confidence to get up on stage and reveal their more intimate sides to such a large crowd.
There is something empowering about burlesque, especially considering how many of the people in charge of the country right now would probably denounce this form of self-expression, censoring anyone who is even a little bit different from what is considered acceptable. I think Queen D, the self-proclaimed southern queen of crossplay, even said something similar, that burlesque was sort of like a f-you to the man! That made the event a lot of fun to me, and the show was a great way to step out of the everyday and embrace the things we love (i.e., anime), even if they are considered strange by outsiders.
Saturday got off to a slow start, with my partner and I getting stuck in a restaurant that took much too long to serve us breakfast. We ended up getting to the con a little late, but just in time for the AMV Contest. Now, I know I’ve voiced my distaste for AMVs before, but I think they’re starting to grow on me. I typically enjoy the funny ones over the serious ones, mostly because I think it’s harder for someone to make me cry than laugh. In this regard, the AMV Contest never fails to make me smile, if not laugh until I cry, and this year was no exception, although I have to say, the comedic AMV for Your Lie in April was kind of in poor taste!
We also went to the Dealers Room on Saturday, as well as Artist Alley, the Art Gallery, the preview for the Charity Auction, and the NDK Museum, which was really interesting.
On Sunday, we attended a number of cultural programming, something that I think is very important to include at an anime con. For some anime fans, it can be easy to forget where the shows and comic books we enjoy come from. The Ikebana: The Art of Flower Arrangement panel was particularly interesting. Aki Buckmaster from the Ohara School style of Ikebana created four different flower arrangements in the first session. Patricia Ottern, Aki’s translator and student, provided informative anecdotes on Ikebana, as well as Japanese culture, art, and style. It was fascinating to hear about Aki’s experience with Ikebana and to watch her deftly move around the room. She is 89 years old, but still going strong, working passionately on her beautiful art!
Earlier I said the cosplay felt subdued this year, but that’s not really true. It just felt like there were fewer people in attendance, so perhaps that’s the feeling I actually had. There just weren’t as many people, so there weren’t as many people dressed up either! I mean, I’m not a cosplayer myself, so I cannot fully fathom the time, skill, and money it takes to create good cosplay.
Still, whenever I see an amazing cosplay, it still takes my breath away! I think my favorite was this red Canti. He (or she or they) did an amazing job, and it was the first Canti I’ve ever seen that had a real working television screen (or computer screen) as the head. At one point, the cosplayer was even playing Flip Flappers on the screen! Very cool! Some of the best cosplay from this year can be seen here.
So, did you attend NDK this year? What did you enjoy about it? What kinds of experiences (i.e., cosplay, panels, video rooms, dealers room, etc.) are important to you when you attend cons? Sound off in the comments!
The featured image included with this article is from the NDK 2017 Program Guide cover art by Stephanie Kao.
Rine Karr is an Anime Writer at Girls in Capes. She’s a writer and aspiring novelist by moonlight and a copyeditor by daylight. Rine loves good food, travel, and lots of fiction, especially novels, anime, manga, video games, and films. She’s also the Chief Copyeditor and an occasional contributor at Women Write About Comics.