Last week, we were able to attend Ikkikon 2018, and we had a blast! Ikkicon is an annual Japanese Anime and Pop-Culture convention that usually occurs at the end of the year in Austin, Texas. This year, the 13th year of Ikkicon, the convention ran from December 28-30, 2018 at the Renaissance Hotel in north Austin. Checkout the following video of all the fun we had at Ikkicon 2018, and make sure to read-on to see our full review.
As you can see, there was definitely plenty to see and do at Ikkicon 2018, and there was no shortage of people looking to share their love for anime, pop-culture, and just general otaku life. The team at Ikkicon were gracious to provide use with media passes, so that we could capture all of the action and fun at this year’s event. So here we go!
Hotel & Location
Similar to the last several years, Ikkicon took place at the Renaissance Austin Hotel, located in the northern part of Austin, Texas at a shopping area called The Arboretum. One cool little tidbit is that some of the hotel staff were also dressed in anime-related gear, in an effort to welcome all the otaku arriving for the event. We thought this was an awesome gesture to make everyone feel at home.
One of the great things about this hotel is that it provides free parking! This might not seem like a big thing for many people, but if you have ever been to downtown Austin you know how difficult parking is to find.
As the picture above shows, one of the main areas for meeting and greeting other attendees at the event is the enormous atrium at the front of the hotel. This is where we found many, many cosplayers, folks dancing, and people generally having a great time. Like this:
Pretty good Naruto and Kakashi, right?
Also, the Arboretum-area around the hotel is loaded with many different stores, including various eateries, such as Five Guys, Amy’s Ice Cream, and Drunk Fish sushi. This made it fairly simple to find a place to eat if you wanted to snack on something other than a pound of Pocky, or was that just me?
We arrived later in the day, so registration was not as hectic as it would have been in the morning. Still, the Ikkicon team did a good job of having several different lines for general admission, and separate lines for Ichiban and Premium passes. This made the check-in process fairly easy and kept the lines moving. We managed to check-in without much trouble, and everyone staffing the registration area was very happy, upbeat and were really welcoming folks to Ikkicon. Great job guys!
Due to the amount of people arriving, there was a shortage of lanyards, but the team at Ikkicon did a good job of finding more lanyards and working through this slight hiccup. I was happy that they were able to quickly address the problem and find a solution.
Schedule & Map
Part of the bag of goodies we received at arrival was this nice little booklet, which contained information such as the convention map, list of guests, and a schedule of featured events. And yes, you could scan this so you could have an electronic version with you. You could tell that they took time to work on the artwork and layout of this booklet, so we used it several times during our time there.
Along with the booklet, we also received a separate schedule of all of the panels and events during Ikkicon. And yes, they needed a separate document since there were just so many things to do! Oh, and you could also get an electronic version of the schedule too.
As you enter the event, you could see this little corner shop they had setup selling all of the otaku goodies you could want during the event. It included items such as Pocky, Calpico drinks, snacks, and merchandise. The lines remained fairly long during the event, but the folks at this place were also dancing an enjoying their time. That Ikkicon shirt was pretty sweet.
Amai Maid Cafe
Did someone say maid cafe? Yup, Ikkicon had that too! This was one of those things that you don’t get to experience in almost any other convention, so to have access to a maid cafe really allows them to set themselves apart.
And the Amai Maid Cafe really tried to cater to different groups by having different versions of the cafe throughout the day. For example, they had Nekos, Pokemon, My Hero, and Overwatch times. Here is a pic from the Neko hour:
Doesn’t that just scream kawaii! To learn more about Amai Maid Cafe, check them out here: Amai Maid Cafe
Winter Idol Festival
The Winter Idol Festival was a lot of fun, as we saw several teams of idols dance with all of their heart. The great things is that there were lots of people with glow sticks, cheering and providing support for all of the idols.
I would like to see a bit of a section designated for folks with glow sticks to cheer, as they sometimes ran past everyone and bumped a few people along the way. Not a huge deal, but something to keep in mind.
Masquerade Ball, Big Head Concert, Dance With Greg Ayres
Ikkicon also brought tons of opportunities for everyone to let loose, dance, and have a great time with all of the friends they made during the convention. There was a Masquerade Ball and a Concert with Bighead on Friday, and then another Dane with Greg Ayres on Saturday. Did I do the robot? Yes. Was it awesome? Heck yes!
It wouldn’t be a true anime convention without cosplay! And yes, there was so much more Cosplay. Make sure to checkout the video above to see all the other cool cosplayers we saw during the event.
Panels, Panels, Panels!
Yeah, they had plenty of panels too. Everything from “How to Draw a Chibi”, to a “Bebop Lounge with Beau Billingslea”, to a room with karaoke all day. There really was something for everyone.
Ikkicon really allows panels of all kinds to be a part of their event, and they are welcoming of new comers to the panelist game too. I appreciate this from Ikkicon, since it allows their convention to continually evolve and stay current. This doesn’t come without difficulties, as some panels may not be as prepared due to their inexperience, but I’m not sure you want to completely stifle creativity.
Also, at times you will have multiple panels you want to see in the same time slot. Is there a fix for this? Could they try and avoid slotting big events over other cool panels? Probably not, and this is actually a somewhat good problem to have. It means they are offering many panels that everyone wants to see.
Of course, there were many other things too! Such as the exhibitors hall, where there were plushies, artwork, figurines, and more on sale. There was also a game room area, where you could play a bunch of cool games and some oldies too. As well as an area that had several cars decorated in anime designs.
I think that Ikkicon 2018 was a success. Was it perfect? No, but nothing is perfect, and I think that you lose the soul of an event if it becomes to robotic and perfect. If I could provide some suggestions for next year, they would be these:
- See if there can be a certain area in the parking lot blocked-off for attendees, to alleviate some of the difficulty finding an open space;
- Have an area dedicated for folks to meet-up and take pictures/videos, as it was sometimes difficult to capture all of the cool cosplay;
- Try and coordinate a bit better with the press teams, so that everyone can have an opportunity to interview all of your amazing guests. The Ikkicon media team was awesome, and they really did everything they could to smooth over any issues that might have come up. We appreciate your work guys and gals!
I would recommend that everyone try and attend Ikkicon 2019, because I know the folks at Ikkicon keep making the event bigger and better each year. We hope to be there again this year, so if you see us, make sure to say hello!