Let’s do this foodie pics first, because it accurately depicts the order of importance to me of what happens at this con. To recap, A-Kon 31 announced fhana and BACK-ON and subsequently un-announced them about a week before the show. In their place we got Shihori and Diana Garnet. We also got surprise-SG5.
CattleAck BBQ is one of Texas’s best BBQ joints, and a perennial top-3 in Dallas-Fort Worth region. So I went with some folks. This tweet sums it up well.
The con itself deserves some mention, as it’s my first time attending A-kon. For one, it’s one of America’s oldest cons, and it has its share of highs and lows. Without getting into it too much, 2022 featured a completely new venue as they move into DFW area proper, literally 2 stops away from the airport on the local train, between DFW and Love Field. It’s a nice location as it used to be just wilderness and the new development is, well, new. The con center is next to the Westin, and around the area are other nice hotels, foods, and venues. There’s an open space with free rave music on the weekend even.
The weather in early June was actually pretty cooperative for Dallas. Nothing I can complain about really.
Toyota Music Factory is a pretty new venue that was built there and it felt a tinge of LA Live, dare I say? But the venue was new and pretty good. Shihori and Garnet made short work of a small crowd, but I had fun just trying to feel that concert mojo again.
What was really impressive was the fan idol/odorite showcase at A-Kon. The IM@S, Aikatsu and Love Live groups made the thing felt like a fan-made Bannam Fes (which I watched not that long ago as of attending A-kon). For a fan production it is pretty high level, but it’s also clearly still on the crest of cringe. If you enjoy idols like I do I think this is all very precious though, so it’s fun seeing some of these acts trying their best given what they got. There was a full on Million group that wore 3rd cosplay outfits and that got to me pretty goddamn hard.
The fun part about this is also SG5. Turns out they were socializing with all the other fan dance groups the night before at a party which is amazing, lol. SG5 closed out the fan idol showcase with some serious firepower and yeah, clearly professionals at work. After the show there was a post-show autograph area where you can go and buy stuff, so I got an autograph there and a 2shot. I also talked to some of the other fan performers and it was fun to see them just do their thing.
I was able to go to SG5’s panel on Sunday and get more 2shots. Real Idols in America hurrah. During the panel, I learned more about the situation behind their prior works. These LDH-branded entertainers have real chops and maybe this is all very produced? But who’s idea is this? It’s amusing.
Besides that, I guess I did do a lot of chilling in Texas, talking to folks who I haven’t seen in quite a while is always good, to catch up in person versus over social media. It was a nice retreat from the daily grind. I took a quick walk around the con, but didn’t explore every corner. It’s a fairly large crowd for a relatively small space between a couple hotels and the con center, I think. There is a lot of outdoor areas though.
As a con, I don’t have a whole lot to say, as a result. I can talk about the con experience as I had it, which is that A-kon 31 was a bit of a mess, and the least organized one I went to among Acen and AB, but that doesn’t mean a lot in this day and age. It’s a new venue after all, so I had came into it with that expectation. I also heard it was run by some newer folks. There were also some interesting things they did…like a foam rave, or showing films at the Alamo inside the shopping/entertainment complex the con is part of. I think the overall experience was okay, as long as they fix some line and crowd control issues. It’s also unfortunate they dropped the ball on guests! Still, I guess I didn’t mind the lemonade much from the lemons A-Kon gave me. It help cut the grease from all that BBQ.
PS. Covid was definitely a guest at A-Kon because masking was poor if at all, despite con’s policy about it being mandatory. I guess this is how that part of the country rolls, unfortunately. On the bright side much of the con experience is outside, and other than inside some panel rooms or parts of the Westin, you’re either outside or in big open spaces. Even the very crowded dealer hall probably isn’t as bad because of the better ventilation of a modern convention space.