Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ohayocon 2017

Written by Dani and Andrew Livelsberger
Photography by Andrew Livelsberger

Ohayocon is a 3 day event that is focused on the art, culture and community surrounding Japanese animation.  Live events, panel discussions, cosplay, and themed photo shoots can all be experienced here.


Masses of people abound at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, a large cross section arrive dressed in their weekend best cosplay.   They playfully go from area to area, attending their favorite panel discussions, purchasing merch from the hundreds of vendors and participating in the themed photo shoots.

**We could not fit all the images we wanted to share in this post, so please go over to our Flickr Album and check out all those other great images!**

The Ohayocon is a haven for those entrenched in the anime culture.   We here at VisualOhio have been "otaku" for almost 25 years and this was our first year covering the Ohayocon.


Event In General
The event is enormous, and at first finding everything was a little intimidating.  Luckily, the Ohayocon staff man booths all over the convention center.  Don't know where something is?  Just ask.  I had a very friendly gentleman escort me to a location for a photo shoot.  They really know how to cater to and take care of their attendees.

They thought of just about everything, too, like a "coat check" area called the "Room of Holding" to safe zones for those who may have social anxiety or get overwhelmed by the large crowds.  They can go to this quiet area and get away from all the hustle of the event.

The panels are scattered throughout the 3 days and subjects vary largely.  Some are centered around specific anime themselves, while others concentrate of aspects of Japanese culture or heritage.   For those worried that there are some topics too adult, Ohayocon puts in place a rating system and publishes this weeks in advance of the convention.  Parents can be secure in knowing what the panel will cover and 18+ rated events check ID for age.

The cosplay is top notch here.  You will not be disappointed in the quality or the variety.  It is fantastic what some of these young, creative minds craft and display.   Some of them look just a live action version of their favorite anime character.  Others take a more interpretive approach and you can see where they have pulled influence from.

General Attendee Atmosphere
We never felt/witnessed any disrespect from anyone.  Ohayocon is one of the friendliest, most considerate events that we have been privileged to attend.  You already know that we loved the staff/help there, and the attendees showed the same care, respect for one another too.  No running around, screaming, fighting, drama.  Large crowds never slammed you about and requests for pictures were always met with an agreeable yes and a smile.

The transition area between the Regency Hotel and the Greater Columbus Convention Center, a.k.a. The Lounge
Attendees continue to design costumes in their downtime between events

Photo Shoots
The photo shoots were themed and had a designated leader.   We attended two, the DC Comics and the Star Wars shoot.  The leaders did a great job of organizing everyone and calling for different posing partners.  The cosplayers also need to be applauded here too, as they did a great job of positioning themselves and taking direction.
The only slight flaw in some of the shoots, and this is a nitpick, is that the lighting in some of the areas was very poor which made getting some shots very difficult.  Not a whole lot that the Ohayocon could do about that, it was a facilities issue.

One of the main ballrooms at the Regency is setup to handle the vendors.  At this place is PACKED with quality sellers on the main floor an the balcony as well.  If you can think of it, somewhere in this vendor area (called artist alley), you will find it.  If you cannot, a lot of the vendors take commissioned work.

This is only HALF of the artist alley area...HALF!!!

Parting Thoughts
We loved covering the event, and this being our first year, we spent a lot of time taking in all the sights and sounds.  We will have a great plan for expanded coverage in 2018.  Until then, we hope that you enjoyed the images that we were able to show you here.

Even if you have a fleeting interest in anime or Japanese culture, you owe it to yourself to get down to the Ohayocon and be part and expand the 21,000 attendees that visit, participate and have fun here!