What: officially a J-culture convention, I say a cosplay convention
Where: ICC, Ghent, Belgium
When: August 5 & 6 2017
Over the years, Atsusacon has become a staple in the summer convention season, as one of the more fun, smaller conventions to go to.
They always do a real effort, more so than many other events, to put on a very varied program, with workshops, vendors, often even concerts, and more.
This year, however, the convention seemed to really have found it’s niche as a cosplay convention, which really seemed to work.
I only attended on the Saturday, so I can’t say anything about Sunday. Just an FIY.
Atsusacon takes place over much of three floors of the ICC convention center, and they always do a good job spreading out over the space they have available. This year food and drinks were distributed over the ground and first floors, vendors were on the ground floor, cosplay events in the auditorium on the first floor, which also housed a little sit down seating area and the maid café. The second floor was reserved for board games, hobby displays such as BJDs and Gundams, Pokémon type things and workshops. It was only difficult to navigate if you didn’t properly pay attention. So unless you were oblivious: it was easy to get around.
Now, whilst I definitely had fun at Atsusacon, admiring some of the awesome cosplays and fashions, sitting around and catching up with friends, I do have to say that I felt that it was definitely a cosplay convention. I’m not a gamer and not a cosplayer, so I feel like it was a little “less for me” than usual. Which is, by no means, a negative point towards the organisation, because they did a bang up job setting up the entire event, making everyone feel equally welcome whether they cosplayed or not. I just, personally, feel like that it’s become a convention mostly geared towards cosplayers. Which is not a bad thing at all, because the shows they did with and for cosplayers were a lot of fun. It’s also a very open minded convention, where you can show up in your very first cosplay and won’t get snubbed, instead you can get all the help you need in improving your cosplay skills. Heck, they even had a workshop especially geared to embroidery in cosplay and a cosplay repair station, how cool is that!?
I’m not saying that you can’t and won’t have fun there if you’re not a gamer or a cosplayer, I’m just saying that you might find that there is not quite as much to do for you than there is at many other conventions. If you go to spend the day with friends, chances are you still have fun, I know I did.
And if you want to show up in steampunk, J-fashion or normal clothes, no one is going to give you the side-eye.
Another thing that Atsusacon does well is food. The ICC has some places around it that are open even on Sunday (pizza restaurants, a falafel joint and a Delhaize supermarket) so they made sure to really focus on Asian food, and hot dogs (which is a good thing because not everyone loves Asian food). The prices were also pretty reasonable for a convention and vegetarian options were available.
Even the stand downstairs selling Asian food and drinks was very reasonably priced by convention standards.
The maid café was cozy and an attraction on it’s own and if you didn’t feel like sitting down there, there were plenty of other areas where you could flop down to pauze and eat, or simply rest for a moment.
I feel that this edition was trying to find it’s way around being a cosplay convention a little. But at the same time, I think it’s really good for the convention scene in Belgium that Atsusacon is heading this direction. They’ve always had their friendly and open atmosphere going fo them, and I think it’s great that there’s something for all skill level of cosplayer to come together on a larger scale to hang out, make new friends and learn new things.
Honestly, I really do think that if they keep this up, they could really grow into a much bigger event, so I’m curious to see how next year’s Atsusacon is going to turn out.
For more photos, click here.