As I walked up to the Lila Cockrill Theatre, I caught a 672 CP Taurus in Pokémon GO.
My highest one yet. Honestly, it took way too many PokéBalls to catch. Luckily, downtown has a crazy amount of PokéStops. Thankfully, we have an historic downtown with many in-game landmarks.
Yep. I was on my way to San Japan. Many chances to catch Pokémon in the app when you're at San Japan. In real life, too, if you were willing to pay. Many vendors sold Pokémon related items. People cosplayed as some of the team leaders, like Spark from team Instinct.
I was running late to a panel that included my friends. I was listening to music and smiling from catching that Pokémon. Then, someone stopped me by standing right in front of me. I thought I might have gone the wrong way to the registration booth.
“Woah, can I take a picture with you! I love SpiderGwen!”
I had almost completely forgot I was cosplaying, as it was a last-ditch effort. It was a nice feeling to have my favorite character recognized.
As I walked to the room to watch my friends do a dance panel, I ran into my sister, Jenna Keeton, who was helping as a volunteer to set up the room next door for an upcoming panel.
Events like San Japan are run solely on a volunteer basis. People like my sister are the reason why this convention happens every year. She helped in the tech department, which is responsible for the setup, implementation, and tear down of all electronic devices used throughout the convention. They help with audio/visuals, like microphones and projectors, if that’s what’s needed in a specific panel.
“Some panels might need a few things and others might need only one," Jenna said. "It just depends on what the panelist wants and we make sure to provide it for them.”
My sister loves the convention.
"I am a nerd and I get to help other nerds be nerdy together!" she said.
As for the panel, my friends from San Antonio College were hosting a dance panel in the Henry B Gonzalez Room 210. My friends are in The Asian Pop Society at San Antonio College. For the fourth time this year, the group did an hour and a half, performing dances from popular J-Pop, K-Pop, Chinese Pop, and songs featured in anime. It was amazing fun for the students and the audience members, as well. After their panel ended, they performed a flash mob out in Artist Alley.
“I have been going to San Japan for eight years," said Alex Herrera, the current interim president of the group. "The uniqueness of the event is what makes it stick out from other conventions in San Antonio. There are a multitude of panels like our Asian dance panel, anime showing panels, karaoke, and video game rooms. There is a lot to do at the event.”
This year's San Japan was the ninth, and we already know where the next five will be. Labor Day weekend in Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center will be the home for San Japan again next year.
As attendance numbers have grown, economic impact for San Antonio will grow, as well. San Japan PR Coordinator David Ramirez noted that San Japan programming is all over downtown, which means they are really utilizing downtown and everything in it. Panels were up and rooms were being used in the Grand Hyatt, Marriott Riverwalk, and the Riverwalk itself.
By now, San Japan has been around for a while. Next year will be the organization's tenth celebration of anime.