Hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend (if you got one, I know that’s becoming a little bit more rare). Anime fans came out in droves to Saboten Con, held for the first time in downtown Phoenix at the Sheraton Hotel. This was my second time attending the con and my first since 2013.
The weekend featured a wide variety of panels, concerts, maid cafés, and other happenings as well as the exhibit hall. I’m not sure what the attendance total was but it never felt really packed because everything was well spread out between the two main floors of the Sheraton. If you needed a minute to sit and recover, you could easily find a chair or an empty wall to relax on.
The cosplay was plentiful, some I recognized, most I didn’t but they were still awesome. I think that’s where anime conventions excell past comic conventions is that the percentage of cosplayers is pretty high. I took my kiddo with me and we weren’t even in the exhibit hall for 5 minutes before getting a half dozen requests for pictures. Cosplay is very appreciated by the attendees.
The exhibit hall (and no it’s not the vendor hall, Saboten’s own signage said exhibit hall) was filled with plushes and statues. You could find the usual suspects selling weapons, manga, wall scrolls, and handmade goods. One side of the exhibit hall was dedicated to artist alley of sorts. More than a dozen artists selling their prints which I enjoyed seeing because it’s a much different group of artists then you see here at other local conventions.
Saboten Con featured guests that were cosplayers, singers, and voice actors. The panel I was most excited for was David Hayter who voiced Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid among other characters. He is also credited as a writer on both the X-Men and X2 films. He talked a lot about his experiences working on the Metal Gear games, most of the time saying “I’ve never heard of that game” when someone asked him about Metal Gear Solid V (which he was replaced by Kiefer Sutherland). I attended 4 other panels during the con so it was a nice mix of walking around and checking out panels on various topics.
Let me be up front, I’m not that well versed in anime and I quickly realized this weekend that I do not fall into the Saboten Con demographic sweet spot. I would estimate that 90% of the attendees were between the ages of 16-25 and it honestly was a near 50-50 split on male and female attendees. What I found a little odd was that the big headling guests, the Robotech 30th anniversary cast, was not a fit for that demographic. They held two or three panels throughout the weekend but I attended the first one on Friday and it was held in the largest panel room. Unfortunately, it could have been held in the smallest panel room because it was barely attended. Now I don’t know if it was a different story during the repeat panels but 20 year olds want to see Naruto and Digimon, not Robotech (which if you attended the Digimon concert, you know that it was well attended). It was a misstep but the only one I noticed. I had seen a few tweets from attendees saying the preferred the old Glendale location but no one said why they did. Downtown Phoenix is more central for everyone, I wouldn’t be surprised if attendance numbers improved.
Here are some photos I took over the weekend!