Naka-Kon is a three day anime convention at the Overland Park Convention Center outside of Kansas City, MO. Naka-Kon started in 2005 by the Anime club from the University of Kansas. During this first year they reported 300 people were in attendance and that number jumped to almost 9000 in 2015, according to Animecons.com.
A massive amount of people converge in the Convention Center, dressed as anime characters, video game characters and so much more. The weekend is full of events such as panels from popular voice actors. There were also Super Smash Brothers Mario Kart tournaments. They even had an entire room dedicated to Japanese arcade games and some of the players were going way too hard. Being a member of the Truman Media Network, I was able to score a Media badge that was saved for real journalists.
The Overland Park Convention Center is a huge, multi-story building that is connected to the Sheraton Hotel, which also hosted Naka-Kon events. In the Convention Center there are a couple of large open rooms, one that was filled with vendors and the other that held dances at the end of the nights. The vendor room was truly something you have to experience first hand- Japanese candy littered the room, plushies and figures lining tables and artwork at each turn of the head. Hundreds of people surrounded the Vendor’s tables, dressed as a variety of characters. These vendors were no joke and their shops held exclusive items with price tags that were nothing to laugh about. The anime fans didn’t mind, as they spend all year looking forward to this event so that they can show off their costumes, or cosplays. They also looked forward too seeing old friends and buying new items to add to their extensive libraries.
While upstairs held these large rooms, the real action was downstairs. A large open area filled with multicolored costumes led off to designated rooms where all sorts of events were taking place: a Super Smash Brothers tournament, a Japanese arcade, a side-scrolling fighting area and a Mario Kart tournament were all located downstairs with attendees having the time of their lives. I managed to find a group of people playing Rockband and in this room I saw someone dressed as Link playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Naka-Kon and other conventions of its type mean a lot to the attendees. Some travel across states, spend hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours on their costumes. They are passionate about the cons and there is a lot of sentimental value associated with an entire convention dedicated to their hobbies.
“I started going to Naka-Kon about three years ago. I met a lot of friends who I regularly talk to and we always make sure to go to Naka and cosplay together. Anime conventions let me share cosplays I’ve done with people, and I get to see what art other fans do.” -Kay Harvey.
Overall, Naka-Kon is an experience that anyone who likes Japanese culture, anime or cosplay should attend. There was so much to do, see and experience that there just didn’t seem to be enough time to do it all. Add in the events and panels from the Kon and they made sure that you were always doing something exciting. Such a large scale event created by an Anime club was a sight to see and I can not wait to go again next year!