Rachel Moulden for The Pit Media
In early November, I attended Youmacon 2018. It was my 6th time attending the con and my first year staying at the convention overnight I was there for two days out of the four-day event that ran from Nov 1-4. This annual four-day anime convention held during late October to early November at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center and Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan.
Youmacon’s creation was inspired by other conventions including Anime Central and Ohayocon with the convention’s name coming from the Japanese word for demon or ghost. Founded by Morgan Kollin in 2005, it is the largest anime/gaming convention in Michigan and the 10th largest North American anime convention as of 2017.
This is the first year I did preregistration online and I’m glad it worked out in my favor. I heard the line was crazy the previous day via social media, but my friend Katie and I got in line around 8:30 a.m on Saturday and were done by 9:10 a.m. If you’re going for multiple days, I definitely recommend preregistering online beforehand as the convention offers deals leading up to the convention (ex. Black Friday, Holiday discounts) plus you save more money than purchasing badges at the door.
My only gripe with registering this year was they had already run out of badge clips and lanyards by Saturday and they should have had more on hand. I went and bought a lanyard at the Artist Alley afterward, but I was frustrated that after spending $65 on a badge I couldn’t get a free lanyard or clip. Some people are attending the convention for one day only and you can’t always expect them to have a lanyard on hand, especially if they are new to conventions.
Artist Alley/Dealers Hall:
After registering, I meandered through the many aisles of fandom goodness at the Artist Alley and Dealers Hall which was fantastic. The greatest improvement this year is that all the vendors were in a much larger room, so it didn’t feel so cramped and it was much easier to walk down the aisles and shop each booth. There was way more variety in content and I spent my fair share of time talking with artists/vendors and buying way too much stuff.
I wished there was more of a variety of panels. I didn’t see too many panels I wanted to attend. However, I did appreciate that the panels were more spaced out this year which nice. It’s hard to run back and forth from Cobo Hall and Renaissance Center even though the buildings are only a 10-minute walk from each other, so you end up having to choose which ones are closest to your current location.
I did attend a few K-Pop centered panels such “So You Think you’re a K-Pop Fan” where the trivia games were a bit difficult but it was fun and a “K-Pop Random Dance” panel where the crowd was interactive and lots of dancing. I felt a sense of community and everyone was cheering each other on with the dances.
The video gaming room was way better than previous years! Moving the video games over to Cobo Hall from the Renaissance Center meant more space and less of a cramped room. I did see more of a variety of games, but I wish there were more than the music games (ex. adventure, classic Japanese arcade games). There was a better layout for the games and the new tournament setup was cool. I appreciated that there was lots of seating for whether you were taking a rest, watching the tournaments, or playing arcade games with friends.
As usual con-goers played the game of “escalator con.” It was ridiculous how many escalators or elevators were out-of-order. It made it harder to get to the top levels of the hotel where panels were being held and get around period. It took 15 minutes a to get to one panel that should have taken 5 min. On a positive note, The Renaissance Center is gorgeous and it was my first time staying in the hotel. The room was nice and equipped with features and the view of the city and Detroit from my window was stunning. Hotel staff were friendly and there was a very easy check in and check out process.
The Renaissance Marriott hotel offers convention discounts if you choose to room there, but there are also a number of hotels near the convention area Downtown with reasonable prices if you book ahead of time.
All in all, Youmacon 2018 was a blast and I can’t wait to go back again in 2019! If you’re a fan of Anime or Japanese pop culture and live in the Metro Detroit area, this is a convention you should definitely check it out in the future!