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Colossalcon 2021 - Swimsuit Anime Convention

Conventions Return!
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I'm someone who gets a lot of pleasure out of attending conventions. For me it's not just about making videos, although that certainly is a big part of it. Attending conventions is an opportunity to meet people, build relationships, and see and do things I can't do anywhere else. So after nearly a year and a half of shutdowns and no conventions, you can imagine how excited I was to hear that Colossalcon was happening.
There had been some smaller conventions that took place during the pandemic, but nothing of note and none that I attended. ColossalCon is one of those conventions that really stands out. It's seen high attendance rates in the last few years and the swimsuit cosplay obviously draws attention. That it would be one of the first cons to come back after a long hiatus was significant.

Table of Contents

Surprise!

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It happened suddenly. ColossalCon announced at the beginning of April that they were holding their event as scheduled. That meant it was just two months away. I was elated. From the time that they announced it all the way up to the convention I had a hard time concentrating on work. Too much time was spent planning what I would bring and how everything would work. I began to wonder whether I put too much import on it. You know how sometimes you build up something in your head so much that it becomes greater than the actual thing? I didn't want to be disappointed by the real thing. I wasn't 😆

So, How Was It?

It was great! It felt amazing to be out and around people again. There was no fear or apprehension. There was no oddness about not wearing a mask. It felt normal. It was as though everyone in attendance made a collective decision to allow themselves to have fun again. As ridiculous as that might sound, I thinks it's true. The lockdowns and rules and guidance had a heavy impact on us all. To finally be out from under that was relief. It felt earned. I'm almost angry that I should feel this way about something so innocent and simple - a convention of all things. This is exactly the kind of thing we need. Ohio officially lifted its mask mandate on June 2nd, the day before the convention started. ColossalCon had been diligent in its efforts to ensure the safety of attendees. You can read their posts following the initial announcement which laid out the rules. They were later modified to follow the changes to the state's guidelines. I would like to state my appreciation to the convention staff and volunteers. It must have been challenging and stressful to pull everything together on such short notice. While I'm sure they were aware that the event could happen, having just two months to actually make it happen is tough. From my perspective it went very well. Not perfect I'm sure, but pretty good considering the situation. Undoubtedly it was the Kalahari resort making the call. Contracts are contracts and a business needs to turn a profit. There's a lot of money involved with a convention and a room block. The resort had actually been operating quite normally during the pandemic since you can't wear a mask in a pool. If you watch YouTube videos that people made at the resort during the pandemic you'll understand. With the mask mandate lifted and vaccines in high supply, there wasn't enough reason to convince the Kalahari to not hold ColossalCon.

You First

As I watch other conventions announce that they're also holding their event this year, it makes me think that ColossalCon was the litmus test. "If they can do it, so can we." It's probably more due to the fact that the vaccines allow us to gather together again, but I think that ColossalCon was a kind of loss leader. It showed that conventions can happen safely, even if less attended. You can see it in my video and photos: attendance was down. I'm not privy to official numbers, but I'm guessing attendance was only 20-25% of normal. That might put attendance in the 5,000 persons range. I've been to plenty of conventions around this size, so it didn't feel odd to me. When you compare that to previous years however, it is a marked decline. The 2019 convention was so heavily attended that people got their cars stuck parking in the grassy fields.
Cars parked in the grassy fields in 2019.
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Cars parked in the grassy fields in 2019.

The parking lot isn't busy on Thursday morning in 2021 (it got busier later).
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The parking lot isn't busy on Thursday morning in 2021 (it got busier later).

The wave pool looks empty on Thursday afternoon.
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The wave pool looks empty on Thursday afternoon.

The outdoor pool was also empty on Thursday.
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The outdoor pool was also empty on Thursday.

I had no problem shooting people in the outdoor pool area. There was plenty of space and only a handful of photographers. We had time to talk and chat in between shooting photos and video. It was actually a very pleasant change. I'm not the most sociable person out there, and a crowded event doesn't make it any easier. This year I found myself having conversations that never would have happened in previous years. That made it all the more enjoyable. I'm not saying that a smaller ColossalCon is better - there's something about a crowd that generates excitement. I'll just say it was equally as enjoyable, in different ways.
The field in 2019.
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The field in 2019.

The field in 2021.
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The field in 2021.

The Convention

One-way traffic through the convention halls.
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One-way traffic through the convention halls.

As usual, I spent most of my time outside shooting video. I did visit the convention space a few times. The biggest change was directional paths intended to prevent opposing traffic. You basically had to follow the arrows to move around the facility. This didn't seem necessary given that the halls weren't very crowded and there were plenty of people walking the wrong way. I didn't attend any panel events, but the setup looked normal with no spaced seating. I heard that some panelists just didn't show up, so some events didn't happen. There was a line that wrapped around the hallway for one of the Kahza concerts, which was nice to see. Otherwise, there was lots of room in the vendor hall, arcade, and elsewhere. On Sunday the Otaku Flea Market took over two of the larger spaces. I didn't realize that it was in two different rooms and so I only saw one. People brought all of their nerdy anime stuff they wanted to sell and setup at an open table, kinda like a yard sale. I only peeked my head into the artist alley, but I did visit the dealers room. It seemed small compared to other conventions, but I'd say it was appropriately sized for the number of attendees and definitely not crowded. Hopefully the artists and dealers did okay financially.

The Cost

Cost
Airline Flights $449.18
Ground Transportation $131.05
Hotel $339.73
Meals & Groceries $135.06
Photographer Pass $77.03
Total $1,132.05
Once again, the cost for me to attend ColossalCon was non-trivial. It cost me almost the same this year as it did in 2019. The difference is I only had two roommates this year, so with four people it would have been less expensive somehow. It helps that plane flights are still somewhat affordable. Air travel is really picking up this summer, so I expect prices to rise. I flew into Cleveland this time and rented a car. Thankfully I was able to coordinate with my roommates so we could travel together and share the cost of the rental. That really helped reduce the cost and gave us the autonomy to do things like go shopping at Walmart and not worry about how we would get back to the airport on Sunday. Rental cars are more expensive this year because, as I understand it, the companies sold off a lot of their inventory during the pandemic.
The cost per night jumped the less days you stayed.
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The cost per night jumped the less days you stayed.

I didn't mind spending a little bit for food. I bought some groceries from the local Walmart, but also had meals at the resort. People often complain about the food prices, but I don't think they are too high at the Kalahari. A burger meal is a bit more than what you might pay at Red Robin. I did splurge a bit to eat at the new Sortino's Italian Restaurant. The $30 chicken parmigiana sounded really good and my roommates and I had a good meal. I stayed four nights at the resort because that was the required minimum when I booked in 2019. In the weeks leading up to the convention the requirement lowered to a three-night minimum, and then a two night minimum. However, the Kalahari increased the per-night cost significantly the less days you stayed, making the total cost almost the same whether you stayed four nights or two! Upon check-in I learned that the hotel was only 80% booked. It was obvious throughout the weekend that many non-convention families were staying there. That can create that odd situation where you have a bunch of normal people mixing with con attendees. Thankfully, that really didn't seem to be an issue as far as I could see.

The Cosplayers

The cosplay at ColossalCon always stands out. As I wrote in my ColossalCon 2019 article, putting your favorite character in a swimsuit makes it a lot more fun. It's genuinely funny to see Reinhardt from Overwatch in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. It invites an atmosphere of fun and there's almost none of the pressure one might feel while cosplaying at convention like Katsucon. As always, I want to give a big thanks to everyone I was able to shoot at ColossalCon 2021!
@holofox69 is Bowsette
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@holofox69 is Bowsette

@ceciliairenecortes is Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop
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@ceciliairenecortes is Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop

@ohiovash is Vash the Stampede
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@ohiovash is Vash the Stampede

@li.b0rg is Glaceon
@ladymoonprincess is Leafeon
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@li.b0rg is Glaceon @ladymoonprincess is Leafeon

@icy.itegumo is Yae Sakura from Honkai Impact 3rd
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@icy.itegumo is Yae Sakura from Honkai Impact 3rd

@funsizedcosplay is Minnie Mouse
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@funsizedcosplay is Minnie Mouse

Kakashi (no IG)
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Kakashi (no IG)

@scarlet_rose_10 is D.Va from Overwatch
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@scarlet_rose_10 is D.Va from Overwatch

@shinyeevee is Hinata from Naruto
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@shinyeevee is Hinata from Naruto

@ayame.hime is Evelynn from K/DA ALL OUT
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@ayame.hime is Evelynn from K/DA ALL OUT

@009domino_cosplay is a Kyogre from Pokémon
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@009domino_cosplay is a Kyogre from Pokémon

@kayceebethel is Brigitte from Overwatch
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@kayceebethel is Brigitte from Overwatch

@lauren_dragneel is Morgiana from Magi
@merokothebunny is Yamraiha
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@lauren_dragneel is Morgiana from Magi @merokothebunny is Yamraiha

@santanamaynard is Harley Quinn
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@santanamaynard is Harley Quinn

@icy.itegumo is Black Mamba Himeko Murata from Honkai Impact 3rd
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@icy.itegumo is Black Mamba Himeko Murata from Honkai Impact 3rd

@thelittleassassin is Nezuko from Demon Slayer
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@thelittleassassin is Nezuko from Demon Slayer

@agapecos is Poison Ivy
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@agapecos is Poison Ivy

@costay.moo is Harley Quinn
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@costay.moo is Harley Quinn

@channeling.fox is Cat Woman
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@channeling.fox is Cat Woman

@dank_hime is Tanjiro
@kawaii_kirbii is Nezuko from Demon Slayer
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@dank_hime is Tanjiro @kawaii_kirbii is Nezuko from Demon Slayer

@blackcatshadowqueen is Ruby Rose from RWBY
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@blackcatshadowqueen is Ruby Rose from RWBY

@monsoon.cos is The Kid from Bastion
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@monsoon.cos is The Kid from Bastion

@ayame.hime is Sucrose from Genshin Impact
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@ayame.hime is Sucrose from Genshin Impact

@ayame.hime is Vanilla
@shinyeevee is Chocola from Nekopara
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@ayame.hime is Vanilla @shinyeevee is Chocola from Nekopara

@scarlet_rose_10 is Earphone Jack from My Hero Academia
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@scarlet_rose_10 is Earphone Jack from My Hero Academia

@kitvixencosplay is Isabelle from Animal Crossing
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@kitvixencosplay is Isabelle from Animal Crossing

@ayame.hime is Seraphine from League of Legends
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@ayame.hime is Seraphine from League of Legends

@flynnprops is Reinhardt from Overwatch
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@flynnprops is Reinhardt from Overwatch

@otakuillusion is Racing Chocola
@djnatalia_cosplay is Maple from Nekopara
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@otakuillusion is Racing Chocola @djnatalia_cosplay is Maple from Nekopara

@kesrakyse is Rita Repulsive from Power Rangers
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@kesrakyse is Rita Repulsive from Power Rangers

@zadrabug is Cara Dune from The Mandalorian
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@zadrabug is Cara Dune from The Mandalorian

@ayame.hime is Saber (wedding version) from Fate
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@ayame.hime is Saber (wedding version) from Fate

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