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Report On: Youmacon 2014

When asked to describe Detroit, most people say “Crime”, or “Economic decay” or “Motown”. But to a few thousand people, for one weekend a year, Detroit is all about the sensational anime party convention that is Youmacon. Keeping Detroit’s People-Movie transit system filled with colourful nerds all weekend, it’s a convention which is rapidly growing but still retains the atmosphere of a convention that’s also a party. And there was a lot of candy in heavy supply, so you weren’t missing out anything by skipping on Halloween to attend.

But missing Halloween doesn’t mean missing the chance to see people dress up. This year instead of any single new Japanese show dominating people’s wardrobes, the big trend was Male To Female Crossplaying. Lots of men showing off their wig power and lovely legs and not ashamed to look good doing it. And there were no reports of this year’s new “No Masks in the Renaissance Center” policy causing any harassment.

Tag-able versions of all pictures and hundreds more more are available in This Week In Geek’s Facebook Gallery for the event.

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Guests at Youmacon ranged from the regular high-tier guests like Steve Blum, who has some mainstream recognition from the recent Boxtrolls film, and on the bottom of the chain there were the web-comic artists like Kevin Bolk just trying to promote his own work. But most of the Youmacon attendees looking for guests are there to behold the performances of Steam Powered Giraffe and Team 4-Star and other groups who might not be on television, but conquer YouTube and don’t rely on the entertainment industry’s framework to do it.

But Youmacon is a social event beyond just the chance to meet guests. It’s also the opportunity to join a crowd of hundreds or thousands at some of the dances, or Live Action Mario Party, or the Charity Ball. These events are the kind of interactive experience that can’t be captured on video, but are life-lasting memories for those involved. And to help those memories last, you can grab stuff from the Dealer’s Room (maintained by the mastermind Leon) like a new wig. The 24 hour video-gaming rooms welcome any competitors.

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This year Youmacon celebrated their tenth anniversary and they’re growing rapidly. This year the program had a blank cover, the number of printed schedules was dysfunctionally low (expecting people to rely on their devices to access the on-line schedule is still a few years away from being a workable concept). Navigating the Renaissance Center was a bit easier thanks to better signs, but it was still a bother finding few photo-shoots. The biggest improvement might be the increased presence of the Detroit Police and Renaissance Center security working to resolve issues. The biggest let-down might be the customer service from the Marriott being clearly overwhelmed this year. And mass exodus from the hotel on Sunday brings the elevators to a plod.

Youmacon is an exhausting convention, with something for everybody, but certainly the most is for the anime fans who appreciate the chance to laugh and dance louder than Anime North. For three nights of non-stop convention, a mind-melting daze of cosplay, panels, and guests drawing enough traffic through the “Ren Cen” that the food court’s “Zoup” actually ran out of their Zoup.

-Michael Ryan November 5th 2014

 I personally have some strong issues with an individual from Youmacon Security this year who I feel behaved unprofessionally. I am attempting to resolve these matters civilly and quietly as a courtesy to the Youmacon staff who I have a strong respect for.

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