Youmacon. Just the name has a way of bringing a smile to my face. Since 2012, this anime convention has been a frequent stop for me. Like previous years, the convention was met with large crowds and lots of activities to keep me busy. The convention spreads itself between The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center and the TCF Center (formally known as the Cobo Center) in Detroit. In some ways this year’s Youmacon was better than any before. In other ways, it was a disappointment. So let me just address some of the good and the bad at Youmacon 2019.
As usual, Youmacon’s beautiful location gave me a sense of awe as soon as I arrived. Looking out The Detroit Marriott’s windows overlooking the bustle of Detroit never gets old. The hotel is just as beautiful in the inside as well. The glass walkways, the cars on display on the bottom floor, and the massive televisions make it all seem like a city in of itself. The convention did not disappoint when it came to activities either. There was a massive amount of things to do. Dance parties, karaoke events, cosplay contests, panels, the arcade room, anime viewing rooms, autograph sessions- you name it and Youmacon provided.
I really liked the wide array of topics that Youmacon had for their panels this year. If you wanted something informative you could learn tips and tricks for cosplay or attend a panel on Japanese history and culture. Do you just want to geek out with fellow fans? There were a multitude of panels where you could discuss you favorite anime and have a good laugh. If you didn’t want to sit in a panel, the massive vendor hall had plenty of things to peek your interest. This year’s vendor hall had an excellent variety of items for sale. I spent several hours pacing the floor just to see every stall. All of the artists were very friendly and seemed to enjoy being at Youmacon just as much as the patrons. I loved seeing so many people having a fantastic time.
The lines. This has been a serious problem for me at every Youmacon I have ever attended. Attending such a large convention, I expect lines to a certain extent. I have no problem waiting in line for autographs or to get into panels. I do have a problem with waiting in line for two hours to get onto an elevator to my room. Much of the problem lies in the hotel’s elevators needing to go all the way up or down before they can go the opposite direction. I think these wait times really take away from the convention experience, especially in the evening. Two hours in line means two hours that I am not getting to attend panels or enjoy other evening events.
Additionally, a serious lack of communication between staff really hindered my experience. I can’t count how many times I saw attendees wandering around because different staff gave them different directions. One staff member couldn’t even tell me how to get to the main floor from the floor I was on. There were a lot of attendee questions that went unanswered simply because the staff themselves didn’t know the answers.
Overall, this year’s Youmacon was a fun and memorable experience. I enjoyed the same friendly atmosphere and bustle of activity that I have enjoyed for many years. However, I think Youmacon could benefit from better staff communication. They could also benefit from working closely alongside the hotel to try and find new ways to eliminate some of the long wait times. It could be something as small as better advertising that the stairwells are unlocked and people can walk if they desire. Regardless, I will certainly be attending Youmacon in the years to come. I look forward to watching it continue to grow and improve.