The 2016 Taiyou Con took over the Mesa Convention Center this past weekend, flooding it with fans eager to see their favorite voice actors, cosplayers, vendors, and musical guests over the three-day long event.
The event is largely themed around anime and reflected that in its programming and offerings to convention goers. Special guests included popular voice actors such as Chris Sabat and Sean Schemmel (Dragonball Z), Erin Fitzgerald (Persona 4: Golden), Kappei Yamaguchi (Ranma 1/2, Inuyasha), Yuu Asakawa (Vocaloid) and Valerie Arem (Persona 4), whom participated in panels and fan events throughout the show. A special concert was hosted featuring deejay Bansheebeat, nerdcore rapper Mega Ran, and Japanese rapper Lotus Juice on Friday for attendees. Aside from the special guest events, Taiyou Con had over a dozen different rooms filled with fan-made programming that covered a spectrum of activities from anime viewings and video game tournaments, to cosplay tips and contests.
The exhibitors hall of the Mesa Convention Center was surprisingly packed with booths for vendors and artists. The aisles were well split between the merchandisers but the artist alley section was a little tight to maneuver without bumping into people. Celebrity signings were held in a small area off from the hall and was largely a non-issue until Saturday. The line of folks for the Sean Schemmel and Chris Sabat signings wrapped into the main vendor area and blocked off a few tables from foot traffic.
Outdoor areas were a nice reprieve for many attendees to relax or pose for photos. This was somewhat disturbed by a neighboring professional mixed martial arts event, which hosted a series of bouts throughout Saturday night and polluted the noise in the greenbelt traversed by Taiyou con goers. Other than a few occasions where volunteers (even at the registration desk) were unable to provide information on moved panels or event times, this was the only major annoyance to be found at the convention.
Overall, the lineup was fairly fresh and the organizers did a good job of having multiple panels for most guests throughout the weekend so attendees weren’t limited to who they could see on a given day. The convention utilized the center and hotel spaces well to create a robust schedule that catered to multiple age groups and attendee tastes. For occurring right out the gate in 2016, Taiyou Con was a strong outing for the beginning of the convention season.