As someone who’s attended their fair share of conventions, I will admit that this was my first time attending Saboten-Con. I went in not knowing much other than what my previous con experiences had taught me; to expect a lot of panels, a few notable guests, at least one musical performance (aside from the obligatory Saturday-night rave) and lots of cosplay. This convention had all that and more! And to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised with how much material the convention staff packed into a 4-day weekend.
The whole event was located inside the Sheraton Grand Phoenix; a high-rise hotel located in the heart of Downtown boasting 3 floors of event space. Every square inch was used to great effect and efficiency, from the Registration area in the main lobby to the Guest Signing area in the third-floor foyer. The Main Stage area on the second floor boasted no less than FIVE concerts throughout the weekend (not counting the rave!), in addition to numerous other events which saw a constant flow of people in there at any time. The various panel rooms had something for everyone, too; from gaming to anime to music and everything in between (even a maid cafe!). No matter what your fandom or what drew you there to begin with, everyone that I saw (whether in amazing cosplay or not) was happy to be there. I even overheard someone at one-point mention how they pulled off a successful Hetalia panel in 2019 (which if you understand the series and how long it’s been out, you’ll understand this comment).
The number of special guests they had was staggering as well; a total of 33 guests from all walks of life filled the schedule at multiple points on multiple days. That the guests made themselves so available to the attendees was yet another testament to how awesome this convention is. And if all this wasn’t enough, the closing ceremonies gave three more reasons why:
– In the span of two hours on the last day, the Love Planet Foundation raised just over 2 grands in donations from the attendees.
– The vendor’s hall (which was filled with amazing products throughout) was 98% booked for NEXT year already.
– The total attendance was up over 2,000 people from last year; a combined attendance of over 15,000 attendees, most of which had Full Event passes.
In closing, this convention was a joy to attend. Most conventions that have been around over 10 years sometimes lose that ‘spark’ that makes them awesome to go to initially, for one reason or another. But this one (which has been around for 12 years now) shows no signs of slowing down or losing its spark; if anything, it keeps finding new ways to burn even brighter. It shows in the faces of the attendees who walk the halls and sit in on the panels, the guests who all genuinely enjoyed being here and want to come back next year, and most importantly the staff who definitely show what it means not just to be a team, but to be family. My only regret is that I have to wait 364 days for the next one, but will definitely be back for it!