Alright. To start off, let me just say I was really begining to question attending NDK anymore because of previous years, but this year was really FUN! I was actually excited to be attending once more, and I have been going since 2000. Let me just say you guys have done a great job of bringing the convention back just as I thought it was falling.
Another plus side, THE STAFF!!!!!!!!!!! Usually that's the first thing we complain about, but my god, they were just AWESOME this year (well, most). They were very polite, got things done, and even after things were taken care of, they found us again to reassure us.
We had one issue though, seems new staff people just use their new title to be jerks. We had ran over in a panel a whole two minutes because people were learning and asking us questions, and he came right up to us, chewed us out, took down our names, and told us - as I quote 'If I'm an asshole to you guys tomorow, this is why.' What?! Being a staff member gives you NO right to blatantly treat us like s---. Thankfully when we went down to Ops they took care of it - and even found us later to tell us they took care of it. <3
Another plus about staff... my group was being harassed (as I'm sure alot of people were) in the cosplay contest line by some drunk guy, and he was definitely threatening to pound my face in. The staffer that came by and pulled him away was extremely kind, had him escoreted out of the building and down the street, and then came back to check on us to make sure we were okay.
And nobody yelled at us for lines, pictures, nothing! It was just GREAT! Keep the same staff for next year, I love them.
Also, the elevator staff was a good idea, none really broke down.
There were a couple of rude elevator staffers, just because you're telling someone how it is doesn't mean you have to be a dick.
The con didn't seem too terribly crowded to my group this year, but that might be just 'cause we skipped the registration lines and were running panels all weekend, so we had our own space. xD Parking though, I can see how that sucks. We're already cramming five people plus luggage into our own vehicle as we do every year, but it's STILL very hard to find a parking spot, since everywhere surrounding pretty much says 'NOT ALLOWED FOR NDK'. Though I have no idea how this could be fixed unless NDK is moved to a different hotel. xD;
Cosplay went great! No million hour green rooms, easy check in, and a smooth contest. Let me tell you, after attending Expo this year and all of their sound/technical screwups, NDK was run like a DREAM. <3
My group was going to enter craftsmanship for the first time this year though, until we heard from some people that they were kind of douchey. :/ Maybe that's just for masters though, since you DO have to be on top of your game and know how it's done. We might try next year.
However, I do have some gripes about the contest. As far as I knew, several years ago 'song' skits and all 'dance' skits were banned unless your skit had something more. Saying as my cosplay group is KNOWN for our performances, we've had to stop doing what we do and change it for NDK, which we're fine with. But then this year there's several singing, performing, and dancing groups doing EXACTLY what we did that we got in trouble for! And on top of that, THEY WON AWARDS FOR IT?! The 'Kaya' cosplayer did nothing but recreate a Promotional Video dance, and the Bunny Brigade skit(?) did exactly what my group did once upon a time. We get bashed for it and then it's banned from the contest, but I fail to see why they were allowed to perform (and even win awards when there were other, more well thought out skits)! I'm NOT saying that my group will go back to what we do, we've moved on, but I just think it's terribly unfair. :/
On the plus side, we won an award that wasn't just a default 'Best Jrock'!! Thanks guys! :DDDD <3 (Though with all the Jrock cosplay coming back I would love to see it return. And I may have missed it, but is best video game gone too?) I think if the Traditional cosplay still has an award, then so should the other breakoff's that aren't just anime and rather encompass all Japanese culture.
Oh, and let me add - I don't like the call out of FULL, real names after a cosplay number. When we put down an alias it's for a reason. Some people ARE creepy and WILL go look up people with this new information and it just makes big, freaky trouble. @_@
Karaoke - god, do I love the people. And I love singing. And I love watching people sing. But for the love of kami-sama, it NEEDS to move faster! Auuugh! And that's just the contest! (Which I miss every year because of cosplay T_T) Open mic can't even start until after that, and by then it's already 2am! @_@ Karaoke is one of my major highlights of the con though, it's nice to know that people look forward to my originality personally. <333 Really, you guys make my year. I can't say thank you enough.
We had a great turnout in all of our panels too, thanks to everyone!! We thought for sure only a couple would be big hits, but every single one we did was awesome. And Barbra was excellent in getting us all set up in nice sized rooms. Augh, I love the staff this year.
Oh, and though I don't think this can be helped - people that get drunk off their asses and wasted beyond the point of saving do NOT make for a fun convention. It's terribly awkward, annoying, and even slightly frightening. I'm three years past legal drinking age and I'm smart enough to know that being dead drunk is not a good idea at a convention full of underage people.
All in all, I was not looking forward to NDK, and this totally flip flopped my opinion. Definitely ready to come back next year!! YAY! Can still be an avid con-goer for ten years by then!