The Sangawa Project is an amazing three-day event put on by the Pittsburgh Japanese Cultural Society. The event may be small, attracting less than 500 people, but it has one thing that sets it apart from other anime events. Like the room behind the curtain in your video store when you were growing up, you must be 18 years old to enter. The convention’s pace is a little slower, too, and doesn’t force you to run from one event to the other or choose which event or panel you want to attend. We older Otaku just can’t stand in line for an hour anymore without our backs hurting, so an event where the panels and events don’t overlap is a perfect fit. The Sangawa Project has panels on topics ranging from cosplay techniques, to tips panels on Sengoku Era figures and their media portrayals. The best part is we’re all adults so we didn’t have to worry about choosing language that is all-ages appropriate. The attendees got the chance to share their love of current anime as well as visit panels on food, culture and (for the over-21 crowd) Japanese libations. The event has been a great place for many fans to share their love of culture and take discussions about the industry to a whole other level.
The Double Tree by Hilton in Green Tree, PA is the host hotel for this year’s convention. The suburb of Green Tree is only 20 minutes outside of downtown Pittsburgh.
2011 by the Pittsburgh Japanese Cultural Society
Length of Event
December 9th-11, 2016
When you register by August 31st, a General Admission badge is $30. When you register by October 31st, a General Admission badge is $35. When you register at the door (December 9th-11th), a General Admission badge is $40.
The Double Tree Hilton has a lot of rooms, but to get one you’d need to have booked in November. You can also find a booking nearby at the Crowne Plaza Pittsburgh West Green Tree, Hampton Inn Pittsburgh/Green Tree and the Days Inn Pittsburgh.
What to Expect:
Sangawa Project isn’t a huge convention; that’s one of the things that makes it wonderful. The ability to talk with the special guests and panelists is one of those things most convention-goers want. You also don’t have to do a lot of walking, so you can wear the less-practical shoes (if your costume calls for it) and not worry. The freedom for the panelists to really go for it and push the boundaries by alluding to concepts and mature scenarios without worrying about warping young, fragile minds is a refreshing change from all-ages conventions. You aren’t always going to be surrounded hardcore otaku either, some people are late bloomers and don’t get into anime until they’re older. The joy you can have in welcoming someone to the world of cons and anime is very rewarding. The environment, like most anime conventions, is an accepting one with panelists and fellow fans willing to teach and share their love for Japanese culture and that is what Sangawa Project is all about.
What to do while there, what to see and what to do:
Friday, December 9th
The convention started with a couple of panels this year. One is called Yaoi Kisses- Give Me More, a discussion of top BL manga writers that every yaoi fan needs to know to get an introduction to the Boys’ Love genre. The other, Diamonds in the Rough: Videogame Edition, is an exploration of lesser-known JRPG series.
The official open starts on the main stage with brief introductions by the Sangawa Project committee to give visitors an overview of the weekend’s events and rules. You can then spend the rest of the evening taking part in Henati charades, attending panels such as Finding Passion- Coming of Age Josei Manga and the project’s own version of the Newlywed Game, The Waifu Game. The activities wind down around midnight.
Satuday, December 10th
You know that it’s an over 18 convention with a sense of humor when it has a Hentai coloring contest. Yes, it’s a coloring contest for Hentai pictures. The Table Top gaming room has a table for you to test your coloring skills by using crayons to color in printed hentai scenes that will be judged for prizes later in the day. You can sit in on panels with voice actors Todd Haberkorn and Cassandra Lee Morris. The +21 Taste of Japan also runs from 12-5pm and gives you a good chance to really enjoy yourself with unlimited tastings of Japanese wines and spirits. The evening ends with panels on Boy’s Love Bingo and Magical Girls from A-Z.
Sunday, December 11th
The morning schedule for the last day of the convention is pretty light allowing people who had too much “Taste of Japan” to ease into the day. The panels like Retro Anime Worth Watching and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them feature Charles Dunbar focusing on the amazing magical creatures in anime and the wizarding world. A look at anime bloopers with Cassandra Lee Morris and the closing ceremonies around three draw the convention to a close.
Taste of Japan" photos
The cosplay population wasn’t as extensive as at other larger conventions, it wasn’t nonexistent though.
The Sangawa Project may be small, but like an anime little sister without brocon it’s a rare thing. It’s a convention that lets adults be adults and be kids at the same time. We were able to talk with other fans without feeling like we were constantly dating ourselves because we remember watching “Do You Remember Love?” when it aired. We also didn’t feel like we were surrounded by a bunch of old geezer otaku. The halls were lively and still filled with cosplayers ranging from Pokémon to magical girls. The Sangawa Project is steadily leaving its mark as one of the best +18 conventions for anime fans and is a great event where you can spend the weekend sharing your love for anime with other fans.
Author: Zeke Changuris
I’m a journalist, writer, photographer, video producer, social media manager and above all a storyteller. I’m located on the east coast of the United States but travel the world with the love of my life. I’ve been a nerd since birth with a love of history and science. I fell in love with anime, watching ROBOTECH and Venus Wars in the 80s when our only source was secondhand VHS dubs. A crazy new thing called the internet changed that, giving me access to new and amazing anime every day. I love to write for work and pleasure. I’m living the dream of every kid, getting paid to watch anime and loving every subtitled line.