The Sangawa Project is a small convention geared at the older, more mature anime fan. The three-day event put on by the Pittsburgh Japanese Cultural Society drew more than 500 people, a 33% increase from last year. The key aspect that sets it apart from other anime events is that this one is strictly NO KIDS ALLOWED. You can spend time with other fans and let them know how you really feel without parsing your words for the G and PG audience. The convention has a slower pace with plenty of time between events and a short distance to travel between each panel. You don’t have to worry about standing in line either; unless you want to get into an autograph session, each panel has plenty of seating. The autograph sessions give you plenty of time to say hello to the talent on hand. The Sangawa Project has panels on topics ranging from cosplay to the deconstruction of the myths and legends that permeate the medium and, true to the over-18 audience, late night sessions like Let’s Dub a Hentai and the Bad Fan Fiction Sex Scenes read along. 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 such as whiskey, sake, wine, and beer.
|When it was Established:||2011 by the Pittsburgh Japanese Cultural Society|
|The Sangawa Project Official Website:||http://www.sangawaproject.com/|
|Length of Event||November 30th - December 2nd (3 Days)|
|Place:||Drury Plaza Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh, PA|
|Price of Admission:||General Admission is $40, giving you access to all three days, the retro gaming room, the RPG/CCG/Tabletop Game Rooms, the non-alcohol mixer (additional charge for alcohol) and the panels.|
|Hotels & Transportation:||You just need to get to Pittsburgh. The convention venue is located in the heart of the downtown at the Drury Plaza Hotel. You can, if you act early enough, book a room at the Drury. You can also stay at hotels like the DoubleTree by Hilton at 1 Bigelow Square, right in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, making it one of the most convenient options for travelling to and from. The Weston Hotel is also nearby and is a favorite of Tekko convention-goers. The city has a lot of other hotels in the downtown area and in the suburbs. The cost of parking in the city is expensive, so if you stay in the suburbs plan on spending $15-20 for per day for parking.|
What to do while there, what to see and what to do:
Friday, November 30th
The convention opens its doors at 3:30 on Friday with the Cool Japan panel by Charles Dunbar, where you are given insightful first-hand accounts of all the places you’d want to visit. You can join a party and do some dungeon crawling in the Sangawa Parlor with ongoing games of D & D. If you’re a lover and not a fighter the Yaoi Kisses- The Good, The Bad, and The Weird begins at 6pm. If you haven’t had enough and are really open-minded a panel called We Watch Horrible Hentai begins at 8:30. The social activities continue late into the night as cocktails and cosplay intersect at the hotel bar.
Saturday, December 1th
The autograph session with voice actors David Vincent and Tony Oliver begins at 10 am so hungover or not you’ve got to get in line early to meet these two prolific voice actors. You can also sit in on a discussion of Anime Mythology before heading over to David Vincent’s Voice Acting Tryouts. The voice of Robin in Fire Emblem gives members of the audience a chance to test their vocal talents, with scripts and direction. Do you think bingo is either for elementary school children or retirement homes? Not at Sangawa. The Ecchi Bingo Parlor opens at 3:00 for some very revealing bingo cards. The cosplay competition beings shortly thereafter at 4:00. If you’re really into Power Rangers, guest Tony Oliver takes a look back at the beginning of the series. The Taste of Japan begins at noon and goes for four hours, letting you taste all the wonderful unique libations from the land of the rising sun. The party doesn’t stop when the sun goes down at Sangawa; the fun heats up with late night panels like This is My Fetish and Hentai Pictionary.
Sunday, December 11th
Morning always seems to come early on the last day of a convention. If you feel like you need to repent for anything, an anime-themed service begins at 9am with Sunday Morning with Father Mike. You’ll get the chance to see the Voice Acting and Directing Panel with Tony Oliver and David Vincent as well as a look at Dungeons, Dragons, and Bad Decisions. The convention closes its doors around 3pm giving you enough time to get home and prepare to adult on Monday.
You can’t have a convention without it being a safe space for cosplay and Sangawa is no different. If you’re a cosplayer you can feel secure in knowing you will be welcomed and respected in the halls of the hotel and the convention floor. The cosplay population isn’t as extensive as at other larger conventions but that is simply in relation to its size and will grow as the con grows.
The Sangawa Project is wonderfully refreshing convention. The small size of the event makes it a very personal one letting the people make connections with the panelists, guests, and fellow con-goers. The Sangawa Project’s hallmark is it is a place where adults can be adults -- and be kids at the same time. The convention crowd doesn’t make you feel old, unless you want it to. You have plenty of opportunities to hop on the nostalgia train but you don’t have to always be looking back since we are all still fans watching anime. The Sangawa Project continues to be one of the best 18+ conventions for anime fans. If you’re old enough to get in you can find a great event where you can spend the weekend sharing your love for anime.