Author’s Note: This article was written two weeks after this event took place in mid-December of 2016. After my situation in 2017, it got lost and neglected. When I restarted content earlier this year, a chain of events had taken place with the venue the previous season (2017), and I highly debated even posting my experience due to those events. Nevertheless, I’ll share as you can always count on me to. This is about my trip to the con at the time, not the drama and incidents that happened afterwards. It’s neither biased or reflects what I currently think of the venue.
I’ve done minor edits on this article to bring it current (specifically its ending), but it remains virtually unchanged from its 2016 version.
It’s been about seven years since I went to an anime convention of any sort. Animazement 2009 being my last stint of cosplay, hanging out at a convention and going to someplace of that sort with “friends”. It’s not something I really care to talk about, always telling myself that I’ll go one day and I’ll have the right people around me.
That changed one evening when I saw a certain string of tweets from Charlet Chung, D.Va’s voice actress from Overwatch. Apparently her tweet hinted that she was in Tennessee, asking where “her D.Va mains were at”. I was flabbergasted that she was here in the state at all, but decided to see what con she might’ve been visiting. Turns out that she was at YamaCon, a local con in Pigeon Forge/Sevierville, Tennessee. I was surprised that it was even carrying one due to the wildfires that took place two weeks earlier, but lo and behold the show went on with them.
Shocked was an understatement. Not only did I never know about this con previous and that it was so “close” to home, I was surprised that a person such as Charlet was in arm’s reach. I had to go and meet her.
After figuring out some logistics, I decided to stroll around as normal le me. I had my Overwatch Ganymede plush and a Korean-styled hoodie that I decided to tote around as well. I piled into my Jeep and trekked down to Pigeon Forge.
I finally arrived at the LeConte center near the tourist center in Pigeon Forge. Nervous was an understatement. Going here was a lot of firsts for me. The most prominent that came to mind was that it was the first time I was going not in cosplay, the first time I was going to con completely by myself, and going with a good high-definition camera (my iPhone 7) that could capture good pictures and video.
First thing was first, getting to Charlet’s panel. I saw some other stuff that seemed interesting to attend, including a funny dub anime screening and maybe the rave. After checking in and walked about and looked to see who was about. I found the line for the first panel and was able to start talking to a few people.
Finally getting inside, we got seated in a ballroom sort of and got to hear from Charlet and ask her questions. I even got to ask her a few, it was first quite nerve-wracking but I finally realized that she was just a normal person, being quite down-to-earth and very relatable. She loved the work that she did on Overwatch and her interaction with the entire community of her work is pretty recent, getting used to everything. She plays Overwatch herself to a degree which was quite hilarious in its own sense, though her favorite character has been Roadhog as of late.
When the panel was done I stood in line for her to autograph some stuff for me. It was a small but sizeable line; after a bit I finally got to talk to her one on one.
“It’s me,” I announced. “I’m the guy from Twitter who said that I couldn’t make it.”
“Oh yes! I know you!” Charlet declared.
“Yes, that’s me! I made it! I didn’t know that it was THIS con you were at!”
“I’m glad you did!” Charlet then proceeded to give me a high five.
Charlet then proceeded to scribble on my two Blizzcon Exclusive Funko Pops I had brought for her to sign. We did a selfie, and then she recorded a voice line for my voicemail! Most awesome.
The voicemail that Charlet did for me:
(Minor note; want to get my attention more than friend wise? Use “xD” in your writing/message.)
When that was done I browsed the convention floor. They had a HUGE game and merchandise floor, almost comparable to possibly Animazement’s space.I found that even ETSUcon had a space there as well, and ran into three people that were familiar (two were ETSU classmates, one was someone who knew my cousin).
During this walking around I met a few people who spied Ganymede on my shoulder and dropped nice compliments, even getting a few questions of where to get him, etc. I got called Bastion quite a few times for some strange reason; supposedly people though that my backpack was the turret gun and the hoodie was the “Blizzcon X” skin. :/
I then attended an improv panel on how to do improv acting. It was actually quite informative and taught you to be open while acting/humor stuff. I don’t have the two people’s name that did it, but it was a riot of fun and lasted about two hours. I admittedly was bad at the first couple of their games, so I ended up recording and laughing along the second half of their panel.
Walked around a bit more, browsing “Cards against Humanity” games and some Smash tournaments. They finally closed the convention around 10PM and had a special event at a hotel across the street for the 21+ crowd. I briefly attended this for their meet-and-greet table, which was like speed dating except for friendship of both genders rather than “dating”. Met a few people out of that but have only heard from two of them consistently after that event.
I finally left to go home around midnight. It was a great event and I had fun. However I found the lack of an artist alley and a group to socialize with lacking.That was the biggest negative I would count towards it. Me being the age bracket I was also felt like it was an impact for some reason.
The con experience was quite nice and comparable to Animazement back to around 2007-2008 minus the big crowds, and most of the people who stopped to talk to me were fellow Blizzard fans. I felt a bit more confident about being back in the Japanese culture/nerd/geek scene a bit, though its probably something I’ll only dabble in occasionally for the time being. I would really like to go as an artist and have my own table, though!
Going to cons may be a thing again. Considering I went to FanboyExpo with my cousin the other day to see Anjali, only time can tell where I’ll go next. Yes, while that con was less personable than YamaCon (I only found one cosplayer friendly enough/had the time to take a photo with me), the actual guests and a lot of the vendors were quite friendly in contrast.
So yes, that was my experience at YamaCon, for what it’s worth. At least I learned an important lesson with this article if anything; to put more effort and dedication with my articles to release them on time. It would’ve been a whole lot easier if I had just posted it at Christmas time as planned; no planned backwritings, hurdle-hopping or obstacles to face so much time later.
Thanks for reading.