Holiday Matsuri Con 2018: Day 1 Recap

By Assia Angelini

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Today opens the festivities abound for Holiday Matsuri Con (HolMat) 2018. Entertainment Stew’s first time at this convention was last year at HolMat 2017 where we presented our Persona panel. Although we are not hosting a panel, we are proud to announce that HolMat gave us the opportunity to support year’s convention through press coverage! This will include various videos, photo galleries, and articles covering each day’s exploits. This Friday gave us our first look at this year’s convention, taking place at the World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida.

This is Entertainment Stew’s second year attending HolMat at the World Center Marriott, a beautiful and open location. After retrieving our press passes, we spent the first couple hours getting a feel for the convention and walking around before the bulk of con goers arrived. As always, HolMat provided a wonderful opportunity for cosplayers to put seasonal twists on their favorite characters, and it was fun to see how creative they got with incorporating the holiday theme. While perusing Artist Alley’s maelstrom of bright and beautiful wares is usually my favorite go-to for conventions, this time it was HolMat’s game room that kept me coming back. A large ballroom area lit only by the flashing neon glow of arcade machines, the game room was spaced out, uncluttered, and populated by a variety of arcade games rarely found in the U.S. There was even pod-like arcade machines that thrust you into the role of a mecha-pilot. We did not get a chance to take them for a spin today, but they are certainly on our to-do list.

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The Opening Ceremonies were our first look into what we had in store for the rest of Holmat. Here guests were officially welcomed into the first day of Holiday Matsuri 2018 and given a brief overview of the special guests for this weekend and what events those guests were taking part of. The featured cosplayers and voice actors had some of their first interactions with this year’s crowd and many conveyed their excitement to be taking part in this year’s festivities.

We closed our day with Kingdom Hearts: Treasured Memories, an aerials, and movement show put on by Shinobi School. Located in the Tampa Bay area, Shinobi School is an academy to train in the arts of athletic entertainment. In keeping with the season, their show centered around Roxas and Namine spending the holiday together, looking back through Namine’s sketchbook and reminiscing about their shared memories. These memories were expanded upon through short routines highlighting different cast members in an array of performance styles including choreography, parkour, and aerial.

Technical difficulties held Shinobi School back from having as grand a performance as they might have. The Marriott did not allow them to perform their aerial numbers live, and as such Shinobi School had to find a quick workaround as the aerial component made up a large part of their show. They managed to show the aerial performances through video recordings of a previous performance. Shinobi School quickly recovered and performed their best under the circumstances presented to them. They went all out and presented their A-Game

With that, Entertainment Stew’s day one at Holiday Matsuri Con came to a close. While it is easy to immediately get swept up into the excitable energy conventions exude, we had a rather laid back first day. With more panels and special events we’re anticipating, we look forward to day two of Holiday Matsuri Con.