Taiyou Con is one of our favorite conventions in Arizona because it remains humble in size while offering so much to its attendees. Every year that we have attended it only grows more and more impressive. The location of the 2018 event remained at the Mesa Convention Center, which is smaller than most centers while offering the convenience of free parking and an attached hotel, and took place January 5th-7th. The price for an online weekend pass was $40 and at the door it was $45.
The Mesa Convention Center was perfect because it had enough space to hold all of the vendors, panels, and attendees without too much crowding or being too sparse. Everywhere you went, there was a healthy group of folks geeking out about the panel they just came out of or getting to meet their favorite guest. The vendor area was set up well as the halls gave enough room for two lanes of people to come and go. The panel rooms held more than enough room for the various talks going on during the weekend and main ballroom provided a wealth of space for the main events.
If things got too stuffy inside, you could walk outside and check out the hotel pools or balcony which are fantastic for photos! However, as Taiyou grows bigger, I am curious how long they’ll remain at this convention center before having no choice but to move locations.
When it comes to food, there were plenty of great food trucks stationed just outside of the convention that featured ramen, hot dogs, and other great food choices! If you were trying to save a few bucks, there were fast food joints located all around and if you wanted something better, tons of great places could be found within a ten minute drive.
The cosplay at Taiyou is always fantastic since everyone comes back from the con drought in full force. Some of my all time favorite cosplays from the weekend were Cheshsmiles and Lvckydiamond’s Panther, the entire winter Sailor Scout squad, and every single JoJos cosplayer there. Everyone was in high spirits having fun and the masquerade was a ton of fun!
The guests were incredible with the return of you tubers Mega 64! As always they were so down to earth and happy to meet up with fans. Robbie Daymond who has voice acted for so many iconic character charmed the pants off so many guests as he took the time to talk with everyone and was nothing but smiles.
The vendors were a great mix of locals and out of towners with local artist Sincerely Sam selling her wares and doing tarot card readings for anyone brave enough want to know their future. Anime Trash Swag returned for their third time with a full stock of bad ass items that is sure to remove any trace of basic from you. Cake Shop Couture was set up and selling super kawaii items to fans.
Events like Sumuji Cafe and Dobutsu Lounge were such knock out successes! While I was unable to attend Sumuji, my writer Saint attended and had nothing but great things to say about it. I did get to attend Dobutsu lounge for the first time ever! I had such a great time gaming with fellow convention goers, hanging out with the staff, and watching as they would entertain the crowd with song and dance!
Although I do enjoy how humble Taiyou Con is, I feel that that it is time to crank the convention up to 11. It has so much potential to contend with the other great events held throughout the year but remains so close to the chest. They made such great moves with the Dobutsu lounge, Mega64, and unique vendors, but they have the potential to go so much further. I am not quite sure what is holding them back from making that jump, but whatever it is, I hope it gets resolved. Taiyou is so beloved by the community that I am almost certain that we would be happy with whatever they decided to do. I know that this convention will always become better than the previous year, but I feel as though they could become better, faster, and stronger in a shorter amount of time.
The only other aspect that we found a bit out of the ordinary was the communication with the staff prior to the convention. It took a bit of time to get replies and we didn’t get answers to some of our questions until the week of. Granted, every time we worked with the staff it was wonderful, but I feel as though they might be either understaffed or overworked. We can only speculate as we have no concrete information on this but it was only a minor hindrance!
Taiyou Con just gets better and better every year, it is legitimately one of our favorite conventions of the year because of how intimate the experience is. The guests, staff, vendors, and fellow attendees just feel like family there. Although other conventions can have top tier guests or 100k attendees, it doesn’t mean much if you aren’t having a blast with your friends! We absolutely recommend Taiyou Con to any one who loves anime, cosplay, or solid conventions!