Kayarath’s Adventures In Nijicon

Posted on Jan 08 2015


I believe the “Yaoi Manga” card from the Whack A Catgirl card game best describes Yaoi by noting that it is an excellent boy repellant. That brings up the question; why would a heterosexual male such as myself attend a Yaoi themed convention? Journalistic integrity. As a member of 91.8 The Fan, it is my duty to cover conventions; including yaoi conventions. Another reason I went is that it’s really easy to get to. It’s located right on Route 202 near the King of Prussia Mall.

Nijicon is the first yaoi convention to be held on the east coast. It’s not something I can confirm, but it’s also something I don’t doubt. If you’re looking for guy-on-guy action, you’ve come to the right place. I wasn’t, so I was a bit concerned about going honestly. Then again, this isn’t my first rodeo, so I should be able to handle whatever happens. Nijicon, in practice, is basically a familiar dish with an unusual flavor. It has all the basic convention trappings, but slightly skewed in favor of the yaoi fangirl.

Nijicon also distinguishes itself by being one of the most LGBTQ-friendly conventions you can find this side of Japan. The logic goes that non-hetrosexual male characters should not just be for female flapping, but are interesting characters in their own right. They shouldn’t be limited to mere side characters and are actually capable of carrying the story by themselves. In the name of consistency, Nijicon accepts and welcome those who are LGBTQ. They back that up by showing several movies featuring gay male characters as protagonists. In order to cover Nijicon in an effective manner, I elected to skip those movies in order to fully investigate other areas.

Stuff, stuff, and more stuff!

Stuff, stuff, and more stuff!

One area I focused on was the vendor’s room. And they’ve got yaoi! Not just fanservice pictures or smutty doujinshi, but actual publishers. The SL Publishing Group was there, selling their novels and manga. They stated that reading the first sentence in any of their novels would perfectly explain the style of their work. I did, and it says, “I am a slut.” They don’t beat around the bush at SL (or maybe they do? wink wink). Yaoipress.com was there as well, and they gave me a copy of their first physical book, Royal Pain. Reading the back blurb give me the feeling that its the type of story you find on Liteorica.

When I got to the back of the vendors room, The Prince of Tennis musical was playing on a TV. I will never not be amused by that. I didn’t think anything could top a Prince of Tennis musical, but I was wrong. Japan has also produced a stage play based off of bicycle racing. Bicycle. Racing. Just thinking about that confuses me. I’m gonna buy the soundtrack for one of the Prince of Tennis musicals and move on.

The most interesting work I ran into was Artifice. A killing machine has run amok and the only way to stop it is with… talk therapy! As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s actually really intriguing. We see renegade killing machines all the time in popular culture, but no one ever tries to talk to them and try to figure them out. It’s a refreshing concept.

No convention is complete without cosplay!

No convention is complete without cosplay!

Another convention staple was the panels. Yaoi panels; as far as the eye can see. If you want yaoi panels, you came to the right place. Due to uh, time constraints… yes, time constraints… I was unable to verify the quality of the yaoi panels. I even missed the 2:30 PM BDSM panel. You read that right; PM. It was shocking to see an adult panel at that time slot, and I mean that in a good way. Eighteen-plus panels are some of the best times you can have at a convention, and it’s nice to go to one before 10pm. Finally, a convention that caters to adult sensibilities! I can finally ask all those theoretical sex questions that have been plaguing me for years. While non-yaoi panels were clearly the minority at Nijicon, they were represented there. There were panels about cosplay makeup, professional development, adapting to the marketplace, and Plushie Porn Theater. I missed that last one, but it just feels like a winner to me.

Guest selection was more of a mixed bag. The yaoi production community came out in full force, and was ignored for the most part. Yaoi, in some aspects, is porn; and when it comes to porn, I want to know as little about the people who make it as possible. I guess the other attendees felt the same way. Greg Wicker (now on Pateron!) was kind enough to grace the halls of Nijicon. He brought his one-of-a-kind convention game show to entertain the crowds. Playing to the local vibe, he recruited an “expert” to assist him in generating yaoi-themed questions for his shows.

The biggest performance for everyone was seeing Cosplay Burlesque perform. If you don’t know what it is, imagine a cosplay masquerade with trained performers and more fanservice. Those people filled up more then a few panels in the Mid-Atlantic convention scene. It’s nice to be able to see one of their shows in a more intimate atmosphere. In general, it’s nice to be able to attend their shows in general, as I’ve been turned away in the past due to capacity being filled. I even got into a front row seat! You can really appreciate their “dance moves.” Even in a non-sexual way! You could even enjoy a fine cup of wine during the show. You can’t do that at ANIMENext!

I wonder where all the boys are?

I wonder where all the boys are?

ANIMENext does have something that Nijicon doesn’t; namely attendance. In terms of how many people there were, the number of attendees were outnumbered by the cast of Naruto. Okay, that’s not saying much since the cast of Naruto is really big; but the point is that the numbers were far below projections. Of the sixty people who volunteered to help, only five showed up (that’s an eight percent success rate, which may actually be quite good though). I personally estimate the number of attendees to be somewhere between thirty and fifty people. That’s too bad, because Nijicon puts on a pretty good show.

They spent two years in development in order to get it right, and they’ve largely done so. Anyone who’s been to a convention before will feel right at home at Nijicon. You can tell they put some thought into it. For example, they put a sign that says, “The Con Stops here!” on the boundary between their jurisdiction and the rest of the hotel. Cons can get quite rowdy, so an established boundary can be useful in ensuring that it doesn’t spill over onto the general population (although sometimes its the convention that needs to be protected from the general population). They even have a cooler full of soda for con goers and free Wi-Fi! Free Wi-Fi! Does Otakon have free Wi-fi? NO!

If Yaoi is your thing, then Nijicon is your thing. It’s the place where the yaoi fangirl can run free, free as the wind! Let their hearts soar and their minds revel in their yaoi fantasies. Even as a person who prefers to stay far away from such things, I appreciate the fact that Nijicon treats everyone like adults who can engage in mature (or in some cases, really immature) behavior without fear of shocking the little ones. It’s… refreshing.

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