If you’ve spent the last year or two getting into anime, you’re not alone. Interest in the Japanese-born animation genre and its countless series and movies is at an all-time high, thanks in part to COVID-19.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, millions of people watched anime on various streaming services, causing its popularity to skyrocket. In fact, the anime industry brought in an estimated $24.80 billion last year, according to business consulting firm Grand View Research.
In other words, it wasn’t just otaku and weebs who enjoyed shows that Naruto, Dragon Ball Zor One Punch Man during lockdown.
The public’s awareness of anime also spilled over into all things related to the genre, including events like Phoenix’s annual Saboten Con.
Organizer Greg Fennell said so Phoenix New Times attendance at last year’s event hit 23,000 people, almost double the 2019 turnout.
“As everyone was [under lockdown], they started watching anime during the pandemic, and that brought a lot more people into the industry, he says. “I think that’s what caused the big growth we had last year and it’s continuing this year.”
As such, Fennell expects an even bigger turnout at Saboten Con 2022, which runs from Friday 2 September through Monday, September 5 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 340 North Third Street. The event focuses on anime, manga and Japanese pop culture and features four days of panels, activities, concerts, games, cosplay and performances by voice actors and other special guests.
If you’re new to anime and want to attend, we’ve put together a guide to this year’s con with everything you need to know.
When and where is Saboten Con 2022?
The four-day event runs over the Labor Day weekend from Friday 2 September through Monday, September 5 inside the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 340 North Third Street.
What are the opening hours?
It depends on which part of the problem you are talking about. The exhibition hall, for example, closes relatively early in the evening, while the programming runs into the small hours every night. Here is a complete overview of Saboten Con’s opening hours:
Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m
Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m
Sunday at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m
The exhibition hall
Friday, noon to 8 p.m
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m
Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m
Friday at 1 p.m. to 2 a.m
Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m
Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m
Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m
How much does admission cost?
If you purchase online in advance, daily general admission is $25 on Friday, $35 on Saturday and Sunday, $20 on Monday and $60 for a full event pass. (Prices for each option are $5 more when purchased at the event.)
An “Otaku Pass” is also available for $450 and is only available to a limited number of participants. That includes early access to the exhibit hall, a VIP merchandise package, the chance to attend a private mixer with special guests and staff, prime seating at panels and other perks.
Are there age limits?
No. Saboten Con is an event for all ages, and children, teenagers and families are encouraged to attend. However, keep in mind that certain topics on panels or screenings may be more mature or restricted to those 18 or older (check the programming guide for more information).
How do I get there?
If possible, take the light rail. It will save you time, money and trouble. Trust us. Valley Metro park-and-ride spaces are available along the route, there are stations within walking distance of the hotel, and fares are either $2 (for a single ride) or $4 (for an all-day pass).
Where can I park?
If you are a person who needs to drive, due to a complex costume or other reasons, the good news is that downtown offers a mix of surface, structure and street parking. Parking at the hotel itself will cost you $29 per day, while rates at nearby garages, structures and surface areas range from $10 (CityScape, Jefferson Street Garage) to $20 (Collier Center, Chase Tower) per day. Street parking is also available throughout the city center, but you must pay up to $1.50 per hour from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily.
How will the weather be?
Very hot. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for the valley this weekend, and temperatures will reach a high of 105 degrees on Friday and reach 108 degrees Saturday through Monday. In other words, stay hydrated (especially if you’re in costume), stay inside as much as possible, and rest as needed.
What will be in the exhibition hall?
Practically everything related to anime, manga or J-culture in general will be for sale in Saboten Con’s expansive exhibition hall at the hotel. More than 70 participating vendors and booths at the event will offer a wealth of cosplay items and costumes, as well as artwork, books, DVDs, games, music, books, collectibles, toys and other toys.
How will the programming be?
To put it mildly, there will be a lot going on during all four days of Saboten Con. The program schedule features more than 500 different events, including activities such as anime viewing parties, game battles, lip sync battles, maid cafes, fan fiction readings, dance parties, trivia contests, animated music video contests, art workshops, and karaoke sessions. Live entertainment is also planned, such as traditional concerts, karaoke sessions and more.
Who are the special guests this year?
According to the Saboten Con website, this year’s guest list includes artists, voice acting talent, performers, cosplayers and a few notable figures in animation. The complete list is as follows.
Dave Fennoy (RWBY, Minecraft)
Corina Boettger (One Punch Man, Genshin effect)
Sandy Fox (Cowboy Bebop, Naruto)
Lex Lang (Bleach, Lupine the Third)
Hirokatsu Kihara (former Studio Ghibli production coordinator)
Melon Batake A Go-Go (rockabilly idol group)
Kazha (J rock band)
MVP Elite (K-pop dance team)
Cassandra Hershey (Lovelymixar)
Beth Hodgson (Kaolinite Dreams)
Joshua Scott and Deanna Stutesman (Urban Weeb)
Armand Villavert (Zap!)
Karina Moreno (illustrator)
Ariel Medilo (Exodam Artworks)
Susan Lake (designer)
Santino Arturo (Evil Robo presents)
Michael “Knightmage” Wilson
Bebe Alkaid Cosplay
How is Cosplay at Saboten Con?
It is one of the cornerstones of the event, and there will be more than 100 different panels and workshops dedicated to cosplay-related topics. Want to learn how to get into the hunt and make your own costume? There are several tutorials on how to do just that, as well as tutorials on how to construct armor, learn embroidery, develop a character, build your cosplay self-esteem, stay within a certain budget, network with others and outfit in style .
One of the weekend’s biggest cosplay events will be the annual Saboten Con masquerade on Sunday night at 8:00 PM in the Valley of the Sun Ballroom, which will feature skits, performances and some of the most impressive and elaborate costumes seen at the convention. .
However, as with any event involving costumes, Saboten Con requires a certain amount of respect for cosplayers, so be sure to ask permission before taking photos of anyone.
What should I bring?
Besides a face covering or mask, comfortable footwear is also an excellent idea, as is an ID if you want to get into the adult programming, and a camera to take pictures of all the memorable costumes and experiences. And if you’re planning to pick up a few things at the vendor hall or buy some water from a vendor, cash is always good, and an appropriately sized bag to carry your transport is even better.
What should I not bring?
Since respect is of the utmost importance at any event like Saboten Con, leave any intolerant, impatient, belligerent or creeping attitude at home. And while prop guns are allowed, you should refrain from bringing actual guns to the event.