Kawaii Kon 2022: A Bumpy, But Welcome Return

Kawaii Kon 2022

Kawaii Kon 2022 was the first large gathering of nerds on Oahu since 2019.  There were some small bumps in the road, but overall it was a fun experience and it was good to be back.

By all accounts, Kawaii Kon 2022 was their most successful event yet.  According to the numbers released at closing ceremonies, 17,848 attendees visited the con during the three day weekend.  The last convention in 2019, which was the biggest to date, had 13,076 attendees.  It seems the desire to attend the con has built over the 3 year hiatus and we were all eager to get back.

The convention had many precautions in place to help attendees feel safe.  The pandemic is certainly not over, but with mitigating efforts in place, it was a calculated risk that was worth it to many.  All attendees needed to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.  Masks were also required on all convention property with an exception for presenters.  For the most part the mask rules were followed.  I can count the number of people who disregarded this rule on one hand.

Unfortunately, the sister convention, Comic Con Honolulu, will not be happening this summer.  There’s apparently been some problems booking guests, so it’ll take another year for this one to get back on its feet.  Considering the struggles Kawaii Kon had this year, this is probably a wise choice.  Let’s make the first Comic Con Honolulu back after the hiatus a success.  We don’t need to rush out two conventions with problems immediately. 

Overall, despite the bumps in the road, I would consider Kawaii Kon 2022 a smashing success.  I look forward to next year’s event.

Kawaii Kon 2022 Cosplay Contest

The cosplay contest had many absolutely stellar submissions. It was a joy to see these in person again.  For the past couple of years, most of us have been watching cosplayers from afar, enjoying their creations on social media as they post them but not able to attend any major gatherings due the pandemic.  Nothing beats seeing beautiful costumes in person, though.  It’s truly a joy to see.

The cosplay contest is usually one of the more popular events of the con, and this year was no different.  The audience was packed and there were a couple of dozen entrants ready to show off their creations to the crowd.  Costumes ranged from the expected anime and video game content, to classic comics, to original characters.  Prizes were awarded for Best Youth, Best Novice, Journeyman’s Award, Fan Favorite, Best Presentation, Masterclass, and Three Judge’s Choice Awards (1, 2, 3).  

Excellent Themed Drinks in the Exhibit Hall

"Mana Potion" drinkThe Dealer’s Room and Artist Alley is always a highlight of any convention.  Supporting artists and local business while expanding your geek merch collection is a win-win for all parties involved.  I even found some Our Flag Means Death merchandise, which wasn’t at all expected.  This is an anime con and the show is incredibly new, but it was there.  I was happy to fork over the cash for it, though, and I’ll be rocking my new Blackbeard tote bag as soon as I can.

One of the lesser talked about aspects of the exhibit hall were the themed drinks that were made available.  The four themed drinks included Mana Potion, Goblin Blood, Health Potion, and Defense Elixir.  They were pricey at $15 a pop, but they were heavy pours (at least with the guy who made mine) and a fun break from the chaos of the con.

Besides, getting people tipsy and unleashing them into an area for shopping is just excellent planning.  Those charms you passed earlier suddenly look a lot more affordable at second glance!  Get tipsy.  Go shopping.  Support small business.

Kawaii Kon 2022’s Struggles

The convention wasn’t perfect, but I’m not sure who expected it to be.  We’re all terribly out of practice after three years away and there was always bound to be some struggles.  I don’t think anyone is going to be able to bounce back flawlessly.  Even San Diego Comic-Con is having a few struggles as the summer con approaches. 

In this case, the biggest joy killers were the lines.  The registration line during the first day of the convention was several hours long, according to some reports.  When I went on Saturday for badge pick up I only waited about 20 minutes, but the line for those who hadn’t pre-registered still seemed incredibly long for day two.  Part of the problem was likely the extremely high attendance, but also the added COVID-19 vaccine checks.  While that latter issue was done rather swiftly, it was still an added step to the process.  A necessary one, however, if we want to have our conventions back.

Likewise, the line for the Cosplay Contest was a bit of a mess, with confusion over which of the lines upstairs was for that event, and which was for other events nearby.  Once the correct line was found, a volunteer urged us to ‘squeeze together’ and ‘get friendly’ with other people in line.  This seems remarkably tone deaf during a pandemic.  With all the other precautions that the con put in place, this felt incredibly out of place.

To top it all off, we were let into the room more than ten minutes after the event should have begun, making those of us who had dinner reservations later in the evening a bit anxious.  Thankfully the event ran fairly short and we made it to dinner a bit early.

Stay Tuned for More


Kawaii Kon 2022 has come to a close.  Without Comic Con Honolulu, the next major geek gathering will be next year’s Kawaii Kon, which is set to take place on March 31st through April 2nd.  That’s right! We get an April Fool’s Day con!  

Our coverage of this year’s event isn’t quite over, though.  I presented two panels at the convention: The Otaku Year(s) In Queer and Hero Analysis for the Future: The Science of BNHA quirks.  Both will be uploaded to The Geekiary’s YouTube channel, so stay tuned for more!

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.


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