The Anime Expo. Next to the San Diego Comic-Con, it’s one of the biggest cons here in the west coast. Kids, their parents and Otakus like myself, come from far and wide to get their anime on. Like any other convention, the Anime Expo brings together fans of all levels into one single city for one weekend to share in their love and passion for all things Japanese, but mostly the anime. BHHappa talked about this fandom a while back and even though it hasn’t been accepted or welcomed in the past, Eastern and animeÂ influences can be seen all over the place these days. It’s cool to like anime now thanks to Hollywood and Disney. But there’s still a deeper, darker level of fandom seldomly seem by others.
In the grand scheme of things, I don’t consider myself a full blow anime fan. I grew up with Thundercats, Transformers, Gotchamen and a few other shows as kid. I later caught on with all the classic anime movies like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Princess Mononokie etc. All the while keeping up with comics and other American cartoons. So for me it’s not soo much that I found this stuff one day and followed it ever since, rather, as I grew up, so did anime. Sailor Moon, Pokemon, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z the list goes on and on forever.
Then I started watching shows like Cowboy Bebop, Full Metal Alchemist, Trigun, Mobile Suit Gundam, Samurai Shamploo and various other shows that had more than cool robots. These shows tell dramatic, powerful, complex stories that will give any movie a run for it’s money. Whether it’s a story about a civil war, the loss of loved ones, heart ache or just trying to figure out your place in the universe, you tell me what you like and I will find a show that you will like.
At the conventions, cosplay is a big part of the experience. Superfans dress up as their favorite characters for the convention, posing for pictures with admirers of both the character they’re dressed and of the level of craftsmanship people put into their outfits.
Wearing a green wig and a black and purple laced dress, Britney Patrick and her companion didn’t really dress as characters from a show, rather they just wanted to wear costumes. Patrick grew up watching anime like others, and the convention presented her with an opportunity to dress up. She was able to purchase her outfit and accessories online with ease. Her ward drove reflects some of the shows she loves like Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura.
The only limits on cosplay are individuals originality and creativeness, but the more the merrier. While there are people who have outfits of obscure characters or are inside jokes between otakus, others have fun with more popular characters from a show or video game.
Kristen Delgado (Luigi) and Julie Gram (Mario) both said they love dressing up in characters. Both made their costumes ahead of time, coordinating with one another over calls and emails since Delgoda lives in San Jose and Gram in Irvine. They checked in with each other regularly to make sure they both had the right fabrics, going as far as mailing each other sample, creating their dresses to resemble the two plucky plumbers. While Delgado loves the attention she gets from people constantly asking for pictures and poses, both her and Gram admit that it get’s tiring at times, “because we don’t get time to go look around or take pictures with other people whose outfits we like” said Gram.
Then there are fans like Kendra Mc Peete that spend months creating their costumes. “I started dressing up when I went to my first convention when I was seven years old. I dressed up as a clingon to a Star Trek convention my parents took me to,” says Mc Peete. Her “Starcream” outfit is composed of foam, cardboard and a few other materials here and there. She said she initially got the idea and concept from a shirt she has and started working from there. Her costume is functions to not only resemble the decepticon fighter jet, but so she can walk around and use the bathroom when needed. She describes that the only draw backs walking around all day in the costume, overheating inside and making sure that the costume stays intact. As it was, her shoulders were being held together by zip ties as the parts ripped and tore throughout the day.
No matter what your favorite show is, who you’re dressed as or whether you’re a hardcore or casual anime fan. One thing is certain. Everyone goes to the cons to have fun and share their passion and love for all things nerdy and that includes comics, anime and video games. In this community, no is made fun of, harassed or put down, it’s all good here. That’s because for one weekend, the outcast and misfits take over and are free to be who they wanna be with no consequences outside of bad pictures. This is the kind of environment in which you can be yourself, whether that’s a 25 year old anime fan or the spirit of a dying demon trapped inside the body of a teenage boy who must over come his shyness for girls in order to save the princess and confess his love for her before the forces of evil sacrifice her spirit to the gods.