Anime Banzai 2008 - Day One
This report is available at J LHLS and Manic About Manga. Feel free to check them out!
The weekend of October 24 and 25 there was an anime convention held in Salt Lake City, Utah. I'm divulging huge information here, because this anime convention was held near my hometown. The End of the World Anime Club at Salt Lake Community College organized this convention. I had the chance to visit for a moment with one of the club members who also helped to organize this con. She told me that this is the 4th year that they've held the convention. It was held at the convention center in the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. She informed me that this was the second year at this location. It has grown every year that they hold the convention and that they are aiming to create enough buzz and turn it into a three day con.
I am a newbie to the whole anime/manga world. Even though I do a lot of manga reviews in a couple of places, I only started to watch anime at the end of 2007 and I started to read manga at the beginning of 2008. Which means I've never been to a convention. Since SLC is a much smaller city compared to the likes of New York City and Los Angeles, I knew that it wouldn't be as flashy as conventions held in those cities. I have to admit that it was pretty impressive. They had some big name guests lined up: Vic Mignogna, Sonny Strait, and Tiffany Grant. Remember, I'm a newb so the only names I knew were Sonny Strait (the voice of Seiji Mido in Tsukuyomi MoonPhase), and Tiffany Grant (Kuriko in Maburaho). There were some fun exhibitors in the Exhibitor Room. Here is my report of the first day at Anime Banzai.
I know in other con reports you all get pictures of the fabulous cosplayers. Since this was my first con I didn't bring a camera with me. D'OH! There were so many beautiful costumes. The first cosplayers I visited with were two adorable girls in schoolgirl uniforms. I took the opportunity to ask a few questions to these girls on why they chose to cosplay, the types of anime and manga they enjoy, and any advice that they would give a newcomer. They told me that dressing up is fun because you get a lot of attention. One girl enjoys shojo and yaoi titles (a girl after my own heart) while the other schoolgirl liked shonen titles. That was one thing I noticed there are a lot girls who love shonen titles. I stopped and visited with "Ash" and "Pikachu" cosplayers (from Pokemon) and another gal from an anime that I now can't remember (if you're reading this, sorry!) I wanted to know why they cosplay and general questions about their costumes. They really were amazing to look at. They told me that they made the costumes themselves. They were so well crafted. "Ash" said that the awesome thing about making your own costumes is the joy one feels when you step into a thrift store to get your basic blue shirt and then turn it into an "Ash" jacket. Another reason for cosplaying is the attention from others that you get. I had the chance to visit with a couple that was cosplaying from a SquareEnix video game from the late nineties or early 2000's. They had profound thoughts on cosplaying. One reason she gave me was that low self-esteem made it possible because when you cosplay you are portraying someone else. You can get lost in the character. It's also an ego booster. When you show up in a costume people are constantly telling you how great you look and how awesome your costumes are (and this couple had amazing handmade costumes) and people are constantly wanting to take your picture.
One thing I noticed is how many hugs that were going around. Since I'm kind of a huggy person, I found myself hugging Axel from Kingdom Hearts II, a girl in a Chinese dress, and several other different characters that I had no idea who they were.
I chose not to cosplay for my first time around. Yet I got some good advice. It was suggested that a great way to get introduced into cosplay is to start with the cat ears and move on from there. I did, however, wear one of my goofy T-shirts that I am famous for. It also got some attention. Thanks to my T-shirt a very interesting and helpful guy snagged me. He was cosplaying as a very obscure anime character. I asked about the reason for cosplaying and what might be some good titles and genres to check out. He was a fountain of information. It was so fun to see him describe different series with such fervor. There was even a moment when he and another fan discussed the dramatic/comedic styling of a particular anime series. It was great!
One of my favorite places I found was the Artist Alley. There were so many amazing artists that were local. I want to spend a little of my time focusing on some of the artists that I had the chance to visit with. Not only was the work amazing, they were interesting people with a lot of helpful tips. I want to dedicate a little more time to these artists in an upcoming posting.
I'll be heading back tomorrow to attend the panel featuring Vic Mignogna, Sonny Strait, and Tiffany Grant. Also I want to check out a few of the panels that they will be holding. Because this was my first con (I know I'm constantly bringing up my newbie status, but it's true) I didn't stay the whole time due to some physical limitations and an anxiety attack. But I look forward to what tomorrow brings and I hope to stay longer!