Cosplay · Wildcards

On Animazement 2016: Cosplay, Community, and Panels–Oh My!

animazement 2016 anime convention crowd
background image via The Conmunity

It’s time to talk about an event that holds a special place in my heart: Animazement.

For the past half-decade of my life, I’ve explained to people that I have this strange little hobby of making costumes based on fictional characters, and then wearing those costumes to conventions. Mostly the conversation goes like this:

Me: “One of my weird hobbies is that I dress up and go to anime conventions on some weekends.”

Person: “What’s an anime convention?”

Me: “Do you know Comic-Con?”

Person: “OHHHHH. Yeah. Cool!”

(Let me say right now that I’m very grateful to have friends and acquaintances who, for the most part, react to my weird hobbies by saying “cool!” and asking to see my work. Thank you all for supporting my geekiness.)

Anyway. Animazement of 2010 was my very first convention. I went with a friend and her older sister, just for one day, and I was amazed. (Ani-mazed?) I was so surprised to find such a large gathering of people who liked the weird stuff I liked. I was so surprised to find a community.

Since Animazement is the largest convention in the Carolinas and takes place in Raleigh, barely half an hour from my house, I’ve been back every year since. With costumes. (I’m a creative at heart and I’ve dabbled in all sorts of art, writing being the main one.)

There’s just something intoxicating about a convention. It’s like walking into a candy store if the candy store were full of people who like the same stuff you do. A convention sometimes feels like it operates outside the normal realms of social rules (both in good ways and bad ones)–it’s like one big, strange family. (Especially in the sense that there’s always a creepy uncle or unbearably annoying younger cousin.) It’s a place where you are simultaneously yourself and not yourself, doubly so if you’re in costume.

Conventions have flaws. Many flaws. But conventions have helped me meet some of my closest friends. Never underestimate the power of a shared interest, or of large groups of people gathered to talk nonstop about that interest for 3 days.

Anyway. Animazement 2016. I will be in costume, as usual: Yoko Littner, Sailor Mars, and Belle (of the Disney variety).

I’ve always had a love for strong female characters and badasses–hence my love for Yoko from Gurren Lagann. A costume like Yoko’s is hardly out of place in an anime convention, of course, but it’s a bit out of the ordinary for ME! But I have worked hard on this costume and I’m proud of it, and I will be confident and badass. (It will be refreshing, after years of choosing costumes that are WAY too warm for Raleigh in May, to finally not be burning up.)

I’ve always had a problem with Animazement’s programming–it’s typically very narrow, with the stipulation that everything must be related to Japanese culture or pop culture–but this year there are some offerings I’m excited about. In fact, I will be co-hosting a panel on writing with my friend, indie author Tess Duck!

You can find the Faceboook event here, on the off-chance you’ll be attending. “Doing the ‘Write’ Thing” will encompass some discussion about basic plot and character techniques, using Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood as the example media!

Do any of you have experiences with conventions, anime or otherwise? I know many authors who sell books at comic-cons. Anime conventions might be a little more specialized of a niche.

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