Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Lifestyles

September 30, 2012

In praise of animee, manga

Annual Tsubasacon will return to Huntington Oct. 12 through 14

HUNTINGTON — A unique event will return to the Tri-State in October.

In its ninth year, Tsubasacon, a convention celebrating magna, anime and Japanese culture, is set for Oct. 12, 13 and 14 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Musical performers will be The Extraordinary Contraptions; voice actors who are scheduled to attend are Patrick Seitz and Lauren Landa and the graphic novel writer and illustrator Dirk Tiede also will make an appearance.

The convention will offer karaoke, anime viewing rooms, video games rooms, dealer rooms and Artist Alley, a Saturday night rave and a cosplay masquerade ball.

Huntington native Jack Varney, director of marketing for Tsubasacon, said the event, which started in Charleston, W.Va., with fewer than 400 attendees, has grown to more than 1,000 visitors, many of whom come dressed as their favorite character and ready for role-playing games.

“It was started by a group of local, West Virginia college students (anime and manga enthusiasts) who borrowed a few thousand dollars from their parents and friends to develop a convention — the first of its kind in the state,” Varney said. “They had been to other anime conventions around the country and felt it was time for West Virginia to have its own event.”

This year, Varney said, organizers are expecting about 1,400 attendees. That means a bump in the local economy.

Varney said during the three-day period, about 350 hotel rooms are booked and each attendee spends about $50 a day on food and beverages. He said they estimate the total impact on business in the Huntington/Tri-State area is more than $100,000 per year.

“That’s a very conservative number,” he said.

“We also support several charities in the area to ensure we give back to the community,” he said.

While there are many fans, the average age 16 but many are older, from the Tri-State who attend, many come from Indiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Illinois. “You will see many younger kids dressed as their favorite anime character with their parents — that's a sight to see — and you will see some people in their 30s, 40s and 50s still dressed as their favorite anime characters, although from ‘old school’ anime series such as Pokeman,” he said.

Varney said gaming is a popular part of the convention. “Attendees compete for best costume in the cosplay contests,” he said.

The success and growth of Tsubasacon highlights the popularity of anime and magna in the area and, while the impact of the convention is significant, Varney said the convention is about having a good time.

“By wearing their favorite characters’ costumes, (attendees) can escape to the fantasy of their favorite anime series and characters,” he said. “Many of the attendees create their own designs and this adds another who dynamic to the atmosphere of the convention.”

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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