When I was a younger, dumber version of myself, I thought cosplay was stupid. “Why dress up as something?” I wondered. “The coolest kids wear cargo shorts and sandals.” As I grew up, I realized that cosplay is brilliant. What I want, more than anything, is to celebrate my fandom of various TV shows, games, movies, toys, comics, and whatever else. But at the same time, I can feel painfully awkward in social settings. From being at ACen, I learned that cosplay gives you an easy and immediate visual cue as to who likes what. It was a whole network of people who openly advertised their fandom, like if Facebook wasn’t full of dirty liars.
This year’s Anime Central was my first proper anime convention. The main reason I was there was to cover Good Smile Company’s and Bluefin’s booths at the exhibition hall. It felt like a waste to attend just for those things, so I decided to explore and see what would happen. And what happened was, well, the magic of an anime con.
There were a number of appealing panels, but unfortunately they were all slotted at around noon. I chose the Persona panel which had a lot of good info. Afterward I had noticed some cosplay photo sessions. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to those, but since there was time to kill, I stopped by the Final Fantasy session. Good call.
These were basically meet-ups where people cosplaying a certain theme gather, and everyone else is free to take photos of them. They take place outside the convention buildings, so I guess anyone at all could drop by and take pictures. The Final Fantasy session was by far the most popular of the ones I went to, as fans of all the games showed up in costume. The circle of spectators and photographers was pretty dense too, so it was a struggle to get a decent view.
The Final Fantasy cosplayers generally went up in groups according to a theme. When there was a theme that didn’t interest me, I turned to the Metal Gear session. It wasn’t nearly as populous, but it had its gems.
When the Final Fantasy and Metal Gear sessions wound down, there was time to kill before the Evangelion session.
AND THEN THIS HAPPENED.
At the beginning of the Evangelion session, there were only a handful of people so I feared a letdown. But eventually more people showed up, such as this Mari cosplayer.
That’s Sammy Kammy, who spends her time making cosplay items and plush collectibles for commission. The Mass Production Eva in her left hand was her own creation, which she hopes to start producing and selling eventually. I might buy nine of them and start Plush Impact.
Overall the Evangelion session was the most fun. There were enough people to pull off some whacky poses, and it was great being able to chat with people about the series. At least for ACen, I definitely recommend spending time at the cosplay photo shoots. They were my favorite events at the con.
The day didn’t end there, though. I had some unfinished business to take care of in the exhibition hall, so I went back inside.
Back inside I revisited the Bluefin and Good Smile Company booths. On my initial visit, there was a lot of traffic so I kind of rushed through everything. Bluefin’s display was a nightmare to photograph, but Good Smile’s booth had calmed down so I spent some time there. Then I decided to see the rest of the show floor, which is how I ran into these ladies:
They are Carrie (left) and Carolann (right) of Athena’s Wink, who make kickass hats and candles. Obviously Carolann is not a floating purple blob, but her costume was a clever reimagining of LSP and she had the voice and mannerisms down pat.
Eventually, I felt like my feet were about to fall off. I chatted for a while with GSC’s Mamitan, and even got her to autograph a Hachune Miku box for me! On my way out, I remembered something was conspicuously absent. And then I saw him:
Sometimes a cosplayer’s body type doesn’t match up to the character he or she is dressing up as. This guy’s body type fit perfectly. The wonderful sights didn’t disappear as I left the convention center, though.
Gundam Man. Just… Gundam Man. He stood on a hill. He danced his heart out. He did the robot to the music of a stranger’s boombox.
As I began the walk to the parking lot, I decided to dedicate a photo to my companion of the day: