By John Liu
Northwest Asian Weekly
Super Mario was jumping around Seattle downtown and yes, Batman was eating at Subway among thousands of interesting and strange characters flooding last weekend.
Sakura-Con estimates more than 20,000 people attended this year’s conference on April 18 through April 20 at the Washington State Convention Center. This is the largest anime convention in the Northwest, and is the eighth largest North American anime convention as of 2013, according to Delahanty from AnimeCons.com.
Dressing up as your favorite anime character, video game character, or comic book hero was the norm when attending Sakura-Con. It claimed 80 percent of attendees were in costume for at least one day at the convention.
What do people say about Sakura-Con’s cosplay?
“Too much fantasy. Weird costumes. Weird people.”
“What the heck is cosplay about?”
The majority of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers are lost on the costume thing. “Cosplay” is short for “costume play.” It is a performance art or hobby in which participants wear costumes and use accessories to represent a specific character and has grown in popularity in the last 20 years.
Talk about passion. Some attendees spend $1,000 on the material, and then spend 1,000-plus hours perfecting their costume. You think it’s crazy? It’s no different then an athlete spending thousands of dollars and practicing for hours trying to achieve perfection.
This was my first time at Sakura-Con. No, I didn’t “cosplay.” I was trying to figure out what to see. The last anime series I saw was around 10 years ago. After that, it was the latest U.S. release of Hayao Miyazaki’s cute and adorable animated movies like “Princess Mononoke” and “Spirited Away.”
The convention took up 10,000 square feet. The program schedule alone was 12 pages long. A whole exhibition hall was dedicated strictly to merchandising. I had some time to swing by the arcades, game and card-playing rooms, D&D, and sword demonstrations. More than a dozen rooms were showing continuous anime for hours on end. There was definitely something to do for everyone. The Wii Just Dance 2014 – Psy’s Gentleman was impressive.
What a cool sight to see all these cosplayers dancing together!
My friend David was demonstrating Iaido for the first time at Sakura-Con. I was not expecting many people to go since very few people usually show up at their competitions. But when I entered the Exhibition Hall, there was a decent crowd of 40 people watching the Iaido demonstration. Laido’s ancient sword techniques appeal to attendees because of sword fighting in animes.
One of the demonstrators was in a full set of Samurai armor dating back to the 1800’s. The ironic part was that while others at the convention were cosplaying, Emily was the real deal.
If Sakura-Con sounds familiar to those around Chinatown, that’s because a group of the participants have regularly held a costume contest and marched in the Chinatown Parade, the 2014 Dragonfest, and the Chinatown Seafair Parade every year. If you can’t get enough of cosplay, be sure to stop by Chinatown for those events.
Maybe next year, I’ll dress up too to join the fun! (end)
John Liu can be reached at email@example.com.