By Matt Krafy
What do you get when you combine elaborate costumes, gaming and the largest indoor waterpark in America? The answer is ColossalCon 8. The 8th annual anime, gaming and Japanese culture convention will be held at the Kalahari Convention Center in Sandusky from June 4-7. Though pre-event registration is closed, a pass for the entire four days can be purchased at the door for $40, as can lower-priced one day passes.
The event is teeming with things to see and experience, including artwork galleries, video screenings, special celebrity guests and a wide variety of panels discussing topics including costume design, Japanese warfare and voice acting. There are also a number of events tailored to fans of individual shows like Dragon Ball Z, Gundam Wing and Naruto. A full schedule of all guest speakers and workshops, video showings, and panels is posted on the convention’s official website, Colossalcon.com.
The planners promise on the website that the event will have “two cosplays, two dances, an awesome game room, unique and entertaining panels, and video rooms that cater to everyone.”
Cosplay (short for costume play) in particular is the central thread that holds this anime festival together. For those who don’t know, it involves fans dressing up as a character from their favorite anime, in a costume often designed and created by the wearer. In addition to simply walking around in costume and mingling, there are multiple cosplay events, in which costumed fans can perform skits based on their particular characters, and contests during which they’ll be judged on whose costume is the best.
Matt Morgan, owner of comic, gaming and anime store The Hero Zone (located at 137 E. Market Street, Sandusky) has a passion for anime and believes that a convention like ColossalCon is a great way for fans of the genre — or a particular anime or character — to come out and interact with other people who share their passion.
Fans of Japanese animation are very devoted to the art form. According to Morgan, the reason is simply that “when you are presented with a really good story, people attach themselves to the characters; cosplay is a great outlet for that. Also, it’s nice to be among other people who share your enthusiasm.”
While dressing in costume may not be everyone‘s idea of a good time, for many convention goers it is the highlight, though often for different reasons. Morgan cites competition and self-expression as the two main reasons fans cosplay. “People like to dress up and pretend to be characters who they relate to themselves, ” he said.
He pointed out that some participants simply relish the opportunity to “get out of their own skin” and show their appreciation for a particular story or character, while others are in it to be recognized, craving “the challenge of designing and creating a difficult costume from scratch and competing to be the best.”
Whether you have been working on a costume for months in preparation for the event or are just finding out about it now, ColossalCon is sure to have something to interest everyone. Cosplay contests, game shows, karaoke, dances, guest speakers and a goldmine of classic anime shown in two different video rooms should ensure that no fan is left bored.
As for convention etiquette, if you see someone in an outlandish costume that piques your curiosity, don’t hesitate to ask questions, as Morgan explained that most cosplayers will be happy to tell you about their costume.
“Generally, asking questions is in a sense a compliment,” Morgan said. “Asking someone about their costume and showing interest is a good way to learn, as most are more than willing to tell you about their specific character.”
However, Morgan warned, “Always ask to take pictures. Ninety-five percent of the time people don’t mind posing, but it is bad etiquette not to ask.”