It wasn’t Comic-Con, but enthusiasm abounded the weekend of October 21st-23rd as thousands met for the annual Anime Banzai, a convention filled with costumes, games and, you guessed it, anime.
The Anime Banzai, however impressive it is now, had humble beginnings that started closer to home than Salt Lake Community College students might know. It was born right here at SLCC, on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
In 2005, anime, the abbreviated word for animation in Japan, was “the next big thing.” Actually, it had been for nearly a decade or two before that time, even though the bug hadn’t bitten hard enough in Salt Lake to show.
The efforts of students in SLCC’s End of the World anime club changed all that, as they worked to create Utah’s first anime convention, which was held on October 15th, 2005. And the Convention hasn’t stopped since, although some changes have been made. As interest was garnered the shift from SLCC’s Student Center to the Sheraton Hotel downtown, and now to the Davis Conference Center was inevitable and the only way to handle the influx of interest. 2010’s attendance was upwards of 3,000 people.
This year marked the Banzai’s second convention at the Davis Conference Center, and the sixth year total of the Anime Banzai, “an educational convention focusing on Japanese anime (animation), manga (comics) and culture,” according to its website.
A few of the traditional activities were present this year, including the Swap Meet and multiple Iron Fanart competitions. In these competitions, a group of artists are given a theme to create an image by, earning a prize at the end for best art piece. Cosplay Chess, a living, breathing version of chess including props and participants was there and Convention Survival was also part of the weekend.
Quite a few new events were added to the lineup as well. Some notable ones were panels discussing the 25 Years of Zelda, the Axis Powers Hetalia Fan Panel, a series in which countries are personified as people and the Studio Ghibli Fan Panel, covering the history of the team that brought forth movies from My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service to Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.
Social conduct was covered in How to Talk to the Geeky Opposite Sex, while conflict resolution was learned in How to (Avoid) Trolls.
This year the Anime Banzai bore the theme of “Steampunk,” a visual aesthetic in which Victorian-age high society meets Cyberpunk accessorizing, such as steam-driven mechanized robots, tinted-glass goggles and gears. With that in mind a variety of craft-oriented presentations were held. For those who are costume-inclined, a specific brand of dressing up called “cosplay,” meaning costume plus play, was presented.
Armor Options for All Day Wear, Basics of Patterning, Easy Steampunk Rings, Building and Fitting a Corset, Long Fitted Coats in Period and Clothes v. Costumes: Surviving Your Creativity were but a few examples from this year’s workshop lineup. Talented artist and author Tanglwyst de Holloway, aka Tonya Adolfson, was the presenter of many of these events. She has worked as a costumer for 23 years, much of it at Southern Utah University and the Utah Shakespearean Festival.
Make and Take Kitty Ears and Wigs 101 also existed among other events for those going the traditional cosplay route, and Cosplay Photography 101 was held for those on the other side of the camera.
This was also a great Con (“convention”) for individuals with the inspiration to write and create, as panels and instructions were presented regarding Dealing with Criticism, Creating Likeable Characters, Fanfiction to Fiction, Self-Publishing, World Building and a favorite in the form of Sacrificing Your Favorite Scene for the Sake of the Story.
There were also events for those learning how to start out in art and find careers in the industry. Con-goers could also be taught about creating a movie in 90 minutes with a handheld video camera or camera phone.
Special guests included voice actors such as Chuck Huber and Lisle Wilkerson, radio personalities like Steve Nunez and those working in animation production, like Jan Scott-Frazier. A real highlight as well was the appearance of artist Wendy Pini, one of the creators of the Elfquest comic book series and an individual who has laid the groundwork for women in the world of comics. She was present for panels as well as one-on-one discussion in the Artist Alley, a section set aside for local artist to display and sell their work.
The Anime Banzai was a thrilling event full of activities for fans of every shape and size. From the creative to the intellectual to those who were all about visual costuming, the Anime Banzai was an enjoyable event that will be coming back again next year with even more to look forward to.
To learn more about Anime Banzai visit their website, animebanzai.org.