Tsubasacon draws thousands of fans to downtown

October 8, 2018
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Day two of Tsubasacon 2018 takes place on Saturday at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON – Halloween may be a couple weeks away, but downtown Huntington may have looked to some like trick-or-treat came early, as hundreds of cosplayers, anime fans and other pop culture enthusiasts flocked to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena for the 15th annual three-day convention that is Tsubasacon.

While Tsubasacon is an anime convention, it is the intersection of many fandoms, including video games and comics, and as one volunteer said, it is a place where people who are usually not comfortable can be comfortable.

New to this year’s Tsubasacon is the J Fashion Tea Party, which will take place Sunday at The Cellar Door. The tea party, which sold out, has a strict dress code for its participants: only Lolita, kimono and other J-fashion outfits are permitted. Lolita fashion is a Japanese subculture in which people, mostly women, wear outfits that are inspired by Victorian-era children’s clothing – much like a fancy doll.

And, of course, there are cosplayers – the people dressed up in costumes of varying levels of intricacy that are inspired by their favorite characters. Cosplayers invest hundreds of dollars and hours crafting their costumes and learning the skills necessary to do so.

Rick Eid, a network administrator by trade, was dressed as a blend of a “Fallout 76” character and an Overwatch character at his third Tsubasacon. He said his costume took three weeks to make, which would have been longer without the help of a 3D printer.

Eid said he got into cosplaying because he loved dressing up for Halloween as a kid. His love for costumes escalated as he got older and began dabbling in making his own special effects.

“Taking the characters from the games and the movies I love and replicating it and building it from scratch, I get done and I’m like, ‘Dude, I made that.’ It’s a great feeling,” Eid said. “Then you put it on and parade it around and people are like, ‘Wow, that’s so cool!’ The praise is great, but I think the most fun is actually the crafting portion.”

Eid said cosplaying is also an opportunity to spend time with his 6-year-old son, who collaborates on costumes with him. Eid said he is currently working on an Iron Man costume, which will include electronic functions.

Not every cosplay is as intricate as Eid’s, nor does it have to be.

Apryl Shannon is the cosplay coordinator at Tsubasacon. She said the cosplay contests at the convention are not only about who has the best cosplays, but it is about teaching aspiring cosplayers all the skills necessary to make their hands do what their brain wants them to do. She said watching cosplayers improve from year to year gives her a sense of pride.

“It’s like the first time you see your kid ride a bike,” Shannon said.

Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter and Facebook @megosborneHD.

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