Anime convention a first for Nanaimo

This weekend hundreds of people dressed as Japanese anime characters will pack Vancouver Island Convention Centre for Yukai Con, Nanaimo's first anime convention.

Merill Fabbro

Merill Fabbro

There’s no ‘glomping’ allowed and the dress code is, well, whatever resembles any Japanese cartoon character, so long as it’s not offensive.

This weekend hundreds of people dressed as Japanese anime characters will pack Vancouver Island Conference Centre for Yukai Con, Nanaimo’s first anime convention.

The event, expected to draw hundreds of participants from across B.C. and the U.S. Pacific Northwest, runs Friday to Sunday (Oct. 14-16) and features films, games, vendors, cosplay contests, food, and just about everything else associated with Japanese TV anime and manga comic book culture.

Anime is a form of Japanese animation developed in the 1960s by artist Osamu Tezuka and gained world-wide popularity in the 1980s and ’90s through  TV, film, video games and comic books.

Nanaimo District Secondary School students Larissa Adams and Merill Fabbro organized Yukai Con.

“Anime conventions can range anywhere from 200 to 30,000 [people],” Adams said. “This year we’re expecting 300 to 700. It’s a formal gathering of people who are into Japanese Anime, Manga and the culture in general. Eighty per cent of the people come in cosplay.”

Cosplaying is dressing up as and acting like your favourite character from an Anime, Manga or video game. Adams expects more than 200 participants will be dressed in elaborate costumes.

‘Glomping’ is the act of one character giving the target of his or her affection a crushing hug delivered by a flying tackle, mimicking the cartoon characters’ behaviour. The practice in real life is not always welcomed, can be dangerous and is not allowed at Yukai Con.

The convention’s target audience ranges from age 13 to 30, but Adams expects younger and older participants to turn out too.

If Yukai Con is successful, Adams and Fabbro want to make it an annual event, putting Nanaimo on the anime convention circuit every October.

“With Anime conventions, every year the attendance basically doubles,” Adams said. “So after a while we’re going to have to start getting creative if we want to keep it in Nanaimo.”

Denise Tacon, conference centre general manager, said the convention could open new markets for VICC.

“It’s marvelous,” Tacon said. “It’s a new market for us in essence. There was an even much larger than this celebrated in Vancouver just a few months ago. This is a smaller version of it and I think open up to our region with this industry is perfect. Anything that promotes the region and anything different that’s a positive influence is what we’re looking for.”

For more information about Yukai Con or to register for the event, please visit the convention website at http://yukai-con.webs.com/.