The anime convention brings fans together in Charlotte to ring in the New Year.
Once again I spent my New Year with a bunch of weird people. Fortunately I’m not talking about my family this time, or even my roommates. As I sat in a crowded room discussing “Detective Conan,” the countdown began. Negan from “The Walking Dead” was the loudest, along with the Barbarian Powerpuff Girl and the entire Ouran host club. This may sound crazy, but I promise I am not delusional; just at Ichibancon, an anime convention. Ichibancon is Charlotte’s anime, gaming and Japanese culture convention, taking place in January of every year. They’re the second largest anime convention in the Carolinas and cater to all ages and fans new and old. However this is information you could get from the Facebook page. In fact, that’s exactly where it came from.
I’m here to share my adventures of the new year and to convince you to join me next time.
The main event of Ichibancon is the cosplay. Which isn’t really an ‘event,’ but it is what everyone is looking forward to. The cosplays range from Disney Princesses to video game characters to tv shows. I was fortunate enough to see all of these and many more at one of the cosplay contests, and let me tell you, there’s nothing like watching the “Overwatch” bunnies go against Archer (from “Archer”) and then losing against an elder Sophie (“Howl’s Moving Castle”).
I decided to take the time to speak to a few cosplayers. First I spoke to a young women dressed as Spike Spiegel from “Cowboy Bebop”; luckily she was not offended when I asked what character she was portraying. The woman, Sam, has been cosplaying for two years and her costume that day was simple to make and cheap to assemble, which is an advantage when there’s three more days and three separate characters to make. Sam expressed how important ingenuity is on a budget and used her renovated popsicle gun as an example. I also spoke with Adam, an elderly man dressed as Natsu Dragneel from “Fairy Tail.” His costume was quite elaborate, from the strappy sandals to the pink wig he adorned. While the event began at 9am that day, he was awake by 6 to assemble his masterpiece. Adam began making his costume in November with Ichibancon in mind.
Cosplay is such an avocation because it transcends gender, age and any other restriction you could think of, including your wallet.
As a convention based heavily on Japanese culture, video games and anime, the panels are influenced as such. Ranging from half an hour to three hours, different groups host events, discussions, performances and contests in the rooms provided. Event 1 could be having a discussion panel Steven Universe while Event 3 is video game jeopardy. They’re all pretty unique and interest based. Have you been dying to share your opinion on “Naruto,” “Detective Conan” or “Soul Eater?” There’s a panel for it.
Deadly Games (and other activities)
After all of these culture references, you could be feeling a bit lost. If you are not greatly invested in anime or anime themes, there’s plenty more to do. During the entire four day event of Ichibancon there is a game room with dozens of games and consoles at your disposal. There’s also a huge pyramid competition of “Super Smash Bros.” There’s also Otaku market and Art dealer’s room. In the Otaku market, there are literally millions of items available for purchase; in an enormous room there are costumes, katanas, plushies, posters….you name it, they’ve got it. Whereas the Art dealer’s room is a bit on a smaller scale. The art dealer’s room focuses on the creations of the artist and sell their work at Ichibancon. While it is on a smaller scale than the Otaku market, it is often more original and well-made. These items include hand drawn pictures, jewelry and other trinkets. All three of these events are open during most of the day and you are free to go in and out of each room with a badge.
Ichibancon also reserves a few times for games, dances and comedy. This year they had card games, including “Werewolf” (I lost) and “Cards Against Humanity” (I lost again). Additionally, there was a great variety in dances; there were glow stick dances, DJ performances and a formal ball. My favorite event every year is by far Laugh Out Loud (LOL), an improv group. LOL features students from the University of Georgia; this year the comedians were Zack Pippin, Thomas Sicay-Perrow, Tyler Davis and Khain Ladely. Always able to get a crowd roaring.