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Yukiho Tanaka, left, shakes hands with Danielle Kemper at Sabaku Con Friday. Kemper is a professional cosplayer that suites up a fuzzy during conventions, while Tanaka visited from Japan to attend Sabaku Con, making up a diverse crowd of cosplayers and attendees.
Yukiho Tanaka, left, shakes hands with Danielle Kemper at Sabaku Con Friday. Kemper is a professional cosplayer that suites up a fuzzy during conventions, while Tanaka visited from Japan to attend Sabaku Con, making up a diverse crowd of cosplayers and attendees.

Sabaku Con brings together anime fandoms

Sabaku Con is an anime and Japanese pop-culture convention created to help build the anime fan community, according to Sabaku Con’s website.

There was no shortage of cosplayers, among whom was Ichigo from “Bleach,” Sebastian from “Black Butler” and even Link from the “Legend of Zelda” franchise.

Crystal Graziano, a professional illustrator and cosplayer, said some people do make money through costuming, but cosplay — short for ‘costume play’ — tends to be more than just a job.

“Cosplay (is) a way to express yourself and your fandom,” she said. “It’s also a way to meet people that will be important to you for the rest of your life. I met my husband through cosplay, and some of my best friends. It’s an expression of love.”

Graziano, who held a panel called Cosplay 101, said cosplay technically started in the United States via “Star Trek” conventions.

A Japanese artist named Nobuyuki Takahashi of Studio Hard saw the costumes at the 1984 “Star Trek” convention in Los Angeles and was inspired. The term ‘cosplay’ was coined in Japan.

Danielle Kemper, a professional cosplayer and light and sound technician for Sabaku Con, said she typically wears animal costumes that can range in price. Her most iconic costume ran her about $4,000.

“I started doing commercials as a little kid,” Kemper said. “I cosplay as animals because I like to puppeteer the animals, and bringing something that is realistic but something that looks like it could have walked out of a movie.”

She said she has been cosplaying for 16 years and enjoys the reactions she receives from people .

Sean Crawley, a volunteer for Sabaku Con, said the convention is a way to celebrate all of the feats that animation has had, as well as get to learn about new fandoms.

“Anime is about getting to know the character and learning about the flaws of the character on a one-on-one basis,” Crawley said. “It becomes more personal.”

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Donovan McIntire, a junior elementary education major and attendee of Sabaku Con, said he cosplays with his fiancée K’dawn Butler as a way to bring people together and discuss similar fandoms.

“Anime is highly stylized; it’s its own thing,” McIntire said. “We were 7 or 8 and watching “Pokémon,” then we realized there was more to it than just “Pokémon” and watched different series as we got older.”

Butler, who has been cosplaying for six years, said that cosplay is a way to connect with a character or a series as a creative outlet or a way to have fun with friends.

“I cosplay to show my fandoms,” Butler said. “For my first cosplay I dressed up as Chrome from ‘Hitman Reborn!’”

Kemper said she draws inspiration from a good performance.

“I hope that the community that is unaware about costuming can take a step back and remember their own childhoods, when they were watching a show and wished they could be a character and be part of that world,” she said. “That’s exactly what these kids are doing.”

Imani Lambert is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached by culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter 
@DailyLobo.

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