Drawn to anime Fans find other aficionados along with video games, films, a costume contest and art show at KosaiKon.

Posted: March 25, 2005

Where some people see cartoons, others see modern art.

Anime, the genre of animated film that came of age in the 1960s in Japan, has taken its time finding a mainstream American audience. It's a step up from Saturday morning Looney Tunes, and loyal fans have seen its popularity rise in the United States over more than two decades.

To bring the anime community in Philly together, a small group of fans is putting on the fourth KosaiKon AniFest at Villanova University's Bartley Hall on Saturday.

The AniFests started in May 2003 and are growing in popularity every year, said KosaiKon chairwoman Rachael Carothers.

"Our first event had only one room for screening anime and about 70 people attending," she said. "Now we have two screening rooms, a room dedicated to video gaming, an area for photography, and an artist's gallery."

Last October's AniFest drew 107 people; Carothers said she's expecting 150 on Saturday. And while the event is on Villanova's campus, anyone can attend.

The festival will include screenings of 12 anime titles, including Cromartie High School, They Were 11, and Miami Guns. Attendees will also have a chance to see Sailor Moon musicals, which are popular in Japan, and The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Bear, a French animated movie.

Besides the screenings, there is a contest for costume play (known as "cosplay"), in which participants dress up as characters from anime shows or video games.

"The cosplay contest is where the cosplayers get to shine," Carothers said. There will be awards for best costumes in experienced and novice divisions.

Cosplayers aren't the only ones who will have a chance to show off Saturday. Artists will be selling their creations at the Artists' Alley this year.

If video games are more your thing, there will be tournaments throughout the afternoon. The best gamers can square off in hits including Street Fighter Anniversary Collection on Xbox at noon, Dragonball Z Budokai 3 on PlayStation 2 at 2 p.m., and Dead or Alive Ultimate on Xbox at 4 p.m.

There will also be an assortment of other video games for festivalgoers to play throughout the day.

"We switch the games periodically and try to make sure everyone is having a good time," Carothers said.

Before the KosaiKon festivals began, anime fans had to travel to Pittsburgh, New Jersey or Baltimore to meet with other aficionados at conventions.

"We want to bring the Philadelphia fans back to Philadelphia," Carothers said. "There are a lot of anime fans out there, but there aren't many places they can get together and have fun."

Contact staff writer Hannah Davis at 215-854-2681 or hdavis@phillynews.com.

KosaiKon Easter AniFest

Where: Villanova University's Bartley Hall, on the campus at Lancaster Avenue (Route 30) and Ithan Avenue.

When: Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Tickets: $15. Villanova students can register for free with a valid student ID.

Information: www.kosaikon.com.

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