Halloween in January? No, anime

KotoriCon attendees watched animated films, talked comics, played anime-themed games, and danced to "J-pop" music.
KotoriCon attendees watched animated films, talked comics, played anime-themed games, and danced to "J-pop" music. (AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 13, 2014

A man wearing giant white wings, bright green boots, and gloves leaped off a stage as pop music pulsed from the loudspeaker.

He was followed by others with colored wigs, horns, robes, and other elaborate accessories.

If that sounds like Halloween in January, the costumes were just the start. On Friday evening and all day Saturday, Gloucester County College was the scene of the fifth annual KotoriCon, a convention devoted to the Japanese-style form of animation known as anime.

More than 1,200 people gathered to view animated films, discuss comics, play anime-themed video and card games, and dance to live "J-pop" music, including one band, the Audio Pool, on tour from Tokyo.

The event was organized by members of a student anime club at the college in Sewell.

The guy with the white wings was Joshua Baron, 18, a senior at Gloucester County Institute of Technology. He was dressed as Sky Shaymin, a character from the game Pokemon.

"You get to socialize with people that are like you," said Baron, who lives in Sewell. "There's no judging here. It's just a nice environment."

He meant judging of the interpersonal variety. There was, however, judging in the form of a costume competition.

Among the contestants was Aurora Celeste, 33, of Norristown, who wore a chocolate-brown hoop skirt and a platinum-blond wig, complete with hair extensions swirled into an elaborate braid.

Not ringing a bell? She was Beatrice, a sorceress in a "sound novel" - a sort of video game - called When the Seagulls Cry.

As she described her costume, another convention visitor came up to admire the hoop skirt and ask how it was made.

Celeste, who writes a sewing and costuming blog at www.dramaticthreads.com, was happy to flip up the material and reveal the metal bands beneath.

"For me, it's the making process," the homemaker said. "It makes me happy."

A popular choice among KotoriCon attendees was to go as one of the gray-skinned troll characters from a Web comic called Homestuck. Key elements: gray face paint, a black wig, and orangeish-yellow horns sticking from your head.

Jacob O'Dennis, 16, a junior at Williamstown High School, went further: contacts that changed the color of his eyes to gray.

He started to explain the plot of Homestuck, then apologized: "It's full of time paradoxes, so it's kind of really confusing to follow."

The convention also featured a charity auction, with proceeds earmarked for several groups, among them a North Korean human-rights organization and the AbleGamers Foundation, which seeks to improve quality of life for disabled people through video games.

Tiffany Easterwood, 21, of Turnersville, was clad as Grell Sutcliff, a chain-saw-wielding "god of death" character from an illustrated magazine serial and TV show called Black Butler.

Despite the belligerent nature of some of the costumes, the attendees were friendly and polite, patiently explaining the stories behind their duds.

Easterwood said all anime conventions tend to have a collegial atmosphere - KotoriCon in particular.

"They make you feel like you're in a family," she said.



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