With the end of the summer season quickly approaching, thousands of otaku (fans of Japanese animation) came together in Columbus, OH during the weekend of Aug. 23 for the ninth annual Japanese animation and pop culture convention, Matsuricon. Over 5,000 attendees filled the Greater Columbus Convention Center to celebrate one final animé filled blast of summer, and come together to hang out, have fun and celebrate what makes animé and Japanese culture so exciting.
Tying in with this year’s theme of music, Matsuricon invited attendees to take part in a weekend full of themed events, including an entire hall of the convention center dedicated to music-themed video games, two nights of concerts featuring voice actor Johnny Young Bosch and his band, “Eyeshine,” and two nights of dances, with a formal dance on Friday night and a late night rave Saturday evening. Music could even be heard throughout the hallway, as many were singing and dancing to their favorite songs throughout the convention, one of those songs being Mr. C The Slide Man’s “Cha Cha Slide Part 2.”
John Hoelscher, one of the con chairs for Matsuricon, says that having fantastic guests and being affordable on even the tightest otaku’s budget are just a few reasons the convention is successful year after year. “This year, we had over twenty-seven guests, we’re very affordable, and we’re just before school starts,” John said. “I think it’s just a great way to spend time with your friends and even make new ones before you have to go back to do what you need to do in the fall.”
Matsuricon spares no expense to bring in some of the biggest names in animé to shake hands, sign autographs, and hang out with the fans that watch their shows like “Attack on Titan,” “Kill La Kill,” and “Space Dandy.” Scott McNeil, a Canadian voice actor, says he’s just as excited to see the fans, as they are to see him. “I come to Matsuri every year because the people here are phenomenal. They give me the energy that makes me who I am, and every year I come, it’s both unbelievably hot and super cool.”
Another important aspect to any convention is the staff that helps make sure it runs smoothly and John thinks that’s what separates Matsuricon from a lot of other big name conventions in the summer. “We have gotten multiple reports that staff have been just nice to attendees, and that even though we are getting to be a bigger con, we feel that we don’t lose our small con feel. We try to keep that close niche, close to the family feel.”
Matsuricon is now preparing to celebrate its’ tenth anniversary in 2015, with dates set for the weekend of Aug. 14 through Aug. 16.