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Huntington Tsubasacon is gaining recognition

Oct. 09, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- After six years in the Jewel City, West Virginia's original anime convention is getting some recognition.

Friday, Oct. 12 will officially be designated Tsubasacon weekend, with Huntington Mayor Kim Wolfe making the announcement at the convention's opening ceremonies. For the past two years the convention has brought in more than 1,000 guests to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Riverfront Ballroom and Conference Center.

"We approached the mayor's office through our new Marketing Director Jack Varney," said David Richmond, vice director of Tsubasacon. "They felt in response to the economic impact the convention has on the local economy it makes sense to issue that proclamation."

An annual celebration of Japanese animation and comics, Tsubasacon also draws in video game enthusiasts, costume designers and aspiring artists. The convention was established in 2004 and took place in Charleston before moving to Huntington in 2006. Highlights of each year's convention include an elaborate costume contest, a music video competition, video game tournaments and a variety of anime screenings.

In addition to drawing in fans from all across the Tri-State, the convention has continued to give back to the community. This year the convention will be have a canned food drive and a raffle for the Huntington Area Food Bank.

"We are going to continue fundraising with the Huntington Area Food Bank," Richmond said. "This year we aren't going to fragment our efforts. We are going to make an effort to help the Food Bank get their pantry stocked up before Thanksgiving. Anyone who donates to the food drive will receive a raffle ticket for each nonperishable food."

Two professional voice actors will be guests at the convention. Patrick Seitz will be returning this year. Seitz has provided voice work for a number of series including "World Powers: Hetalia," "Fairy Tail," and "Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood." This year will also mark the Tsubasacon debut of Lauren Land who has worked on such series as "Puella Magi Madoka Magica," "Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha," and "Monster." She has also provided voice work for a number of video games like Soul Caliber V," "BlazBlu," and the recently released "Dead or Alive 5."

The convention also marks the return of "The Extraordinary Contraptions," a rock band from Georgia with a "steampunk" aesthetic. Steampunk is a fantasy genre that mixes design elements of Victorian England with science fiction. The band last played at Tsubasacon in 2010.

"The Extrodinary Contraptions have a new drummer and just came off a huge gig at Dragoncon in Atlanta, Georgia," Richmond said. "Their music is becoming very popular."

Another familiar face returning to the convention is Greg "Greggo" Wicker who has been producing events and activities at conventions since 1999. Wicker hosts a variety of anime-themed games based off "Family Feud," "Press Your Luck," "Name that Tune" and other popular game shows. Artist Dirke I. Tied will also be in attendance. Tied is the creator of the online comic Paradigm Shift, and has had art featured in the TV series "Heroes."

The convention will again have a game room that will be hosted by "The Landing Zone."

"Baxtor Mallory, who organizes the game room for us each year, now has his own gaming business in part to his success at Tsubasacon," Richmond said. "He now sets up game rooms at conventions across the country. He also has a mobile gaming trailer for private parties, video game launches and private tournaments."

The blacklight game room will feature a mixture of new games such as "Borderlands 2" and "Dead or Alive 5" as well as returning favorites like "Marvel vs. Capcom3" and "Super Smash Brothers."

"They will be bringing in some Japanese games for the Wii and PS3 that haven't seen a U.S. release yet," Richmond said.

"We've totally revamped out screening rooms," Richmond added. "We have a partnership with the website Crunchy Roll, which is like Hulu or Netflix for anime. They can simulcast programs within hours or just a day after they originally air in Japan. We have a good variety of programming that you can't see on American TV or get on DVD yet."

One of the key highlights of each convention is the annual "Cosplay Masquerade" a combination of comedy sketches and an elaborate costume contests. Prizes will be given out for individual achievement as well as groups. The convention will also feature a formal masquerade ball on Friday evening with awards for best formal costume as well as a grand unmasking.

There will also be a wide variety of panels and group discussions. These will include costume making tips, a sampling of Pocky and other Japanese sweets, as well as how to form a anime club. There will also see the return of the Random Battle Group, a team which hosts games based on role playing video games.

Tsubasacon will run from noon to midnight, Friday, Oct. 12, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14.

Full weekend passes are $40. Individual passes are $25 for Friday, $35 for Saturday and $15 for Sunday. Children ages 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Parents may receive and "Escort Badge" at a reduced price. For more information on Tsubasacon, including a schedule of events visit www.tsubasacon.org/.