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Anime fans get animated at Tsubasacon convention

Sep. 24, 2008 @ 10:00 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Tsubasacon, the Mountain State's three-day celebration of anime (Japanese animation), is set to return to the Riverfront Ballroom and Conference Center at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena this weekend.

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m. until about 4 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $40 for the full weekend or single-day passes for $25 for Friday, $30 for Saturday and $15 for Sunday. Discounts are available for anyone willing to volunteer to work.

The name of the convention is taken from the Japanese word for "wing."

"We had close to about 700 people attend last year. The three years we've held the event in Huntington, we've been growing at a rate close to about 10 percent each year," said Jerad Bailey, head of the publications department for Tsubasacon.

"We have done a lot of extra stuff with our costume contest this year. Online clothing store Limebarb.com is offering cash prizes for the masquerade, which is our main event on Saturday," Bailey said. "We have a few more panel discussions this year. More people have stepped up to help us with panels, including a costume creation workshop where people of all skill levels can learn how to work on their outfits. We're also having a pajama party, however since we're only allowed to stay in the center until 2 a.m., it's a sort of night-themed costume contest."

There will also be a snack bar called "maid café."

"Small drinks and snacks are served, but staff wear a variety of maid-themed costumes," Bailey said. "Limebarb has done this before. They have tried this at other conventions such as Ohayocon in January and it was something that was asked if we could try at Tsubascaon. It is definitely new and interesting."

Two musical guests will perform at the convention. Ultraball, a band that prides itself on playing a variety of different genres ranging from ska to metal. The second musical guest is a self-proclaimed garage band from Charleston called The Astroboys.

Returning guests from last year will include The Random Battle Group, an improv group, which creates games mimicking the fight scenes from popular video games such as "Final Fantasy" and cartoonist Jen Lee Quick, creator of the series Off*Beat published by Tokyopop.

A new guest this year is Robert Axelrod, a successful voice actor who provided voice rolls for series such as "Digimon" and "Transformers: Robots in Disguise." He is most famous for providing the voice of Lord Zed, the arch villain from the "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers."

Other traditions returning from last year will include a variety of interactive games, including anime-inspired takes on "Name that Tune," "Family Feud" and "Whose Line Is It Anyway." Attendants also still have time to prepare entries for the anime music video contest and a fan fiction contest. There are rules online at Tsubascon.org.

Another feature of the convention is the video game room, which will be open all weekend. There will also be several video game tournaments and a variety of gaming systems.

The heart of the event remains the screenings of anime television programs and movies as well as a number of live action superhero shows.

"We're trying to implement a lot more of the live action shows and a musical stage show this year," Bailey said. "We're also trying to air some new releases that haven't aired domestically yet. We are trying to broaden people's horizons. There are a lot of people who come here whose experience is limited to what's aired on Cartoon Network, and there are quite a number of things that they are missing because of that."

Some programs are not suitable for minors, but there is a strict ID policy enforced prior to each showing.

For more information, go online at www.tsubasacon.org/.

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