CHARLESTON — Tsubasacon, West Virginia’s biggest anime convention, will return to the Mountain State starting Friday, Oct. 11, at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center for a three-day weekend of anime, costumes, shopping, tabletop gaming, live music and video games. This year’s convention kicks off at noon Friday, Oct. 11, and runs until closing ceremonies at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13.
While originating in Charleston, the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Convention Center in Huntington was home to the convention from 2006 until 2018. According to David Richmond, vice chairman of Tsubasacon, the decision for the change can be attributed in part to growing pains.
“Around 2,200 people attended last year’s con. We’ve been in Huntington for a long time, but the city didn’t have enough hotels and the venue was just too small for us,” Richmond said. ”We reached the point where we couldn’t grow any more. Last year, we had a block of about 10 hotel rooms. There are over a thousand hotel rooms in Charleston within two miles of the convention center.”
Richmond said the proximity of Charleston’s Yeager Airport has helped bring in the voice actors and other guests from across the country.
“We still have a lot of ties to Huntington,” he said. “Earlier this year, we had our Natsu No Tsubasacon picnic at Ritter Park. We still have a lot of staff in the Huntington area, so it’s still a possibility that we may do some more events in Huntington.”
Richmond said one guest he is looking forward to meeting is Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, who voiced Major Motoko Kusanagi in “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” and “Ghost in the Shell: Innocence.”
“She has also voiced characters in ‘Cowboy Bebop,’ ‘Digimon’ and ‘Naruto’ as well as video games like ‘Mortal Kombat 11,’ where she was the voice of Cetrion. Chuck Huber is a guest that we have had before. He is best known for ‘My Hero Academia’ and ‘Dragon Ball Super.’ Barry Yandell has worked on ‘Black Butler,’ ‘SSSS Gridman’ and the movie ‘My Hero Academia: Two Heroes.’ Lisle Wilkerson is pretty well known for her voice work in the field of video games. Her best known character is Nina Williams from ‘Tekken.’ Morgan Berry is a voice actress who has done work for shows that have aired on Cartoon Network and Disney. These include ‘Tokyo Ghoul,’ ‘Sword Art Online,’ ‘Dragon Ball Super,’ ‘Free! — Iwatobi Swim Club’ and ‘Beyblade.’”
In addition to the meet and greets, there will be other activities.
Atlanta-based steampunk rock band The Extraordinary Contraptions will perform concerts Friday and Saturday, with a special acoustic concert Sunday. The band has been touring for 12 years and performed at the convention in 2010 and 2012.
There will be a tabletop gaming area that will host an assortment of board games, role-playing games and card games. It will also host a painting class where guests can learn how to paint miniature figures.
Also returning this year will be The Carolina Manga Library, which will host a room where guests can read dozens of Japanese and Western comics for free.
The convention will host a variety of panels discussing a range of topics including Korean pop music, costume making and retro commercials. There will be two professional panelist groups returning — Huntington’s own Mako Gems Productions and Texas-based Vitamin H, who will host the event’s music video contest. There will also be some interactive anime-themed game shows, including games modeled after “Jeopardy!” and “Deal or No Deal.” Guests who are looking to kick back can visit the convention’s video rooms, which will host screenings of new and classic anime series.
There will also be a game room. This year marks the return of Tokyo Attack, which hosts a variety of imported Japanese arcade machines, and Pachinko Fever Interactive Pachinko Parlor. Pachinko is a game similar to pinball. Michigan-based Dead State will host the main game room with many of the latest X-Box One, PlayStation 4 and Switch games. Throughout the weekend, there will be a number of video game tournaments, including such titles as “Street Fighter V,” “Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2” and “DragonBall Fighter Z.”
Costumes — whether they’re from anime, video games, American comics or original characters — are an annual tradition at the con. There will be a formal masquerade ball Friday evening, while the annual Grand Cosplay Masquerade will be Saturday with prizes for the winners.
“We will be moving the Cosplay Masquerade into the Coliseum theater so there will be a full-grown amphitheater to host the masquerade,” Richmond said. “In the past, we’ve had it in the events room, but the new space has room for 500-plus people. In the evenings, we also have added two 21-and-up events in the cafe terrace upstairs. It will have a cash bar. There will be a mixer and a Drink & Draw event on Saturday night.”
Admission to the convention is $50 for the full weekend. Individual day passes are available for $30 Friday, $40 Saturday and $20 Sunday. Children’s passes will be $10 for individual days or $20 for the full weekend. All children must attend with a paying adult. Guests who have reserved passes for the event can pick up early from 8 to 9 p.m. Thursday and 9 to 10 a.m. Friday at the registration at the convention center (not the arena). Because some events will be for adults only, there will be wristbands for guests 18 and older, and guests will be asked to show their ID at 21-and-up events.
For more information on this year’s convention, go to https://www.tsubasacon.org. For a full schedule, go to https://sites.grenadine.co/sites/tsubasacon/en/tsubasacon2019 or download the Grenadine app.