Cosplayers get in character at Planet Comicon Kansas City
When she goes to anime festivals, Veronica Dowdy likes to dress up like one of her favorite anime characters Saber, a blond-haired heroine a from Fate/stay night, or Hatsune Miku, the teal-haired, pig-tailed mascot of a Japanese voice synthesizer software.
But at the three-day 15th Anime Wichita Festival happening this weekend at the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown, Dowdy, the art teacher at The Independent School in Wichita, will leave those costumes at home.
“The cosplay takes away from the coordination,” said Dowdy, who’s been organizing the Wichita festival’s cosplay contests for the past three years. Dressing up as a character when she’s working would be a distraction, she said, since festival-goers often want photographs with characters.
As cosplay coordinator, Dowdy needs to focus on running the contests, she said, and in case of a costume malfunction be ready to offer assistance with her emergency toolkit that includes hot glue and a sewing kit.
Cosplay, or dressing up as a character from a movie, book or video game, is a big draw for festivals such as this weekend’s. At anime festivals, cosplay often centers on characters from the Japanese genres of manga (comics) and anime (animations).
Along with cosplay opportunities, the festival will feature question-and-answer sessions with five VIP guests who’ve done anime writing and studio and voice work. The festival also will have fan-focused panels, a gaming room and a viewing room featuring anime, plus several vendors, said Randy Stuhlsatz, the festival’s co-director and talent coordinator.
“It’s a weekend full of fun and games,” he said. Usually the festival draws about 2,000 people.
A new feature for this year’s festival is an artist gallery, where about 25 artists will sell original and handmade items related to anime, Stuhlsatz
Proceeds from the festival’s charity auction will be donated to the Kansas Food Bank, he said. Festival-goers can also bring food donations.
Among this year’s industry guests are Tara Sands, who has voiced more than 50 characters on the original “Pokeman” series and on a number of video games, and Mary Claypool, an anime scriptwriter who now does English dubbing scripts for companies including Disney and Netflix.
Other guests are Les Claypool, who’s done studio work; Morgan Berry, a voice actor whose credits include “Dragon Ball Super” and the video game “Marvel Avengers Academy;” and Jason Charles Miller, a voice actor and musician who’s co-written songs with Marilyn Manson, Billy Ray Cyrus and others.
Dowdy expects more than 50 people to enter Saturday’s cosplay contest, where individuals will be judged on factors including quality, effort and presentation. There’s a subcategory called craftsmanship that focuses on those who make their own costumes. The Sunday skit contest has more limited entrants since it focuses on teams who are judged not only on their costumes, but on how they dramatize their characters. Sometimes they act out a story or sequence, and some even have dance routines.
While dressing up in character is a fun aspect of the festival, Dowdy said, plenty of people come in street clothes.
15th annual Anime Festival Wichita
What: A three-day festival with anime industry special guests, cosplay contests and fan panels
When: starts 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, and 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25
Where: Hyatt Regency Hotel, 400 W. Waterman St.
Cost: Door prices are $45 for a weekend pass or one-day passes of $18 for Friday, $25 for Saturday and $20 for Sunday
More information: afwcon.org