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KotoriCon Anime Festival: Highlights of the New Jersey Convention
Pokemon, Naruto and All Things Japanese! KotoriCon 2012 Anime Convention
Hundreds of anime fans, role-playing participants, and cosplayers converged in southern New Jersey for KotoriCon 2012, held Jan. 6-7 at Gloucester County College in Sewell, New Jersey. My teenager and I took the trek down from northern New Jersey on the second day to see what an anime convention would be like, and we are glad we did!
Costumed Anime Characters Take Over Campus!
Power Rangers and Dr. Who also!
The first thing I noticed when we got the KotoriCon was that I was woefully under-dressed. When my teenager and I attended the New York Comic Con in October, maybe a third of the people attending were cosplayers dressed as a character.
At Kotoricon, it looked like about 80 percent of everyone attending was dressed as some sort of anime, manga, sci-fi or fantasy creature. There were leprechauns, barbarians, steampunk characters and much more, but unfortunately I am not all that familiar with anime so I can't provide specifics. I do know a number of people dressed as the countries in Hetalia, a cartoon in which each of World War II's participants are given pretty silly personalities.
And because the weather was unseasonably warm, people were able to flit between the three buildings were the activities and panels were happening without having to put coats over their costumes, which made the day a lot more fun for everyone!
There were dozens of panels, including how to make anime, finding a job in the anime world, designing cosplay costumes and a discussion on the British television series Dr. Who. (Someone told me that a participant suggested Justin Bieber as the next Dr. Who. Somehow I don't see that happening!)
There were at least two rooms dedicated to showing anime films, as well as dealers and a video game room.
What is Anime?
The Japanese art form that has rocked the world!
It's hard to believe that someone hasn't come across anime at some point, considering the worldwide success of Pokemon. Still, people may not be aware that anime is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation." The term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons. The characteristic anime style developed in the 1960s, and became known outside Japan in the 1980s.
For more information on anime, see the Wikipedia entry here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anime
What is LARP?
Welcome to the World of Live Action Role Playing!
One panel I attended was called ''What is LARP?'' I discovered the answer is ''Live Action Role-Playing,'' in which people dress in costumes and act out characters that they have developed.
The panel was held by members of Seventh Kingdom IGE, a group that runs LARP games in southern New Jersey.
Tara Clapper, a Seventh Kingdom member, explained that there were many types of LARPs, ranging from medieval/fantasy worlds to military and sci-fi. Another panelist said zombie LARPs have become popular recently as well.
What happens at a LARP? The participants will have selected their characters ahead of time and they will arrive at the LARP site to find a world will that has been developed by the organizers. The players participate in quests, battles and other actions, all within character. Clapper, for instance, sometimes likes to play a bard, so spends the LARP singing!
Some groups are as small as seven members, while others can grow to the hundreds, the panels said. They usually rent a private spot to play, as some LARPs have run into too many interruptions when trying to have fun in a public park.
The group also gave two other presentations, on how to make the costumes and weapons used in LARP
For more on LARP, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LARP
Wolverine vs. Phoenix Wright!
Also, Princess Peach vs. Link?
My teenager and I stopped by the video game room several times, and that was a popular gathering place for a good number of people.
With some coaxing, my teenager enticed me to try Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which features several dozen characters from Nintendo games squaring off against each other. I never could get the hang of the game, and my teen easily whipped me while i was playing Sonic the Hedgehog. Somehow I ended up as Princess Peach but that didn't help either. Finally one of the convention staff members volunteered to take my place and that enabled me to bow out without further harm.
Later, I tried my hand at Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, in which Marvel Comic heroes and villains fight characters from the Capcom series of video games (including Akuma, Firebrand and Dante). My teen designated me a lawyer named Phoenix Wright, who somehow used legal papers to ward off blows from the Hulk and Captain America. I was able to beat the two Marvel superheroes, which makes me think that my teen fiddled with the settings to make it easy for me to win.
The Longest Web Comic Ever
One of the most enjoyable things about these conventions is meeting people that share your interests, and at 3 p.m. there was a ``meet-up'' of fans of Homestuck, one of the webcomics written and illustrated by Andrew Hussie. His series are considered by many to comprise the longest Web comic ever, with more than 6,000 pages. For the website, see: http://www.mspaintadventures.com/
My teen was dressed as God Tier John Egbert, as was one other fan. But there were also a variety of trolls, including Gamzees, Karkats, Nepetas and a Terezi. And some humans named Rose and Dave.
I counted about a dozen people dressed as Homestuck characters, and once the convention ended they held a mini-rave out in the parking lot. They were dancing when we drove away that night!
Cosplaying At KotoriCon - Probably the Best Part of the DayClick thumbnail to view full-size
Supernatural Detectives, Kolchak The Night Stalker and The Spider
A Visit with writer CJ Henderson
I stepped away from all the anime to sit in on a writing discussion by CJ Henderson, a writer whose biography says has written some 70 books and hundreds of comics and short stories. He's the creator of the Piers Knight supernatural investigator series and the Teddy London occult detective stories.
To be honest, I had never heard of him, but he did have a stand with some of the books that he had written and they included some stories of Kolchak the Night Stalker from the 1970s television series and The Spider, the old pulp fiction hero.
I figured he'd talk about fantasy or sci-fi, two areas that I'm not particularly interested in.
Instead, he gave what can only be described as an hourlong pep talk to a group of would-be writers, who asked him about chapter breaks, how to describe different worlds, whether agents are worthwhile and much more. It was a very informative talk, and I suspect that a number of the students -- the crowd was mostly college age -- probably went home that night and started plugging away at their computers.
Above is a photo of Henderson at his stand.
KotoriCon Videos on Youtube!
It's amazing how many people uploaded videos from the KotoriCon. Here are some of the best!
Spending The Day With the Japanese Art Form
Have you ever been to an anime convention? What did you think of it?
Our Trip to New York's Anime Festival
Part of New York's Annual Comic Convention
While this was our first visit to an anime convention, we did go to the New York Anime Festival in October 2011. The festival runs concurrently with the New York Comic Con, taking over New York City's major convention center for a weekend. You can read about our visit to the anime festival in this lens.
New York Comic Con + Anime Festival: A Comic Book Fan
The New York Comic Book Convention occurred Oct. 13-16, 2011, and coupled with the New York Anime Festival, drew more than 100,000 comic-book fans, video game players and anime fanatics.
- KotoriCon's Official Website
Here is the festival's main website, which has some photos from the 2012 event. You'll want to keep an eye out for when it is updated with information about 2013's!
- Anime Festivals Across the Country
Here you'll find details of anime festivals across the United States, all in one convenient site!
- Tumblr Blog on Kotoricon
Here is a nice blog about KotoriCon with some good photos.
- KotoriCon's Wikipedia page
Here is Wikipedia's entry on KotoriCon. Not much information but some good details of its history.
- KotoriCon-Gloucester County Anime Con
Facebook page for KotoriCon
Our Comic Book Reviews
Spider-Man, Hulk and the X-Men
I don't remember ever hearing about anime when i was growing up decades ago. I read comic books instead. Here are some reviews of the comic books of my youth.
Spider-Man in the 1970s! A Marvel Comics Book Review
The Essential Spider-Man Vol. 8 contains issues No. 161-185 of the Amazing Spider-Man series, plus Nova issue No. 12 and the Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 11...
The Avengers Debut! A Comic Book Review of the Marvel Masterworks Collection!
The Avengers Volume 1 was one of the first four collections when Marvel Comics began publishing its Marvel Masterworks series in 1987. Since then the company...
Essential Iron Fist: A Marvel Comic Book Review!
Essential Iron Fist Volume 1 collects the first four years' worth of Marvel comics starring the character, who debuted in 1974 during a martial arts craze. T...
The Ghost Rider Debuts! A Marvel Comic Book Review
The Marvel Essential series contains four volumes devoted to the Ghost Rider superhero, who first appeared in 1972 in a comic book called Marvel Spotlight. H...
Marvel Essential X-Men Comic Book Review: Wolverine, Storm and a Return to Greatness!
Marvel Essential X-Men collects Giant-Size X-Men 1 and X-Men 94-119. Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 introduced the new team of superheroes, reviving the X-Men comic....
The Amazing Spider-Man Debuts! A Marvel Masterworks Comic Book Review
Marvel Comics began publishing its Marvel Masterworks series in 1987 with The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1, among others. Since then the company has come out wi...
The Rampaging Hulk Marvel Essential Comic Book Review
Marvel Essential: The Rampaging Hulk 1 is a collection of Hulk stories from his short-lived late 1970s magazine. This volume includes the tales from issues 1...
Captain America in the 1960s: A Marvel Comic Book Review
Marvel Essential Captain America Volume 1 reprints Captain America's stories from Tales of Suspense No. 59-99 as well as the first three issues of the newly-...
Marvel Masterworks X-Men Comic Book Review: Enter the Phoenix! Plus Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler!
This volume reprints Uncanny X-Men No. 101-110 in full color, a collection of 10 comics during a run that really established the new X-Men as a major franchi...
X-Men Reborn in the 1970s: Storm and Nightcrawler Debut, plus Wolverine!
Marvel Masterworks: The Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 highlights the rebirth of the team in 1975-1976, reprinting Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 and X-Men No. 94-100. Promote...
Marvel Essential Fantastic Four Comic Book Review: Dr. Doom and Daredevil Guest Star as the Legend Grows!
The Fantastic Four rocked the comic-book world when it debuted in 1961, with writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby introducing more characterization and real...
The Avengers in the Late 1960s: A Marvel Comics Review!
Marvel Essential: Avengers Vol. 3 contains issues 47 to 68 of the comic's original series, as well as Avengers Annual No. 2. For the most part this collectio...
Captain America's 1960s Adventures in Color: A Marvel Comics Review
Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume 1 reprints the superhero's adventures in Tales of Suspense No. 59-81 in full color. This was Captain America's fir...
Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller A Marvel Comic Book Review of The Complete Elektra Saga!
Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Vol. 2 collects issues 168-182 of the original Daredevil series. Issue 168 was the first comic of the series that Miller ...
Darwyn Cooke's DC: The New Frontier Comic Book Review
DC: The New Frontier was a series of six comic book issues in 2004 that focused on the 1950s, when many of the major superheroes that populate the modern DC ...
X-Men's Dark Phoenix Saga: A Marvel Comic Book Review
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga collects issues No. 129-137 of the original X-Men comic-book series, a series of tales that ends with the final battle over Jean...
The X-Men in the Early 1970s: Neal Adams' Dynamic Art
Marvel Essential Classic X-Men volume 3 is a real hodge-podge of stories that shows just how far below the radar screen the original X-Men had fallen in the ...
Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man: A Review of the 1970s Marvel Comics Series!
Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man first appeared at the end of 1976, and was a comic book aimed at cashing in on the growing popularity of Spider-Man....
The Fantastic Four Debuts! A Marvel Essentials Comic Book Review
The Essential Fantastic Four Volume 1 contains some of the most important stories that Marvel Comics ever published. This book contains the first 20 issues o...
Spider-Man's Earliest Adventures: A Review of Marvel Comics' Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1
Marvel Essential Spider-Man Volume 1 contains the debut story of Marvel Comics' most-popular character, who first appeared 50 years ago in the summer of 1962...
The Mighty Thor Debuts: Highlights of His First Marvel Masterworks Collection
Thor, one of Marvel Comics' mightiest heroes, debuted 50 years ago in a comic book called Journey into Mystery. One of the Marvel Universe's earliest charact...
Marvel Essential Fantastic Four: Galactus, Silver Surfer and the Black Panther Debut!
Marvel Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 3 contains perhaps the most-sustained run of great comic book stories of the 1960s. This collection of Fantastic Four No...
Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Brings Greatness to the Marvel Comics' Superhero!
Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Volume 1 contains the first nine stories that Miller drew of Daredevil in the late 1970s (issues 158-161, 163-167). Bring...
Growing Up With Spider-Man: The Day Gwen Stacy Died
Spider-Man's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, died 40 years ago this summer, marking the end of one era in comic books and introducing a realism into the lives of sup...
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