Cosplay club gears up for convention in Hampton Roads

Hannah Huddle
Hannah Huddle
Names of those pictured, left to right: Alexis Vega (Princess Peach), Sarah Morley, Erica Howland, Mikaela Rice, Henrath Nou (Mario), Taylor DeSell, Carmen Johnson-Henry, and Juliana Baldascini (Asami). Photo courtesy of Hannah Huddle

The VCU Cosplay Club will be dressing up and participating in several events at one of the biggest anime conventions in Virginia this weekend in Hampton.

The 18th annual Nekocon Anime Convention will take place from Nov. 6-8 at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, featuring thousands of attendees, art shows, autograph sessions with professional cosplayers, card game tournaments, concerts, costume competitions, panels, Q&A sessions, role playing, video game tournaments and workshops.

The Nekocon convention derives it’s name from the Japanese word “neko” which means cat. It is the oldest convention in Virginia. The first Nekocon took place in October 1998.

Several members of the VCU Cosplay Club will be attending the convention, including club president Hannah Huddle.

“Cosplay is the element our group is focused on, which is the making of costumes typically pertaining to movies, comics, video games, anime, etc.” Huddle said. “Those who cosplay may or may not act as the character and often … make all, or parts, of the costume themselves.”

Performers Dr. Awkward, Professor Shyguy, MC Lars and Tribe One will perform live at the convention. This year’s Nekocon will also include special guests such as voice-actress Kira Buckland, who has done work on the show “My Little Pony” and “Kill La Kill,” voice-actor and producer David Vincent, who was also in “Kill La Kill” and “Bleach,” and Japanese singer Faylan. In addition to the guests, the convention will feature several panelists.

“I get more excited for panels by guests, like cosplay techniques by big-name cosplayers, than just meeting them,” Huddle said. “A few (VCU Cosplay Club) members are hosting panels and competing in cosplay competitions.”

“For my panel, it is definitely more for beginners and younger con goers,” Dubois said. “Although this panel focuses on cosplaying in groups as a whole, it will also explain how to set up photoshoots, meetups, and demonstrate simple problem resolution in each style of grouping and setting.”

Huddle said she believes conventions offer a break from reality and an excellent opportunity to meet a diverse group of people.

Huddle and four other members will be competing in the “Masquerade” event that showcases short skits featuring elaborate costumes and other talents. The group will be perform a song parody with characters from “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

“They just offer a really unique space where you can be someone totally different from normal, and take chances you usually wouldn’t,” Huddle said. “You can play with your gender presentation, show a daring amount of skin, or just wear a horse mask and banana suit and people aren’t going to judge you because there are thousands of others doing the same.”

For Dubois, conventions are about meeting up with old friends and having fun.

“Going to other panels, video screenings, and even people watching … I’m excited about that. However, in general, I am ready to see friends that I haven’t seen in a few months and hang out,” Dubois said.

Participants can purchase a full membership pass to the weekend-long event for $55 at the door on Friday, Nov. 6. The convention center is roughly a two-hour drive from Richmond.

Article by: Adriel Velazquez, Contributing Writer

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