HUNTINGTON – Halloween might be a few weeks away, but there will be plenty of costumes downtown this weekend as Tsubasacon returns to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. The annual anime convention, set for 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, Oct. 13; 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, will give fans a chance to dress up, hang out, shop and play video games.
The convention was established in Charleston in 2004 before moving to Huntington two years later, first in the Big Sandy Convention Center and then in the full arena beginning in 2015. Last year’s Tsubasacon had a total of 2,200 guests.
Among the activities at this year’s con, set up throughout both the Arena and the Conference Center, are video game tournaments, a rock concert and a late-night dance. This year’s convention will have a samurai and feudal Japan theme.
“Tsubasacon is definitely a great family friendly fun event for kids of all ages and adults that are into cosplay, video gaming and anime,” David Richmond, vice chair of Tsubasacon, said.
“One of things that is a little different this year is that we are really kicking up our gaming presence. We will have a lot more tabletop, board,and card games. Returning this year is Pachinko Fever, which is a Pachinko parlor. Pachinko is a Japanese game sort of like pinball. Rare Drops will be organizing the game room once again. Also returning this year is Tokyo Attack, which is a group that brings Japanese arcade games to cons.”
There will be several guests visiting the convention, including professional voice actors and actresses like Leah Clark, who has voiced characters in such series as “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid,” “Negima” and “Fairy Tale.” Clark also has worked behind the scenes as a script writer and automated dialogue replacement director.
Other guests include voice actress and cartoonist Kristen McGuire, known for her voice work on series like “RWBY” and “Yuri on Ice” as well as her comics “Enchanted” and “A Day in the Life of Catgirl.”
Perhaps the most famous guest at this year’s con is Robert Axelrod. A veteran of the industry, Axelrod reached fame in the 1990s as the voice of the villainous Lord Zed in “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” and the heroic Armadillomon in “Digimon.”
“This is the year the ‘Power Rangers’ movie came out, and that’s one of the reasons we wanted Robert to come back,” Richmond said. “Another voice actor we have this year is Austin Tindle, who voices the lead character from ‘Tokyo Ghoul.'”
Other convention fun includes a variety of panel discussions hosted by Vitamin H Productions, which will also host a music video contest Saturday; the Carolina Manga Library, which provides hundreds of different manga and American comics for guests to read for free; the Sleeping Samurai, a group that simulates samurai battles with foam weapons; and Greg “Geggo” Wicker, who returns for a series of anime games modeled after game shows like “Wheel of Fortune” and “Name That Tune.”
But it’s not all books and video games at Tsubasacon. There will be plenty of opportunities for people to rock out, including a formal masquerade dance at 9 p.m. Friday and a late-night rave at 11 p.m. Saturday.
In addition, several performances by rock group Eien Strife are set throughout the convention. Claiming to hail from the land of Ternia, the band puts on an elaborate stage show inspired by the role-playing video games of the 1980s and ’90s. The group previously performed at the convention in 2014.
The game room will host a variety of gaming tournaments over the weekend, including “Arms” on the Nintendo Switch and “Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite.” Dungeon Dweller Comics will host a series of collectible card games including Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic the Gathering and Star Wars Destiny.
The centerpiece of the convention is the annual Cosplay Masquerade, a massive costume contest. There will be in-character sketches and performances as well as cash prizes for the winners. Participants will compete in such categories as Best Craftsmanship, Best Performance and Best Original design. There will several different skill categories as well as categories for kids 12 and under.
The dealer room at the convention will host books, DVDs, toys and Japanese candy for sale. There also will be dozens of artists with prints, original art and commissions available to purchase.
Panel discussion include topics such as how to draw in an anime/manga style; Disney during the 1980s; and many more.
Registration for a three-day pass at Tsubasacon is $45. Two-day and one-day passes also are available. Guests who have pere-registered for the convention can pick passes up starting at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena box office.
WHAT: Tsubasacon 2017, a three-day convention celebrating anime, manga, video gaming and more.
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, Oct. 13; 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15.
WHERE: The Big Sandy Superstore Arena and Conference Center, 1 Center Plaza, Huntington.
HOW MUCH: A variety of entry options are offered: Weekend Badge, $45; Friday Wristband, $30; Saturday Badge, $40; Sunday Badge , $20; Child weekend (with adult), $20; Child Sunday (with adult), $10, Gaming Wristband (Weekend), $35; Gaming Wristband (Friday), $20; Gaming Wristband (Saturday), $25; Gaming Wristband (Sunday), $15.
MORE INFO: Find a full schedule of events as well as other event information at www.tsubasacon.org/.
ON DECK AT THE ARENA: Oct. 26, Alabama Southern Drawl Tour; Nov. 2, Kidz Bop; Nov. 3, Rebels and Readers Author event; Nov. 11, Tri-State Power and Ink; Nov. 24-26, Model Railroad Show; Dec. 1-2, PBR’s (Professional Bull Riders) Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour; Jan. 13-14, 2018, West Virginia Toughman.