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Bowling Green draws hundreds for convention; the pull is Anime


    One of the fastest growing interests among college students is Japanese animation, called anime, and culture.
    And one of the largest anime clubs in Northwest Ohio is at Bowling Green State University, which hosts Animarathon, a convention for local fans of anime.

Anime Northwest Ohio started with 12 people and an idea for a convention where anime, gaming and Japanese culture fans could form their own community for themselves and the next generation,” said Caroline Coates, ANO president.
     Other club members take pride in the success of Animarathon, which drew over 2,000 people this year.
    In 2005 that number was only 500.
     “I’m really surprised we are doing so well, we have more people coming to our one-day convention than most three-day conventions have coming to theirs,” said Cady Williams, ANO treasurer.
    Animarathon has become so successful that larger conventions in the Findlay area are using it to advertise their own events.
    Adam George, a representative of the upcoming Colossalcon revealed what he believes to be Animarathon’s reason for success.
    “Here at Animarathon where there’s no registration price, it’s actually a wonderful opportunity for people to come and go to a convention without having to shell out the hotel money,” George said.
    The lack of a registration fee leaves attendees with more money to spend in the dealer’s room. Local anime, video game and trading card game stores prefer Animarathon to longer conventions.
    “The dealers love coming here because people don’t hold onto their money ‘til the last minute. Because there’s only one day, they spend,” Williams said.   


Link and Zelda from the video game 'Ocrina of Time'

   For the attendees who have some extra money to spare after their shopping, they can purchase raffle tickets from staff members.
    The ticket sales go toward funding the next year’s convention.
     “We do bake sales, and the raffle pays for a lot of stuff so we’re basically self-sustaining; no profit but we get to do this year after year,” Williams said.
    The rest of the funding comes from donations by BGSU students, proving there are a lot of people who want to bring people together through anime.
    “When I describe Animarathon to people who have never been there, I always say we are like a family: one giant, crazy, ever-growing family,” Coates said.
    The Animarathon “family” grows every year as they add new attractions and events—the most popular being the cosplay contest.
    “Cosplay is a play on words in Japan where they have costume play it’s a way of shortening the words,” said George. “In the convention world, cosplay is known as the main event on Saturday night where everybody submits the cosplay they’re wearing.”
    Animarathon’s cosplay contest featured costumes and pre-rehearsed skits from anime like Pokemon, the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya. 

Rock Lee cosplay from the anime series Nauto

    BGSU’s own Plastic Shatners provided improv comedy between contests making jokes based on the characters being portrayed.
    The audience got into the act by shouting out who or what they wanted the group to impersonate.
    Those who weren’t interested in the cosplay competition had dozens of other activities to choose from.
    Coates makes sure no matter what the interest level of attendees may be, they can find something to do.
    “Whether you are a seasoned veteran of the community, a newbie just testing out the waters, or an unexpecting onlooker, I think you all can find something to love (in anime),” Coates said.

For more information check out the ANO website.


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