Last weekend, tourists visiting the beautiful San Antonio Riverwalk were privileged to encounter countless bodies dressed up in elaborate and colorful costumes. Now in its sixth year, the San Japan Sinister: 6 convention celebrated the Japanese culture as well as various categories of fandoms such as science fiction, horror, video gaming, tabletop gaming, and artistry in one of the grandest conventions of its kind. Hosted at both the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown San Antonio, San Japan 6 provided fans of all ages the ability to embrace their inner 'nerdiness' without being ostracized. Over the three days (August 16-18), San Japan Sinister: 6 drew over 11,000 colorful attendees, as well as the attention of the surrounding public.
Spectacular and intricately detailed costumes were ubiquitous and the amount of dedication, artistic skill, time, and money invested in their ensemble was evident, leading to constant and innumerable photo ops throughout the convention. The second night of San Japan allowed the attendees to showcase their costumes in one of the most highly anticipated events of the weekend, the 'Cosplay Contest.' Displaying their craftsmanship, participants proudly paraded their cosplays in a fun and creative manner onstage in front of a panel of judges with the hopes of winning generous cash prizes. The judging on the contestants’ cosplays were based not only their costumes, but also on how well they were able to depict the character they were portraying. Following the contest, funny skits and a creative musical performance brought the audience to its feet.
The weekend consisted of countless amounts of activities, panels, and merchandise shopping. Because of the unique qualities of the artwork as well as some of the merchandise, the attendees of San Japan are captivated by its exclusive attributes. An enormous amount of space was dedicated to dealers and vendors who sold their wares and original pieces of art. Beautiful and unique works of art adorned the area with countless amounts of stuffed animals, figurines, books, video games, and other merchandise not easily found elsewhere, which committed fans eagerly purchased and struggled to turn away from.
Its well-organized schedule allowed the San Japan Sinister 6 attendees to always have something to do and to interact with others. Numerous panels provided entertainment through lively games, challenges, and discussions on various topics like fandoms, Japanese and Asian culture, and interaction between fans and special guests such as voice actors, performers, artists, and musicians. The special guests included Johnny Yong Bosch, well-known for his extensive voice acting work in numerous anime and video game titles including Bleach, Ao No Exorcist, Code Geass, and Persona 4, Christopher Ayers, who has been working professionally in television, film, and as a voice actor for FUNimation and Sentai Film Works, and Karen Strassman who has had an extraordinary career as an actress and voice-over artist for many major clients that include Disney, Sony, Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, and Cartoon Network. The special guests went above and beyond to reach out and connect with their fans.
In one of the panels, the voice actors asked the audience 'What is your favorite part about going to conventions like this?' The responses included 'Being able to be yourself,' 'making new friends through common interests,' and 'being able to get really excited about the things that you love with other people who love it just as much as you do.' One response was particularly heartwarming: 'I like these conventions because I get to cosplay and people actually notice me.'
Despite the merchandise, creative costumes, and encounters with guest speakers, those who participated in this year’s San Japan: Sinister 6 unanimously agreed that the factor they loved the most about conventions such as this was the freedom to be who they truly are. The event had no age barriers, enabling young and old alike to enjoy a light-hearted and fun atmosphere, which enticed people from all over to come and participate.
After three days of non-stop jam-packed fun, San Japan: Sinister 6 was declared a success and came to an end. For the loyal San Japan attendees, preparations are already underway for next year's convention and because of its overwhelming success, the organizers will secure an even larger venue to host the upcoming convention. Next year's con, San Japan: Samurai 7, will be held on July 18-20, 2014 and more details will be announced soon.
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