The usual fall expos at the New York State Fairgrounds took place this weekend alongside a crowd of costumed heroes and characters from Japanese television shows.
Fandom members from far and wide converged at the fairgrounds Art & Home Center for the fifth annual Syracuse Anime Convention, which has been extended to a two-day event for the first time in its history.
Attendees enjoyed a variety of panels led by popular voice actors and a talk and concert by musician Voltaire (whose music has appeared on popular channels like Cartoon Network). Space was allocated for board and card games and vendors and artists set up shop in the large basement room, and the convention hosted group trivia sessions, costume contests, and even a cosplay dating game.
Kate Dooley, vice president of the Anime Club of Syracuse, explains that the event had humble beginnings, but has grown steadily each year:
Dooley also says the 500 one-day passes allotted for Sunday had sold out at the front door by 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning. She is excited to see the event gain popularity, in conjunction with a growing fan base for Japanese animation and art, and an appreciation for Japanese culture here in the United States.
That growth is just becoming visible to people outside the conventions community, as conventions at larger U.S. cities grow large enough to make national news and attract tens of thousands. But Alanaleilani, a member of a cosplay group called The Vaudeville Valkyries, said that the hobby of cosplaying actually has a longer history than many people think:
Conventions like Anime Syracuse serve as a place to socialize about favorite comics and animated television shows, and also as a safe space for people to belong in a group that "geeks out" just as much as they do. But why anime so popular, and why has it surged in viewership recently?
Vendors Cassondra Dumas and Shannon Darrow explain:
The Anime Club of Syracuse hosts bi-monthly meetings at local libraries, including screenings of anime and panel speakers.