Anime NebrasKon Expects More than 2,000 Attendees at 7th Annual Convention
From staff reports
Held at the CoCo Key Water Resort convention center in Omaha, this year's anime convention Anime NebrasKon will feature more than 160 panels and activities, including a cosplay contest, anime idol, anime music video contest, dealer's room, dating auction and artist's alley.
"Previously it was held in Lincoln at the University (of Nebraska-Lincoln)," said Ellene Cudd, promotions coordinator for Anime NebrasKon, which is hosted by the non-profit Nebraska Japanese Animation Society. "We grew out of the university ... We were busting at the seams."
Running today, Nov. 5, through Nov. 7, the convention attracts attendees from around the Midwest, as far as eight hours away, Cudd said -- the block of hotel rooms reserved for the convention sold out. Last year's attendance hit 1,600, and she said they're expecting up to 2,400 attendees this year.
Registration is today from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. A three-day adult pass costs $45; single day passes cost $25 for today, $30 for Nov. 6 and $20 for Nov. 7. A child's badge is $15 for all three days or $10 for a one-day pass.
Though it's a fairly young convention, Cudd said the panels and guests they offer are on par with much larger anime conventions. Anime NebrasKon will be hosting artists like Richard Townsend and Kim Pridemore, and voice actors like Tiffany Grant, who voices Asuka from "Evangelion"; Eric Vale, who voices Trunks from "Dragon Ball Z" and America from "Hetalia"; and Keith Silverstein, the voice of Kimimaro from "Naruto."
The convention will also host an Artists Alley, where 30 artists can display and sell their
artwork. A Dealers Room will have around 12 dealers from across the region to sell
anime and video game-related merchandise. A game room, open 24 hours a day, will feature video gaming and top gaming, as well as tournaments of popular video games.
Cudd said her brother introduced her to anime, back when it was still pretty new.
"We would come home from school and he’d turne on Cartoon Network and we'd watch Dragon Ball Z," she said. "I just kind of got hooked on that.
"I like stuff that's action, and fantasty, fights and explosions, magic ... " she added with a laugh. "I’m not really that picky. There’s a lot of really amazing shows out there."
But the convention focuses on more than just English-dubbed or subtitled anime shows: it also features aspects of Japanese culture, like Anime Idol, which has contests sing anime-related songs and/or Japanese pop songs, or J-Rock.
"To understand anime, you have to understand the culture that it comes from," Cudd said. "You can’t look at things just isolated and out of context, so for us, it’s important, especially with this younger generation that .... has more access to it than I did when I was younger.They look at these things and they sometimes don’t understand why characters act that way, so we explain to them that it’s part of the Japanese culture, which is different from the American culture -- differences in how people talk to each other, how they relate to each other. It's important for us to share that with the younger people."
And just having the convention is good for younger fans, she said, especially in Nebraska, because they're often ostracized by their peers for their interest in anime.
A video from last year's convention, posted below, shows a group of convention attendees marching down a hallway chanting, "One of us! One of us!"
Some of the comments posted on YouTube speak to the loneliness of some anime fans:
"amemoyochan: It's moments like this that you feel proud to be both an Otaku and part of the crowd. The only time I'll ever be proud of being like everyone else!"
"I think that a lof of young people who are interested in anime, it's hard for them to make other friends who are interested in this also, there's no connection to other people," she said. "They're often considered kind of the outcasts. The convention offers them a chance to get together, to find people who share their interest, and (Anime NebrasKon) celebrates it, instead of looking down on it."