First timer’s experience By Tulsi Patil
Overwhelmed. That was how I was prepared to feel as I looked for parking in downtown on Saturday morning, before Senshi-Con opened its doors. It was my first time attending an event like this and I was almost giving myself a pep talk, akin to a coach before a big sporting event. I was telling myself I had to go in with an open mind and not be judgmental. Prior to attending Senshi-Con, in my mind, people who attended Senshi-Con or Comic-Con or any other kind of “nerd convention” just needed to go out more and “get a life”.
But to say I was pleasantly surprised is quite an understatement. The attendees of Senshi-Con are among some of the most passionate people I have met in a very long time. They have found something they enjoy, and do not hesitate to be quite unabashed to declare that they do enjoy it. Despite the cold temperatures on Saturday morning, participants were lined up around the block for close to an hour before the start of the event in their costumes (many of which covered very little skin). “I woke up at 5 am today to put on my make-up and drive to Anchorage from Wasilla to be here”, said Brennan Granthem, a sophomore majoring in art at UAA. He was covered in blue body paint and had dressed as “Kisame Hoshigaki” from the manga series “Naruto”.
Another misconception that got debunked at Senshi-Con was that it was a convention for Anime and Manga enthusiasts. There were all manner of fan people (fanboys and fangirls) at Senshi-Con, celebrating their favorite fictional characters from all different sub-genres of fiction. Fictional representation was not lacking ranging from the eight or nine Doctor Who’s walking around, to the Elsa-Ana Duo from Disney’s Frozen, to Power Rangers and My Little Ponies.
It was an interesting experience. It was genuinely heartening to see the kind of open and warm acceptance of everyone who attended Senshi-Con. No one was unwelcome. Everyone could come in feeling like they belong, and could be who they wanted to be, even if who they related most to was a big brown unicorn.
Expert’s Perspective By George Hyde
Okay, so using the word “expert” may be a bit charitable. But I have been going to these things for a while now.
My first Senshi-Con… man, when was it? I can hardly remember exactly how old I was, but I vaguely remember being somewhere in middle school. It was pretty surreal seeing as many nerdy fanatics in one place as I did. Many of my favorite pastimes were validated that day, as I watched grown men and women enjoying the same things I did in that adolescent phase of my life.
Sadly, I didn’t go again until 2012, for reasons involving my adolescent self not having money or a car. This time, I’d bring a costume: the Heavy Weapons Guy, from “Team Fortress 2.” It was a blast! So many people loved seeing my costume. I went again the following year, this time making a gigantic minigun prop to go with, and it was even more fun. I opted for something a bit more obscure this year; a boss from the video game “Paper Mario,” which everyone mistook for a character from “Adventure Time.” After the tenth person called me “Ice King,” I gave up and just rolled with it.
If you ask people why they cosplay, they’ll probably tell you that it has to do with how they feel connected to their characters, but I just find conceiving costumes and making them to be enjoyable. It’s a real creative outlet.
I wouldn’t keep coming back to Senshi-Con every year if there wasn’t a bigger reason though, and that reason is the sense of community. I feel at home whenever I go to Senshi-Con. It’s like I’m with my people. I’ll see someone with a costume from “Ghostbusters,” and we’ll spend the next few minutes quoting the movie and discussing it. It’s so wonderful that people like those can find others who appreciate that. It’s the same reason boating enthusiasts go to boating conventions: they just want to hang with their people, meet new friends, and discuss what they love. And as someone who’s been to Senshi for a few years, I think I can say that that’s at the core of what makes the convention great.