I wasn’t going to write this post originally since I covered the main events of Anime Matsuri for Purple SKY. There, you can read my interview with Tomomi Nakamura and Masumi Kano, the designers of Alice and the Pirates and Baby, the Stars Shine Bright respectively, and live report of FLOW’s concert and an interview with the band. I did attend several panels and watched the cosplay contest. While my observations may not representative of The Woodlands/Houston cosplay crowd, it’s interesting to compare them to what I’ve seen in Dallas anime cons.
Despite the plethora of Marvel superheroes and Homestuck trolls, Anime Matsuri cosplay is still very anime- and video game-centric. The ones who attracted the most attention also caught the cosplay contest judges’ eyes. Saint Seiya, Alice: Madness Returns, and Final Fantasy were this year’s favorites though there were many amazing entries.
Best of Show winner Twinzik took cosplay to a new level with their Alice: Madness Returns skit. With multiple “sets”, stage hands operating puppets, and lighting cues, it was a full-on theatrical production! They definitely deserved their win. You can check out the skit below and read about how they came up with it on Anime Matsuri’s website.
With Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and Alice and the Pirates present, it was no surprise that lolita dominated the fashion at Anime Matsuri. I saw everything from goth, sweet, country, pirate, and original creations that didn’t fit into your typical lolita subtypes. I didn’t see many steampunks, which was a bit odd considering that Airship Isabella originated in Galveston and Celestial Rogues are based in Houston. However, the interest was obviously there, as Airship Isabella’s rack of goggles was completely empty by Sunday morning.
I joke that I spent my most of free time at Anime Matsuri “stalking” my steampunk friends. The con kept the Isabella and sister ship Neo Dulcimer crews busy with multiple panels each day. Half of the panels centered on steampunk characters and world-building. The others ranged from dieselpunk to ghost hunting. Even if you’ve been to Isabella’s panels before, they always have new stories to share. When they sharing information, the crews were manning their two tables in artists’ alley, as well as helping out Fallout Houston.
I also got to check out a demonstration of traditional Japanese music and swordsmanship. The musicians, koto player Hiroki Matsumoto and “shamisen sensei” Kumiya Fujimoto, gave brief lessons to some audience members. Finally, I learned a bit about the Takarazuka Revue, an all-female theatre troupe (the “Zuka Club” in Ouran is based on it). It was quite interesting to learn about how Takarazuka blurs the lines of gender and mixes Western and Eastern theatre. I even won a couple of flyers from the panel’s raffle.
Other things that the con had included a video game tournament, a special 18+ panel on Japanese bondage by Shinichi “Nabeshin” Watanabe (I was intrigued but too tired to stay around), two nights of dances with guest DJs, and a car show that included the Tumbler from Batman Begins (which I unfortunately missed). The Woodlands may not seem like the most obvious place for an anime con, but aside from not many restaurants being open late, it’s a nice place for fans to take over. I’m definitely thinking about making the trip again next year.
For more photos, click here.
Listening to: “1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou” by FLOW