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Talk Nerdy: Senshi Con!

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To the average person, the word “con” can have many definitions. It can mean “to be against”, “to trick”, or if you’re an old mariner, “to direct the steering of a ship” just to name a few. To a nerd, con usually has a different connotation; it’s short for convention.

Cons come in all shapes, sizes, and types. Many of them, like San Diego Comic – Con, are massive multiday events featuring the latest announcements in comics, movies, and TV shows. People come from all over the world to attend these events, to stand in line for special guest panels, to get autographs, to see sneak peeks of their favorite shows and movies, to buy special merchandise, and to show off their nerd pride by dressing up in costume (also known as cosplay).  

Alaska seems like it would be the last place you’d find a healthy con culture, but this weekend Senshi Con, Anchorage’s own annual anime convention, showed that Alaskan’s aren’t afraid to come out and let their nerd flags fly.

Attendees arrived early to be first in line.
And the line grew quickly.

Doors opened for Senshi Con on 11 am Saturday morning at the Egan Center. When I arrived at 9:30 am, the line was already wrapped from the side entrance all the way around to the front of the building. By 10:30 am the line was a block down 5th street. Cosplayers were everywhere, most of them were teens but there was also a healthy smattering of adults, many with young children.

It took an hour for the line to creep around the building to get into security, and another half hour to file through one of the registration lines. Once you broke through to the other side, attendees were greeted with two floors of fun.

Attendees waiting in line to register in the distance.

On the ground floor there were two rooms. The first was the vender area, filled with booths from local as well as chain vendors. Businesses like Bosco’s featured a selection of anime, movies, and other items. Even plushy Daleks!

Armored Wolf Productions was set up with a full array of leather bracers, wrist bands, and other examples of chainmail and Viking knit armor and jewelry.

 

The Pipe Cleaner Master Kenneth S. Williams was sitting at his booth bending pieces of wire pipe cleaner into elaborate dolls. From a distance, I couldn’t tell his wares from any of the other dolls being sold at booths.

Next door to the vendor floor was the main convention hall featuring stage events such as the “anime dating game” and the cosplay competition.

Downstairs there were two panel rooms, featuring special guest presentations on topics ranging from Dr. Who to steampunk, and a special session for autographs with the con’s featured guests.

Several rooms were set aside for gaming, including a retro room for older consoles like the N64 and pin ball machines. There were two rooms dedicated for computer LANS, and last (but not least) two anime viewing rooms. I sat in on a couple of episodes of Stein’s Gate, which I found interesting and worth adding to my “must see” list.

The most entertaining aspect of the con was the cosplaying. I was incredibly impressed with the quality and detail of most of the costumes, and the level of crowd participation. Everyone I met was also really nice about pausing and posing for the fans and cameras. It was pretty indicative of the crowd atmosphere in general. It was fun to see so many people nerding out and having a great time, taking refuge in the sanctum of kinship that comes with being a geek or nerd.

I walked away from the event impressed, knowing that it’s not easy to organize something like that in such a remote part of the world. I was very appreciative that so many staff and volunteers put in the necessary hours to make it happen, and thankful to see so many people, young and old, enjoying the festivities. Be sure to check out the full cosplay gallery here

James Shewmake was the science and nerd culture columnist for the Alaska Commons. He also provided photojournalism and general editorial content for the site. He was the 2nd place finalist for the 2013 Alaska Press Club Leslie Ann Murray Award for his editorial piece on science and religion. James holds a Master’s of Science degree in Natural Resource Management from the University of Alaska - Fairbanks. When he is not working on content for the Commons, he is usually dedicating himself to research on subsistence fisheries, time travel, and/or the establishment of a new Galactic Empire.

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