Zenkaikon returns to Lancaster Convention Center for a weekend of imaginative fun and cosplay
Face it – you’ve always been curious. Maybe you’ve heard about comic conventions – comic-cons, as they’re called – in the news or seen some photos in your Facebook feed. To the unfamiliar, these playful, costume-clad gatherings might seem, well, weird. But once you step past that comfort zone threshold, we’re confident you’ll find that the people behind the masks and face paint are truly regular ol’ people who just like to have a good time.
Just two weeks after the Central PA ComicCon wrapped up in York, the Zenkaikon convention makes its return to Lancaster’s Convention Center this weekend.
Lancaster County Convention Center (25 South Queen Street, Lancaster)
Created in 2006 with the merger of two Philadelphia-based conventions (the Zentrancon and Kosaikon), Zenkaikon moved to Lancaster in 2013 and has been steadily growing – hosting more than 4,000 attendees last year.
Kristyn Souder, communications director for Zenkaikon, says “word has spread that we have a great event,” with local businesses going out of their way to accommodate the welcoming and diverse anime community. Souder says she first attended Zenkaikon in 2007 after getting involved in anime as a student at LaSalle University years before.
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“We usually think of cartoons in the U.S. as kids shows,” Souder says, “but a lot of [anime] has some really deep themes and things in them that appeal to a much broader audience.”
This year’s installment of Zenkaikon features everything from live action role-playing events and a cosplay burlesque show to artists selling their wares and karaoke competitions. The convention also hosts some of the biggest names in anime art and voiceovers, including Richard Horvitz (Alpha 5 from the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers), Rikki Simons (GIR from Invader ZIM) and Trina Nishimura (Mikasa Ackerman in Attack on Titan).
The real standout event of Zenkaikon is the cosplay masquerade, with participants creating a staged show involving their costumes, including musical numbers, choreographed dances and comedy sketches. There’s also the Hall Cosplay Contest with handmade costumes judged on the makers’ craftsmanship.
Souder says she’s always impressed by the cosplay competitions, with some of her favorite entries being someone dressed an elaborate character from the video game Halo and a group of people from the anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
“We get some pretty amazing costumes, so it’s hard to pick just one,” Souder says.
PHOTOS: Relive the magic from the Central PA ComicCon.