Kumoricon draws thousands of animated fans

Organizers expect more than 7,000 at anime-manga event this weekend in Vancouver

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If you go

o What: Kumoricon Anime Festival.

o Where: Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St., Vancouver, and the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, 100 Columbia St., Vancouver.

o When: Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

o Cost: Adult tickets: $55 for all three days, $35 Saturday or Sunday only, $25 Friday or Monday only. Children's tickets: $35 for children ages 6-12 for all three days, $25 Saturday or Sunday only, $15 Friday or Monday only; free for children 5 and younger. Pay at the door.

o Information: http://kumoricon.org.

Anime classics

Here are five anime classics recommended by the organizers of Kumoricon:

o "Princess Mononoke."

o "Bleach."

o "Naruto."

o "Neon Genesis Evangelion."

o "Sailor Moon."

Anime & manga

Types of anime (cartoons) and manga (print comics) and their target audiences:

Kodomo, for small children of both genders.

Shojo, for girls ages 10 and older, focused on high schools, drama, magic.

Shonen, for boys ages 10 and older, focused on sports teams or fighting squads.

Seinen, for men, focused on war stories or tales of action and adventure.

Josei, for women, focused on romantic tales.

If you go

o What: Kumoricon Anime Festival.

o Where: Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St., Vancouver, and the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, 100 Columbia St., Vancouver.

o When: Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

o Cost: Adult tickets: $55 for all three days, $35 Saturday or Sunday only, $25 Friday or Monday only. Children’s tickets: $35 for children ages 6-12 for all three days, $25 Saturday or Sunday only, $15 Friday or Monday only; free for children 5 and younger. Pay at the door.

o Information: http://kumoricon.org.

Anime classics

Here are five anime classics recommended by the organizers of Kumoricon:

o “Princess Mononoke.”

o “Bleach.”

o “Naruto.”

o “Neon Genesis Evangelion.”

o “Sailor Moon.”

Anime & manga

Types of anime (cartoons) and manga (print comics) and their target audiences:

Kodomo, for small children of both genders.

Shojo, for girls ages 10 and older, focused on high schools, drama, magic.

Shonen, for boys ages 10 and older, focused on sports teams or fighting squads.

Seinen, for men, focused on war stories or tales of action and adventure.

Josei, for women, focused on romantic tales.

With a combination of post-apocalyptic visions, demons, heroes and just a dash of David Bowie, the cosplay group “Ninja of the Night” could be a top choice for the bizarre mash-up prize at this year’s Kumoricon — if it had one.

The convention, at the Hilton Vancouver Washington and Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, is a celebration for fans of all things manga and anime.

And while it doesn’t have a bizarre mash-up contest, it does have other contests, and a lot of creative fun for groups such as “Night of the Ninja” that are interested in Japanese animation, comic books and costumed role playing.

“Ever since my first Kumoricon 12 years ago, it’s been this horrible addiction,” said Kayla Castronovo, a Portland-based member of the group, which tours around the Pacific Northwest. “My wallet suffers every year, but I love it.”

Her group, which includes members from Chicago and California, will be honored cosplayers at this year’s event. They’re performing at the opening ceremony and at the half-time show for the cosplay contest.

“This year, we’re doing a skit based on ‘Attack on Titan,’ about this semi-post-apocalyptic world,” Castronovo said. “We’ll be dressed as characters fighting the Titans, and we’ll act like military explaining those rules, except we’ll really be explaining the Kumoricon rules to attendees.”

At the half-time show, they’ll do a different mash-up of an anime show called “Black Butler” and a spoof on the classic David Bowie film “Labyrinth.”

“It’s set in the Victorian era, and it’s about a young boy that contracts with a demon to get revenge after his family is murdered,” she said of the anime show. “So we’ll be dressed as those characters, but we’ll be acting in a skit that has fun with ‘Labyrinth’ in those costumes.”

Kumoricon, in its 12th year, grew from a University of Oregon club. It was first held in Eugene, Ore., then moved to Portland when it grew too large for Eugene.

It was held in Portland — with the exception of 2007 — until 2011, when it outgrew that city’s venues and organizers decided to move it to Southwest Washington, which had more hotel room and more space for cosplay and other activities.

In 2013, there were close to 6,500 attendees at the event, and this year spokeswoman Teph Williams said she thinks it will continue to grow even larger.

“This year, we’re expanding it to four days, so we’ve added a Friday,” Williams said. “We’ve just been having a great time at Kumoricon, and we wanted to expand it for our attendees.”

This year, she expects more than 7,000 to attend the event, which runs from Aug. 29 through Sept. 1.

During Kumoricon, colorfully clad cosplay groups often flood into Esther Short Park to perform skits. The public is welcome to visit and talk with them, and also to attend the convention if they decide they want to learn more, Williams said.

“We love being in Vancouver,” Williams said. “We’ve had a really great response from the community.”

The event includes viewing parties, reading rooms and even an activities room for young anime fans.

Williams, who is part of the all-volunteer staff that runs the event, said she’s excited to see Stephanie Sheh, the new voice actor for the classic anime “Sailor Moon.” Sheh has played a variety of characters in several anime films, including Hinata in “Naruto,” Orihime in “Bleach,” Eureka in “Eureka 7,” Yui in “K-On!” and Mikuru in “The Melancholy of Harui Suzumiya.”

“Everyone I’ve talked to is very excited to see her,” Williams said. ” ‘Sailor Moon,’ it’s something people remember from childhood, but the new version will be full form and reanimated.”

Castronovo said she hopes to see more new faces at this year’s event. The first time she went, she knew nothing about anime, and now it’s her passion, she said.

“Twelve years ago, when I was in high school, a friend mentioned it, and when I heard about the costumes, I begged my mom to make one for me,” Castronovo said. “She made me a ‘Dragon Ball Z’ outfit that I don’t think made it through the full three days. I’ve loved it (Kumoricon) ever since.”

The crowd, she said, is also very welcoming.

“Kumoricon is my favorite convention,” Castronovo said. “Everybody who goes there knows each other, and if you don’t know anybody yet, you’ll leave with a bunch of new friends. There’s not a lot of elitism or drama. It’s just great fun.”