[dropcap1]W[/dropcap1]hat a firestorm! This year’s Nekocon in Hampton Roads, Virginia was a marvelous display of the South’s love for all things anime, fantasy, and comics. I had the honor of being a press member for the wonderful convention. Thousands gathered at the Hampton Roads Convention Center for the event of the season. Hundreds flocked the halls in their colorful and intricate cosplays. Avatar: The Legend of Korra, Marvel, and Pokemon cosplayers posed, paraded, and leapt all around this corner of Virginia, eagerly awaiting for the next panel or skit.

Like last year, the Dealer’s Room and the Artist’s Alley did not disappoint me with their body pillows, giant plushies, and beautiful prints. The late night panels offered the erotic, the informative, and the horrible (horror games) for all those interested in a little tom-foolery after-hours. A good buddy of mine Adam actually did an awesome panel on Space Western and Space Operas, so that was interesting to attend (JOHNNNN CENNNAAAA).

Be The Match was also the official patron of Nekocon this year. They are a wonderful organization that specializes in helping people find matches for bone marrow. They were awesome to speak with. This is their first Nekocon, but hopefully not their last!

Website: Be The Match.

BTM

As I get older, I start to realize my views on anime and the convention scene have changed. I feel a bit more mature, so at times particular events and interactions have turned me off from particular conventions. I also find myself becoming nostalgic about the older anime I used to watch, and I crave those classics over the modern ones (Where are all the Cowboy Bebop cosplayers dammit?!). The only thing that has stayed the same for me, is my love of cosplay. Nekocon did not disappoint one bit in the beautiful creations I saw grace the center.

My curiosity about how others felt about cosplaying and Nekocon in general escalated, so I decide to do mini interviews with several attendees. Please enjoy!

Lumy Crafts
lumycraftscosplay

Black Nerd Problems: How important is cosplay to Nekocon?

Lumy: I figure it would be as important as towards any other convention. I’ve seen the same level of cosplaying done from con to con– it’s a personal thought to cosplay at a convention but I don’t find it to be a requirement of going to Nekocon, or any convention.

BNP: What changes have you noticed within the cosplay community, good or bad?

Lumy: As most underground-to-mainstream things go, its community is getting larger and more diverse. Those that don’t have art, fashion, or technical backgrounds want to participate because it looks fun and they love the characters they portray. And, with any niche group or community, the larger and more diverse it becomes, the more those growing pains kick in and criticisms, good and bad, arise. The main change, for me, has been the level of diversity which is, sadly, not as appreciated as it should be.

BNP: What can Nekocon do better?

Lumy: This was my first NekoCon, but not my first convention. While I do cosplay, I go to conventions like these for the panels and the artistic expression I can find. So, I would like to direct my criticism towards a convention’s responsibility (especially for anime, comic, gaming, etc) to promote cultural diversity, tolerance, and understanding among its population. I fear that due to some questionable choices in NekoCon’s theme (Arabic-themed) and panel choices (how to wear a Sari), they failed in this avenue. Hopefully appropriate, honest, and pinpoint critique was filed to bring up this failure and it will be properly addressed next convention.

Cosplay Page

Nick
nickcosplay

Black Nerd Problems: What was Nekocon like for you this year?

Nick: Well, it was definitely an experience, seeing as to how it was my first convention! One thing I definitely found is that there’s very little, in my opinion, that can prepare you for going to a con if you’ve never been to one before. It wasn’t too much to handle or any kind of overwhelming, but the sheer diversity of costumes and, by extension, amount of loving hours obviously placed into the costumes I saw, was staggering. In short, it was a new experience that I very much enjoyed!

BNP: What changes have you noticed within the cosplay community, good or bad?

Nick: Unfortunately, I can’t entirely answer this question, because this was pretty well my first outing with the cosplay community! However, I will note that, as my first outing, the community absolutely filled my impressions of what it would be – a group of nerdy, often awkward, amazing individuals who, above most else, understand that the convention is a place for people like them to exercise a certain amount of creative limb-stretching in the face of a society that usually raises one judging eyebrow at how weird and different they are. Whereas everyday life can vary in how accepting it is of people in the cosplay community, the convention IS their home.

BNP: What can Nekocon do better?

Nick: One thing I would have liked to have seen would be more group activities for the general convention to participate in, and some of them spontaneous. Now, this may just be a weird me thing that I want because I’ve never been to a con before this one, but I think that a greater amount of just general activities, preferably in the main promenade of the convention center, would have provided a good opportunity for me personally to have stepped somewhat away from the people I already knew, and venture a bit more into the people I didn’t.

Devilish Vixen
devilishvixen

Black Nerd Problems: Why do you cosplay?

Devilish Vixen: I cosplay because it’s become a part of who I am. In the beginning, I remember just wanting to make something for the con to fit in, but now I constantly am making cosplays throughout the year. It relives my stress and keeps me constantly challenging myself. The con environment is what I look forward to as much as possible, because it’s like my separate home full of loving and amazing people. I would never give that up.

BNP: What changes have you noticed within the cosplay community, good or bad?

Devilish Vixen: I’ve honestly noticed both. With the more attention conventions are receiving, I feel the more they are being accepted. I’ve personally noticed people who used to pick on me for watching anime or cosplaying attend my home con because they were curious. This is also creating more conventions. Now for the negatives: This is more about the people and the diversity. I’ve seen more stereotypes about people not being able to cosplay because of the color of their skin more and more recently, and it’s upsetting. Maybe I just never was a social media junkie like I am now, but that’s hurtful to finally see.

Also, I feel like the people who represent cosplay (big name cosplayers) are unintentionally making some cosplayers feel uncomfortable in their skin. If they don’t look like those that are famous, they doubt themselves and that’s not what cosplay is about. It’s about having fun and working to show off what you can do. I just wish everyone would keep that original definition in mind.

BNP: What can Nekocon do better?

Devilish Vixen: This year’s Nekocon was a little odd to me because the atmosphere continues to change every year and not in a good way. The Dealer’s room is starting to get worse and worse, and that’s the part I’m mostly excited about. It was slightly empty. That goes for the game room as well. This was the first year that none of the panels were really for me, but I know it changes every year (so that’s okay!). Lastly, the new door policy is a hassle. I don’t mind that badges are required, but hard cosplays are hard to walk in (I know one of mine was!).

My Page

Photographer Credit

Yakfrost
yakfrostcosplay

Black Nerd Problems: Why do you cosplay?

Yakfrost : I cosplay because it’s a hobby that helps me feel good. It offers a good temporary distraction from reality and is a wonderful emotional outlet that helps develop my crafting skills and raise my self confidence level as well.

BNP: What changes have you noticed within the cosplay community, good or bad?

Yakfrost : I have noticed a few changes in the cosplay community for the better – for example, the recognition of how terrible blackface is and the recognition of what is cultural appreciation vs. cultural appropriation, etc. ,but the issue of objectification and sexual harassment is still prevailing in the community.

(for example, Nekocon weekend a man just walked up to me and hugged me without out my permission)

BNP: What can Nekocon do better?

Yakfrost : Nekocon might be able to improve organization and timing – I was waiting 30-45 minutes in line for a skit rehearsal because some sheets weren’t printed out in time. Other than that, I have no complaints.

Cosplay Page
Photo credit: Striking Cosplay

Nekocon, may you learn from this year’s convention, and come back stronger than ever!

Check out the awesome cosplayers featured in this article!

*Photos provided by Jenova Cosplay & Drew Gap Photography; Photography Page

*Special thanks to Calstor & Beann Cosplays

*All photos given to us by interviewees

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  • Oona Sura is a cosplay enthusiast with an appreciation for Framboise Lambic, Haruki Murakami, and cats. Catch her at the next anime convention on the East Coast!

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