Anime enthusiasts gather

Setsucon convention wraps up today

Anime and manga fanatics had the chance to immerse themselves in another reality — one marked by specialized Japanese merchandise, brightly colored costumes, character figurines and manga film showings — at the Blair County Convention Center on Saturday.

The Penn State Anime Organization hosted its 12th annual Setsucon convention, offering educational workshops, gaming tournaments, costume contests, an anime library, belly dancing lessons and opportunities to meet voice actors within the anime industry.

Ryan Foster, a Setsucon convention co-founder who grew up watching animes like “Sailor Moon” and “Dragon Ball Z,” said, “At the time when we started to plan, there were no other anime conventions in central Pennsylvania, and there were very few in Pennsylvania at all.”

“We really love to provide an affordable, close-to home experience for people in this region,” he added. “For college students who live on diets of ramen, that might be something they would be interested in.”

“The main thing we like to see is that people get to have a weekend away from whatever they’re doing,” Foster said. “Just have a weekend of entertainment, enjoyment and fun with either themselves or making new friends at the event or learning more about either anime or manga or the industry or all the tangential aspects of it that they didn’t know before.”

Daman Mills, a voice actor with Texas-based company Funimation, said: “Anime is not just cartoons and for kids. There’s a wide array of different genres in anime from drama to horror to romance to comedy for all ages … there’s something for everybody out there.”

Mills, who has been professionally voice acting since 2012, has lent his voice to many anime movies including “Dragon Ball Super,” “Nanbaka,” “One Piece Film: Gold, Black Clover,” “The Royal Tutor” and “Pokemon.” Other voice actors at the convention included Micah Solusod, Amber Lee Connors and Leah Clark.

The Setsucon convention was first hosted in 2007 with 150 to 250 people in attendance. This year, the convention committee expected between 1,000 to 1,400 attendees.

Alyssa May, a Penn State University student who attended Setsucon, said “Anime has been in my life ever since I was 3 years old. My older brother had to baby-sit me and sat me in front of the TV with ‘Sailor Moon’ on.”

May, wearing a blue mini-skirt and blazer accented with a red bow, said her costume inspiration comes from the character Dia Kurosawa from the “Love Live! Sunshine!!” movie.

Makenzie Hornung, another attendee who traveled more than three hours from Ohio, said she enjoys witnessing how passionate people are about their favorite characters.

“I think it’s a great medium for storytelling,” Hornung said of anime. “I think it’s beautiful, both aesthetically and through the stories it tells. I think it’s a great way for people to express themselves.”

The Penn State Anime Organization has brought anime and Japanese pop culture to the area since September 2001, hosting weekly anime screenings and providing a niche community for anime and manga fans. Setsucon runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today.

A cartoonist named Osamu Tezuka, producer of the 1952 movie “Astro Boy” and founder of Mushi Productions, is pronounced “the Father of Manga and Anime.”

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