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Teens gather for fifth annual anime convention

Aug 31, 2017 06:38PM ● Published by Jana Klopsch

Cosplayers at ToshoCON (Kelsy Thompson/SL Co. Library)

Gallery: Anime Con [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Ruth Hendricks | Ruth.H@mycityjournals.com

ToshoCON, the fifth annual Teen Anime Convention was held Aug. 4, 5 at the West Jordan Library. The first convention was in August 2013 with more than 1,100 attendees. The convention grew in 2014 to two days with more 1,600 convention-goers, and the most recent, 2016 convention, was attended by more than 2,000 teens.

Anime is a style of animation originating in Japan that is characterized by stark, colorful graphics with vibrant characters in action-filled plots, often with fantastic or futuristic themes. The word is the abbreviated pronunciation of “animation” in Japanese.

The free convention was created and sponsored by the Salt Lake County Library Services for teens 12 to 19 years old. Teens were also involved in the planning of the event. The STEM program for anime fans gives teens the opportunity to demonstrate their creative talent and compete in contests in three categories. 

The first category was cosplay (costumed play, where participants dress up as a fictional character). Teens competed in a beginner, intermediate, master or skit category. The second category was anime music video, and the third was anime art.

In addition to showing off their artistic skills in the contests, teens also had the opportunity to teach their peers by participating in teen-led panel discussions.

Kelsy Thompson, public relations coordinator for the library, said there were various teen panels to discuss different anime shows during the two-day convention “Panelists were teens talking to teens in the audience. Panels started at 4 p.m. each day, and a practice session at 3 p.m. helps the panelists prepare for the event,” said Thompson.

On Friday, the topics or shows discussed by the fangirls and fanboys included “Steven Universe Sleepover,” “Homestruck Dancestors,” “Fandom Fights,” “Supernatural Slumber Party,” Are You Humanity’s Strongest?” and “Hetalia: Battle of the Ships.”

Saturday’s panel topics covered “Mystic Messenger Maid Café,” “Black Butler PJ Party,” “Undertale” and “Teen Band.”

ToshoCON also offered a variety of hands-on crafts and activities for teens, as well as tips and tricks for creating cosplay-related costumes, art and videos. Popular anime and manga products (Japanese comic books and graphic novels) were sold by teens and other vendors. Vendors had to meet seller criteria and be approved by the ToshoCON committee.

The art contest was conducted online, with electronic copies of the art submitted to a website. 

There were three categories for entries, consisting of hand-drawn art in black and white or grayscale; hand-drawn art in color; and mixed media, including all electronic images of complete cosplay costumes, digital art, 3D art and sculpture.

Participants in the art contest had previously submitted their entries by June 30. During July, the entries could be viewed and voted on at the website. The winners were announced at the convention’s closing, along with the cosplay contest winners. 

The teens’ original anime music videos were shown on Saturday night, with the winners announced at the end of the program.

Winning art entries in the contest can be seen at util.slcolibrary.org/2017AnimeArtContest/html/winners.cfm.    

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