by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Courtesy Common at Japanese Anime Convention
Photo by Tony Rutherford

Tsubasacon started as a small Charleston convention for fans of Japanese popular culture, particularly an aspect referred to as "anime." Japanese animation stylistically characterized by colorful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastic themes.

Under the guidance of Huntingtonian Jack Varney the "con" has continually grown in popularity. Nestled snugly in the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Conference Center, the family friendly, volunteer oriented organization will surpass the 2012 attendance record, according to Varney during a brief Saturday interview amongst an array of mostly costumed fans strolling artist alley, a vendor's room, playing video games, listening to "voice actors" explain production process and an occasional twosome  momentarily stretched on the carpet resting weary legs.

As Varney speculated about next year's convention moving up a tier from "local" to "regional," the con's growth has had a resounding ripple effect on downtown Huntington's economy. Thus, a possible regional expansion has more significance than stepping into a part of the  bigger venue next door and an increase in magnitude and number of guest artists. It would mean more visitor's at area hotels, more diners at restaurants, and more charitable donations.

And more fun and entertainment, too.

Walking the halls filled with blue haired women , "Star Wars" storm troopers, and tethered halos, wings, and light sabers, something else stood out.  Crowded events often equal snappy tempers, but, no, not at Tsubasacon. Squeeze, bump, dodge, or drift into a photo and repeatedly two words were continually repeated: Excuse Me. That included patrons (of all ages), administrators and volunteers.

Having the esteemed pleasure of escorting a professional cosplay "doll" attired in a long dress with a trail, delicate wings, and a crown, everyone looked after each other, whether politely avoiding the delicate white trail or pausing as attendee after attendee asked for a picture.

Cosplaying, otherwise known as dressing in a costume or a masquerade has risen in popularity along with Tsubasacon. The convention's near Halloween timing isn't the reason, as cons across the world have increasingly found fans dressed as their favorite character.

Varney suggested that dressing up allows people to be more of themselves without the fear of not fitting in.

Whether it's that or putting on the costume of an inspirational hero or heroine, the fans and organizers  at Tsubasacon conducted themselves prstinely, while letting their imaginations soar beyond the solar system.

Maybe Western Culture could stand a lesson from courteous Japanese society, even as the politeness has transferred from pen and ink or computerized animation into the halls of the Big Sandy Superstore Conference Center.