Eight years ago, a small group of anime and manga fans gathered in a club room at the University of South Carolina. As time rolled on, the word got out and interest swelled, reaching beyond the local community. Today, that small gathering has evolved into NashiCon—a convention for fans of anime, manga, and much more—which takes up two floors of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. I had the good forture to become a part of this legacy for a day, and just from what I experienced, I wish I had been able to stay longer. Everyone was quite personable and polite, the staff was excited and friendly, and nearly everyone was in costume. Sometimes, the larger cons feel a bit impersonal; the staff can come across bored or jaded, because of how many people they are forced to deal with all the time. It was refreshing to attend a convention where even the staff still had that spark of passion.
Though a smaller convention, NashiCon managed to present a nice selection of guests, panels, and activities to appeal to a broad spectrum of interests. The following is a list of some of the highlights this year:
The featured guest this year was actor and voice-over star Robert Axelrod. You might know him as the voice of Lord Zedd from the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, or from his role in the 1988 film (my personal favorite) “The Blob”, though his career credits are far more extensive. Film and voice-over actress Lisle Wilkerson was also in attendance. Her credits include several characters from the fighting game “Virtual Fighter” as well as Batz Maru of “Hello Kitty”, and a role in the Academy Award winning film “Lost in Translation”.
A variety of performers, artists, and musicians gave crowd-pleasing demonstrations of their crafts. Among the attendees were DJ Cir9, game show producer Greg Wicker (affectionately known as Greggo), hip-hop/nerdcore rappers K-Murdock and Random (aka Mega-Ran), improv comedy troupe Laugh Out Loud, and comic artist Thor Thorvaldson (yes, that is his real name).
As a special treat, I interviewed the lovely Seraphina. a talented belly dance teacher and cosplayer. If you see her at any of your local conventions, I highly recommend attending her panel. For the full interview, click HERE. For additional information about Seraphina and her work, click HERE.
The Review is Here https://fanboynation.com/two-arts-in-one-seraphina-the-otaku-belly-dancer/
Sean McGuinness, aka That Godzilla Guy, is a fantastic artist, an entertaining conversationalist, and the creator of the long-running webcomic entitled “Twisted Kaiju Theatre”. One of his specialties is artistically splicing the infamous monster into other artwork, putting a whole new spin on iconic and popular images. Aside from his rabid love for the destroyer of Tokyo, Sean is also an advocate for Cosplay Is Not Consent, a widespread movement to battle inappropriate social behavior of a sexual or stereotypical nature directed at cosplayers. To learn more about a cool guy with a cool message, visit Sean’s website or find him on Facebook.
The D20 Girls Project is a nonprofit group of geek girls that travel around the country and connect with any other geek girls they meet, offering support and camaraderie. Per their website, the D20 Girls Project “combats the negative portrayal of women in geek culture by empowering women who identify as fans of various nerd industries. The D20 Girls Project is committed to creating opportunities for women and strengthening the nerd community.” The girls refer to themselves as a sort of “Geek Sorority”. They work hard to promote their lovely group of lady cosplayers, and to generally spread geek love. If you would like to learn more, check out their Facebook page. Maybe there some D20 girls in your area.
As a collector all things anime. I scored big in the manga department at NashiCon. My overfilled swag-bag was due largely to the presence of a nonprofit group, The Carolina Manga Library. If you have never heard about this group, then you are missing out on this peaceful little corner of heaven. The CML is a traveling library with a wide selection of comics, graphic novels, anime and manga that are free to peruse. You can sit back and enjoy some of those hard to find titles, or buy and trade from their specially selected stock. They host panels on literature, and help those wonderfully clueless parents learn about their children’s foreign hobbies. I spoke to head librarian Laura Mehaffey, who explained that all proceeds from sales were used to buy more manga for the library and to cover their travel cost. Laura also hosted the Great Manga Trade, which is exactly what it sounds like: a barter-only manga trade. I had a lot of fun with this event, and walked away with some spiffy new additions for my shelves.
For the collectors and swag-queens/kings out there, the dealers room at NashiCon caters heavily to trading cards and manga. A substantial portion of the dealers sold cards, from Pokemon to Magic to YuGiOh. Some booths carried figures as well, though most of the available merchandise focused on titles that were popular in the US, such as Dragon Ball Z and Bleach. Still, there were some good quality items to be found, if you looked thoroughly.
The Artist’s Alley was one of the busiest areas around the con. Of course, with comic artists like Thor Thorvaldson, Sean McGuinness, and appearances by nerd rapper Mega-ran, it was not surprising. A wide variety of art styles and merchandise made me want to go back again and again, just to see if there was anything I missed the first time around. Some of the t-shirts and handmade items were super cute; I had to convince myself more than once that I didn’t need another crocheted octopus. I am sure that the selection will continue to grow with each passing year.
And finally, the cosplayers. They. Were. EVERYWHERE. And it was awesome. Just by looking around and overhearing comments the attendees made to each other, it was pretty obvious that everyone was there to have a great time and appreciate the effort they had put forth to show their love for their favorite characters. Almost everything I heard was positive and complimentary, and everyone was pleased to have their photos taken. It was great to see so much support outpouring from attendees and staff alike. NashiCon is a great convention for cosplayers. Just for fun, I have compiled a Top Ten cosplay countdown for everything I saw there. To see the list and learn about the entries, click HERE–>https://fanboynation.com/16521/
Despite its size, NashiCon had a lot going on—far too much to cover in a single article. But overall, the con had a great atmosphere, friendly staff, and plenty to see and enjoy. I recommend it to anyone with a love for anime, as well as any geek who wants an inexpensive yet fun weekend. I look forward to attending again next year!