By James Robert Shaw (The Wind up Geek)
I’ve always wanted to attend Tsukino-Con but the attitude among my friends were that of disdain. They believed Tsukino was a cosplay event directed at pre-teens and teens than adults who some consider the “real fans.”
I had listened to them for years but secretly I yearned to be among the people who had the same interests as I did. I couldn’t afford to travel to the big cons like Dragon Con or Anime Expo (again), and Tsukino is closer and cheaper. GottaCon is mostly for gamers but I’m an anime fan at heart.
But this year, under the thinly disguised excuse of covering Tsukino for Otaku no Culture, I made that trek (courtesy of Victoria Regional Transit) to the University of Victoria (UVic) for a dose of higher education. And the first thing I learned when I arrived was never go against what your heart tells you.
I waited in line for about 20-30 minutes and that’s considered small when compared to big venue shows. I heard from a regular con-goer that this year was the biggest she had seen and Adam Park (organizer of Tsukino-Con) said the registration line on the first day lasted roughly four hours. But with the lines hurried along thanks to the wonderful staff and volunteers, there was no big line up leading from the Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) building down to the Student Union Building (SUB). Nor was there any ill effects shown on the patrons.
Once inside, I was dazed and confused. I could commute between three buildings and make my choice of either attending panels, visiting dealers and the artists’ alley, or gaming with UVic’s Pokémon League. I honestly wish I had more time. I could have sat in with the UVic Anime Club and viewed the most recent animation Japan has to offer but I can do this every Wednesday? What I focused on was the artists and dealers — panels could wait until the second day.
The artists and dealers in the Elliott Building took up two floors of hallways, walkways and rooms. Wherever an artist or dealer could fit, the organizers packed them in like a toy soldier in a wooden box. Some familiar dealers like Labyrinth Leathercraft, Dragon Impact, Astra Crompton and Professor Whovianart Creations were in attendance but those new to me — like Lackless, Sparkle Mouse and Christy Chao — were a real pleasure to meet.
Sparkle Mouse does some exceptional work making beaded fridge magnets in the form of anime and video game characters. She also makes hats and couch throw pillows. There were two Attack on Titan pillows I wanted but I went with my better judgement and said no. I have to get down to Sakura-Con. But after Sakura, those pillows will have their place in my home. Christy Chao made some wonderful Pokémon Valentine cards but without someone to give a card to, this fan could only pay Christy with compliments.
But the real attraction of the con was the fans themselves. Whether bought or created, the costumes were beautiful to behold. Some of the best of the best were on display at the Cosplay Fashion Show and it was standing room only. The audience expressed their love for those who walked the runway but as Hollywood as those costumes appeared, my eyes were on the fans to be found outside the show. One of them was my co-worker Paige. She was so proud of her first hand-made costume (a Squirtle onesie from Pokémon).
Now some people may say it wasn’t as professional a costume as Dawn Richardson‘s Loki from Marvel Entertainment’s Thor, but Paige’s costume was created from her heart. And when it comes to cosplaying, having heart is a very good start.