Posted Online: June 18, 2010, 7:58 pm

For fans, anime is more than art

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By Christina Salter, csalter@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck
Tom Bullock, left and brother Kyle Bullock of Bettendorf look over a sword from vendor Renant Cheng at the QC Anime-zing event held Friday at The Lodge in Bettendorf. The QC Anime-zing runs through Sunday featuring panels, cosplay competition, screenings, gaming, autograph signings, vendors, art exhibits, a dance, and more.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck
Cassy Caldwell of Moline, left and Shannon Blue of Chicago at the registration desk with 'Taiyo' an original creation doll made by Cassy Caldwell's Resin Shop. The QC Anime-zing event held Friday at The Lodge in Bettendorf. The QC Anime-zing runs through Sunday featuring panels, cosplay competition, screenings, gaming, autograph signings, vendors, art exhibits, a dance, and more.
At the sound of "Naruto, Kakashi, take one!" Jonathan Ross and Brandon Smith jumped in action, a blur of sound effects, dramatic fight moves and elaborate costumes.

As participants in cosplay -- a form of role-playing where anime fans dress as their favorite characters and re-enact battle scenes -- the two were among the crowds of anime fans at The Lodge in Bettendorf Thursday for QCAnime-zing, the area's first anime convention.

The event kicked off Friday morning as plenty of costumed characters walked the halls of the hotel decked out with everything from hot pink wigs to oversize fake scythes. Vendors sold anime-related wares, including stuffed animals and Japanese candy. Rooms were reserved for character photoshoots, video and card gaming, and anime screenings.



Musical performances and panel discussions also are scheduled throughout the weekend, including "Otaku Dating Advice," "The Ins & Outs of Writing for Anime"and a discussion with former Power Ranger and voice actor Johnny Yong Bosch.

Alistair Hardy of Aardvark Screen Printing sold T-shirts with Internet humor, game and anime themes. Based in Alabama, he said he travels to anime conventions all over the country; the QC conference marked his first convention in Iowa.

"It was a new show, and we wanted to give it a good shot,"he said.

Though he said an anime convention probably would be a "total culture shock" to people unfamiliar with it, Mr. Hardy said almost all conference attendees are very polite and a "fun group to hang around."

Ollice Kirksey, an employee of the House of Gaming and Anime in Chicago, sold a wide range of products including DVDs, VHS tapes, books and accessories. He said his employer usually travels to only more established conventions, but is trying to visit more events this year.

All new conventions start out small, he said, and require a lot of advertising. However, he noted, the demand for anime is high in areas where fans have less access to conventions. He predicted the Quad- Cities event likely will expand in future years.

"The best areas to start conventions are ones that don't have it in the first place," he said.

QC Anime-zing is the second of three new events planned by organizer Ryan Kopf. In January, he held the first Anime-zap in Peoria, an event he plans to repeat next year. He also has scheduled Anime-spark in Cedar Rapids in February 2011.

Mr. Kopf was excited by the early turnout at the Q-Cevent and looking forward to other weekend events, such as the masquerade cosplay costume competition. Some entrants spend hours working on their costumes, he said.

Caroline Corr of Sycamore wore ears and a tail and carried two stuffed anime characters Friday at the convention. Her cousin, Ryan Corr, of Manato, dressed as Itchigo, a character with flaming orange hair and a long black robe.

Caroline said she has been interested in anime for more than three years and was excited to find an event close to home.

Mr. Ross, of Cedar Rapids, said he has developed his Kakashi costume over four years, trying to look as authentic as possible. He even uses special fabric that lets him drink through his mask.

"In the anime, he never removes the mask," he said.

The cosplay performer said he travels to about four conventions per year. He said it's "really amazing" that Mr. Kopf is organizing more such events in the area.

"I'm just glad that new conventions are in Iowa," he said.




If you go:

QC Anime-zing continues 24 hours per day through the weekend at The Lodge in Bettendorf. Main events are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. today into Sunday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.