Elaborate costumes, brightly colored hair and an assortment of eclectic personalities invaded the Marriott Hotel in the Denver Tech Center on Oct. 6-8.
Thousands filled the hotel for Nan Desu Kan, or NDK. The three-day convention primarily focused on anime, but also explored other parts of Japanese culture. This is the 10th year the gathering has been held.
“In some ways, NDK parallels the way anime has grown in the United States,” said Matthew Porter, the NDK press coordinator. “It has become so much more popular and so much more accessible to the mainstream audience.”
The annual event has come a long way since its humble beginnings. The first convention in 1997 took place here at Auraria. It lasted two days and had one guest speaker. There were approximately 200 in attendance. This year, the final number is expected to be more than 5,000.
“When the convention began, anime was really an obscure hobby,” Porter said. “There were a growing number of people forming networks and clubs, finding ways to share and enjoy the anime, manga and related cultural information.”
On Sept. 26 the NDK website reported that the Marriott was completely sold out of rooms. The Marriott is the fifth host of the convention.
The majority of attendees came in “cosplay,” that is, dressed like anime characters. Gordon Wong, one of the many who dressed up, garnered more attention than he anticipated when he came as Hatake Kakashi from the "Naruto" series.
“It’s kind of weird,” Wong said. “People would just hug me without warning.”
In the dealer room, merchants from across the country sold a variety of Japanese paraphernalia. From toys and costumes to CDs and Pocky, there were plenty of imported products for fans to choose from.
“[Business] is better than last year,” said Rebecca Malakua of Asylum Anime. “This is not one of the bigger anime conventions … but people are willing to come from farther away.”
Asylum Anime is a store based in Pittsburg, Kan.
Porter said the convention was fortunate to get representatives from anime studio Madhouse Production at this year’s festival. Madhouse is known for producing classics such as "Ninja Scroll" and "Trigun." The representatives brought trailers of upcoming projects for the opening ceremony.
“It looks like they have a lot of great things in store,” Porter said. “We’re eager to see what they do next.”
The anime music video contest was a popular draw on Oct. 7 as fans crowded the main events room. Thirty AMVs competed in four categories as audience members voted for their favorites. An AMV is a fan-made video that combines clips from one or more anime features with music.
Another interesting event was the “How to Talk to Girls” panel on Friday night. One piece of advice given to the mostly male, standing-room crowd was to talk to girls as if “they were guys without dicks.”
Porter thinks the convention has a great future. Every year there is an increase in attendance, which he credits to the fan-friendly atmosphere and the “stellar array of guests.”
“Looking forward, the convention’s going to keep getting larger,” Porter said. “I think we’ll keep attracting more and more interesting guests, both from Japan and from North America in the anime industry. It’ll be a great 10 years to come.”
Joe Nguyen is a staff writer for asiaXpress.com. You can reach Joe at email@example.com.
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