Next Friday, samurai, schoolgirls and mechs – sometimes even a combination of the three – will invade the Student Union.
They’ll be here for UBCon, an anime convention which celebrates not only Japanese cartoons, but interests of all sorts from comic books, to board games, to live action roleplaying or LARPing.
UBCon will take place on campus from April 15-17. Many of the weekend’s events revolve around the practice of the Cosplay Contest at 2 p.m. on Saturday to a Cosplay Dating Game the same day at 4 p.m. Cosplay, or costume play, where fans dress up as their favorite characters, is a major part of UBCon and anime conventions in general. People spend weeks preparing their costumes and this is their chance to show them off to likeminded people who will appreciate the effort.
“My favorite thing is just watching different types of people in different types of costumes. I’m just like ‘Woah, what is that?’” said Sasha Aziz, a junior environmental science major.
The Nerf War, taking place at 11 p.m. Friday night, is an institution of UBCon and perhaps its most popular event. Foam dart enthusiasts bring their own Nerf guns and battle it out in the Student Union Lobby until 3 a.m.
“A lot of people come for the Nerf War. So they show up, get their badge and don’t stay for the Con,” said Phil Lennon, a sophomore mechanical engineering major.
Lennon explained that in past years, the war has resulted in “casualties,” including the glass of the ticket booth in the Student Union and questioned whether this would lead to a banning of the popular event, but as of right now it is still on the schedule.
Lennon is part of a group that hosts it’s own event called Dagorhir. Dagorhir is a LARPing event in which, according to Lennon, they “basically beat each other up with foam swords under a certain set of rules.”
“That allows people not to get hurt,” he said. “There’s been years where we’ve had 50 to 60 people on the field just beating each other up with foam swords. It’s pretty cool.”
The schedule is packed with events like this where con-goers can get involved in creative ways, but not everything requires you to break a sweat.”
UBCon has a history of attracting some pretty big names in the anime industry. Past guests include Chris Sabat – Vegeta from “Dragon Ball Z” – and Johnny Yong Bosch – Vash the Stampede from “Trigun” and the second black ranger from “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”
“I usually just go to hang out with my friends, but this year I’m most excited to see Eric Stewart,” said Johnny Miranda, a freshman political science major.
Stuart is a voice actor known for his roles as Seto Kaiba from “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and the original Brock from “Pokemon.”
A schedule of events with times and locations can be found on their website which is linked through their Facebook page. Tickets are available now for pre-order, otherwise they will be available at the door the day of the event. There is a discount for UB students with a valid ID.
David Tunis-Garcia is an arts staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org