As the city emptied for the holiday weekend, fantasy characters from around the galaxy descended into Raleigh to fill the void.
Some 14,000 heroes, villains, princesses, aliens, unicorns and other such creatures were expected at the annual three-day “Animazement” convention downtown.
One crew dressed as characters from Final Fantasy IX, a PlayStation 1 game released in 1999, spent four months designing and creating their costumes. They proudly showed off their hard work, posing for back-to-back photos for those passing by the Raleigh Convention Center on Friday afternoon.
The premise of their story is that a spiky-haired, blonde thief named Zidane kidnaps Princess Garnet, outfitted in a yellow jump suit. All the while, the buff angular Steiner, a royal knight, and General Beatrix, a busty brunette with an eye patch, work to get the princess back. Of course, it all culminates with the end of the world.
In ordinary life, they are all North Carolina natives, brothers Cory and Chris English, Cory’s girlfriend Amanda Williams, and their friend Gena Andrews.
The anime convention is not only a chance for those enthused with the Japanese cartoons, comics, and games to show off their makeup and costume skills, but also to promote the Japanese culture and film industry. The convention features an arcade room, theater, art gallery and dozens of vendors selling everything from kimonos and samurai swords to plush creatures, DVDs and comics.
Panels discussed merits and plot lines of various Japanese anime TV series, while other guests demonstrated forms of tae kwon do.
“We try to push the Japanese culture,” said Jeff Basladynski, Animazment director of video. “It’s really a cultural exchange.”
One of the event’s major sponsors was Crunchyroll, the Netflix of Japanese anime. The American company streams about 30 shows with English subtitles an hour after they air in Japan. Crunchyroll has approximately 400,000 subscribers paying $6.95 a month.
South Carolinian Craig Richardson was decked out in camouflage, black elbow-length gloves and an eye patch dressed as the character Big Boss from the video game “Metal Gear Solid.” He was talking with a younger version of himself in the form of Cary resident John Capptanos, whom he had just met.
“I’ve seen my reflection a few times today,” Richardson said. “We see each other and just know we will get along.”
Animazement continues through Sunday. For information, go to animazement.com.