The Midwest’s biggest Japanese culture convention, Anime Central, had another great run this year at the Rosemont Convention Center just outside of Chicago. With amazing guests and even more amazing cosplay, here’s a look at what Anime Central 2013 had to offer.
The main convention’s panels were held at the Rosemont Hilton, but the Artist Alley and Dealer’s Room were located across the street in the (strangely small) Rosemont Convention Center. Both venues were fairly crowded most times of the day with a lot of traffic jams, but it made it easy to spot great cosplay as people went back and forth between the two buildings and other hotels down the street.
As expected from the Midwest’s largest anime convention, there were a ton of amazing costumes. Also in attendance at the convention, selling in the dealer’s room, were three wig dealers (Epic Cosplay, Arda Wigs, and The Five Wits)- a clear sign that cosplayers are hitting the dealer’s room more than ever for cosplay supplies.
I had the privilege of attending a few guest panels as press – one with Yukino, an up-and-coming jpop singer, and voice actor Taliesin Jaffe. Yukino gave us some insight on breaking into the music scene both in Japan and America, a sample of her first album, and even a short snippet of her singing a cappella.
In his panel, Taliesin Jaffe talked about the future of video games, fandom, and anime conventions. He admitted that he doesn’t attend a lot of conventions, but every time he’s at one, he’s amazed at the sheer number of people who attend – people from every walk of life, with all kinds of backgrounds and all kinds of interests, brought together by their common interest in anime, manga, and gaming. As I was the only cosplayer in the entire press room for this panel and was feeling a bit awkward, it made me feel a little better!
The highlight cosplay-wise at the convention for guests was musical group Kalafina. Although they’ve sung many anime openings and endings over the last few years, their most well-known song is Magia, the opening for Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Their performance of Magia at the Friday night concert brought audiences to a standing ovation, made even better when the three singers did a special shout-out to the Madoka cosplayers in the crowd.
Cosplay Photography at Anime Central
Because Anime Central is spread out over two venues and at least four other hotels, there is no shortage of backgrounds and places to shoot. The convention center proper was too crowded, but I found great backgrounds in an unused part of the food court, as well as an elegant fountain area by the conference rooms.
The Hilton had wonderful skylights that were ideal for shooting with natural light only if people so desired. I had brought along only a single speedlight to use as fill, so I did a lot of natural light shooting when I could. A really cool feature of the hotel on the second floor were the red backlit couches.
Behind the convention center and the Hilton is a wooded area next to a river, perfect for natural backdrops. It was swarmed with photographers later on Friday and all day Saturday, although the place was also infested with mosquitos, which snacked on exposed legs and feet. Nevertheless, the filtered sunlight through the trees and clearings full of fallen logs created some of the best natural scenery I’ve seen at a convention.
Overall this year, the weather cooperated for outdoor photoshoots, the costumes were amazing, and Anime Central 2013 once again proved that it’s the Midwest’s premier anime convention.