A n00b's first Nan Desu Kan anime convention experience

My theory about life is, whatever you do, go hard. If you're into fantasy football or Phish or being Irish, by all means, tell the world. This weekend's installment of the fifteenth annual Nan Desu Kan anime convention experience was just that, an exemplary parade of anime fanatics, three-fourths of whom were dressed to the Cosplay nines (check out Westword's 2011 50 Best Cosplayers at Nan Desu Kan slideshow to see what I mean). Running for three straight days at the Marriott DTC, I didn't venture down to the convention until Sunday afternoon, but the crowds were still out and in full apparel. A hearse decorated with biohazard emblems and shiny rims greeted us, parked out front like a showboat blaring White Zombie. A woman dressed as some kind of Gothic/naughty school girl smoking a cigarette was standing next to it, keeping watch. Inside, the place was nuts -- Dragon Ball Z characters mixed with The Legend of Zelda dudes (Link was an extremely popular costume choice) and Team Rocket types, along with lots of women in Sailor Moon-ish costumes. I took my sister along for the trip, as she has a little experience with anime and the like, and she was able to identify some of the dozens of costumes for me (although we couldn't figure out who the guy dressed like a Pop Tart was supposed to be). The best part about these devotees was the fact that every person we asked to photograph had a predetermined pose to go along with his or her costume. It was nothing short of impressive.

The costumes were gorgeous -- obviously carefully planned, and some probably taking dozens of man hours to sew and piece together -- but one observation was the smell. It reminded me of that time when I worked at a Chili's by a giant movie theater, and whenever a new Star Wars or Harry Potter movie would be released, people would camp out (sometimes for days) in costume, outside the theater. While NDK goers probably weren't wearing these get-ups nonstop, the third day of a convention was definitely a ripe one. It also didn't help that it was a million degrees in the hotel.

But beyond such minor odor inconveniences, this last day still yielded plenty of smiling faces and cool crap to buy. The Dealer's Room -- a marketplace for candy, anime, housewares and Kimonos -- was packed with all sorts of cutesy things, like body-pillow cases with sexy girls on them. The NDK convention planned ahead for its masses too, as all props and large costume pieces had to be checked prior to entering the tiny room. Although there were hundreds of people in and out of the hotel's tight spaces, conventioneers were extremely polite if we happened to accidentally elbow each other. We didn't get to any of the amazing seminars (costume wig maintenance, a Manga production workshop, and Cosplay group therapy sessions ran throughout the weekend) but we did stumble upon some live Dance Dance Revolution competitions and rooms of gamers. It was weird to sit in a dark room and watch strangers play video games, but it was also the only place to cool off. (It should be noted that the convention provided plenty of water stations throughout the hotel.)

Overall, my first trip to the NDK anime convention was pretty awesome -- I think next year I would like to go all out in Cosplay get-up, catch a few seminars on memes and anime, and sit in on the voice actor panels. And come with several hundred dollars in my pocket so I can purchase all the Pocky Sticks, sexy bedding and freaky Pokemon masks my heart desires.

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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.
Contact: Bree Davies