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Cosplayers at last year’s Kamikaze. From left to right: Ben Prall, Cassie Bradbury, and Victoria Pitarys. Courtesy of Candice B. Campbell of Sakura Yume Photography.




Queen City Kamikaze

Where: Manchester Memorial High School, 1 Crusader Way, Manchester
When: Saturday, March 7, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
Cost: $10
Visit: queencitykamikaze.com




Get your geek on
Comic convention returns to Queen City

03/05/15
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



If you’re looking for a place to geek out over cartoons, comic books and cosplay without judgment, the sixth annual Queen City Kamikaze is the place to be. It’s happening Saturday, March 7, at Manchester Memorial High School.

“It’s a one-day anime, video game, pop culture mash-up day for people to get out, have a good time and celebrate being a geek,” said Jeff Normandin, co-organizer of the event. “We kind of started it as an alternative to other conventions that are spread over three days and cost ridiculous amounts of money.”
The festivities will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and admission is $10. Normandin said that while most conventions charge for tournaments and games on top of the entry fee, all events inside Kamikaze will be free.
“We really want to keep it affordable while throwing everything at you that we can and making it fun,” he said.
Kamikaze was started and is primarily run by the high school’s video game and anime clubs as well as NeonBomb, a Manchester comic book and video game store that Normandin co-owns. In the past, the convention has only used the high school’s cafeteria and hallways, but this year, with an expected attendance of 800 to 1,000 people and over 100 vendors, the convention will be taking over the entire building, including the gym, auditorium and classrooms.
“Every year we get more and more,” said Normandin. “A pretty broad range of people attend. The majority of people that show up are high school [students] or just out of high school, but the past few years we’ve started to see more older people come [with] their younger kids.”
One of the main attractions to Kamikaze, and most comic conventions, Normandin said, is the costume, or “cosplay,” contests where people dress up as their favorite anime, comic book or video game character. The Kamikaze contest is unique, however, because contestants don’t simply stand on stage and show off their costumes; they act out skits based on the characters they are dressed as.
New this year is the junior cosplay contest, created and run by enthusiast Victoria Pitarys, or, as she is known at conventions, Ridley Silverlake.
“While cosplay contests are meant to be fun for everyone, they can be challenging and intimidating for the younger audience,” said Pitarys. “When I ran my personal convention last year, we gave prizes to all the kids that entered and had a special award ceremony for them. The glows on their faces when they were each handed a prize was so sweet, it’s indescribable. I want all kids who have an interest in cosplaying to have that encouragement.”
Pitarys also oversees the adult cosplay contest and some of the cosplay game shows. Crack and Slash, a game of her own design, is modeled after Whose Line is it Anyway? and involves the audience choosing two cosplayers to improvise a story of how they meet and fall in love. Deathmatch is another, with a similar concept. The audience chooses two cosplayers to go on stage and pretend to fight to the death in an epic battle.
“My favorite cosplays are the ones in which the [cosplayer] acts like the character,” said Pitarys. “You can see how much energy and love the cosplayers put into getting their personality down. It’s awesome … because everyone gets to be involved, and it’s always hilarious to watch what crazy things people come up with.”
Other game shows include the Anime Dating Show, where contestants play the traditional dating game show as their cosplay characters, and Geek Out, an all-things-geek pop culture trivia game.
Gaming fanatics should head to the hallways, where they can use more than 20 retro video game consoles, including Super Nintendo, Atari, Nintendo 64 and Virtual Boy. There will be Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Super Smash Bros. tournaments too.
Card game tournaments will include Magic the Gathering, Cardfight!! Vanguard, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon. Also on the menu is Weiss Schwarz, a lesser-known but easy-to-learn game which Normandin hopes to help gain popularity.
There will be various prizes for the contest and tournament winners, such as snacks, books, art prints and games, all of which are donated by the participating artists and vendors. NeonBomb will also be giving away some video game consoles.
Other events to check out are dancing with DJ Kusari, all-day anime screenings and panels that will cover topics such as how to draw cartoons, how to be a voice actor, cosplay empowerment and how to do cosplay on a budget.
“I think that the winter is a huge depressing lull in the cosplay community,” said Pitarys. “There aren’t many conventions around this time and cosplayers want an excuse to get out, have fun, see friends and make new ones.” 
 
As seen in the March 5, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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