Around 600 anime fans converged at Price Center on February 11 to experience AnimeFest 2018.
Hosted by UC San Diego’s anime club, Cal Animage Beta, the convention included a variety of attractions, offering a meeting ground for local anime fans and creators, cosplay exhibitions, orchestral performances, and artist venues.
Participants for Masquerade, AnimeFest’s cosplay contest, were given two minutes to perform as their characters for the audience, who voted for their top five favorite performances. Gabriel Gaddi, a Muir college alumnus, embodied Sora from the Kingdom Hearts franchise, and earned third place. “I’ve always been a part of the anime club since I’ve been a student here,” he said. “I always come to AnimeFest every year: It’s a small con[vention], I get to hang out with friends, and enjoy the environment.”
The Intermission Orchestra, a student organization that “specializes in playing and arranging music from video games, anime, and films,” performed compositions from two Studio Ghibli films, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Castle in the Sky.
Local artists were also able to demonstrate their crafts and sell their work in the “Artists’ Alley,” which occupied all of PC East Ballroom. There were 32 booths total, decorated with hundreds of anime drawings, paintings, articles of clothing, and accessories. For some artists, the convention was their first tabling at an event.
“I’ve sold [my art] online,” said Sixth College student Diana Nguyen, “but I also wanted to try the experience of a convention, [with] people walking around and seeing your art.”
Others, like local artist Amber Ogazon, wanted to support the local artistic community and meet new talent. All were interested in gaining more exposure among potential fans and customers.
In creating AnimeFest, Cal Animage Beta said that they take inspiration from larger anime conventions like Anime Expo and FanimeCon, but envision AnimeFest as a platform for smaller artists and vendors. “[AnimeFest] is always going to be an anime convention that caters to the little guy,” said club Vice President Brian Nguyen.
Nguyen said that in in throwing AnimeFest, the club also hopes they can attract more students.
“[Cal Animage Beta] is the place where, if you’re a fan of anime at UCSD and you want to participate in the community, we’re going to welcome you with open arms,” said Nguyen.
Ryan Maher is a staff writer for The Triton.