Costumed Anime Fans Flock to Otakon (photos)

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Livicole Cosplay as Sorceress Edea from Final Fantasy VIII, a role-playing video game. Photo by Jeff Malet.

Otakon, the giant anime convention, again took over the entire Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. — and parts of the nearby Marriott Marquis — from Friday, July 26, to Sunday, July 28.

Staffed almost entirely by volunteers, Otakon bills itself as the largest anime convention on the East Coast “for fans, by fans.” Attendance exceeded 28,000.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the event, which began with a collection of 350 anime fans at the Days Inn Penn State in State College, Pennsylvania, in 1994. After 18 years in Baltimore, having outgrown the facilities there, the annual three-day convention celebrating Japanese and East Asian pop culture arrived in the District just two years ago.

Anime, the Japanese term for animation, is a distinct art form that has gained international popularity. Thanks to the rise of English-dubbed programming, Japanese anime has spawned a multibillion-dollar market in the U.S. that encompases film, art, music, literature and video games.

Focused on its mission of bringing cultures together for learning, communication and fun, Otakon includes workshops, guest panels, autograph sessions and videos, plus an expansive Dealers Room offering goods for sale and an Artists Alley featuring original anime art. But, for many, the main reason to attend is the opportunity to dress up as a favorite anime character, a hobby known as “cosplay” (for costume-play).

View Jeff Malet’s photos from Otakon 2019 by clicking on the photo icons below.

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