The third annual Otakupalooza took place on Saturday, Mar. 11, at the Glick Ballrooms on the fourth floor of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Joe Crowley Student Union. Otakupalooza is put on by UNR’s very own Anime and Manga Society.
Events at Otakupalooza included panels, artists, gaming, improv. performances, anime screenings, introduction to Japanese, a rave, jeopardy and an “artist alley” where local artists promoted their work.
Ahlaam Shahid, vice president and treasurer of the Anime and Manga Society (also known as Supreme Dictator of Staff and Event Coordinator) described Otakupalooza as a “One-day get-together for nerds. We just like to have fun.”
For those unacquainted, anime is Japanese animation. Manga is a form of Japanese comics. Dictionary.com defines “Otaku” as a Japanese word which means “an avid collector or enthusiast, especially one who is obsessed with anime, video games or computer that rarely leaves home.”
“It kind of has a negative connotation in Japan,” Shahid said, “but we enjoy being Otakus.”
One of the biggest parts of Otakupalooza, or any con for that matter, is cosplay (dressing up as fictional characters). Attendees went all out, sporting costumes not only from anime but also from Star Wars and Marvel and DC superheroes. Some favorites included Attack on Titan, Love Live, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Spider-Man, Deadpool and Deathstroke.
One of the panel rooms held sessions on “How to be a Weeb.” A “Weeb” is someone who disregards their own culture in adoration of Japanese culture.
“It’s kind of arrogance in their appreciation of anime,” said Anime and Manga Society President Lyle Gamboa.
Another aspect of Otakupalooza is the Welcome Home Maid Cafe. The Welcome Home Maid Cafe features butlers and maids who not only serve food to patrons but also dance with them, play games with them, basically spend time with them and provide one-on-one attention.
Wandering around the ballrooms, it was easy to be enchanted by all the different art happening and appreciate the phenomenon. Shahid and Gamboa explained the appeal.
“They are a lot more in-depth with characters and storylines than other types of cartoons,” Shahid said. “American western cartoons tend to stick to a genre. Anime features several different genres and different art styles.”
“The character design…there’s a certain charm to it,” Gamboa said. “It results in other people giving their take on what the character looks like to them. There is a diversity to it.”
The Anime and Manga Society began planning Otakupalooza 2017 the week after Otakupalooza 2016. Despite all of the planning, there were still unforeseen obstacles. For example, the date had to be moved up a month because of a booking issue at the Joe. Regardless, staff members stayed from 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. to ensure that it was a success. This week, they will begin preparing for next year’s Otakupalooza.
The Anime and Manga Society meets on Fridays.
“We hang out and watch anime,” Shahid said. “We do other related events like karaoke or video gaming. It’s pretty diverse…We just gather around and have fun, really.”
If any readers are fans of anime or manga, or just enjoy having fun, the Anime and Manga Society is worth checking out. Start preparing your cosplay for Otakupalooza 2018.