Looking the part

Anime fans dress up and gather for annual Shuto Con convention


This past weekend was a time for Elsa and Anna from “Frozen” to enjoy a meal with Sherlock Holmes. It was an opportunity for Pokémon trainers from across the country to compete in battles, and for Deadpool to draw in crowds for a hip-hop dance party.

Shuto Con , Lansing’s annual anime convention, returned to the Lansing Center for the fourth year this past weekend. The weekend was filled with various panels, guest speakers, video viewing and 24-hour game rooms.

More than 5,000 costume-clad guests were housed within the walls of the Lansing Radisson Hotel , Crowne Plaza Lansing West and Lansing Quality Suites for the convention.

Erin Hampton / The State News

Although each day had a different agenda of main events, one element was prevalent throughout the weekend — everyone participated in cosplay by dressing from head-to-toe like their favorite characters.

Stefanie Shall, a concierge for Shuto Con, said the event was meant to celebrate Japanese animation, or anime, cartoons and manga. However, they also encouraged attendees to celebrate pop culture, western comics and British media such as the television series “Doctor Who.”

Even humanoid versions of “My Little Pony” characters were seen mingling with other attendees.

“We’re not here to limit people,” said Lance Sabbag, Shuto Con’s director of press and photography. “You’re welcome to cosplay whatever you want.”

Cari Hearn, a graduate student, attended Shuto Con for the second time this year and incorporated one of her personal talents into her costume. Dressed as Sherlock Holmes from the BBC series, “Sherlock,” Hearn also played her violin and encouraged other attendees to leave her “case tips” to find her partner, John Watson.

“My favorite part of Shuto Con is definitely seeing all of the different costumes and fandoms, especially the ones I love myself,” she said.

Artists and dealers sold their personal work and various merchandise, such as T-shirts, buttons and wall art. Various artists and special guests, such as Jamie Marchi from the series “Witchblade,” also attended to discuss their own experiences in the anime world and give out free autographs.

Panels were hosted throughout each day of the convention that addressed a variety of topics. Cosplayers could meander from panels that discussed fanfiction to panels discussing Pokémon game strategies.

Sabbag has been involved with Shuto Con since its first two-day event in 2011. He was only an attendee until he was invited to be the director of press and photography last year.

Every year, Sabbag said he has seen attendance for the event nearly double. However, he added that, even with its 7,000 attendee cap, Shuto Con is still one of the smaller anime conventions out there. This created a warm, family-oriented atmosphere at the event.

City boundaries were not an issue during Shuto Con. Friendships were sparked and Tumblr URLs were exchanged between strangers who may have simply bonded through their shared love of an anime or comic book series.

Some attendees went as far as participating in interactive cosplay. Not only did they look like their favorite characters, but they also behaved as the character would.

Lauren Selewski, a plant biology junior, attended the convention for the first time with one main goal in mind — to defeat Saturday’s “gym leaders” in the Pokémon X and Y games.

Her red and white cap was practically identical to Ash Ketchum’s famous hat, and a plush Squirtle toy’s head poked out of her backpack.

“Originally, I thought about coming as Professor Chaos from South Park,” she said. “I figured since I was coming for the Pokémon tournament that I may as well go all-out and dress as a trainer.”

A costume competition was held on Saturday, where more than 50 attendees went on stage to show off their handiwork. Some costumes took only a couple weeks to assemble, while other cosplayers labored over their outfits for months.

Hosted by one of the event’s many Deadpool characters, the contest featured everything from Sailor Moon — from the anime of the same title — to an Optimus Prime costume that stood more than eight feet tall.

The Cosplay King and Queen were announced during Sunday’s closing ceremonies. By the end of the event, the crowns were awarded to the costumes of Father from “Fullmetal Alchemist” and Armin from “Attack on the Titan.”

“This is an important event because cosplaying is not something people can just go out and do on the street,” Shall said. “This is a good source to have as an outlet for that — you get to come cosplay and pretend to be the characters you love so much.”

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