The last weekend in August is the time when nerds and geeks in Barbados gather in one place for the highly anticipated AnimeKon Expo.
For those who don’t know what AnimeKon is, it’s a yearly convention where lovers of anime, comics and video games come together. It’s also becoming a place where local artists sell their artwork and promote their small businesses.
There’s a lot to do at the two day event. You can support local artists and buy merchandise, mostly handmade novelty items. Many local illustrators and writers also use the opportunity to market their products to the demographic they are targeting.
You can also enter video games tournaments which offer a cash prize, or just play against your friends for fun. There are also stalls for children, since this event is targeted at all age groups. Not to mention the various competitions held throughout the day.
You can also find stalls aimed at students looking to study abroad in artistic fields, as well as local businesses interested in Barbados’ creative youth. Arguably, however, the most famous aspect of AnimeKon is the cosplay in which you can don the appropriate costume and be your favorite fictional character.
This is what makes Sunday the busiest day, the day of the cosplay competition. Cosplayers are known for planning their costumes months in advance, sometimes planning a theme with their friends to make a true statement. There is where you see the true spirit of AnimeKon, the creativity of our young people who spend hours with inexpensive materials recreating costumes down to the last detail.
Even if everyone doesn’t enter the competition, that’s not the point of cosplay. It’s to have fun, express yourself and be your favorite character for a day. This pastime is so popular, cosplay groups have arisen and can readily be found on Facebook.
AnimeKon has been around for several years and isn’t unique to Barbados. St Lucia, Jamaica and Trinidad have “cons” of their own; indeed, everyone visits each other’s events. The Barbados event has attracted several international guests such as professional cosplayer Yaya Han and Youtuber D-Piddy.
This year, the highlights were cosplayer Maki Roll and voice actor Phil Lamarr. Every year, a guest is brought in for local cosplayers who are the stars of the expo. Lamarr promoted the long awaited continuation of Samurai Jack. He voices the lead character.
For the gamers, the Street Fighter tournament was especially anticipated. And the cosplayers were all about Harley Quinn from the Suicide Squad movie that came out less than a month before the expo. Throughout the weekend, you saw various looks of the iconic character from many attendees.
We can safely predict that next year will be all about the DC universe again with the release of the Wonder Woman movie.
AnimeKon is a growing spotlight on Barbados that is unseen by most. If you want more information, check out the event’s Facebook page and website and see what you’ve been missing.