Last weekend (January 24th through 26th) the Greater Columbus Convention Center was filled with magical girls, Power Rangers, heroes, monsters, elves, demons, and gray-skinned people with candy corn horns. Ohayocon 2014 brought together geeks from all over the Midwest in a celebration of not just anime but video games, tabletop gaming, video gaming, and everything else the kids are into these days. “Kids” is the operative word, too. Ohayocon is all about the youth culture of geek culture, the cutting edge of anime and all related forms of entertainment. Though anime has been imported to the US since Speed Racer debuted with a notoriously awkward translation in the late 60s, it’s picked up considerable steam as the generation that grew up with Pokémon aged and became a serious market for streaming video services like Netflix and the all-Japanese Crunchyroll. Instead of having to wait for months if not years for a show or movie to be translated and released in the US, fans can watch new episodes of popular shows like Naruto Shippuden and One Piece online at the same time that they’re airing in Japan. The market has grown so large that there’s no more wondering if an interesting-sounding show will reach the US, it’s just a matter of how soon. The resulting atmosphere feels like nothing so much as The Future. It’s the This Great Band You Haven’t Heard Of of geek culture. In keeping with that, the convention wasn’t just about Japanese culture but also everything else The Kids Are Into These Days. Attendees were invited to create their own informational panels, and topics covered included Bronies (male My Little Pony fans who feel a need to adopt a special term for themselves, presumably so no one will think they’re gay), chiptunes (music created with old gaming hardware), Doctor Who, and the (Swedish) Minecraft and (American) Elder Scrolls video games. There were rooms devoted to tabletop gaming and video games, including tournaments for card game Magic: The Gathering and the classic fighting games Super Smash Brothers and Street Fighter. The official guests at the show hewed closer to the anime theme. The majority of them were the voice actors who keep modern anime dubs away from Speed Racer territory. With so much anime being translated for American audiences, there’s no shortage of work in that field. Also in attendance were Rikki Simons and Richard Horvitz from Nickelodeon’s cult classic Invader ZIM. But with any geek convention, a lot of what makes it enjoyable is the attendees. Possibly as many as half the attendees braved the cold and snow dressed up as their favorite characters from anime, manga, TV shows, movies, and every other possible source. Even outside of the panels and dealer room a person could spend the whole day watching their fellow convention-goers parade their wearable works of art. Ohayocon’s greatest accomplishment is giving people a place to gather and celebrate this shared culture. For one weekend, no pursuit was too geeky and no costume too obscure.

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