The Sakura-Con convention is a celebration of Japanese animation
Sakura-Con, the Northwest's oldest and largest Japanese Animation convention, is April 10-12 at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sakura-ConToday-Sunday at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center, 800 Convention Place, Seattle; $60 at door; minors must be accompanied by an adult and complete a parental consent form (more information, www.sakuracon.org).
Comics and cartoons your thing? Then this weekend you can stay up late dancing, donning your favorite cartoon character's outfit, and discussing comic books into the night.
Sakura-Con, the Northwest's oldest and largest Japanese animation convention, starts today. The festival celebrates the art of anime, Japanese animation and culture.
Now celebrating its 12th anniversary, Sakura-Con appears to have come into its own. Registration is up by half, with more than 9,000 participants preregistered.
The convention features seven theaters, five concerts, a gaming area nearly the size of a football field, three dances, more than 1,000 hours of programming over the three days, and more than 20 traditional Japanese cultural demonstrations and performances. There is literally always something happening: The convention runs 24-7 all weekend.
"You really can be up until 3 in the morning reading and watching anime," said Penny Anderson of Everett. She runs the Web site for Costco Travel but is known as the publications head in the Sakura-Con world. Her volunteer job involves keeping track of the thousands of comic books brought in by fans and collectors and sold at Sakura-Con.
"She treats the books like her own children," said Michael Stark, Chairman of Sakura-Con 2009. "She watches them. She doesn't want anyone seeing their babies hurt."
For many like Stark and Anderson, Sakura-Con is not just a chance to indulge in a hobby, it's a family affair. Anderson pulled in her husband, Jeff Anderson, to run the newsletter; her sister, Rachel Nelson, handles the souvenir guide.
Director of publicity Elmira Utz was pushed into anime by her daughter. Since then, she persuaded her husband to join the board of directors.
Stark grew up with it all, attending his first Sakura-Con when he was 18. Eleven years later, he's running it.
"It is a labor of love where a lot of people from different walks of life come together and just have fun," said Stark, 29 a tech support analyst for AT&T.
As the convention grew over the years, so did its ability to invite some VIP stars. Artists coming to this year's convention include the band Smile.dk from the video-game series "Dance Dance Revolution," as well as popular Seattle webcomic creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins of "Penny Arcade." Voice actors include: Wendy Powell (Envy in "Fullmetal Alchemist"); Sasaki Nozomu (Tetsuo Shima from "Akira"); Kappei Yamaguchi (Ranma Saotome from "Ranma ½"); and Peter Fernandez (Speed Racer and Rex Racer in "Speed Racer").
"I enjoy every moment of it," said Fernandez about anime conventions. "I had one man come up to me with gratitude, saying, 'I want to thank you. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life but "Speed Racer" inspired me.' He's now a design engineer for the Ford Motor Company."
Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or email@example.com
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