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Charla Huber: Who knew Victoria was a hub for cosplay?

Capital City Comic Con was a wonderful demonstration of connection and acceptance for its attendees
Photographer Colin Smith takes photos of a costumed character at Capital City Comic Con at the Victoria Conference Centre. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

When my child finds a new interest, I encourage her to pursue it, and I strive to facilitate opportunities where she can immerse herself into experiences that are reflective of the interest.

For about a year, my daughter has been obsessed with anime and manga. If you are not aware, anime is animation and manga is graphic novels from Japan.

When my daughter finds a new manga book she wants, she will quickly ask what she can do to earn some money so she can buy more books. (There are many struggles in parenting, and I know a child willing to work for books is not a bad thing.)

I bought tickets to Capital City Comic Con several months ago, way before any information about guests or presentations was announced. I bought one adult ticket and five children’s tickets so I could take my daughter and a few of her friends. We attended last weekend.

The youths dressed up as their favourite characters, and my daughter spent weeks sewing a costume by hand, and even got a buzz cut.

As she did this, it reminded me of a Halloween when my older brother sewed his own anime costume and cut and dyed his hair for the part. I wasn’t a nice sister at that moment.

I figure it might have been some type of karma watching my daughter do the same thing. For her, I was supportive and ultimately reminded of when I could have been better when I was younger.

At the Victoria Conference Centre, it felt like I had stepped into another dimension. Most people were in elaborate costumes and people would walk up to random strangers in costume and ask to take photos — sort of like what I might expect to see at Disneyland, except the participants were also the attraction.

I walked in with five 12-year-olds and within the first two minutes, the girls were posing for pictures and other folks were commenting on their costumes and calling them by the characters’ names they were portraying.

Each time this happened, their faces lit up.

I never would have thought that there were that many cosplay folks in this city. It was a reminder to me that there are many facets to our community that I may not know about, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

If you are not familiar with the term, cosplay refers to the act of dressing in costumes, representing characters from anime, video games, television and film.

The event had sessions, speakers, demonstrations, shows and an exhibition.

I present at many conferences each year, and this was a switch up from listening to business strategies and folks in their suits and skirts.

On Saturday, we wrapped up the day watching a family-friendly cosplay drag show.

Being there for two days, I felt immersed in a new culture, with different customs and social norms. I did not feel “at home” there, but I really did enjoy the experience.

As the kids I brought chatted with other people about their favourite amine shows and characters, to me it sounded like a different language, and while I know I will never be a good anime or manga conversationalist, I felt grateful that there are events like Capital City Comic Con that provide a place for people with common interests to connect, let loose and wear any costume they want.

I like to witness things that are not within my comfort zone and things I’ve never experienced before. It might not have been an activity I chose, but I saw the faces of the kids I brought light up with excitement. Witnessing them embracing the feeling of belonging was pretty powerful.

Capital City Comic Con was a wonderful demonstration of connection and acceptance for its attendees.

We don’t always have to understand people, but it’s important to support events that allow people to be who they are.