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2015 Milwaukee Anime

• 2015 Anime Milwaukee took place from February 13 to 15 at Milwaukee Hyatt Regency and Wisconsin Center. The three-day event is the largest anime convention in Wisconsin and drew more than 4500 anime fans last year. The convention marked the eighth year with more than 20 guests. They were voice actors Steve Blum, Bryce Papenbrook, Caitlin Glass, tabletop creator Jason Bulmahn, the Symphonic Anime Orchestra, and taiko group Hibiki, to name a few.

• The anime convention was full of programs, which included Masquerade, Cosplay Combat Chess, Video Gaming, Masked Charity Ball, Maid Café, and the Manga Library where the attendees enjoyed reading manga both in English and Japanese. One of the highlights was AMKE’s premier dance party “Love Shine” where Japanese DJ “DE DE MOUSE” from Koganei, Tokyo performed among other DJs. The Saturday-night party lasted until 3 a.m. Sunday morning.

• Japanese related events were also presented such as the screening of Tohoku Tomo, directed by Wesley Julian, basic Japanese language classes by the Wisconsin Association of Teachers of Japanese (WIATJ), lectures on manga translation/character names, how to draw manga, shogi and go-Japanese games and more. One of the highlights was a gallery exhibition by ero-pop artist Ayumi Tanaka. Her works tackle personal and world issues through the use of extreme hentai imagery. The Chicago based artist Tanaka said that she was invited to the convention. The word “hentai” has been becoming an English word such as Fuji Yama or geisha.

• According to Visit Milwaukee, Anime Milwaukee was initiated in 2007 by the Japanese Animation Association at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and now run by the Entertainment and Cultural Promotions Society.

• Patrick Gibbons, a member of the organizing staff, said, “We have been one of the largest and fastest growing convention in the country and definitely Wisconsin’s largest convention.”
• He recalled that the first year’s show was hit by a huge snowstorm, and only about 40 people showed up. He wasn’t sure the initial event was counted in the eight years of the Anime Milwaukee. “We’ve been around for eight years now and been working every single year and getting better guests, better events. So we are looking forward to having another great one this year,” Gibbons said.
• Since he had known a number of people who were staffing the convention, he decided to join them. He thought, “It might be a great way to meet people and give me something to do. Since then, it became more than that and has been completely taking over my life.”

• Jarred Maldonado called himself as Street Magician Raven. He has performed magic as his hobby and said, “I love going cons and doing it because it is so much fun. You never know where you are going to find people, who are going to be interested in it, and just stop by and watch.”
• Regarding anime, he said that his friend introduced it to him and showed a variety of Japanese shows.
“Because of that my interests in anime grew, and I was a kind of cons to come here,” Maldonado said.

• Diana Manhoff, who attended the convention from Illinois, was in a beautiful costume of Princess Bubblegum. She said that she had made it with her friend and took a month to complete it. She said, “I went to Anime Central when I was 14 years old and saw cool people. I was, like, I wanted to do that and did it.” She was quickly drawn to anime when she first saw Naruto.

• A young lady, who didn’t mention her name, was a Milwaukee resident and enjoyed cosplay for the first time. She ordered her costume “Chii from Chobits” through online and made some parts by herself. She has watched anime since she was very young, and the first anime she saw was Sailor Moon. She said, “It is a lot of fun. There is a lot of stuff you can’t find at regular stores, so I’m really having a happy time. I spent a lot of money but I saved it, so it’s O.K.”

• Megth Bienkowski from a Milwaukee suburb was wearing a costume of Katsuma (cat). His friend Jacob Bcker was in the costume of Rayquaza.
• Bienkowski was watching anime and reading manga at first and got five more people who liked it. Finally they formed their community and started cosplay two years ago.
• Bcker said, “I had watched anime ever since I was little kid. I had friends who also watched anime. It’s been a part of my life for a very long time.”
• Bienkowski said, “Anime is like a way to get closer to the community and some of the ways you love them. It also enables you to share your interests and a great way to put people together.”

• Andrea Fetingis of Kenosha said that she wanted to dress up with her favorite characters, so she learned how to sew from her friend. “I started sewing and creating this awesome costume of Mituna Captor.” She has been watching anime since she was in the first grade. In regard to cosplay, she said, “It means fun, making new friends, improving my skills as a seamstress, and getting to show off my awesome talent and work.”

• Cosplayers were trying on kimonos at the booth of Tangerine Mountain Imports and Designs. The price of a kimono started at $30. If someone bought an expensive one, obi belt would come with it.
• Cheri Santellano of Tangerine said, “So many people at not only this show but all other shows say ‘I love the kimono. I see it in movies and anime, but I never thought that I could buy one or wear one.’ We try to make pieces very affordable so that you can experience buying it, owning it, and participating in a part of Japanese culture.”
• Her company sells kimono dresses at 20 more conventions in the Midwest where a few kimono vendors do business. She goes to Japan and buys kimono dresses from families and vendors and puts them in her suitcases to bring them back to the U.S. She said, “We know these friends in Japan, so we can buy these things. It’s our responsibility to be able to bring and share this part of Japanese culture.”

Milwaukee Girls

Diana Manhoff (L)

Megth Bienkowski (R) and Jacob Bcker

Andrea Fetingis (C)

Patrick Gibbons

Jarred Maldonado

Ayumi Tanaka