Anime Convention a Cooler Alternative to Labor Day Barbecues

Written by Wynter Holden Category: Culture Issue: August 2015

Cosplay shots courtesy of Eurobeat Kasumi PhotographyTwo decades ago the average American hadn’t even heard of anime – much less watched it.

The Japanese art style slowly crept into mainstream culture through child-friendly Dragonball Z and Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoons, manga (graphic novels) and feature films such as Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 release Spirited Away, which ranks in the top 10 highest-grossing traditionally animated films of all time.

Star Wars’ Mark Hamill, Samuel L. Jackson and Kristen Bell are among those who’ve lent their voice-acting talents to anime productions, giving star-struck fans additional reason to cross the culture threshold.

Explore the anime phenomenon while ducking the scorching heat of holiday barbecue parties at Monkey Paw Entertainment’s annual Saboten Con, Sept. 4-7 at the Sheraton Downtown. With last year’s attendance reaching more than 5,000, the convention remains intimate (read: no Hall H lines or panel lotteries), yet attracts industry professionals like voiceover artist Cristina Vee of Tekken: Blood Vengeance and guest costumers Ryan McMurry and Crystal Graziano.

Saboten Con 2015 celebrates the Robotech sci-fi franchise’s 30th anniversary with appearances by cast members including Dan Woren, Ellyn Stern and Tony Oliver, recently named as one of IMDB’s Top 20 Male Anime Voice Actors. The four-day event also features a masquerade, maid cafe, tabletop gaming and dozens of panels ranging from a mock anime parliament to Victorian hat-making workshops and tips for traveling Tokyo on the cheap.

Saboten Con
Sheraton Downtown
340 N. 3rd St., Phoenix
480-428-2776, sabotencon.com
Cost: $25-35 per day; $45-50 full event pass