Caitlyn Wasmundt / Lantern reporter
From beloved childhood cartoons, such as “The Fairly OddParents” and various Disney characters to the more popular anime character “Naruto” and everything in between, thousands of costumed fans flooded The Greater Columbus Convention Center Friday through Sunday for the 12th annual Ohayocon.
Fans from all over the country dressed up as their favorite pop culture icons and characters to celebrate the culture they love.
Some fans cross-dressed, like the men who dressed as geishas and the women who went as Link from the “Legend of Zelda” video games. Not only were there anime cross-dressers, but comic book superheroes and various other pop culture icons, such as Finn and Jake from “Adventure Time,” and more.
More than 300 panels filled the three-day convention. The panels varied nearly as much as the costumes. Attendees heard anything about gay sex, from voice actor from multiple anime shows J. Michael Tatum, to basket-weaving tutorials.
Professionals from various businesses, and the fans of those businesses, were the ones to conduct the multiple panels. However, there were some panels where the speakers did not show, leaving attendees disappointed.
Ian Vanauken, who drove from Virginia and dressed as a ninja for the event, said he is hesitant to come back next year because of the lack of coordination for the panels.
But not all panels left participants hanging. Rikki Simons, the voice of GIR from “Invader Zim,” had fans laughing. Audience members were able to go back in time when GIR’s voice slipped through Simons’ normal voice. Simons also signed autographs at the end of his panel.
Fans could also get voice actors’ autographs in the Artist Alley, where assorted artists of different skill levels displayed their work to sell. The Artist Alley overlooked the Dealers Room of the convention.
Attendees weaved through dozens of shops where they could buy anything from stuffed animals and body pillows with anime characters printed on them to clothing and accessories. There were also anime films and comic books, even cookbooks with recipes from multiple anime series.
At the panels, fans could also view different anime and amateur anime music videos, and participate in scavenger hunts and costume contests.
Dance music constantly flowed through the crammed halls and people would break out and dance. Ohayocon hosted a rave-type setting each night.
Jared Spencer of Toledo said he was unimpressed by the spontaneous dancing.
“Most people can’t dance — they are just hopping around to what they think the rhythm is,” Spencer said.
Dressed in steam punk attire, Alex Street, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering, said he enjoyed the convention even though there were some scheduling mishaps and lack of structure for some panels.
This was Street’s second Ohayocon. He said one he likes the convention because everyone will be friends with each other because they already share a common interest in anime.
By day three of the convention, costumes had worn down, but that did not damper the high feelings most had from the weekend’s happenings.
“Where else can you party with 8,000 people?” said Doug Lough of Cleveland.