Arts & Culture
San Japan: Samurai 7 puts anime culture center stage
Published: July 16, 2014
Ask San Japan community relations director David Ramirez how the local Japanese animation convention has changed over the last seven years, and the answer ultimately comes down to size.
“We’re still trying to wrap our minds around how much it has grown since year one when we had a little over 1,000 people,” said Ramirez, who expects between 13,000 to 14,000 attendees this year. “We’ve gotten so big so fast.”
This year’s seventh annual convention, San Japan: Samurai 7, aptly named after Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s classic 1954 film Seven Samurai, will feature all things associated with the anime/fantasy/sci-fi culture, including cosplay (costume play), electronic gaming, singing and fashion competitions, interactive panels, autograph sessions, musical performances and a host of special guests.
“San Japan allows for people with similar interests to meet,” said local cosplayer Yasmin Khan, who manages promotions for Kaede Con, the anime convention at St. Mary’s University. “It’s a very welcoming environment for everyone. Even people who have never seen an episode of an anime are capable of having fun at this convention.”
San Japan returns to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center for its third straight year after outgrowing venues like the Tropicana Hotel and the former Municipal Auditorium. Although not as sizeable as longer-running North American anime conventions like the Anime Expo in Los Angeles (61,000 attendees in 2013) or A-Kon in Dallas (22,000 attendees in 2013), San Japan is holding its own and pleased with its standing when compared to those with deeper histories.
“It is incredibly validating … particularly when the list of the largest conventions is populated by those that have been operating for more than a decade [longer] than we have,” said Ramirez.
San Japan: Samurai 7 attendees can pre-register online (adults only) or buy a one-day pass at the convention. Below, the Current highlights some of the geek-centric events taking place this year.
COSPLAY (COSTUME PLAY)
Whether you decide to go mainstream and wear Spider-Man tights or a sexy Xena-inspired bustier, or don such an obscure costume even your nerdiest friends won’t get the reference (Are you Skyguard Katie from World of Warcraft?), there’s room for all types of fashion at the cosplay events at San Japan. “It’s great to see 10,000 geeks and nerds running around the River Walk in costumes,” Ramirez said. In-person and online registration for the Cosplay Show starts Friday at 9 a.m. There is also a cosplay contest for attendees only interested in live-action-based costumes (sorry Princess Bubblegum).