NashiCon takes over Russell

Yearly anime convention brings costumes, cartoons to USC

The university's anime club, NASHI (Nippon Animation Society of Heavenly Imagery), held its fourth annual convention this Saturday and Sunday, welcoming around 900 fans from USC, Columbia and surrounding areas.

Anime refers to Japanese animation, and conventions like NashiCon are held around the country. Some of the largest conventions are attended by more than 20,000 people each year.

NashiCon was organized by Con Director Lauren Smith, a first-year library and information sciences graduate student. Smith, who has been on staff for the convention since its first year, couldn't give a solid reason for why she and the club continue the tradition each year.

"Insanity," she said. "That's the straight-up answer."

This year, the convention brought four special guests, including three webcomic artists.

Thor Thorvaldson Jr., creator of "Tales of Marga," was one of the guests. He said he has been to NashiCon multiple times, and supports their efforts to hold an annual convention.

"I was here as a regular attendee for the first convention," Thorvaldson said. "Before NashiCon you had to go to Atlanta for a good con. So when I had the chance to be a guest I was excited. I want to help make the convention the best it can be."

NashiCon's list of events ran throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday. One of their main attractions, which took place in the Russell House Ballroom, was a dance that featured Japanese music ranging from techno to rap.

But possibly the most anticipated event was OTAKU (Over-sized Tangential All-Consuming Kaleidoscopic Universe), a life-sized board game. Contestants roll an over-sized die and move around a game board, with each square forcing the players to do different anime-themed tasks. The tasks included answering trivia questions and fighting against "bosses" in real-life "Pokemon battles," among others.

Kimberly Poulter, a USC alumna, was the one who came up with OTAKU for the first NashiCon, and continues to run it now.

"We wanted to do a big event other than cosplay (dressing up as anime characters), and we didn't think we'd have enough people for chess," Poulter said. "So we came up with the idea for another giant board game — something everyone can do."

Another draw for con-goers was the anime viewing room, held Calcott 011. There, anyone could watch anime during the weekend. Various panels such as Q&As with the special guests and different aspects of Japanese culture, like Japanese box lunches or video games.

NASHI meets every Thursday in BA 350 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information on NASHI or their events, visit

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