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Nan Desu Kan 2003

by Bamboo Dong,
Oxygen deprivation, a dry climate, and three days of anime were on the minds of thousands of fans this past weekend as the anime convention scene took attendees a mile above sea level into the center of Colorado for this year's Nan Desu Kan 7. With the Rocky Mountains looming in the distance, close to four thousand fans gathered at the Holiday Inn: Denver International Airport Area to share their love for Japanese pop culture with other like-minded people. With a convenient location easily accessible by the airport and major interstates, the selection of the convention center was made even better by the close proximity of other cheap hotels and a small selection of restaurants.

Up until the last hour, there were still workers inside the hotel convention center finishing last-minute renovations and carpeting, but even with those barriers, the Nan Desu Kan crew successfully started the convention without the slightest hitch. The registration booths were opened promptly at their promised time, and even if there had been any scrambling around on the staff's behalf, it was invisible to external eyes. From the easy registration process to the organized staff, it was a promising beginning to a well executed weekend.

Armed with a host of actors from the dub industry, Japanese guest Toshihiro Kawamoto, and a gallery of others, there was much to do in the form of panel activities over the weekend. One of the more singular things about Nan Desu Kan was its decision to present panels dealing with aspects of Japanese culture and history. Among these was an eye-opening presentation by Erin Yomiura discussing Japanese internment camps in Colorado during WWII, and a reading by voice actor Chris Patton of Haruki Murakami's “The Second Bakery Attack.” Along with Gil Asakawa of Nikkei View's stories of his own experiences, these panels were a powerful addition to NDK's yearly lineup. With opportunities such as this to expand one's knowledge and worldviews, and charity auctions being held to benefit the local Japan America Society, the convention was a shining example of how such gatherings could be used to educate and enlighten.

On the lighter side of things, attendees were given ample chance to kick back and laugh, with events like Whose Lines Is It Anime?, Iron Cosplay, and a comedy show by Bob Bergen. These Saturday events were grounded by the two industry panels, presented by ADV Films and Manga Entertainment. The former was moderated by the Dynamic Duo of David Williams and Matt Greenfield. In it, they announced their acquisition of “My Beautiful Girl, Mari,” a Korean animated film that was also the recipient of an Annecy Award. Plans of limited theatrical release before the home video release were also stated.

Perhaps one of the best things that Nan Desu Kan is known for is their Saturday night masquerade. Split into the Costume Contest and the Cosplay, attendees got the chance to strut their outfits in one of the convention world's most organized costume events. This year, the hassle of waiting in line was cut in half by the introduction of their new Simulcast system. Rather than being forced to camp out in front of the main events room for a good seat, watchers were given the opportunity to view the entrees from next door, where the proceedings were being streamed onto a screen.

The Costume Contest portion of the contest had over 70 entrants, each one displaying their costume and uttering a few words into a microphone in front of a judging panel of some of the convention guests. Afterwards, the audience could vote for their favorite, the winner receiving the coveted title of Audience Favorite. As the votes were being tallied, the cosplay groups acted out their skits, whereupon the audience could once again choose their favorite. The way that the masquerade is split into a runway-styled costume contest and a separate skit section made the event flow by smoothly. To complement it, there was a wide range of talented costumers, from toddler Snow Fairies to a detailed Star Fox.

To make sure that attendees always had something to keep them entertained, Nan Desu Kan provided two nights of karaoke, and also 24-hour video rooms. Despite its location and small numbers, though, the convention was successful and left thousands of anime fans feeling very happy indeed. Without a doubt, next year's NDK8 will make fans just as happy.

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