By Cyan Thomas
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Malik Pate, 20, stood in front of a full-length mirror wearing his Katsucon costume: loose black pants, a yellow tank top, and a gold-trimmed blazer embellished with a cape.
“I don’t always ask people why they come. That’s their business,” Pate said. “But I’m from Maryland and it’s something nearby, and my friends go.”
Katsucon is Maryland’s premiere annual anime and cosplay convention held at Gaylord National Resort in Fort Washington from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16. It attracts die-hard fans from all over the country who desire a place to let their nerdiness shine.
A convention like this might bewilder an average person. Why would someone be drawn to a huge, hot convention center for an entire weekend?
For Pate and his friends, the answer is simple. It’s an anime fan’s paradise.
Katsucon does not require guests to cosplay, but it is highly encouraged. Cosplay, which is a portmanteau of costume and play, is a style of clothing in which participants dress to resemble a character, often fictional.
Pate spent $80 on his elaborate costume so he could transform himself into his favorite character, Claude, from a video game series.
“Claude von Reigan is from a game called Fire Emblem: Three Houses,” Pate said. “I enjoy his character and it’s a series I’m interested in.”
Ashley Adebusuyi, 19, who attended Katsucon with friends was adamant about not participating in the cosplay.
Why not? Adebusuyi made it quite clear.
“Because I’m broke,” she said.
Tickets to Katsucon aren’t cheap. Early bird registration is $55, and the number steadily increases by $10 depending on how late you register.
On the day of the convention, tickets cost a whopping $80. VIP tickets add another $100 to whichever price range applicants fall under.
But Katsucon draws numbers in the thousands every year despite the price, and its activities are a major part of that attraction.
“A rave happens every year,” Pate said. “It’s basically just a bunch of degenerates badly dancing to questionable music, but this is a nerdy thing so that’s acceptable here.”
The attendees of Katsucon thoroughly enjoy a good party, which goes against the notions most people would have about anime geeks, according to Adebusuyi.
However, a rave isn’t the most unexpected part of an already unconventional convention.
Hentai, which is Japanese-style animated pornography, is a popular screening attraction at Katsucon – but not for the reason you might think.
“They show hentai, and it’s a really unique experience,” Pate said. “It’s not meant to be pornographic, it’s meant to be a group of people laughing at something so weird.”
This eccentric occurrence is a Katsucon attraction that also manages to highlight the down-to-earth qualities of those who attend.
Although anime fans are Katsucon’s main draw, not everyone who goes to Katsucon is extremely invested in a certain fandom.
The sentiment that you can just be a casual fan and have a memorable experience at this eccentric event is something Pate agreed with excitedly as he admired his costume in the mirror.
“I don’t think anyone who doesn’t like anime at all would enjoy themselves, but if you’re even curious, you would enjoy yourself.”