Art of Animation

Ohayocon to bring Japanese culture and anime to Columbus

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Written by Noah Roy

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Ohayocon, a Japanese culture and anime convention, will take place at Hyatt Regency Columbus Feb. 10-13 | Credit: Courtesy of Katie May

Calling all anime lovers: The upcoming Ohayocon event, an anime and culture convention, might just be heaven on Earth.

Ohayocon will take place at the Hyatt Regency Columbus hotel Feb. 10-13. The event will focus on Japanese culture and anime but will also highlight more modern pop culture, Cody Marcum, the convention’s director, said.

“It’s one of the largest events in Ohio — in the Midwest, in fact,” he said.

The convention has been around for 20 years, Marcum said, and attendance has only grown over time.

When Ohayocon first started in 2001, only several hundred people attended, Marcum said. This year, he said the convention is expected to reach about 17,000 attendees — only slightly lower than the 20,000 attendees in 2019 and 2020, before the pandemic began.

Marcum said Ohayocon’s ability to stay afloat during the pandemic is due to the community’s loyalty to the event.

“I don’t think anybody is aware of how much COVID has affected a wide range of industries, especially the event industry and, you know, the industry around gathering people in person,” Marcum said. “So, a lot of events have not survived these last two years.”

Marcum said the event will feature panels and meet and greets with voice actors and professionals in the anime industry, as well as gaming and cosplay competitions. This year, Ohayocon will even have a drag show, he said.

Abby Berding, director of programming at Ohayocon, said a large portion of the convention is put together by the attendees, for the attendees.

Fans are able to sign themselves up for a panel to present on relevant topics they’re knowledgeable in. Berding said she first began attending Ohayocon when she was in high school and became more involved by giving her own presentation.

“That’s how I originally started,” Berding said. “I actually just presented on animes that I enjoyed — funnily enough, the zombie apocalypse and how to prepare for the zombie apocalypse.”

In addition to putting on presentations, attendees can make their own original art in different animation styles and then sell their creations in what the convention refers to as “Artist Alley,” Berding said.

Berding said the event has grown enormously since she began attending. However, the event has not just grown in number of attendees, but also in the age and diversity of those in attendance, she said.

“With the community of anime and conventions right now, it’s like, people my age who grew up when anime was first coming to America, becoming super popular because of Cartoon Network and ‘Pokemon,'” Berding said. “Now, we are passing that on to our kids and our siblings, and so now the younger generations are getting even more into it.”

The community that gathers each year at Ohayocon is what Berding said motivates her to keep trying to make the event as welcoming as possible.

“That’s why I continue to keep coming, to allow that safe space for people that gave me a safe space growing up,” Berding said. “You know, giving that community sense to others.”

Those who attend Ohayocon will have to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours, and everyone will be required to wear a mask, according to the website.

Tickets can be purchased through Ohayocon’s website before or at the event. Weekend passes start at $85 and single-day badges range from $25 to $60.

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Noah Roy

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