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ToraCon Convention Review

Last weekend I was given the honor of covering Tora-Con, the convention celebrating Japanese culture run by the students of The Rochester Institute of Technology Anime Club, in Rochester, NY. My minions @Z-is-Eternal and @Augiedoge hopped into my vehicle and traveled the quick hour and a half drive to R.I.T.

Tora-Con was created almost twelve years ago and is host to attendees from all over the country. This Anime convention is perfect for people of all ages as they have set aside not only adult panels, but fun games and activities for children. Tora-Con took place the weekend of April 23rd and 24th this year allowing all of us to experience a brisk morning that transitioned into a bright and soothing afternoon to spend outside.

Pulling up to the college campus was actually surprising, as I wasn’t expecting to see as many attendees present at 10am, but ensured this was going to be a successful convention right off the bat. The parking area was filled and took us over 20 minutes to find a safe place to park, again this is a positive for a smaller convention. From what I was able to observe, there were four main lots each at maximum capacity. Not to mention the sea of cosplayers walking around and getting read for their photo shoots.

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Leading into the main building the security staff examined each bag and prop to ensure everyone would have a safe con. The registration line was one of the fastest and best executed that I have seen in quite a while. We were in line for less than five minutes and had our badges, programs, and swag bag in hand, ready to have some fun. Inside the center was the Artist Ally and Swag shop tables organized with the gym. Outside the main building food trucks were setup for a quick bite to eat and a variety of cosplayers were conversing, taking photos, and just relaxing on the grassy hillside.

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Like most conventions there are an array of activities to keep you occupied. Anything from panels created by attendees, to the Maid Cafe, to live performances such as a Cosplay Chess and a comedy show. Unfortunately I didn’t attend any panels at this convention, but I was able to get to a few of the main events.

The Maid Cafe is exactly as you expect. You pay a small fee to enter the cafe, and you are seated at your own table with your party. The maids and butlers are in a semi-traditional attire and serve your table baked goods and refreshments while they perform a live show for your entertainment. I was able to experience a choreographed dance routine that the maids and butlers performed in front of their extremely excited audience.

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Cosplay Chess is something that I’ve never actually experienced before, and I have to tell you, if you get a chance to watch one, Do It! The R.I.T. Cosplay Troupe performs a live action cosplay theater play to see which team ends victorious. The “Kings” of each team give the order for the individuals to move to their designated areas and attack the opposing member in a choreographed battle on stage. This play lasted for well over an hour and a half, unfortunately I only caught the last thirty minutes, but I will never miss another again. The actors themselves could be found all around the convention in their costumes and were more than happy to stop and give tips on cosplay or acting.

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Now the main event for most conventions is a cosplay contest, and the one for Tora-Con was one of the best I’ve seen in a while. The staff was the most organized and well experienced I’m ever noticed at one of these contests. Not only did their plan seating go extremely smoothly, but their lighting and sounds setup was flawless. At the most of the cosplay contests I’ve noticed that they flash multiple colors of lighting as the contestants are walking across the stage. This is actually horrible for photography, so when the Tora-Con staff used pure white lighting I was massively impressed. The contest itself had about fifty contestants that all had hand-made costumes and performed skits, dance routines, and songs to sing. The winners of each category took home prizes such as gift certificates and medals.  Each were called up on stage to receive their rewards and proper praise from the crowd, before departing the stage to move on the Special comedy show.

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So the final event for Saturday night at Tora-Con was the Uncle Yo 18+ comedy stand up. Uncle Yo is a geek-specific comedian that has performed at over 100 gaming and anime conventions. All of his material stems from all aspects of geek culture. Pretty much anything that could be considered nerdy he covers. Heck he even messed with the sign language interpreter by spouting out as  many references he could in a short time. Uncle Yo ended his performance with an amazing heart filled monologue about a young woman asking if she is pretty. I can’t do it any justice so I won’t bother to try to duplicate it here. You can find more information about Uncle Yo here.

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All in all this was an extremely successful convention and the main reason for this was the Staff an Volunteers. Not only did each and every one of them seem to know what they were doing, but they all seemed genuinely happy to be doing it. I would like to thank you all for putting this con together and making us feel extremely welcome from the moment we arrived until we departed later that night. I can’t wait until I’m able to come back to R.I.T. for the next Tora-Con.

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For the complete set of photos, please check out Z-is-Eternal’s page



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