Ten Years In: Tora-Con Celebrates a Decade
by Nathan Castle | published Feb. 25th, 2014
This year’s Tora-Con is set to be bigger than ever, in celebration of the event’s 10-year anniversary. Tora-Con is RIT’s major anime and Japanese culture convention, put on by the Anime and Cosplay clubs. With a multitude of new events planned, Tora-Con’s organizers believe this year will be record-breaking in terms of attendance.
According to Jan Dvorak, , the Tora-Con chair, Tora-Con’s audience consists of RIT’s anime fans, as well as anime fans from Rochester and surrounding areas. Surprisingly, past Tora-Cons have been visited by a large number of high school students, which is one reason why the event’s organizer have made it as family-friendly as possible. Last year’s Tora-Con attracted an impressive 2600 people, and this year, the guest limit has been raised to 3000. The event’s organizers are confident that they can reach that limit.
Tora-Con’s popularity is certainly due to its history of having great events and popular presenters. When looking at the past several years of Tora-Con event books, it’s clear that Cosplay events are a theme for the show. The Cosplay Club has put on several events, including the Cosplay Chess Tournament, Iron Cosplay and the Cosplay Dating Game. In the Cosplay Dating Game, individuals from the audience are chosen to go on stage and try to find their perfect match in-character.
While Cosplay is one defining theme of Tora-Con, there are events for other interests as well. Dvorak said that, although the main focus is on Japanese culture, “We really include all of the interactive cultures — so sci-fi, fantasy.” Besides cosplay events, there are also movie showings, panels and presenters. In the past, voice actors/actresses have featured prominently as presenters, but there have also been improv groups, musical bands and even comedians.
Over the past several Tora-Cons, there has been a mix of regular and new guests. This year, comedian Uncle Yo will be returning for his third Tora-Con. In addition, Tora-Con 2014 will feature twelve other guests. Voice Actors Colleen Clinkenbeard, Chuck Huber, Tia Ballard, Josh Grelle, Alexis Tipton, Scott Freeman and Laura Woodhull will be at the convention this year. Aki Glancy, a Vocaloid producer, will be visiting, as well as Brittany Lauda, a current SUNY student and voice actor.
Tora-Con’s events have been the major draw in the past. Tora-Con’s organizers have planned a special set of events to complement existing staples for the tenth anniversary. In addition to an increased selection of panels and events, this year’s Tora-Con will feature a tenth anniversary celebration. According to the Dvorak, the event will be modeled after a 10-year-old’s birthday. In addition, RITchie will join the celebration, and historical artifacts from previous Tora-Cons will be shown.
While Tora-Con may be best known for its panels and cosplaying, the event is much more versatile than that. There will be a concert featuring Rare Candy, a group from Baltimore that performs video game music covers. There will be a dance featuring electronic dance music. According to Hector Baez, the Major Events Coordinator for Tora-Con, the event is expanding to new parts of the campus to accommodate more events. Artists Alley, a staple of the show, will be showcasing the works of local artists in three rooms in the College of Business.
Tora-Con is clearly an outstanding expression of RIT’s anime and cosplay culture. Hector Baez, a third-year Biomedical Engineering major and the Events Coordinator for Tora-Con, remarked that “[Tora-Con] certainly shows off RIT, in terms of, ‘Look at how amazing this campus is and what kind of events you can host here.’” This year’s convention will be better than ever with new events, new guests and a special celebration of the event’s 10-year anniversary.