UNIVERSITY PARK — Megan Murray says stress relief can be found at the Setsucon convention, whether she is dressed as an anime character or “even if you just sit and watch people.”
“It’s a cool thing to go to,” said Murray, 23, of Jersey Shore, who was among nearly 1,500 people at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel for the Penn State Anime Organization’s annual two-day convention, which concluded Sunday.
Fans of the Japanese animation, many in costume, came to State College from all over the region for Setsucon 2014.
Murray said she has been attending the Setsucon since its inception eight years ago.
“It’s nice to dress up (as) whatever you want and have everybody understand,” Murray said.
“They don’t care whoever you are, nobody really judges you,” she said. “You can be weird or you can be normal, it doesn’t really matter.”
With many events and attractions, Setsucon is a prime destination for anime fans; many said they were drawn by the sense of community and camaraderie at the convention.
Lakeisha Packer, 24, and Tatna Estright, 33, both from Lewistown, attended Setsucon for the first time this year.
“We bought costumes, and we thought it’d be fun to go,” Packer said.
Packer and Estright were dressed up for costume play — known as “cosplay” — to represent characters from their favorite anime films and art.
“I like coming and seeing everyone in costumes,” Packer said. “It’s so fun to look at people and see how creative (they are).”
“I got mobbed to take pictures (Saturday),” Estright said. “Some of the people are really creative, they can really make costumes.”
With all the costumes and culture, these events can be a little intimidating, they said. Parker and Estright chose to start with Setsucon because of its intimate atmosphere.
“We wanted to go to a smaller one first,” Packer said. “So far, we saw some new shows we didn’t know about before, and even watched some belly-dancing (Saturday). It was pretty awesome.”
Jeff Butterbaugh, a Penn State freshman film student and PSAO’s art director, volunteered to help at Setsucon and recommended his favorite parts of the show.
“The Artist Alley is a really popular event,” Butterbaugh said. “Artists go on tours and a lot of people try to sell here. We have to turn away some people.”
Butterbaugh started coming to Setsucon when he was in high school, and has since developed an appreciation for animated films.
“I have a great interest in animation and graphic design,” Butterbaugh said. “I’d like to make an animated film.”
Sarah Tothero, Alexandria Foster and Francoise Molenaor, all 17, said they have been to many anime conventions.
“Several years ago, a friend of mine forced me to watch an anime, and I got really addicted,” Tothero said. “This is my 10th con(vention).”
Even with all their experience, the State College Area High School students said they still enjoy the smaller Setsucon.
“This is one of my favorites. Personally, I like that it’s not too big,” Tothero said. “It’s not overwhelming, but enough people come that it’s still exciting.”
“All of us come here because not everyone shares our interests,” Molenoar said. “It’s something that we do so that we can meet other people that like similar things.”
Cate Hansberry is a Penn State journalism student.