Anime Milwaukee (AMKE), a celebration of anime, gaming and art will return to the Wisconsin Center on Feb. 3-5. What started as a college anime club in 2007 grew into the most consistent culture and animation convention in the city and gathered more than 11,000 fanatics for manga, gaming and costumes last year.
Theatrical costume design is one of the main attractions, and cosplayers can build connections with other fans across the spectrum of movies, comic books, animation and gaming. AMKE features the Masquerade on Saturday, where nearly 100 cosplayers will perform skits and walk across the stage in front of a panel of judges for performance or craftsmanship.
“Everyone gets their moment in the spotlight, it’s exciting to see the work everyone’s put into their costumes and their skits,” AMKE staff member Marita Peterson says.
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Entries are split into different skill categories so new costume designers can perform without discouragement.
“We have different categories for people who are new to cosplay and who are experts at it,” Peterson says. “It’s exciting to see different levels of craftsmanship, where people are in their journey and how we celebrate it.”
The Exhibit Hall will host booths for standard industry anime merchandise and smaller vendors, artists, vendors and community groups on the third floor of the Wisconsin Center for the three days of the event. Panel programming features animation industry insiders, cosplayers and voice actors. The roster for voice actors includes Jason Liebrect (RWBY, My Hero Academia), Elizabeth Maxwell (Attack on Titan) and Max Mittelman (One Punch Man.)
AMKE features one of the few Cosplay Combat Chess competitions, where entertaining cosplayers perform as chess pieces on a large board, AMKE’s website siad. Candidates are chosen for their improvisation skills, roleplaying ability, enthusiasm for their roles and costume quality.
“In the scripted chess match, it’s fun to watch and see character interactions, how people act them out and the mastery of how it was developed,” Peterson says.
Additional programs include video and tabletop gaming events, children’s programming and K-pop battles. Japanese culture is sprinkled everywhere throughout the event, but some events include taiko drumming troupes and panels featuring guests of honor, whether in anime or Japanese-related content, convention officials added. For partygoers and late night patrons, the Hilton Milwaukee Crystal Ballroom hosts Club AMKE, a late event with DJs from across the U.S. and the world.