Over the past five or so years the military has been trying to bring a small piece of home to those soldiers serving overseas. Most of the time, MCCS provides free concerts and holiday festivals, but with the growing number of nerds in each generation and the rise of anime and video games in popularity, a good old fashion comic convention seemed like a good idea. Over the years, the convention has grown and grown. From starting out in a one room library it grew to the giant number of 10,000 guests while being held in one of the biggest field houses the base can offer. One of the greatest parts is that local Japanese are also encouraged to partake in the festivities in hopes of creating lasting bonds in the community.
MCCS Okinawa Comic Con -Basic Information-
|When:||October 17, 2015|
|Location:||Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan (in the Foster Fieldhouse)|
|Hotels:||Hotels are a bit of a problem when in the area. There aren’t that many and you would need to book in advance where convenient. Since the con is within the Okinawan military base, you will need to find transportation, but once you’re in, it shouldn’t be too hard to navigate to the fieldhouse location where MCCS Comic Con is held.|
“MCCS offers an abundance of exciting activities with something for everyone, from athlete to artist, bowler to batter, adolescent to adult. Whether you are in to aerobics or aquatics, beaches or boating, family dining or evening entertainment, attending concerts or college, we have a program waiting for you.
OUR MISSION: “MCCS Makes Okinawa Home” by providing a premium yet cost effective menu of Quality of Life programs and services designed to meet the needs of Marines and their families.
OUR VISION: We are the standard for Marine Corps Community Services world-wide in every program activity and customer service interaction delivered to Marines and their families.”
(Main Page) http://www.mccsokinawa.com/index.aspx
What to Expect:
Please remember that this is a relatively new convention and so it is learning. Don’t expect many of the same activities such as panels and viewing rooms since the venue is relatively small and has no side rooms, but do expect to meet a lot of cool people, both military and Japanese, that are enthusiastic about the same things as everyone else attending. Expect a lot of cool Japanese guests showing off their work as well.
What to Bring:
Yourself! Since this isn’t a multiple day affair or in a remote location, housing and overnight bags aren’t required. Bring a backpack, some snacks, and your wallet! If you’re cosplaying, of course bring all of your pieces as well as items needed for quick repairs.
What to Do:
Since resources are limited, the staff had to get creative with what they were given to work with. A corner of the field house was dedicated to competitive gaming of all sorts including TCG tournaments (Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon) to video games (CoD, UFC, Smash Brothers). The other half of the field house contained vendors from around the island and included Japanese and Americans selling everything from Gunpla (Gundam plastic models) to video games and classic comic books. Outside the building were a number of different tents filled with food vendors selling yakisoba and various other Japanese festival food.
The organizers also managed to snag some amazing guests as well. FUNimation voice actors Chris Sabat (Vegeta), Justin Cook (Man of 101 Voices), and Sean Schemmel (Goku), were on hand to do an autograph session and to screen the latest Dragonball Z movie. The line for these three circled the entire con! Japanese guests included Okina Kamino (Light Novelist), Yuji Kaida (Illustrator), Junichiro Tamamori (Mech Designer), Yuki Tedokon(Voice Actress), and Raito(Video Game Composer). Each of these amazing talents had their own booth where visitors could view each guests’ work. Tamamori had one of the most impressive booths since it contained blueprints to the original Yamato.
The con wrapped up the evening with a cosplay contest featuring some amazing prizes including roundtrip airfare tickets (valued at $2,760 and sponsored by Delta Airlines) back to the states for those wishing to see some family. Much of the cosplay presented were extremely impressive considering many were first time competitors. I believe one of the contestant winners was dressed up as Chewbacca from Star Wars.
The small Marine based comic con has a long ways to go to compete with any of its stateside competitors, but for an organization unfamiliar with anime and other aspects of pop culture, they sure have a solid start. This year’s convention was experimental in many ways and the risks taken with the venue and guests really paid off. Next year there are even talks of extending the convention to a solid three days making it similar to a real convention from back in the states. I’m confident in saying that in the next five years, MCCS’ Comic Con will be the premier anime event in Okinawa that will bridge the culture gap between the American and Japanese cultures.