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Teens plunge into character for Largo anime convention

If "cosplay", "para para" and "Bleach the Shattered Blade" are part of your vocabulary, then you'll want to be at the Largo Library on Saturday for Tosho-Con, an anime convention for teens.

For the uninitiated, anime is another word for Japanese animation. In the 1970s, the art form was seen in Speed Racer cartoons. For today's teens, Pokemon is often cited as their first exposure to the genre.

"I collected everything," said Nicole Cruz, 15, of Clearwater. "I've loved anime for as long as I can remember." Cruz is one of the eight teens on the Largo Teen Library Council, the volunteer group that planned most of Tosho-Con.

Led by youth services library assistant Chandra Hill, the group has planned a slate of activities from video tournaments and costume contests to teen art displays.

"Toshokan is the Japanese word for library," explained Will Lewis, 19, of Largo. "We came up with the name Tosho-Con as a play on that word for our convention." Lewis, a leader with the teen council, wants to help the event grow.

Last year, the library sponsored Chibi-Con, an anime convention that drew more than 200 attendees. This year's organizers are hoping to draw 500 participants.

Stephan Kalpoo, 16, of Largo, said he enjoyed planning this year's convention. He is in charge of the video game room and is responsible for seeing everyone has a good time while obeying the rules.

Billy Garrett, 19, came from Pinellas Park to be part of the convention planning. He expects the costume contest to be popular. "Some people actually take the time to make their costumes," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing all the different ones."

Lauren Hawee, 15, of Indian Rocks Beach is in charge of Artist Alley, the special display of anime art done by local teens. "I love the fan art," she said. "I wish I could draw like that."

Another added bonus: the prizes offered during the convention's drawings.

A former library employee who now lives in Japan sent several items, Hill said. Anime vendors contributed as well. Hill said funds raised by the raffle tickets will go to the library foundation to be used for teen programming.

But the best thing about the convention is the camaraderie, Hawee said. "People who like anime are fun," she said. "And they don't think you're weird just because you like anime."

>>FAST FACTS

Translations

"Cosplay" is short for costume play or costume role playing. "Para para" is a popular Japanese solo dance. "Bleach the shattered blade" is a fighting game.

If you go

The event will feature karaoke, a martial arts demonstration, video game tournaments and more. The free event is for teens 13 to 18. For information, call (727) 587-6715, ext. 2531.

Teens plunge into character for Largo anime convention 03/25/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 7:46pm]
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