Illustrated by John-Ross Boyce & Bryan Gomm

The hours, days and weeks Utah residents have spent perfecting Haruhi Zuzumiya school girl outfits and crafting replica Cloud Strife buster swords will finally culminate in one of the biggest gatherings of anime, manga and video game fans Utah has to offer.

Anime Banzai, Utah’s first established anime convention, will return for its fifth year this weekend at its new venue, the Davis Convention Center in Layton.

The cosplaying aspect of Banzai and other anime conventions is a dominant characteristic of these events. Cosplaying, the portmanteau of “costume playing,” is a performance art where clothing is used to represent characters or ideas. Conventions have found ways to either incorporate cosplay or make it the focus of quite a few of their events.

Not only are there theatric events featuring cosplayers, but several events are dedicated to the craft of creating real-life equivalents of a cartoon’s ensemble. This year’s Banzai will feature “Project J-Rock,” a competition similar to Project Runway. It is an advanced cosplay sewing panel showing the seriousness and creativity behind what many consider dress-up on a larger scale.

This convention isn’t limited to being the yearly congregating area for cosplayers, though they are a good reason to go. The convention features a diverse collection of events dedicated to Japanese animation and culture. Anime Banzai offers gaming enthusiasts different opportunities to show their skills including Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Street Fighter Iv tournaments. Ticket holders are also welcome to visit the Artist’s Alley, as well as guest panels featuring topics like voice acting and getting your work published.

The convention lasts three days, but if you want a better deal, go on Sunday or buy a full weekend pass. Although some events do cater to the over-18 participants, cosplayers and anime fans from around the state will find a diverse array of events to attend, many of which are family friendly.

To learn more about this convention, visit for a schedule of events.