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Tekko 2016 Descends Upon the Steel City

on Tue, 04/05/2016 - 22:06

Have you ever thought about visiting Japan? Well, once a year, the City of Pittsburgh transforms itself into the Land of the Rising Sun as thousands of Steel City natives descend upon the David L. Lawrence Convention Center for Tekko, the annual Japanese Pop Culture convention that has something for anyone who has ever been fascinated with the island nation. This year the event is scheduled to commence Thursday, April 7th, with a special Preview Night before launching into a Friday, Saturday, Sunday lineup overflowing with activities.

Tekko (formerly known as Tekkoshocon) began life in 2003 at the Wyndham Pittsburgh Airport Hotel, then bounced around Cranberry Township, Monroeville and Green Tree before settling into downtown Pittsburgh in 2009. Initially started by a small group of fans, Tekko is now overseen by the Pittsburgh Japanese Culture Society . It doesn’t make any difference, however, as the convention is three full days of activities that encompass all aspects of Japanese Pop Culture, from anime and manga to music and fashion, Samurai warriors and giant robots to anything else one can imagine.

Like any Pop Culture convention in the Twenty First Century, cosplay is a regular staple of the Tekko experience. On Saturday in particular, the David L. Lawrence Convention center experiences an onslaught of fans dressed in extravagant apparel that reflect the various aspects of Japanese Pop Culture. Although a worldwide phenomenon, cosplay is particularly popular in Japan where opportunities present themselves practically every weekend. In fact, the World Cosplay Summit is even annually held in the city of Nagoya.

While Tekko has its primary focus on the Land of the Rising Sun, however, cosplayers are not limited to characters from anime or manga as Spider-Man, Captain America and numerous Doctors from the British television series Doctor Who have been sighted roaming the event in past years, and 2016 will no doubt bring such icons to downtown Pittsburgh once again.

A plethora of celebrity guests will likewise be in attendance at Tekko, primarily consisting of anime voice actors, fashion designers and musical acts. A dealer’s room, meanwhile, will offer an assortment of manga, art and various knickknacks.

Then there are the panels, which yet again demonstrate the vast and varied aspects of Japanese Pop Culture. Specific “tracks” cater to fans of cosplay and fashion, yet in reality, there is something for everyone. Of special note is the Tekko Gakkou track which centers on different aspects of not only Japanese Pop Culture but the history of the Land of the Rising Sun as well. Want to know the difference between a Western Knight and an Eastern Samurai? Then the “East vs. West: Arms, Armor Knights and Samurai” panel is for you. How about folk culture in modern Japan, or an overview of the island’s indigenous people? Those panels exist as well—and that’s just on Friday, to say nothing of those scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Although Tekko may bill itself as a Japanese Pop Culture Convention, it is more encompassing than just one culture or civilization. The same can also be said of Japanese Pop Culture in general. In the end, Tekko is a testament to that fact, as well as one of the best and most entertaining conventions that Pittsburgh has to offer.

Anthony Letizia (April 5, 2016)

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