If you love a parade, then downtown is the place to be, as more than 15,000 costumed characters have invaded the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center for the 2017 San Japan convention.
It’s a gathering of flamboyant souls who love the animated world of entertainment, but love bringing their fantasies to life even more.
Wayne Williams came from Oklahoma and his friend Michelle Ramirez traveled from Lubbock. The pair wore complementary costumes.
“I am her maid. She's a vampire. We live in a very fancy mansion and we kind of keep to ourselves mostly,” said Williams, explaining their outfits.
“Last year was my first time visiting and we loved it so much we decided to start coming back,” said Ramirez, who explained that the convention and the city are two very alluring enticements.
Ramirez added that when they tire of the excitement of the events inside the convention hall, the River Walk is a terrific place to relax and recharge.
Hannah Karbula said that she spent hours constructing her costume of Witch Mercy from Overwatch.
“It takes hours to make your own cosplay. You can buy cosplays but I get my own satisfaction from the work I put into making my own,” Karbula said.
She enjoys the meet because it offers an opportunity to interact in real life with friends made on social media.
“Like, we're all kind of weird and we can be ourselves and dress up in costumes here,” Karbula said. “It's fun to connect with people at San Japan because I can show them photos and they're like, 'Wow, you look great!' but it's completely different talking to people and connecting with them and be like, 'How'd you make your costume?' 'How's your day going?' 'Let's talk about our favorite shows that we like to watch together.’”
Anaia Alejandro also made her costume using foam, plastic pipe, and a pool noodle.
“San Japan is a really great experience because you get to see a lot of other people dress up as their favorite characters and you see a lot of passion. It's another great way to let out your artistic expressions and just have fun,” Alejandro said.
Sean Roberson says that he lives in College Station but he tries his best to make this convention every year.
“Every year it just gets better and better. I love seeing everyone come out just to share an interest in a common theme. It's just so amazing.” Roberson said.
Kat Mendiola says that she enjoys the event because the people she meets are not judgmental.
“It is a really huge community and it's crazy. It's fun. People stop you for pictures. They talk to you. They're like 'I love that show!'” Mendiola said.
The convention runs through Sunday and there is a charge to attend some of the events, but standing outside enjoying the pageantry is absolutely free.
For more about San Japan 2017, you can visit the official website here.