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Anime Draws Thousands to Downtown Milwaukee - Geek is Popular

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Anime Milwaukee
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Don’t be surprised to see people in costume this weekend, in downtown Milwaukee. The 8th annual Anime Milwaukee convention is taking place.

It’s geared for people who enjoy Japanese animation and gaming.

Spokesman Vic Walter says the attraction to anime continues growing. He says Anime Milwaukee started as a small club at UWM, but this year, more than 7,000 people will likely attend the weekend event.

“Without dating myself, being a geek was not popular when I was in high school and somehow that has radically changed in the last 10 or 12 years. And because of the general geek culture growing, it has forced the anime culture to become a geek niche," Walter says.

Walter says, a decade ago, there may have been a dozen U.S. dubs of anime from Japan, but now countless numbers of the cartoons are being produced daily, including in the U.S. He says, in one way, he's disappointed with the anime culture's tremendous growth.

"To be perfectly honest, I miss being the ones being picked on. I miss it being our thing," Walter says.

What might people see and hear at the weekend convention?

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Anime Milwaukee
Some anime lovers come dressed as their favorite characters

People yelling quotes from various anime movies.

Brightly colored hair - it's a popular way of expressing appreciation for anime characters, who typically have non-traditional hair colors.

"Ten-year-olds with cardboard boxes with spray paint on them, or the people who put in thousands of hours and dollars into their costumes," Walter says.

Walter says he personally enjoys seeing the time and thought people have put into creating costumes to mimic their favorite anime characters.

"Everybody knows how elaborate video games have been getting these days, with their character developments, and we have these people and these fans who aren't necessarily professional costume makers pulling off really great outfits that match or at least highlight the characters that are important to them or that they find challenging," Walter says.

Walter says Anime Milwaukee is bigger on Japanese cultural education than are other conventions.