Compete in tabletop and video game tournaments, get your nostalgia fix on with retro video games and discover dozens of local art, comic book and anime-themed vendors at the eighth annual Queen City Kamikaze.
The one-day convention returns to Manchester Memorial High School on Saturday, March 18, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is a one-stop shop for lovers of all things comic, video game and science fiction. Dressing up as your favorite comic book superhero or video game character — or “cosplaying” — is encouraged but not required.
Kamikaze co-organizer Jeff Normandin said the convention has continued to grow larger each year since it began as a small fundraising event for the high school’s video game and anime clubs.
“It started out as just a small thing with a few local artists and vendors, but now we fill the gym up with vendors from all over New England, basically,” he said. “The original plan [for Queen City Kamikaze] was to make it kind of on par with some of the larger conventions in New England like Anime Boston, but also making it more affordable for people … and we also try to make it more engaging for them.”
A $10 entry fee at the door will give you access to all that the convention has to offer, another feature Normandin said is often not the case with some of the larger conventions.
“With other conventions, you’ll pay to get in the door, but then you may pay an additional fee to do any of the tournaments or contests,” he said. “But here, we don’t charge extra to participate in any of the events. You pay the $10 and you can do whatever you want for the day.”
Throughout the day, the school’s gymnasium will be filled with vendors selling merchandise, from comic books to video games and everything in between. NeonBomb, a Manchester comic book store Normandin co-owns, will be there as a vendor. Other vendors will include illustrators and graphic designers selling their original works.
Several specialized workshops and panel discussions are planned in a few of the classrooms and hallways surrounding the gym, including in screenplay or novel writing, crafts, drawing and more.
“One of the things we’re doing a bit different this year is called the Project Cosplay Challenge,” Normandin said. “It’s going to be sort of like a Project Runway type of thing in which participants come in and will be given a bunch of supplies … and they’ll have some parameters to make their own costume using what they’ve been given, and they’ll go out and show off what they’ve made.”
Other Kamikaze staples involving cosplayers include a “cosplay dating game” from 10:30 to 11 a.m., and other game parodies of TV shows like Jeopardy! and Whose Line Is It Anyway? In each game, participants act out the character they are dressed up as.
Set up along several hallways during the convention will be video game tournaments and multiple televisions with old-generation gaming consoles like Atari and Super Nintendo. There will be tournaments for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and also for Street Fighter V.
“The retro games are going to be more of a pick-up-and-play type thing, so that people can try out different games and systems,” Normandin said. “The tournaments people can sign up at the door for when they pay the entry fee.”
Card game tournaments are also planned, featuring the games Magic: The Gathering, Cardfight!! Vanguard, Weiss Schwarz and Force of Will.
Kamikaze-goers will need to pay additional fees for food. Normandin said different organizations associated with the high school often participate in the convention as their own community fundraiser.
“Oftentimes the [school] track team sells pizza, and the yearbook group will have a cart of ramen noodles, so they always get involved too,” he said.
He added that if you’ve never attended an anime or video game convention before, Queen City Kamikaze is a great starting point.
“It’s become one of the first conventions that a lot of people end up going to,” he said. “It’s a good one to get your feet wet [as a visitor], because it’s small, but it’s also a good first event as a vendor to see how you do selling your artwork at a convention.”