In the big scheme the Zenkaikon anime conventions are pretty small.

But that’s part of what makes it so interesting.

Christopher Lloyd, a 23-year-old man living in Lancaster, says he is excited to return to Zenkaicon for the third time.

“I like the atmosphere and the energy there,” says Lloyd. “It’s just a good, relaxing convention.” It helps that he lives within walking distance of the Lancaster County Convention Center, where Zenkaikon will take place this weekend.

The convention took a year-long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic and returned last year with virtual panels and programs. This year is Zenkaikon’s first personal event since 2019, almost three years ago.

Whether you attend the convention this weekend or not, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s Zenkaikon.


A short story

Zenkaikon was established in 2006 when two conventions, Zentrancon and Kosaikon, merged. The event grew every year, so in 2009 it had to be moved to a larger location, the Valley Forge Radisson Hotel. A few years later he was again moved to a larger location, this time to the Lancaster County Convention Center in downtown. Lancaster.

It has been in the convention center every year since 2013 (except 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

“We’re glad we can still go back and do it again because Lancaster has been a really great host for us,” says Christine Sowder, Zenkaikon’s spokeswoman.

Souder, a home-based mom who lives in New Jersey, has been visiting every year since 2009. As her interest grew, so did her participation.

Zenkaikon works with volunteers, including people from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Florida, as well as from other states.

“We just do it, really, because we like it,” Sowder says. “We’re fans, and we like to give room to other fans to get together and learn more about anime, Japanese culture and science fiction.”


Basics

Zenkaykon is open Friday through Sunday, March 25-27, at the Lancaster County Convention Center, at 25 S. Queen St. in Lancaster. Some events will also be held at Tellus360, at E. King St., 24 in Lancaster.

Tickets at the door from Friday to Sunday cost $ 65, tickets for Saturday and Sunday cost $ 55, and tickets only on Sundays cost $ 25. Zenkaikon does not offer one-day passes.

All participants should be able to show evidence of vaccination and should be in masks, Soder says. If they cannot provide evidence of vaccination, they will be answered.

“We’ve had to cancel the last two years for security reasons, so we’re really trying to keep everything safe this year,” Soder says. “I hope that in the future it will not be so necessary.”

The congress is a family one, but not all events are scheduled for families. The full schedule can be found here. Adult activities are marked accordingly.

Cosplay, short for costumed play, is recommended, but not required.

“People can come together and express their interests in an open, acceptable environment,” Sowder says. “Some people may not know many other people who are interested in the same interests as them, or may not feel comfortable expressing themselves … so this is a great way out for them.”


What to do

At Zenkaikon everyone will find something for themselves.

There are often informative panels where experts talk about game theory, anime, science fiction or anything else that interests them. Some examples include “The Science of the Real World One Piece” and “Sword and Pen: Writing an Effective Battle Scene in the Fiction Genre.”

There will be several themed parties, including a masquerade and a cosplay ball, where people dress up in different characters from the media and dance together. In some numbers episodes from various anime are constantly played.

There are also game rooms where people can play video games and board games or just hang out with their friends.

The dealership room, or sometimes called the sales hall, has dozens of artists specializing in various arts. Prints will be on sale, as well as other memorabilia, items on the subject of botany, clothing, books and more.

“I like going to the dealer’s hall and walking around, to see what everyone has,” says Lloyd. “I’ll probably take a lot of Magic cards while I’m there … It’s a lot of fun.”


What’s new?

In recent years, Zenkaikon has rented the ground floor of Tellus360 for the weekend for additional activities. This year the congress leased both floors.

The Tellus360 will host several events, such as getting autographs from congress guests or even a 1920s speaker’s party.

Zenkaikon will also show some of its panels online for those who can’t get to this year’s convention, Soder says.

A virtual entrance to Zenkaikon costs $ 15; participants can register here.


Guests

Several guests with rich resumes will visit Zenkaikon this year for meetings and greetings, panels and autographs.

Cast: Bo Billingsley (Jet Black, “Cowboy Bebop”), Debbie Deribery (Jimmy, “Jimmy Natron”), Carrie Wolgren (Jessica, “Rick and Morty”) and Mick Wingert (Professor Heimerdinger, “Arcanum”).

Other guests include disc jockeys Awesomus Prime and Kenzie Black, artists Chalk Twins, author Greg Cox, host of the game show Manly Battleships, cosplay artist Mythril-Arts and comedian Uncle E.

For more information on Zenkaikon visit zenkaikon.com.

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