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I Helped Create UCI’s First Anime Convention

When it comes to anime, I don’t hesitate on any opportunity to be a part of the lively and fun community I have grown to love. Back in 2018, I saw a post online about a new club on campus looking for people to help create UCI’s first ever anime convention - ZotCon. I was beyond excited to interview for the Performance Coordinator position and even more thrilled when I was selected. 

As a new board member, I had to figure out what kind of artists and performers would fit our goals. I remember researching several on-campus organizations such as dance teams, music groups, and even artists outside of the UC Irvine community. It was all a bit overwhelming, at first but once I narrowed down the performers with my board team, it all started to come together. Another way I contributed my efforts for the convention was suggesting ideas for each of the rooms that would be at the convention: maid café room, performance hall, panelist rooms, artist alley, anime screening room, and the gaming room. There were so many different factors to consider for each room which gave me a lot of insight for just how large scale events such as Anime Expo, WonderCon and other major events that usually happen throughout the year are planned. Now, I know how much hard work goes into all these events that people enjoy attending.

Student holding stickers Original photo by Lauren Seberos Fundraisers were also a huge part into helping promote the event and raise necessary funds for materials we would need. Oftentimes, we would sell onigiri and Japanese drinks of different varieties. I remember before the actual convention in May of 2019, our club had a maid café fundraiser in one of the rooms on campus during winter quarter. The event was very stressful, but rewarding at the same time since many of the guests enjoyed their experience. I was in charge of reading off orders to the people who were making the food from the event menu and assisting with setting up the tables for the next round of people for the next time slot. I knew this was only a fraction of what I would have to prepare for that spring quarter, and I would be ready. 

The day of the actual convention is still freshly ingrained in my mind. There were a lot of people lined up even before the event started which made me enthusiastic about what was to come. I had a shift in the anime screening room at the beginning of the Con to make sure everything was streaming smoothly. I was then put in charge of our club booth in the artist alley where I sold our newly made stickers featuring our club mascots, Ari and Petra. We also had a Petr sticker scavenger hunt which was insanely popular that included Sailor Moon, Deku and Naruto Petr stickers we were giving out. I was touched by one person who came up to the booth who told me how they were loving the Con and bought a whole sticker set in support. They gave me a thumbs up and smiled. That moment was one of the highlights I still remember to this day. 

If I had another opportunity to help with an event I’m passionate about, I definitely would be up for a new challenge. ZotCon at UCI has shown me a lot about how something can grow from an idea to an actual event. Over 2,000 guests attended the first ever ZotCon event in 2019 and I’m grateful to have met so many wonderful people at this event I helped contribute to.