Tekko in Pittsburgh is one of the fastest growing anime and Japanese pop culture festivals in America. The hunger for anime conventions especially in cities with populations of over 200,000 as an outlet for cosplay and camaraderie is a need filled by Tekko, a convention that brings attendees from across the United States. The event may be considered small compared to other conventions but the growing convention is expected to hit 10,000 participants in the next two years. We at Honey’s Anime spent some time in the revitalized steel mill town to bring the 4 day festival to our readers.
General Admission which cover the entire convention $50
The event is located in downtown Pittsburgh. The event does reserve blocks of hotel rooms at a discount if you book early enough for example The DoubleTree by Hilton is located at 1 Bigelow Square, right in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh, making it one of the most convenient options for travelling back and forth from Tekko 2016! Additionally, Tekko 2016 has partnered with the DoubleTree by Hilton to provide a reduced-rate room block available for the following rates $149-$179. The city has a lot of other hotels in the downtown area and in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. The cost of parking in the city is expensive so if you stay in the suburbs plan on spending $15-20 for per day for parking.
What to Bring in Order to Enjoy Oneself:
You first need comfortable shoes. The convention center is big and spread out.
Water is freely available at water fountains and water stations.
You are encouraged to visit the restaurants downtown many of which give a discount when you show your Tekko badge.
What to Do While There Day by Day:
April 7th - the First Day of the Convention -
You have a chance to pick up you badge if you preregistered and take part in an early evening event. The animation distributer Funimation was having a big screen preview of its upcoming programs for the spring season. Tekko also has a very large gaming contingent and had a separate hall open for Role Playing Games. The line to get into this event was surprisingly long considering it was a Thursday night and many people still had work the following morning.
April 8th, Friday - When the convention really starts to get on a roll -
You can start your day off with panels like Anime Old Enough to Drink looking at anime from the 80’s. You could also flex your crafting muscles at workshops on prop building for you cosplay. You can visit more academic oriented panels like A History of Manga or just hang out in one of the many video rooms and watch whatever anime is scheduled for the hour. We decided to spend our evening with voice actor Chris Patton in his How to get into voice acting lecture.
We had a few minutes to talk with Chris Patton, a voice actor involved in the English-language dubbing of anime such as Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, Saint Seiya, Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun.
He explained the difficulties of being a dubbing actor and taking the dialogue given and matching the tone and cadence of the character and begrudgingly admitted to being the voice of a rather infamous character. He was the voice of the boy in Elfin Lied who tormented and killed a puppy. When asked if there was a character he’d like to take a crack at he said, “I’d love to have a chance to do the dub of the fourth season of Full Metal Panic. I can’t imagine not doing it and reprising my role of Sousuke Sagara, yet, I don’t have that kind of pull” The night just keeps moving on for afterhours fun as panels on Fetishes in Anime and Uraboku: The best BL You’ve Never Seen take the stage.
April 9th, Saturday - Tekko for the family -
The convention really comes alive on Saturday as families, many in cosplay, attend the convention. A cosplay couple pushing a stroller with a child dressed to match becomes a common sight as parents pass on the traditions and love of anime to their children. A Pokemon CCG and Yu-Gi-Oh Advanced Format Tournament begins at 10 and lasts five hours.
We have found conventions as a whole are a great way to exchange ideas about anime and we’re given the opportunity to look at some of our favorites in new and exciting ways. We took some time to talk with Sheena Carroll who gave a lecture on the topic of Feminism and Sailor Moon. “I think that Sailor Moon has survived and flourished for so long is because the characters are as diverse as the audience itself,” Carroll said. “I think the most important message that Sailor Moon can impart is that it is okay to feel vulnerable and scared because those things won’t prevent you from doing heroic things.”
She suggested that Sailor Moon was filled with great role models. “If you want a fun action drama and not a shounen one, Sailor Moon gives you an outlet. I think Sailor Moon is filled with great role models, with the exception of the villains; the diverse cast of characters has important roles. You can a be an underachieving girl like Usagi Tsukino, Sailor Moon, or be shy and smart like Ami Mizuno or Sailor Mercury; each one has redeeming qualities.”
The families start heading home around 3 to 4 pm and the content of the panels begin get a little more mature, for example Hentai Charades begin at 6:30pm.
The concert from BACK-ON a 4-member hybrid rock band formed in 2002 in Japan takes the stage to wow the crowd with an energy filled concert. The Dance Party begins at 10:30pm and goes until 1:30am, so bring your glow sticks and stay hydrated as you dance the night away costumes optional.
April 10th, Sunday - Tekko wraps up -
The convention is still packed with panels, events, and videos all through the morning and early afternoon on Sunday. We decide like Americans to focus on spirituality on Sunday morning by stopping by Charles Dunbar who held a wonderful seminar explaining the Shinto religion to a crowd full of people in the main hall. The lesson on the religion pealed back the layers of anime and manga to reveal the traditional images and roles of the Shinto gods. He continued the Sunday morning explanation about the religion we all see portrayed in our favorite anime by explaining shrine visits and the tradition of carrying mikoshi shrines through the towns. He gave us explanations for the Shinto traditions we’ve come to accept as common practice in the shows we enjoy.
You still have plenty of time to visit the convention floor to get last minute deals from all the merchandise vendors before they pack up. We find this is the best time to visit that booth you visited the day before and score a deal on that manga or doujinshi you were eyeing the day before.
We do want to back track a little bit to mention the masquerade, which is a key element of all the best cons. The parade of cosplayers happens on the main stage and is judged by a handful of special guests. The best part is it is open to all comers who want to put their best foot forward and indulge in your own fantasy. The masquerade was a little more real this year at Tekko as the fantasy gave way to a wonderful reality for Michelle Fialkovich and Shawn Gallant. The couple met last year at Tekko, became engaged shortly after the event and asked Tekko’s organizers if they could exchange vows at this year’s event.
The main hall was packed as the Cosplay Masquerade and skit session was ending and the emcee Karl Custer announced there was one more performance. The stage in the main hall was soon filled with cosplayers flanking a couple dressed as Cassiopeia the half woman half snake member of the Noxus and Talon a blade wielding badass from the game League of Legends. The emcee conducted the ceremony and the crowd cheered as the couple was officially wed. We got the chance to catch up with the groom after the ceremony and ask him why the couple chose such a unique venue and wedding attire. “We share the same passions: gaming, cosplay and anime,” Gallant replied. “We visited Tekko and were able to bring all the things we were passionate about together, together.”
Tekko may not be the biggest, we’ve definitely been to bigger conventions, even in America. The convention does seem to have a big heart. You walk the halls of the convention center or the streets of downtown and you are greeted with a smile. The restaurateurs don’t mind seating a party of a goth Lolita, a wizard and furry right in the front of their shop. Tekko is truly proud of its inclusive atmosphere promoting LBGT events with in the convention and extending their harassment policy to the restroom facilities. You go to Tekko in or out of costume, a fan of 80’s anime or today, a fan of dub or subtitle and feel welcome. We would recommend joining this community of Tekko next year as they continue to grow and bring bigger crowds and bigger guests.
Author: Zeke Changuris
I’m a journalist, writer, photographer, video producer, social media manager and above all a storyteller. I’m located on the east coast of the United States but travel the world with the love of my life. I’ve been a nerd since birth with a love of history and science. I fell in love with anime, watching ROBOTECH and Venus Wars in the 80s when our only source was secondhand VHS dubs. A crazy new thing called the internet changed that, giving me access to new and amazing anime every day. I love to write for work and pleasure. I’m living the dream of every kid, getting paid to watch anime and loving every subtitled line.