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Third annual Anime Riverside Festival draws big crowds downtown

Intricate costumes and a light-hearted environment led to a good time for fans of the genre and observers

Berry Sweet performs for festival goers. (Ken Crawford)

On an ordinary Weekend afternoon, Downtown Riverside draws a diverse crowd. You may have noticed increased representation among certain groups if you were down there last weekend. Greater than average representation from the Snorlax, Jigglypuff, Blue-haired schoolgirl, ninja, and Plague Doctor communities made a stroll down the mall a unique experience.

In its third year, Anime Riverside has outgrown the Convention Center halls, spilled out into the mall, and taken over the Marriott. The annual event sold nearly ten thousand tickets. The festival is more than an opportunity to dress up like your favorite character. Live music, author and illustrator panels, a car show, and participatory events like cosplay costume contests and karaoke are part of the packed, two-day schedule.

I am unfamiliar with all but the most common characters, but I enjoyed seeing the intricate costumes and the interplay between cosplayers. The event passed the vibe check with most people in light spirits and having a great time. It was interesting to see how some cosplayers were out to play dress up, and some immersed themselves into their characters and acted the role without breaking.

Anime Riverside has become one of the larger events on the annual calendar and will be back next Spring. Follow Anime Riverside on  Instagram and on their website. I’d recommend the event for the adventurous and people-watchers. You don’t have to be a super fan for it to be super fun.