Rarely have so many geeks gathered in Omaha to revel in their nerdiness.
The attendees at the 10th annual Anime NebrasKon festival didn't just admit they were nerds. They volunteered it, owned it, took pride in it.
“Here, you can be as nerdy as you want,” said Laura Christensen, an Omaha nursing student who wore a self-made costume of a video game character named Navi. “Oh, yeah, I'm a total nerd.”
Those who organized the three-day convention expected 3,300 to 3,500 people to attend.
The hallways of the Ramada Plaza Omaha Hotel and Convention Center were packed Saturday. People wore wings, helmets, antennae, boots, capes, wigs and beaks. They carried plastic swords, laser shooters, signs, shields and plastic clubs and hammers.
They paid tribute to characters from “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” Pokémon, “Doctor Who” and Power Rangers, and honored American superheroes, Ghostbusters, horror flicks, princesses and Japanese animation characters that a 50-something geezer had never heard of.
Many spent hours creating their costumes.
Epic Rodewald, an 18-year-old Omahan, made an outfit out of foam and shaggy fabric that covered her from head to foot in synthetic turquoise, purple and lime-colored fur. She looked like a corgi dog and said she was a blend of characters from the movie “Monsters, Inc.”
Rodewald said she spent about three days making the furry shoes and 10 days crafting and sewing the head. “It's worth it,” she said. “I'm getting so much attention today, and I love it.”
Anime refers to a form of Japanese animation melded with stories involving action, fantasy, comedy, drama, the supernatural and science fiction.
Anime appears in television shows, comic books, videos, video games and other media.
Dylan Nigh, vice chairman of the convention, said the event is more a tribute to all kinds of pop culture than to anime. He was delighted by the turnout, which he said most likely would be a record.
“It is sort of amazing,” he said of the waves of costumed characters that rolled through the hotel's convention center halls. “We're kind of blown away.”
People who didn't preregister paid $50 at the door for a three-day pass for the convention's panel discussions, entertainment, speakers, vendors and to just hang out with other fans.
The convention ends today at about 4 p.m. Those without a pass must pay $25 to attend today's activities.
Colby Rehder, a 31-year-old welder from Lincoln, wore a lab coat and a floppy hat. The striped hat was similar to that of a Japanese animation show character named Urahara.
Rehder took a photograph of Rodewald in her shaggy dog costume and said it was terrific to be around people who have similar nerdy interests.
He said people in the outside world tell him: “You're kind of geeky.” He responds: “Yeah. Yes, I am.”
“Look around,” Rehder said. “It's like being in a building with 3,000 best friends you didn't know you had.”