By Julia Goldman
There’s something truly unifying for a wide array of individuals, all leading their own unique lives, brought together for one common interest: Weebfest.
There was something for everyone at the several stands selling assorted art and trinkets from various games, animes and fandoms.
The anime convention, located both above the Riverside Fox Theater and in the Game Lab, doesn’t gatekeep those who aren’t as connected within the multitude of fandoms.
“The general atmosphere was very welcoming, everyone was so friendly, since we all had some kind of common interest,” Marissa Cooreman said. “Even if it’s not the same anime, we’re all into the same things and everyone was willing to have a conversation.”
Cooreman was even approached by an excited child wanting to take photos with her in cosplay.
Cosplay is the practice of imitating a character from games, movies, anime or various media through dress up.
“It was very endearing,” Cooreman said. “She wasn’t scared to come up and she felt comfortable.”
Five winners were announced at the cosplay competition. All of the winners were more than happy to take pictures with everyone who was excited to see their favorite characters brought to life.
Then there was Angelica Layones, a local seller at the event who found herself at the beginning of the pandemic jobless and bored. What began as simple art for Layones was suddenly born into Sakura Dreams.
Despite selling merchandise at the previous Weebfest events, Layones said this one was the most successful one so far.
Papa Tes, a Los Angeles local, was also selling at the event. Tes had special experience selling at the last Weebfest event, but they found themselves enjoying this event much more than the previous one.
“LA events are either hit or miss, and Riverside doesn’t have as many anime events,” Papa Tes said. “But for a small event, a lot of people came dressed up in cosplay or just for the environment.”
As a fellow anime lover, it was nerve wracking to appear in cosplay for the first time in public. It was an excruciating process getting ready after experiencing several outfit adjustments and freakouts.
Arriving at Weebfest washed all of the previous anxieties away as it’s a common fear to not feel accepted, but it felt welcoming and warm.
It’s encouraging and uplifting to enter an environment that so freely allows and welcomes personal expression.