Eye to eye: One of many elaborate handmade costumes at Ikkicon V (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
The nerd world has been ablaze with debate about Patton Oswalt's editorial for Wired, mourning the death of Western geek. He compares old-school geekery to Otaku: The Japanese term for obsessive collectors who immerse themselves in a particular sub-genre. One potential local solution? Otaku immersion at Ikkicon.
Austin's annual Japanese animation and pop culture convention has been running over the New Year's weekend, and it's the kind of event that might restore Oswalt's faith. His argument was that, in an age when Boba Fett t-shirts are gym wear or you can buy a sexy Optimus Prime Halloween costume, geek doesn't mean much any more. But when you walk into a room and there's two fans in homemade costumes as Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece while Trigun's Vash the Stampede shops for Bishoujo figures, there's still something proudly geeky going on.
Much like last year's Ikkicon IV, cosplay – the art/sport of dressing as anime and pop culture characters – was a big part of the weekend. This year, it proved that there's still something to call geek chic. Hard to say that learning to work leather or causing a run on Manic Panic hairdye in Atomic Turquoise doesn't show the kind of dedication that Oswalt seeks.
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Henchman 21 (but his friends call him Gary) from The Venture Bros. at Ikkicon V (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
More Venture Bros. adventure at Ikkicon, with a speedsuited Dr. Venture and a crossplay Dr. Girlfriend (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
Close-up cosplay: Part of the highly intricate Siam from Silent Hill. How complex? It requires two people strapped together, back to back. (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
The monstrous Silent Hill cadre poses for photo-ops on the game room floor (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
Now anywhere else, that would get some odd looks. (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
Wings of lace and brass: A steampunk-inspired outfit is part Icarus, part art deco (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
The best costumes are home-made and bespoke and it's hard to imagine anything more unique than a hand-tooled astrolabe in leather. (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
Always time for the classics: Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros. makes a royal visit to the vendor room. (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
And where's Mario? Checking out the gaming room from the other side of the screen. (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
Is it really an anime con without furries (just keep the yiffing in the hotel room, folks) (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
Scott Pilgrim vs. Ikkicon: Two cosplayers pay tribute to the indie comic smash as Ramona Flowers and the eponymous bassist for Sex Bob-omb (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
A competitor strikes a pose in the cosplay contest (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
A practical impractical skill: Cosplay fight training from Sleeping Samurai (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
Now, if you're otaku in Austin, you know that's not a Bevo homage (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
For the discerning modern monocle wearer: Mad-Eye Moody from the Harry Potter franchise (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
It's not just anime: World of Warcraft inspires two cosplayers at Ikkicon V (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
The secret to great cosplay? The right props (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
When even the vendors are in costume, you know you're at a convention. (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
Ikkicon attendees wait for the weekend's highlight for fans of the art: The big cosplay contest (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
Yes, before you ask, the hotel management did turn the escalators off to allow for the more elaborate costumes (Photo by Richard Whittaker)
Photo by Richard Whittaker