Colorful costumes, creative artwork, and trinkets of all kinds lined the halls of the Boise Hotel and Conference Center when Tomodachi Fest, Boise’s very own homegrown anime convention, took over from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6. The convention played host to industry guests, artists, dances, parties, vendors, and hundreds of fans.
Celebrating its sixth year of operation, Tomodachi Fest entertained nearly 650 fans in total and made up the vast sea of humanity that wandered to and fro throughout the Boise Hotel’s hallways and ballrooms.
The Treasure Valley has a bustling geek scene and, with four multi-day conventions throughout the year, that scene looks to continue to grow.
Most fans attend anime conventions such as Tomodachi Fest to discuss, share and enjoy their favorite interests with others who share them. While many attendees know each other beforehand and stick to their established social circles, others are social butterflies that seem to know everyone. Like any other community or family, the geek scene in the Treasure Valley has a variety of personalities and characters within its expanding ranks.
Fandemonium, a local convention based out of Nampa, also had a presence at Tomodachi Fest in the form of events and panels. Fandemonium staffer Joe Kinney shared his thoughts about the local convention scene with The Arbiter.
“Even though all of the conventions in Idaho are run by different people, a community has developed around (the conventions),” Kinney said. “The community is really important in Idaho because it’s a bit more conservative than some states.”
Fandemonium has a presence at all of the different local conventions and Kinney believes that this is an important part of growing the community.
“The relationship between the conventions is generally pretty good … We’re here to do some panels and offer a sample of what Fandemonium has to offer … but we also don’t want to step on other conventions. I want to see people in the community feel more comfortable at conventions. I want to see people outside of the community be more accepting of us. I want the scene to grow.”
Despite the bustling community, Boise isn’t known for being a hub for entertainment in the same way as LA, New York, Dallas or San Diego is. This lack of entertainment industry representation has put many would be anime voice actors, producers and directors into a bit of a bind. A particular question that many fans have is simply ‘How do I get into the cartoon or anime industry’?
Chris Rager, a voice actor most famous for his work as Hercule on the anime Dragon Ball Z and more recently as Mr. Torgue on the video game Borderlands 2, admitted that while Boise isn’t a prime candidate for getting into the industry, there is hope for prospective actors, and that the industry is changing.
“A lot of voice actors have studios inside of their homes now. They don’t even have to leave their house to record lines,” Rager said. “A lot of the audition process is even done that way … You get a script, rifle off a few lines, and hope you get the part.”
Despite Boise not being a media hub such as New York or LA, it has still managed to have a rabid, loyal and dedicated community sprout up around it. If Tomodachi Fest is any indication, that community will continue to grow.