Editor’s Note: This is Part II of a three-part series on Tokyo, OK.
On July 13, the Tokyo, OK staff began setting up for the upcoming weekend. It was on this day that passes were available for early pickup for anyone who had already reserved a weekend pass. The Hyatt Regency Tulsa Downtown was empty of guests, but it was only the calm before the storm.
By the following day, July 14, the entire lobby had been filled. With the start of the convention, a long line of patrons buying tickets stretched far past the information and registration desk, nearing the escalators of the hotel. By mid afternoon, the opening ceremony had begun in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom. On the main stage, the masters of ceremonies (MCs) of the convention greeted all the incoming attendees and prepared them for the oncoming events. Many of the special guests were introduced for the weekend, including names such as Barry Yandell, Bryan Apprill, Emi Lo, Dani Chambers, Cole Feuchter, Spencer Liles, and Kiba Walker.
All voice actors offered their time and talents to the convention, signing autographs and hosting panels. The musical guest, RUN, came all the way from Japan through Chaotic Harmony Imports & Events. RUN performed that evening in the ballroom to screaming fans of this solo idol.
Several of the other special guests of Tokyo, OK included fashion brand OzzOn Japan. OzzOn Japan is a street brand from Japan. The brand’s style ranges from steampunk, traditional Japanese designs, and even the style of lolita fashion.
The last four guests were selected for their work in the world of cosplay. They were Pros and Cons, Cheeky Cheetah, and Forged In Foam. In their personalized costumes that they brought to Tulsa, these professional award-winning cosplayers were a sight to behold. Each brought utterly unique and ingenious creations to the convention. Not only did they bring outrageous costumes, but each of these cosplay creators also provided invaluable insight into the world of making cosplay in panels for eager cosplayers.
For this year’s Tokyo, OK, the charity selected was none other than the Oklahoma Life Skills Association and Special Kids Care, a state-licensed, five-star childcare center. All proceeds raised during Tokyo, OK were to be given to Special Kids Care at the end of the weekend event. The charity was introduced at the opening ceremony. If you would like to volunteer, donate, or for more information, visit its website at SpecialKidsCare.org.
Friday was filled with a variety of great panels to attend as well as events. During my three-day coverage of Tokyo, OK, I sat in on some incredible moments. The first panel I attended was “Budget Silicone Mold Making.” Hosted by two of the special guest cosplayers, Forged In Foam, aka Bruce Holt, and Cheeky Cheetah, aka Anita Holmes. They discussed the practical uses for silicone mold making for cosplay and how to save money doing it.
RUN’s concert started at 7:30 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom. The room was packed with fans waiting for the solo idol to perform. Her songs were all in Japanese, but that didn’t stop anyone from attempting to follow along during her performance. RUN’s translator for the weekend translated between several songs, informing the audience how happy RUN is to be in Tulsa. The concert ended, giving a few minutes for the ballroom to prepare for Ready Player Drag!
Ready Player Drag!, presented by Salem Moon, started at 10 p.m. For the second year in a row, “Ready Player Drag!” featured drag stars dressed up in outfits and costumes inspired by anime, TV, cartoons, video games, and film. The show was packed inside the Hyatt Regency Ballroom as fans supported their favorite drag kings and queens. The host of the evening, in full drag as Salem Moon, was the voice actor Kiba Walker. Other featured stars of Ready Player Drag! were Logan Liquer, D. Composer, Danny Fox-Trot, Dia Monte, and Citronella W. Mack.
By midnight, the show had ended after two hours.
On July 15, the second day of Tokyo, OK began at nine in the morning. Cosplay contestants were eligible to compete in the upcoming cosplay contest by signing up on the website. Another option was for contestants to apply at the contest table before the deadline later that day. From there, the contestants were given a specific time to present their costumes to the cosplay judges. All the work that goes into a cosplay costume is to be noted and documented in a folder to hand to the judges. (More on this in Part III, which will focus entirely on cosplay.)
While I waited to interview some cosplayers, I made sure to enter the special guest hall, where voice actors and cosplayers had their tables set up for meet and greet.
I was able to meet Bruce Holt, one of the special guests who is a professional cosplayer. Holt, a costume designer and creator, gave insight into some of his creations. “I like to do one-off creations, like the ones at my booth. Taking two different genres and mashing them together.”
Holt started making and designing costumes when he was 14 years old. He presented all his award-worthy and some award-winning works. He was happy and willing to speak with anyone at his booth about the secrets of his creative process. Holt’s panel, Imagination Foundation, started at 2 p.m. The panel showcased a project that Holt has been a part of called the “Figmentation Foundation.”
The Figmentation Foundation is a nonprofit organization that helps children overcome life-threatening trauma by reawakening their innocence and childhood. The organization helps these children by having them star in their very own movie. Kids are able to become superheroes through the incredible process Figmentation Foundations takes. Holt offers assistance to the foundation, helping bring each child’s superhero creations to life. Holt showcased a short film, “Scorpiation,” for the Figmentation Foundation. It is a story of a superhero, whose suit he crafted for the star of the film. The star is a young boy named Alex. Alex’s story was shared by Holt, and there was even a short video by the Figmentation Foundation that told more of Alex’s ability to overcome his trauma by starring in his own superhero story. Here is a link to Alex’s Story.
Finally, on Friday at 7 p.m., the cosplay contest opened the doors to the ballroom. An enormous crowd cheered as they entered the room. This was by far the biggest event of the weekend, with the entire ballroom packed with only standing room in the back of the ballroom.
Cosplayers of all backgrounds presented their creations for the audience and judges.
Many of the individuals competing wore their signature looks throughout the day to prepare for the contest later that evening. As the audience waited patiently to be seated, the three guest judges made their grand entrance. Wearing their own costumes, Cheeky Cheetah, Pros, and Cons Cosplay walked to the main stage to begin the judging.
Contestants were announced on stage to show off their creations to the crowd and march down the long aisle of clapping fans. Every costume and cosplayer brought their own sense of flair to the stage. Thirteen categories were given awards. Several of the categories included the “Judge’s Choice,” where each guest judge selected one contestant as choice, a “Beginner’s” category for those still new to cosplay, an “Intermediate” category for those making cosplay for several years, an “Advanced” category for truly professional-grade costumes, and one award for “Best in Show.” Every winner had their moment to shine. All the contestants had worked months or even years on their costumes. The cosplayers were given the chance to show off their art in front of their peers and professionals.
On Sunday, the last day of the convention, there were several panels about special effects, wig styling, and fan panels that focused on several fan favorites.
The event offered a lot to take in from the entire weekend. What I enjoyed most about Tokyo, OK was the way everyone treated one another. The joy and kindness others showed to their fellow cosplayers. It felt easy to make friends while waiting in line and attending the same panels and seeing the same faces. The convention ended, and it will not be until next July when Tokyo, OK returns. Until then, Sayonara Tokyo, OK.
Additional Photos from Tokyo, Ok.