Eye-grabbing costumes should make downtown Tulsa extra photogenic this week.
Tokyo, OK — formerly known as Tokyo in Tulsa — is an established pop culture convention with a flavor all its own. It’s a fan-based convention with a focus on Japanese anime, Japanese culture and Japanese pop culture. Mission: Educate and build community through entertainment.
Tokyo, OK 2022 will take place Friday through Sunday with programming at multiple downtown venues, including the Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, 17West, Courtyard by Marriott and Aloft Tulsa Downtown. For tickets, go to tokyointulsa.com.
Con activities will launch with a themed charity ball (Magical Girls vs. the Horde of the Undead) 8 p.m. Thursday, July 28, at the Promenade Ballroom inside the Hyatt Regency. Entry is $10 to the ball, which benefits Art4orms.
A homegrown success story, Tokyo in Tulsa started as a Halloween block party for a local anime store. The block party drew about 500 people — enough to start the wheels turning for the creation of a convention. The con experienced attendance jumps of 30 and 40 percent in some years. By the time the event celebrated a 10th anniversary at Cox Business Convention Center in 2017, attendance was near 10,000.
Tokyo in Tulsa became Tokyo in Broken Arrow (in geography if not in name) in 2019. The con relocated to Broken Arrow and shuttles were used to transport attendees to and from venues.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no Tokyo in Tulsa in 2020. The convention returned to downtown Tulsa in 2021 with the Hyatt Regency serving as the con’s HQ. Show organizers remain vigilant in the fight against the pandemic. Read more about the con’s COVID-19 policy at tokyointulsa.com.
Amber Lee Connors, Cole Feuchter, Barry Yandell, John Swasey, Kent Williams, Kiba Walker and Wendy Powell will be voice actor guests at the con, which will feature more than 300 hours of programming related to anime, gaming (console, arcade, PC, LARP, CCG, laser tag, tabletop), Japanese culture, Tulsa culture, art, writing and music.
Tokyo, OK is partnering with local businesses like Warguts E-sports and Dice Addiction for electronic and tabletop gaming.
Zac Murphy, Tokyo OK’s director of public relations, partner services and technology, said Warguts will be providing prize-based tournaments, all of which will be live-streamed, as well as free play and pop-up matches. Murphy said Dice Addiction will provide demonstrations of tabletop games, pop-up matches and an event-wide Pokemon match, with gyms at most event locations for battles with willing challengers.
One of Tokyo, OK’s most popular attractions is a shopping bazaar, a vendor room with merchants from all over the country. The shopping bazaar is open 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The opening ceremony is 2 p.m. Friday with events throughout the remainder of the day. Programming includes a Pokemon panel (4 p.m.), a K-pop Olympics (5 p.m.), a blast to the past panel on fandom culture (6 p.m.) and an age-18-and-up panel on con horror stories (9:30 p.m.). For a complete list of Friday programming, go here.
Programming and panel topics on Saturday will include figure collecting (1:30 p.m.), What Video Game Tune is That? (2 p.m.), cosplay for beginners (3:30 p.m.), 18-up anime Family Feud (6 p.m.) and an Avengers dating game (9 p.m.). For a complete list of Saturday programming, go here.
Sunday programming will begin with fandom lip sync battles at 11 a.m. For a complete list of Sunday programming, go here.
Contests are part of Tokyo, OK. Video contest entries will be viewable in the Oklahoma Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. In addition to an amateur art contest and a Gundam modeling contest, there will be cosplay contests. Awards for the cosplay contests will be awarded at the cosplay stage show, scheduled 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency.
In addition to a main cosplay contest and a skit cosplay contest (where participants are judged based on performance), Tokyo, OK is offering a hall cosplay contest judged solely on photos taken at the cosplay registration booth located in the artist and vendor area. Participants will be judged on how they and their costume photographs, so they’ll need to “strike a pose” for the best presentation possible. One entry per day is allowed.
Tokyo, OK is great for photos and photo shoots, according to cosplayer Nikki Moriarty. Be aware of this: Though costumes are photogenic, a cardinal rule of cosplay etiquette is to ask permission before snapping a photo of a cosplayer.
Some attendees invest significant time in plotting and creating the costumes — plural — they are going to wear at Tokyo, OK.
Moriarty, who is from the Shawnee area, prepared five cosplays for the convention, and she has been planning them for almost a year. She will be Swimsuit Mitsuri and Idol Misturi on Friday, Paladin Pidge and Casual Pidge on Saturday, Blue Bunny Sonico on Saturday night and My Melody on Sunday.
Moriarty said it took her two to three weeks to get everything together for Swimsuit Mitsuri (the wig takes her 8-10 hours to style), and Idol Mitsuri took two or three months.
“It was a lot of trying to figure things out and constantly redesigning to it both the idol and original vibes,” said Moriarty, who also took time to memorize a dance she will be performing.
Paladin Pidge took the shortest amount of prep time for Moriarty because the costume was borrowed. Casual Pidge, made primarily from different items assembled and fixed up to fit the character, took three weeks. Blue Bunny Sonico also took three weeks. The headset is hand made. Moriarty spent about two weeks working on My Melody. She designed the outfit herself.
“I love Tokyo, OK because it’s a fun place for nerds to gather,” Moriarty said. “You can easily find people who like the same fandom.”
Moriarty likes that she can buy anime merchandise there “without waiting forever” to buy similar merch from another seller. And then there’s this: “Tokyo, OK is the only con my cousin is able to go to, so it’s a place to have family time.”
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