Cosplayers and anime at annual event

McALLEN — The sink area of the women’s restroom in the McAllen Convention Center was filled with body paint and makeup as Aarzoo Qureshi and Zaydee Menchaca got into character for the ninth annual Omnicon.

The two-day video game, comic and anime convention kicked off Friday with a variety of panels, a video game room, short seminars and even a K-POP dance boot camp. Swords, books, stuffed animals, anime subscriptions, figurines and more could be seen in the vendor room among the hundreds of people partaking in cosplay.

Qureshi, with white costume face paint on, helped Menchaca dab metallic silver paint on her arms and face. The two 16-year-old girls wore matching shirts with Zodiac signs on them, as they resembled characters from their favorite web comic, “Homestuck,” on the first day of the convention.

“We’ve been going to Omnicon every year, and we’ve always had a lot of fun,” Qureshi said. “Omnicon has always been bigger than Comic Con for cosplay. We’ve been planning this for months; we’re so pumped.”

The Edinburg native said she felt nervous for the cosplaying, only because she hadn’t practiced applying the makeup or paint before and was aware of the tedious process that came along with it.

“The thing about cosplay is that no cosplayer ever looks at their cosplay and says, ‘Oh no, it’s fine.’ No, it always could be better,” Qureshi said.

She and her friend have matching costumes for the second day of the convention as well. They both said that Omnicon is the last thing they’re looking forward to before the summer is over, since they start their junior year of high school in a week.

“There’s so much energy,” Qureshi said. “It’s important because people interested in anime and manga, we need an outlet. We need to be around people who think the same way we do; we need a place where we can let that out and find people who have the same obsession that we do.”

Casey Cantu, the event organizer, said he loves how the event brings the community together.

“The majority of the fandom, we like to segregate ourselves,” he said. “At conventions is the only time that everyone just gets together and everyone loves the same thing. We’re basically like a family, and I love how it brings the community together.”

Cantu also said he liked that the convention has a large number of returning attendees, but also welcomes all newcomers.

“There’s a lot of young ones. There’s a lot of people that have been watching anime and these things and have heard of our event throughout the years, and we have some diehards that come year after year.”

The Edinburg native said he has a growing fondness for those who cosplay.

“We have a very raved cosplay fan base here,” he said. “I’ve gone to larger events and as far as population wise that actually attend the event. We have more cosplayers per attendee than larger events. Everyone loves to do it down here, and there are a lot of people who dress up. It’s awesome because they come out, and they’re a representation of what their fandom is.”