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The Montana Anime convention Nagu Con kicks off in Helena this weekend

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Nagu Con goers pose during the 2013 convention in Helena. Courtesy photo
Nagu Con goers pose during the 2013 convention in Helena. Courtesy photo

Thousands of Comic Con International fanatics are flooding San Diego this weekend, but anime and cosplay fans in Montana need not travel thousands of miles to share their niche passion.

The fourth annual Nagu Con in Helena is right around the corner, with the event starting at noon on Friday and runs through Sunday at the Red Lion Colonial Inn.

The convention is called Nagu, which means “calm and happy” in Japanese, because organizers say they didn’t want it to have any drama when they started planning it in 2010.

Rachal Flewellen, chairperson of the convention, said some new things planned for this year include more outside panelists and artists and two movies from Austria will be screened. There’s also lots of card games, cosplay costumes, vendors and a popular ninja reflex contest.

Flewellen said this will likely be the biggest con they’ve thrown yet.

“People can expect a lot of new things because we’re a lot bigger this year,” she said.

Flewellen said most people who attend the con show up in cosplay costumes. Some of the best she’s seen in past years include many great Final Fantasy X cosplayers and a few people with some awesome-looking Full Metal Alchemist costumes.

This year's Nagu Con is Friday through Sunday in Helena. Courtesy photo
This year’s Nagu Con is Friday through Sunday in Helena. Courtesy photo

She said this year, one of the more interesting costumes is the person who is showing up with a head that looks like a horse.

Flewellen said as far as she knows they are the only group of people who hold a convention dedicated to anime and manga in all of Montana, although she said she knows at least two other groups who are looking at starting similar events.

“We are possibly seeing this summer another convention in Helena and I know Billings is starting an anime-based convention, too. The only other similar convention would be the Sci-Fi convention in Missoula that allows anime but it’s mostly science fiction.”

The movies being shown at this year’s Con are titled “Game Companion” and “ Ryoshi Shupigeru.”

“Game Companion” is about a thirty-something gamer named Bob who lives downstairs in his mom’s house and works for a fast food restaurant. He is, however, skilled at a INMA fighter video game. After reaching a certain point in the game, he’s given a female companion named Kimiko, who mysteriously shows up at his door one day. She is impressed with Bob’s “fighting skills” but when she starts to discover how he lives away from the game, she starts to become more and more disinterested.

“Ryoshi Shupigeru,” meanwhile, is about a hedgehog-haired hero named Kamono and his overly loyal friends who go on an adventure to defeat the evil Shaddolord and his henchmen Facecovered Suitguy in their palace of nightmares. According to the online description, “What better way is there to avenge someone than by firing ultra-epic powercrystal-laserbeam-attacks out of your hand, sending cute animals that can only say their own name into battle, transforming into some…weird things, and all that in front of highly epileptically-colorful backgrounds like 90s Anime at its best? That’s right! There is no better way.”

Flewellen said one of the biggest things she’s most proud of in regards to the Nagu Con is that they’ve been able to create an environment where anime fans of all kinds can come together and feel free to express their passions for this unique culture.

“Our con goers tell us that they love us because we’re so friendly and welcoming and they feel safe,” she said. “They feel like they can be themselves at our convention. That’s a big deal for us.”

Admission to Nagu Con is $35 for whole weekend or $15 for a single day pass. For more information, visit their website here.

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