Woo-Con, a yearly event hosted by the College of Wooster Anime Club (COWA), connects anime, manga and pop culture enthusiasts through numerous vendors and a series of engaging panels. Most importantly, it allows people with common interests to get together and have some fun. “My favorite thing about [Woo-Con] is interacting with community members and people on campus,” said COWA Vice President Julia Ajello ’21. “It’s also fun to interact with … people that have a foot in the community and make art, and to talk to them about their art and their process.”
Usually housed in the student center, this year’s Woo-Con on Saturday, April 17 switched to a virtual format to meet COVID-19 guidelines. The event included four panels over Microsoft Teams: a cosplay tips session, a panel on the history of Maid Cafés, several short plays inspired by Kyōgen farces and a “Name That Anime Opening!” game. A Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament allowed video gamers to battle one another as part of the day’s events. Additionally, the con featured two vendors (known as the “Artist Alley”), Home Circle Media and MargoMundo, the latter of which is a local digital artist who provided a live demonstration.
The number of panels and vendors — as well as student and community members in attendance — dropped significantly this year due to the online format. “Attendance was down quite a bit,” Ajello said, “because usually, when we’re in Lowry, we have people who are just walking by … they can see everything set up and they want to come check it out, even if people are not necessarily involved in COWA.” Along with some difficulty advertising the event to the Wooster community, COWA was unable to email information to all Wooster students, making it more difficult for non-club members to participate.
COWA President Erica Berent ’21 highlights that Woo-Con still provided a positive experience for those who did attend. “Margo [who did the art demonstration] and Bethany, who did the cosplay panel, were … super personable,” she comments. “I [also] love the Artist Alley. You get to talk to people that you wouldn’t normally talk to about things you’re interested in.”
This year’s Woo-Con may not be on par with its predecessors in terms of attendance, but both Berent and Ajello have hopes for next year’s con. “None of our new committee members have seen what Woo-Con is supposed to look like in-person,” Berent states, explaining that since last year’s con was cancelled, the new COWA executive board members only have virtual experience. “I’m going to try to write down as much as I can for them, but it’s ultimately going to be up to them how they want to do it next year.”
Berent does encourage anyone interested in COWA to check out the club next year — or even in the final days of this semester. “It’s all super chill. You can just come to what you like, and everyone’s really friendly,” she says. “It’s just a place you can go and talk about your hobbies and interests, even if it’s not necessarily anime.”
COWA meets virtually every Friday from 7-9 p.m. For information about Woo-Con or COWA, email EBerent21@wooster.edu or JAjello21@wooster.edu.