All posts by: Colin Loberg

A New Challenger Approaches: Anime NebrasKon 2015

I’ve never been to anything like Anime NebrasKon. My friends have talked about this annual three-day event for years, but I still had no idea what to expect when I arrived.

NebKon is the largest anime and cosplay convention in state. Founded in 2004 by two University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, the convention has gone from a small gathering of approximately 200 attendants held in the Nebraska Union to a 6,000 person Ramada Inn event. The increased attendance was a major point of discussion; this marked the first year that event organizers had to push overflow attendance to a second hotel. The convention is getting so large they might find a larger venue for next year.

When I walked into the event center on November 6, I didn’t really have a context for anime conventions. Most attendees I talked to were veterans of other similar gatherings, like the Nan Desu Kan in Denver and Anime Central in Chicago. I talked to Randy, dressed as Immortan Joe from “Mad Max: Fury Road” who said that while other conventions are much larger, NebKon has earned a reputation as “the party con.” This was a common thread among every attendee I spoke with. NebKon is simply the most fun anime meetup they attend each year.

This reputation stems not only from the hotel parties on Friday and Saturday nights, but also from the sense of community. I didn’t come across a single rude patron at the convention. Everyone involved was happy to be at the event, reconnecting with old friends or making new ones.


There were a small number of rooms filled at the hotel by non-convention attendees, so when I saw a woman sitting on a lobby chair in plainclothes I assumed she was one of these befuddled hotel guest. As it turned out, Linda was attending the convention with her husband and grandson Ben. The family had driven three hours from their hometown to take Ben to his first convention. Both Linda and I used the word “overwhelming” to describe our first reaction to the event but she was amazed by the intricacies of the different hand-constructed outfits and was glad that after years of missing the event, Ben was finally able to attend.

I talked to Ben next and we commiserated over a shared truth. I was jealous I hadn’t attended Anime NebrasKon when I was younger. To my high school self, these conventions were a distant, coastal phenomena and not something a Nebraska high schooler could easily attend. Even though I didn’t have any interest in Japanese animation, the chance to discuss video games or movies with a group of similarly minded nerds is too good to pass up.  


There’s two different traps one can fall into while covering an event like NebKon if you aren’t familiar with the event. The first is treating cosplayers as a spectacle to snicker at. The second is to use a patronising “oh it’s sooooo nice these people found a place where they can be themselves” tone. Seeds wants to portray the convention as what it is, a place where Nebraskans and other Midwesterners can be sincere about something they really value.

The only difference between me obsessively pouring over the new Stormtrooper designs online and a NebKon attendee dressed as Kylo Ren is the amount of talent and energy the cosplayer put into their outfit. Acting like my reservation at showing off my love of Star Wars somehow makes me cooler than them is stupid.

It’s for this reason that I regret not dressing up on Friday or Saturday. I was going back and forth on recycling my Samwise Gamgee Halloween costume for the convention. After feeling out of place all day Friday, I decided to dress up for Saturday but couldn’t because I accidentally left it at my apartment in Lincoln. I won’t be making this same mistake next year.


I don’t want to completely whitewash the event, though. There were aspects that I was less than comfortable with, like hyper-sexualized costumes and somewhat misogynistic overtones. These tropes are common in many anime and video games. Thankfully, these were a small portion of the event and most of the convention was designed to maximize a feeling of safety. Security guards, volunteers and a restriction that all those younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent keeps the event friendly to novices.

The convention taught me some of the basics behind anime and although I can’t rightfully call myself an anime fan today, the guest speakers did give me a better understanding of the art form and culture. However, my greatest memory of the convention is unrelated to anime and entirely related to the spectre that haunts my life, Husker football.

When I found out the convention would be taking place during a game day, I debated whether it’d be worth skipping a Husker home game for. The Purdue loss made the choice easier, so I abandoned my seat and headed to Omaha. I half-heartedly followed the play-by-play on my phone until I realized that there was a possibility Nebraska might actually win. I wasn’t alone in this feeling and by the fourth quarter there was a sizable delegation of NebKon attendees gathered around a giant screen. Cheering on a Husker game while delegates from almost every major movie franchise was an intensely bizarre experience. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t be in Lincoln for the historic win, but if you can’t be at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, I wholeheartedly recommend NebKon as a substitute.

Ben Carson performs emergency brain surgery to remove political weaknesses

While Donald Trump stole early headlines as the nonpolitican rising GOP star, Dr. Ben Carson has become an unassuming challenger to Trump’s title, rising over the early primary cycle to second place nationally. Many wonder how the political novice has managed to win over the country, but to Carson there’s no secret to his success: it’s simple science.

“After retiring from Johns Hopkins I soon grew bored of the limits my empathy and life experiences afforded me,” Carson said. “How could any 30-year veteran of brain surgery hope to excel politically? It was then that I realized the key was inside my noggin all along.”

Carson revealed that he began with simple neural tinkering, but soon advanced to full-blown self hemisphere separation. Operating with only a shaving mirror and a Swiss Army knife, Carson has been able to radically alter his own brain chemistry and leave only the most salient portions for early voters.

“The impoverished Detroit childhood? Yeah that stays, they really seem to like it. Makes me a ‘real black’ candidate. But those things I apparently said about gun control and fetal tissue research before the election cycle? You know that’s gray matter’s getting washed down the sink.”

Some worry that Carson could face a similar critique that Mitt Romney faced in 2012, blatantly shifting his political beliefs and backstory to make naked appeals to a core audience. Many GOP voters disagree with this assessment.

“Sure Mitt changed his views on issues, but you could always tell he remembered supporting health care expansion or gun control,” said Des Moines voter Jefferson Huxley. “When I look in Dr. Carson’s eyes, I see a man who cares so deeply about being accepted by a primary audience that he’s willing to cut the empathy out of his cranium. This is truly a man after Reagan’s heart.”

Carson assured crowds that they should not be alarmed if they notice minor brain case leakage during an onstage performance as this is to be expected after any major invasive surgery.

“As the old expression goes, pain is weakness leaving the body. Of course, I don’t know how much this hurts since the brain doesn’t have pain receptors but I assume it’d be excruciating. If that adage holds true, I will be 100% limitless by Iowa.”

White House Accuses GOP of Interrupting Iranian Negotiations With Sousaphone Practice

(Above) Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark) practices Sousaphone during Iranian Negotiations with Congress In what the Obama administration called an unprecedented violation of proper diplomatic procedure, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark) began playing sousaphone feet away from the Oval Office entrance. Senate Republicans clarified that the young senator is merely practicing his instrumentality and developing a healthy appreciation for […] Read more