Thousands of eager anime fans swarmed to Tokyo in Tulsa, July 17-19th. An array of glorious cosplays seemed to stop traffic in downtown Tulsa, with varying reactions to a beautiful occurrence: many of Oklahoma’s nerds had united in one place!

For those who deeply enjoy table top games and role playing, there was an entire floor devoted to playing these games, with plenty of others who share the interests. Many who enjoy such activities have gone most of their lives being told how weird and borderline unacceptable it is to play Dungeons and Dragons and the like; at Tokyo in Tulsa, you can find an abundance of fellow fans to befriend!

Have you struggled to find apparel that fits your subculture? Particularly in Tulsa, it can be difficult to find a variety of anime, gaming, and kawaii merchandise. If this struggle is real to you, the ginormous vendor section at TnT might be a heavenly experience. Moments after I stepped inside a vendor area, I bumped into Sorbet Jungle; Deanne sells some of the most wonderful kawaii merchandise I have ever seen!

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If you become overwhelmed after spending time in noisy crowds, not to worry! You can escape to the manga room to read and relax. Near here, multiple rooms are also devoted to those who would simply like to sit and watch anime together.

This union of so many creative minds has a variety of benefits. For example, if you’re a writer, you can meet illustrators for collaboration — or you can commission an artist to design your character, during the convention. This is a perfect place to form a team of superhero creatives, as there are cosplayers, photographers, filmographers, and much, much more!

To me, the loveliest part about this convention is the way it has long been a safe haven for so-called weirdos. I’m not alone in this assessment. Here are a few quotes from Tokyo in Tulsa devotees:

Melissa VonAschen-Cook:

[My son] is 12 and has Asperger’s, and lots of people don’t understand how passionate he is about things like he is. To me, TNT was a place where he could be himself and see others like him and just fit in. Add to that, my wife and I walked around hand in hand, and no one thought about it at all, and I would say it was one of the most inclusive places I’ve ever been.

Nathan Hill:

To me, Tokyo in Tulsa is a place of freedom. A place where you can be true to yourself and come out of your shell. I personally don’t think I’d be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone to TnT for the first time back in 2011. It allowed me to see that no matter what, you have friends out there; you may just have to find them. If we’re being completely honest, I almost broke into tears at the rave this year, because it finally hit me really hard how little I should worry what people think about me. For someone who’s always suffered from crippling self-esteem issues, words can’t describe how I felt Saturday night.

Daniel Santoy:

This past weekend, I knew that, no matter what, the people around me would accept who I was without any caveats like, “Well… I like him, but he’s into some weird stuff.” I could be myself without having to worry what other people thought, because we were all in this stuff together, which is a breath of fresh air when you feel like you have to hide all of this from the outside world for fear of being an outcast. I just wish that everyone could experience that kind of freedom, because that feeling can be super hard to come by out in the world.

On that feel-packed note, here are a few of my favorite cosplays from the convention!

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Emily Pooler

About Emily Pooler

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Emily Lillian Pooler is an author and singer-songwriter. Her first book series is called Rogues in Cahalia, and her primary music project is titled Rooftop Music Box. She spends most of her spare time larking about with her husband and son in the Midwest.

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