You can explore Japanese culture, watch an alternate-reality game show modeled on “The Dating Game” and be served cookies and tea by dressed-up maids and butlers on Saturday at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.
And you’re encouraged, though not required, to do all of that while dressed as a character from anime — the big-eyed style of Japanese animation.
The occasion is Chibi Chibi Con, a free, family friendly anime convention organized by the whimsically named Giant Robot Appreciation Society, the college’s anime club.
Though the convention takes its name from the Japanese word meaning “short person” or “small child,” organizers say it’s the Northwest’s largest one-day anime convention.
It began in 2001 and has grown significantly in the past few years, attracting about 4,000 visitors last year.
“In the last eight years, it’s started to bring in people from Seattle,” said Gerri De Souza, an Evergreen senior and one of the organizers. “It’s started to blow up because of social media.”
The fact that Chibi Chibi Con is free, while tickets to similar events can cost $50 and up, brings in a lot of people who are new to anime conventions and a lot of families, De Souza and fellow organizer Helena Abernethy, a junior, said in a recent phone interview.
While the focus is on anime, the convention also celebrates other animation, Japanese media, comics and games.
Attractions include anime viewing rooms, panel discussions and an Artist Alley and Vendor Hall where attendees can shop for original art, mostly made by local artists, as well as licensed merchandise.
And there’s lots of live entertainment, from “The Dating Game” takeoff, which has fictional characters wooing one another to the audience’s amusement, to the Maid Café, where patrons are served and entertained by volunteers dressed as maids and butlers.
“Maid cafés are a thing in Japan,” Abernethy said. “Ours is a toned-down version. ...It’s this fun, silly thing. A lot of people go there just to have a quiet place to chat with friends and sit down and eat something.”
If you go
WHAT: The Evergreen State College’s Giant Robot Appreciation Society hosts Chibi Chibi Con, its annual free anime convention.
WHEN: Noon-midnight Saturday, Feb. 10
WHERE: The Evergreen State College, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Olympia
INFORMATION: Go to chibichibicon.net or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Cosplay Contest: 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Lip-Sync Contest: 7-9 p.m.
Dating Game, played by fictional characters: 4-6 p.m.
Maid Café, where you’ll be served tea and cookies by make-believe maids and butlers: noon-3:30 p.m., $5
“My Hero Academia” Café, like the maid café but with characters from the popular “My Hero Academia” series: 4-5 p.m., $7
EDM (electronic dance music) Disco Party, a family-friendly rave style dance complete with a disco ball: 10 p.m.-midnight
Want to check out anime, the Japanese animation known for its cute, big-eyed characters, and not sure where to start? Chibi Chibi Con organizers Helena Abernethy and Gerri De Souza recommend the following series, both available on streaming services:
• “Mob Psycho 100,” a comedy and action series about a psychic middle-school student and his mentor
• “Mushi-Shi,” a historical fiction series about a medicine man who travels through 19th-century Japan