Wearing a black flannel shirt, with slicked-back hair, sunglasses and a neck tattoo, Adam Wakitsch walked into the Nashville Convention Center on Friday afternoon just in time to see the Ghostbusters.
They had cleared a circle amid the crowd, pointing their phony dematerializer lasers toward a row of cameras that were momentarily lured in their direction — and away from the otherwise eye-popping array of fluorescent wigs, frilly skirts and huge homemade sabers that filled the atrium.
Shaking his head and smirking, Wakitsch, a tattoo artist, navigated his rolling case of supplies through the throngs, en route to the Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival one floor down.
He had a day full of inking ahead, during a festival that comes around just once a year, yet he offered a tinge of envy about what he’d just seen.
“I want to go to this convention, man,” he told to his friend.
In a cross-pollination to be fully enjoyed by only a niche of a niche of nerds, the convention center this weekend hosts not only the tattoo and horror festival but also the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention, bringing together about 7,000 people who share, at least, the know-how to make their parents scratch their heads.
The anime convention got a head start, with its line of attendees stretching down Commerce Street in an ornate costume parade of popular, mostly Japanese animated characters.
Inside, they learned to swing dance, took drawing workshops and shopped for stuffed animals, wigs, comic books and more costumes.
But mostly, they took photos of each other.
A gesture would typically suffice: Just a lift of the camera could spur a winged woman into a pose or a warrior to brandish his weapon.
Kayla Marie, 19, of Nashville, who dressed as a cat girl with pink ears, wig and dress, shifted from hip to hip posing for photos.
“That’s freakin’ legit, I love it!” a boy said as he passed.
Another hazarded a guess as to the character she dressed as. He got the anime series correct, but not who she was, and the conversation petered out.
Across the hall, Nathan Propps, 17, of Cheyenne, Wyo., rattled off the anime characters he recognized while waiting for the horror festival to begin.
He knew his black gas mask costume — “an apocalyptic thing” — would fit better there, but he was clearly angling for the chance to attend both events.
That didn’t seem certain, but he held out hope, pointing to his mom.
“If she’ll let me.”
Reach Tony Gonzalez
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