BROKEN ARROW — Tokyo in Tulsa’s move to Broken Arrow worked out well for James Dunlop: The convention came to him.
A 12th-year convention dedicated to Japanese culture and pop culture, Tokyo in Tulsa relocated this year from downtown Tulsa to Broken Arrow. The inaugural Broken Arrow show began Friday and continues through Sunday.
Tokyo in Tulsa annually draws visitors from around the globe. Among those attending the convention on opening day was Dunlop, a Broken Arrow resident who said he lives about five minutes away.
How does he feel about the change of venue?
“It depends,” he said. “It’s a bit difficult with the multiple locations, but I have kind of gotten used to it at this point, so it’s a little more convenient.”
Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center is the Tokyo in Tulsa headquarters (go there for panels, etc.) and free shuttles are available to transport convention attendees to four additional venues that are being used for Tokyo in Tulsa activities.
The shuttle situation adds a new element to the people-watching. Whether you are a Tokyo in Tulsa attendee or not, you can sit at a shuttle stop and watch all kinds of costumed characters board and de-board buses. Did I just see someone in a giant cat costume walk off a shuttle carrying the head of the cat costume under an arm?
Cosplaying is a big, colorful part of Tokyo in Tulsa and it’s safe to say that, other than Halloween, Broken Arrow has never been populated by this many costumed characters. Dunlop is among them. He attracted attention by cosplaying as Subject Delta, the protagonist in the Bioshock 2 video game, when he arrived at the convention’s vendor and artist venue, a former Hobby Lobby at 720 W. New Orleans St. The costume included a moving drill that took him a few months (working off and on) to build.
Asked about seeing all the costumes, Dunlop said that is definitely a fun aspect of Tokyo in Tulsa.
“But I would say the most fun part is just kind of getting into characters,” he said. “As soon as you put on a costume and you are really into this cosplay, you are not really yourself anymore. You are just this character that clearly you liked so much that you put a lot of time into it. Like I don’t think of myself as just a normal guy because people don’t see me as like who I normally am. They see me as Subject Delta. It’s like, wow, this is really cool.”
Cosplayers usually love having their picture taken, but it’s considered proper etiquette to ask before photographing.
Also among first-day attendees was Norman’s Madyson McDowell, who said this was her fifth year at Tokyo in Tulsa.
“I come mainly because I love anime so much,” she said. “Basically it’s just fun to hang out with other people who like the same thing as me. ... We basically become family after a while.”
McDowell bought a few items (including a “Yuri on Ice” poster) at the bazaar, alias the vendor venue. During a brief wait for a shuttle, she said her plans for the remainder of the weekend included going to panels, getting to know other people and making friends. She won a “date” with a Yuri cosplayer during a panel at the 2018 convention.
In past years, Tokyo in Tulsa was held at one facility, Cox Business Center. Asked about the convention’s move to Broken Arrow, she said, “At first I was sketchy about it because we are going different places, but I got used to it.”
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