RetrieverCon is a yearly anime convention held by UMBC’s Anime Society, that started mainly with cosplay and has expanded to include panels, anime screenings, games and vendors. Walt’s Cards, a longtime partner of the club, sold board games, books, card games and more for the entirety of the event on Saturday, March 9.
The central hub of the convention was the Skylight Room, where students gathered to face off against each other in competitive card games, and where a continuous playlist of anime music kept the energy high. Sammie Albright, a UMBC alum who graduated in Dec. 2017, spent most of their time in the Skylight Room playing various card games, including Pokemon and Gloom: “I’ve been playing cards for four hours today. I bought two new games and I got to try out one of them, and it was pretty fun,” they said.
Albright wasn’t the only alum to come back to UMBC for RetrieverCon. One member of the UMBC class of 2003, who asked to be identified by the alias Amanda, has made so many close friends in the Anime Society that she still attends events 15 years later. She finds there are dozens of things that keep drawing her back to RetrieverCon: “It’s a way to experience new anime; there’s always activities; I get to go buy new board games; karaoke’s always fun with the group. So it’s just a way to have fun with friends.”
For those not gathered around the tables in the Skylight Room, there were panels where presenters lead in-depth discussions on various tropes and themes of anime. One panel examined the culture and history of the “monster girl” trope, while another explored the incorporation of fairy tales, both Western and Eastern, into various animes. A UMBC alum and presenter of the monster girls panel, who asked to be identified by the alias Dean, said that his panel was well-received: “[The audience was] pretty engaged because it’s the sort of thing that people show up for. They know what they’re getting into and they like what they’re getting into.”
Anime karaoke, held in the evening, is a fan-favorite part of the event. Though the club used to only offer run-of-the-mill karaoke options, in recent years, event-goers have had the opportunity to sing anime themes (complete with the original Japanese lyrics), parody songs, or songs that are parts of popular memes. “Some of us got up together and did this song called ‘I Ship It,’” recalled Amanda, “which is a parody song [of] Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It.’” She cited the performance as one of her favorite RetrieverCon memories. Albright concurred: “The karaoke is the best and worst. But that’s just how karaoke is.”
Though RetrieverCon is over, UMBC’s Anime Society still has plenty in store for the rest of this semester. They hold weekly viewings where students are invited to come relax, hang out and watch anime, and just before finals, they will host their other big event of the semester: a 24-hour anime marathon with snacks and games provided.