For one glorious day, the Bayou City was transformed into Kawaii City, when oodles of anime fans on Saturday thronged to the grand opening of Ooples Anime in Houston, the third location in Texas for this proprietor of gaming, Pikachus and Japanese treats.
There was so much buzz about this one that it snowballed into a mini-con, with owner Franklin Moormann renting out a neighboring facility for beats by Mistress BB and J-rocker Orphiel, before tripping the night away with a concert by Black Paper Moon and a midnight rave.
A good representation of vendors could be found inside the slightly musty-smelling dance hall, hawking pins, drawings, stickers and other cute collectibles; while the food trucks outside turned it into a party. In the afternoon, they offered up a short dose of "Whose Line is it Anime," an improv-style game that's really taken off at anime cons, loosely based on ABC's Whose Line is it Anyway.
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We were all doki-doki over celebs like Chuck Huber (Star Trek Continues, Dragon Ball Z, Hetalia: Axis Powers) and David Vincent (Fate/Zero; Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Bleach). The starpower continued with David Wald (Halo Legends, Fairy Tail: Priestess of the Phoenix) and Sugar Land's own Brittney Karbowski (Soul Eater, Fairy Tale, Parasyte: The Maxim).
Inside the narrow Ooples Anime storefront, the mountains of Japanese candy had dwindled to small hills by mid-afternoon, while fans were still clamoring for posters, $29.99 plush toys and $39.99 Sailor Moon body pillows.
The itasha cars were something else altogether, making our local art cars seem (almost) tame in comparison. Think cosplay for cars, with no limit to the wraparound decals, stickers and other after-market add-ons that celebrate the worlds of manga and anime. We only saw one plush doll strapped to an itasha exterior though – not quite the spectacle found in the aerodynamically-challenged body kits of Tokyo.
Open noon to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, noon to 2 a.m. Fridays, noon to midnight Saturdays. Ooples Anime, 6670 Antoine. For information, call 346-319-3866 or visit ooples.com or facebook.com/oopleshouston.