Nishi Fest Celebrates Cosplay and Asian Pop Culture in Arlington – SMU Daily Campus

ARLINGTON – Esports Stadium Arlington attracted those wanting a cosplay getaway last Saturday. Dave Yang and Justin Rojas, the two founders, pursued a plan to hold another Asian pop culture festival after receiving positive feedback from their first Nishi Fest in October 2021.

Cosplays, guest panels, meet and greets, Digimon and Dragon Ball Super TCG tournaments, artist alleys, and various food and entertainment were provided at the one-day festival. Nishi Fest was held on March 19 from 10am to 1:30am and brought together a variety of attendees of all ages.

On Saturday morning, cosplayers dressed up to go on the adventure of qualifying through the convention, taking photos, doing TikToks, and finally meeting new friends. The queue to enter ESA formed before the doors opened. Some attendees were so engaged that they walked through the Texas heat while wearing their bulky costumes.

“It is definitely more crowded than the last Nishi Fest we organized. I guess it’s because of the feedback we got from the first Nishi Fest that attracted more people to come to Nishi Fest today,” said a front desk worker.

If there’s one intangible asset an attendee could take away from Nishi Fest, it’s the value of sharing a space with a group of like-minded people under the same roof. Everywhere attendees went they were given the chance to meet a new friend. Whether talking about manga, anime, how cute that stuffed animal was, how inspiring the panels were, or how diverse the food selection was, many in attendance exuded a positive attitude.

Nishi Fest sold out and their after party made it a Saturday night to remember. After the first Nishi Fest, Rojas wasn’t sure what to expect the attendance to be like this year.

“I’m so excited to see all of this come together,” Rojas said. “Our last Nishi Fest was the first of all. We had about 2,200 people, and for this one, we capped ticket sales and we had about 3,000 people.”

The guest panel included: Ricco Fajardo, voice actor for the character Mirio on “My Hero Academia”; LilyPichu, voice actress for Sayu from “Genshin Impact” and Streamer; Stella Chuu, cosplayer, streamer and presenter; JennyBelly, cosplayer and streamer; MineralBlu, YouTube content creator; DoubleJCosplay, Cosplayer and Streamer from Toronto, and more.

Photo Credit: Nishi Fest

Guest panels were packed to capacity and fans were swarming the room trying to meet their biggest inspirations. In total, Nishi Fest held three panels with the first one located on the main stage.

For those new to the world of Asian pop culture, anime, and cosplay, the main panels assured attendees that they didn’t need to be familiar with every aspect of the event to enjoy it. Panels titled “Minorities in Entertainment,” “The Business of Content Creation,” and “Staying Healthy and Positive on Social Media” catered to audiences of all kinds.

The guests kept all the panels in a family atmosphere and caused laughter from the crowd. And despite his sprained wrist, Rojas took the stage during the panels to breakdance as the audience cheered.

DoubleJCosplay and Stella Chuu stood side by side, side by side, on the guest panels. The relationship between the friends gave off a strong and chaotic energy as they bounced off each other’s thoughts.

DoubleJCosplay made their way into Nishi Fest and Anime Conventions with their relentless love for all things Asian pop culture.

“I was always a fan of anime. I saw an ad for a convention and was hooked from there,” DoubleJ said. “At my first convention, I was like – Wow! There are so many nerds here… I love it.”

As the end of the festival was drawing to a close, Nishi Fest held a cosplay contest to honor the dedication behind the talents of cosplayers. Some of the most common cosplays seen at Nishi Fest were characters from “Demon Slayer” and “Genshin Impact”. The cosplayers were able to celebrate their hard work and creative minds by putting together a costume that meant a lot to them.

Like fashion, cosplay is a way of expressing yourself through a costume, and that was what Nishi Fest meant to many of the attendees.

JennyBelly says that cosplaying the anime character, Marin, from “My Dress-Up Darling” is “really relatable.” Cosplay allows the person wearing the costume to connect with their favorite characters. To Jenny, Marin reminds Jenny of herself.

“I have had those thoughts. I’ve done those things, or I’ve had to deal with those kinds of things as well,” Jenny said.

For some, countless hours were spent putting together a cosplay outfit.

“It took two weeks and sleepless nights… I could have been hanging out with my friends, touching some weed,” Chuu said.

Embed from Getty Images

Despite the spectrum of ages and interest in Asian pop culture, Nishi Fest was an event open to all comers. It allowed friends, family, and strangers to get together and enjoy a common interest. In the future, Nishi Fest hopes to organize another convention soon and extend it from a one-day event to several days.