LAYTON -- It took Eden teen John Lewis 379 days to create the red Halo Spartan costume he wore Friday at the Utah Anime Banzai convention.
Other than being unable to sit down when wearing the armored-looking creation -- a look similar to Star Wars character Boba Fett -- and his helmet with a color-tinted visor making him sweat like a pro athlete, Lewis' homemade costume was a hit with other convention attendees.
They, too, dressed in what appeared to be for the most part homemade anime or video game character costumes.
"All the nerds gather around with a common interest," said Lewis, one of thousands expected to attend this year's Utah Anime Banzai at the Davis Conference Center.
The three-day event, featuring contests, panel discussions, video games, vendors and special guest Chuck Huber, an anime voice actor, is expected to bring a few hundred thousand dollars of economic impact to the area.
"It's huge," said Barbara Riddle, president and CEO of the Davis Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau.
It will have an impact of $350,000 to $375,000, she said.
"It is the most unique convention or conference that we host here in Davis County," Riddle said. "I love the fact that (attendees) are in costume. The folks in Davis County will know that they are in town."
Even more promising is that the Utah Anime Banzai is set to return to the center in 2012, she said.
"After our experience last year with the Davis Conference Center, we were extremely impressed with the quality and size of the location, as well as the accommodating staff," said Chris Allen, Utah Anime Banzai marketing director.
"Also, the close proximity to the FrontRunner line is a major plus for cutting down the costs of our attendees."
Allen said the group tries to schedule the event around Utah Education Association weekend to make participation easier for anime fans.
The event continues today and Sunday. Admission is $30 today, $20 Sunday.
Between 3,300 and 4,000 anime enthusiasts are expected to attend the event in its second consecutive year at the center, promoters said. The conference last year had a three-day attendance of about 3,000.
The focus of the regional conference is education, focusing on Japanese anime, manga (comics) and culture.
Eric Padigimus, of Blackfoot, Idaho, said he was attending with his family because he is into Japanese culture.
"This is an early Christmas present," Padigimus said of his convention tickets.
"(Eric) is having fun naming that anime," wife Chalyse Padigimus said, referring to the many costumed attendees.
Because of a lack of time, Chalyse said, she, her husband and their boys -- Orion, 5 and Elias, 3 -- were not in costume, but her children were enjoying those who were.
"They love it," she said.
Two reasons for the local interest in Japanese anime is that it offers "a PG-13 family rating" and art that is "appealing to the eye," Allen said.
"There is a huge array of options available (with anime) that easily fit within the values of the Utah community," Allen said.
"Just like movies and books, the options are many and varied, and it's just a matter of finding out what works for each person.
"Anime Banzai is a family-friendly, PG-13 convention, which would not be possible without an impressively large number of shows that fit within those standards."
Layton resident Gary Jense wore a costume of generic Victorian dress relating to the anime genre known as "Steampunk," this year's convention theme.
"I have been a fan of anime for a while," Jense, 29, said, adding that he likes the anime storylines.
"It also just looks cool," he said of the artwork.
It is the interest in anime, the art, characters and storylines that makes the three-day "banzai" one of the largest conventions the center will host this year, officials say.
The Utah Anime Banzai was organized by the Japanese Animation Club on the Salt Lake Community College campus in 2004.
The Utah Anime Banzai is sponsored by Utah Anime Promotions, a nonprofit education organization.