LAYTON -- The Anime Banzai Convention, looking like a themed pre-Halloween costume party, had fans of Japanese animation, comics, cards and gaming swarming the Davis Conference Center on Friday like it was Godzilla and they were comic book hero Naruto Uzumaki trying to bring him down.
The convention continues through Sunday, opening at 9 a.m. today and 10 a.m. Sunday. Cost is $35 for the weekend, or $25 for today and $15 for Sunday.
During the first four hours of the convention Friday, 2,000 anime enthusiasts had registered for the event, two-thirds the total event organizers had projected would attend the three-day, sixth annual Anime Banzai -- its first year in Layton.
"We did a lot more marketing," said Chris Allen, who coordinates media relations for Anime Banzai, which relocated from Salt Lake City to Layton because of the space the conference center provides.
But this convention is like no other convention the conference center has seen.
Most of those attending the event were extravagantly dressed as their favorite anime characters, homemade props included. People without costumes were in the minority.
"A lot of people do come in costume," Allen said.
In addition to characters from the series Naruto, with the central character a young Ninja warrior with a metallic plate on his headband, there were those dressed as the characters from Pokeman, as well as several attendees dressed as game characters from Final Fantasy and Zelda.
"It's getting bigger every single year," said 20-year-old Ashley Herrera, of Tooele.
She dressed as Link of Ocarina of Time, complete with winged shoes, silver shield and oversized silver hammer.
Herrera, who has attended the convention for three years and comes dressed as a different character each year, said she enjoys "just socializing with all the other nerds."
Others taking in the anime convention -- which featured vendors, entertainers and voice actors -- included Ogden couple Scott and Karli Peterson.
While 26-year-old Karli, dressed as a key blade warrior, is a novice when it comes to anime, her 27-year-old husband, Scott, dressed as a "budget ninja," is an expert.
"They cover the themes Disney won't go into," Scott Peterson said of the mature anime themes that reveal conflict in its programs and comics.
"The majority of anime is made for the older audiences, 30 (years old) and up."
He said he spent 30 hours creating his own prop, a key blade weapon, he made from foam, Fiberglass, contact cement "and a lot of hand sewing."
And then there was 27-year-old Adam Homer, of Orem via California, who attended the convention dressed as the Joker in a white straitjacket.
Homer said his hope is the villain will appear on the animated series of Gotham Dark Knight, which is considered an anime series.
"I spent a lot of work making this costume," said Homer, whose homemade costume consisted of some Ace bandages and a mix of clothing he bought from Deseret Industries.
"It will be a great Halloween costume," Homer said. "I was thinking ahead on this one."
Those employed with the conference center were surprised by the number of attendees and the costumes they wore.
"We really didn't expect this many people in costume," said Carolyn Overturf, conference center banquet captain.
"If you're not in costume, you're out of place. It's like early Halloween," said Overturf, who has some familiarity with anime -- her children at one time collected Pokeman cards.