Memorial Day weekend typically is associated with burgers on the grill, feet dangling in the pool and a cold can of beer in your hand. But in Raleigh, you can spend your Memorial Day weekend wandering about a convention hall with several thousand sword-wielding fans clad in robes and very strange wigs.
Yes, it's Animazement, the annual event that attracts many thousands of attendees downtown to celebrate Japanese animation, comics, video games and culture. For kids, there's plenty of material based around the likes of Naruto, One Piece, Pokemon and others; for older fans, there's autograph sessions with voice-over artists, fan films, cosplay and more things than we can possibly list here.
If you're only a casual anime fan (like this writer), there's still plenty of interest; you can watch "Anime Hell," a collection of short oddball films (last year's collection included Charlton Heston on movie ratings and old Smokey the Bear commercials), play in tournaments of such classic video games as Super Mario Bros. and Rock Band 3 or rock out at the special Umekichi-san and Triangle Taiko tsunami relief concert (donations to the Japanese Red Cross can also be made throughout the weekend). There's even a number of special guests, though the only one I've heard of is the widow of Paprika and Millennium Actress director Satoshi Kon. But trust us, this is huge—Animazement has already sold out two host hotels, according to the event website. Even if you can't tell a Zentradi from a Pikachu (yeah, I don't know what I just typed either), there's plenty of spectacle and entertainment around this Memorial Day weekend, if you can get away from the pool. Admission is $30 Friday, $40 Saturday and $25 Sunday, or $55 for a weekend pass ($30 ages 6–13).—Zack Smith