Thousands of costume crusaders and avid gamers gathered in downtown Fredericton on Saturday for the 15th annual Animaritime Convention.

People from across the Maritimes travelled to the event to celebrate Japanese animation and gaming.

“I find it’s a way to connect with different people because a lot of us, we don’t necessarily have that in day-today, but if you’re dressed up in a costume, you can immediately make connections with other people,” said Sam Leroy, who traveled to the convention from Halifax.

“A lot of these people, I’ve met at this event over the last five, six years, so, it’s nice to catch up with them,” said Luca Kelly who attended the convention.

Many people’s costumes were made by hand, and took up to a year to complete. 

Anime fans hope the event breaks some stigmas about the culture, and introduces people to the celebration of creativity and individuality that it is for them.

“People should know that anime, it’s not just for kids,” said a vendor from Charlottetown, Allison Wolvers. “There’s a lot of adult anime. There’s a lot of anime with really cool storylines and characters and plots.”

This year, the event is introducing drag performances, which organizers say reflect a similar culture.

“For us, its cosplay, its costumes, it’s an extra persona, it’s someone you’re normally not in public life,” said Animaritime technical director, Matt Thomas. “So, you can come here and be comfortable with what you are.”

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jessica Ng