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Dressed in a white hooded cloak with red trim, 19-year-old Andrea Sawyer stood near an ominous looking creature with flashing yellow eyes. Cloaked in black and wearing a floppy brown hat, the masked creature was her boyfriend, 20-year-old Sean Devine.

Maybe a little bizarre outfit choice on any other weekend at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, but the couple blended in on Sunday with many of the other costumed attendees of the second SoDak Anime Convention.

Designed and sewn by Sawyer, the couple’s costumes are generic versions of characters in the role-playing game Final Fantasy.

In the game, Devine’s black mage costume portends a doomsday-and-destruction type of character, and Sawyer’s white mage costume shows a healing and protector type of character.

“This was the only compromise we could come up with where we would be happy with a matching couple,” Sawyer said.

Both Sawyer and Devine take classes at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, which is where they met.

The couple won the best in show category Sunday in the convention’s costume contest.

The two-day convention featured vendors, games, art, fashion, comics and speakers, all centered on anime, which encompasses a style of Japanese pop culture, media and entertainment, according to Shareece Tatum, the convention’s executive director.   

More than 300 people of all ages attended the event to show their fandom and artistic interest in the genre.

“It really is a different kind of style,” Tatum said.

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It is the second year for the Rapid City convention, and attendance tripled this year.

Tatum is largely responsible for bringing the convention to the area. Her favorable experiences at other shows motivated her to set up a convention closer to local fans.

“I find it actually awesome, because finally, we have a con that’s close by,” Devine said.

He and Sawyer plan to hop around the convention circuit together throughout the Midwest.

“I think it’s a lot of fun to just to meet people with similar interests and just to kind of show off,” Sawyer said. “I’m not going to lie: This is a lot of fun to show off a costume, enter contests and just learn a little more about anime and socialize."

Contact Holly Meyer at 394-8421 or holly.meyer@rapidcityjournal.com

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