Fans of the popular style of Japanese animation called anime will converge in South Portland this Labor Day weekend to play games, watch films and talk shop.

For the second year, the Anime Defense Project hosts ANIMAINE at the Best Western Merry Manor Inn.

“We want it to feel more like a four-day theme park — something where you don’t feel like you have to be rushed into events,” said Chris Perry, who serves as chief of staff of the Anime Defense Project. “We have events for people who don’t know a lot about anime to people who have been fans for 50 years.”

Perry said one of the most popular destinations at the convention is the Game Lounge, where all day long for all four days, attendees can play video and board games, and watch screenings of different anime shows.

“There will be someone up there who can help you along,” Perry said. “They know all the rules to all the games.”

For attendees who prefer anime films, the place to be will be the main events room at 2 p.m. Saturday, where the conference will offer an advance screening of “Persona 4.” The new film by Sentai Filmworks will be released direct to DVD in late September, but conference-goers will get the first peek.

In addition to this screening, ANIMAINE offers a number of screenings of fan parodies, including “Musical Downloader Girl Pretty Sue-Me” at 2 p.m. Sunday, and “Fanboy Soze vs. The Reanimators” at 3 p.m. Sunday.

At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, The Asterplace, a band from New York City, will play cover songs from anime films and TV shows.

A running theme throughout the conference will be the problems anime is facing from copyright infringement and efforts to ban anime videos and graphic novels.

“We need to work to save the anime industry,” Perry said. “There’s a problem with piracy. There’s a problem with censorship. There are a lot of issues we face.”

To that end, there will be a handful of panels addressing the issues of piracy, illegal downloads and bootlegs.

“Over the last couple years, there have a been a number of closures of companies that have not succeeded in their fight against piracy,” Perry said. “When people download illegally online, it’s very hard to compete when your product is being leaked onto the Internet for free. With bootlegging, you’re paying for something that isn’t supporting the artists.”

Following Saturday’s session on “How to Spot (and Destroy) Bootleg Merchandise,” a conference highlight known as the Bootleg Bomber will take place. Last year, this featured a steamroller destroying a pile of illegal merchandise to the cheers of the crowd.

“We got our revenge last year, and we’ll get our revenge again this year,” Perry said. “We won’t say what (the Bootleg Bomber) will be this year, but it will never be the same thing twice.”

After the popularity of last year’s Bootleg Bomber, conference organizers learned that they can’t schedule anything else during that same 8 p.m. time slot.

While similar conferences offer fashion shows, dress-up sessions (called cosplay) and competitions where attendees can battle each other with foam swords, ANIMAINE takes a more intellectual route.

“Our average attendee is older than a lot of attendees, and with that comes less of an interest in costume and dressing up and more of an interest in talking and panels,” Perry explained.

Some of the panels are restricted to ages 21 and older, and feature a cash bar.

Voice director Terri Doty will offer a panel on improv, an important skill for people hoping to break into the industry as a voice actor. He’ll also offer a session titled “So You Want to Work in the Anime Industry,” which will explore all the other anime career opportunities other than voice acting.

The conference wraps up on Monday with the ANIMAINE Community Fund Charity Auction. All proceeds from the live auction go to support a worthy cause, and this year it will support the survivors of “The Dark Knight Rises” shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colo.

Items in the auction will range from autographed merchandise and DVDs to books and convention memorabilia. Items typically sell for anywhere from $5 to hundreds of dollars.

Whether attendees want to spend the entire conference in the Game Lounge, watching videos, shopping in the marketplace or attending panel discussions, Perry said organizers have one goal: “It’s a big thing to us to make sure every event is entertaining.”

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

 

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