Within minutes of stepping onto the New York Comic Con showroom floor, it's easy to spot a pair of teeny boppers wearing the same outfit: white pants and shirt, knee-high leather boots, black straps buckled around the legs, and a cropped brown jacket emblazoned with a badge of navy and white wings. As they pass each other they stop, crumpling their right hands into fists over their hearts and placing the other hand behind their backs—a salute.
A new cult-like fandom is sweeping the Javits Center, where Comic Con is held through Sunday, October 12. These teenage attendees are obsessed with "Attack on Titan," a Japanese manga comic that spun into a television program in April.
The premise of the show is that humans were once nearly exterminated by monsters called titans, who eat humans for pleasure rather than as a food source. The few survivors isolated themselves by building massive walls around their city, but several hundred years later, the creatures return, hungry. A teenage boy, Eren, his foster sister Mikasa, and new friend Armin join a military service dedicated to eradicating them.
In the New York Tri-state area, a small group of high schoolers are growing a community to celebrate the show. They connect through Facebook (although they don't have a official group yet) and create event pages to organize meetups. Ali Chimelis, 18, and Jessica Ryan, 17, are leading the efforts. Twice they've arranged "Attack on Titan" photoshoots in Washington Square Park, where fans show up in costume. Roughly 20 people attended the most recent event, according to the girls.
Comic Con is the largest venue they've staged a photoshoot at, and offers the largest platform for raising awareness of the show.
Saturday afternoon, two dozen teenagers gathered by the stairs in the Javits Center's front parking lot, accessible to pass-holders only. Ryan, who who wore a dirty blonde wig cut off at the ears and a tight-lipped pout—when in character—stood off by the side.
"All right, next request?" she shouted above the roar of cheers and camera shutters. The crowd erupted, screaming the names of characters who should be photographed together.
"Annie Leonhart and Petra Ral!" someone yelled.
Chimelis, whose eyes glittered with emerald green contacts, skipped to the front of the crowd. Two other cosplayers followed, the alive and angel versions of a soldier from the show. The alive one dropped to her knees and bent over backwards, while Chimelis launched her leg into the air in a pretend-kick to the girl's back. The angel version bowed her head with hands folded.
The pose, imitating Annie Leonhart's execution of Petra Ral, sent the bystanders into a paparazzi-like frenzy. Thirty seconds passed, and a new group took their place.
No one cosplays like teenagers.Here's the scene... And the group's response.
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