The Japan-centric convention Anime USA begins near National Airport today and runs through the weekend. It has 16 different programming tracks including three on anime screening (dubbed, subtitled, or age-restricted), two on cosplay (dressing up in character costumes), plus and others on karaoke, games, and workshops. There’s a Maid Cafe, another peculiarly Japanese idea (where your servers are dressed like French maids) imported into the U.S. via cons like this one. For tonight’s Military Cosplay Ball event, the organizers remind dancers “not all forms of dress are appropriate for dancing. Your attire must allow you a large degree of movement and you should not wear cosplay/costume pieces or shoes that can easily come off.” Perhaps Godzilla or Mobile Suit Gundam tried to boogie down last year.

For anyone curious about how a cartoon character speaks, several voice actors are appearing. Some of the more interesting panels include  “Activism, Politics and Gundam,” “Mythology and Pokemon” and “The Politics of Hayao Miyazaki,” on Japan’s greatest cartoon director.

Anime USA takes place at Hyatt Regency Crystal City, 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington. It runs essentially around the clock from 1 p.m. today until 5 p.m. Sunday. Costs vary from $58 at the beginning of the weekend to $33 for Sunday-only.