Anime conventions are awesome. I’m not kidding. If you are into people watching, cons are your dream come true. If you are looking for lively ways to spend your weekend, tone down your irony and jump in! Multicolored wigs? Unique board games available for purchase? Imported Japanese treats? Hotel ballrooms full of arcade games? Lectures and tea parties about Lolita style? Live action Pokemon battles? Independent vendors selling everything from handmade leather corsets to Studio Ghibli fan art? Anime conventions are fun, crafty, colorful worlds completely unto themselves.
I actually attended my first anime convention, A-Kon, in Dallas, Texas this year at the beginning of June. My husband has been an anime fan and video gamer his whole life, so con tickets seemed like a fun birthday present. A-Kon takes place annually over three days and is North America’s “longest running national anime convention,” in action since 1990, and the fifth largest on the continent. It was packed! Some people go full makeup, costume, and character, and it’s fun to admire the skill, dedication, and creativity the outfits require. My brother made the road trip up to Dallas with us, and the highlight of our time at A-Kon was shopping for steampunk gear and dressing up the next day. My brother and husband also partied it up one night (after-parties and masquerade balls being part of con culture) spinning poi, drinking with other A-Kon attendees, and dancing to electronic music, and they reported back that it was a lot of fun.
At the beginning of this month, husband and I went with his little sister, a recently minted anime fan, and my cousin to San Japan: 8-Bit in San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio is our home base, so it was really cool to participate in an event like this in our city. San Japan is smaller and newer than A-Kon (started in 2005, final attendance numbers 18,411, no small feat!), but in my opinion, it was more fun… probably in part due to ease of access and navigability. Located downtown on the River Walk, we were able to go in and out of the con directly to the restaurants and shops on the San Antonio River, which was nice for grabbing a bite to eat. Our highlights here included shopping (Tasty Peach Studios had a booth at the con, and their jewelry/accessories/plushies (zombie alpaca, anyone?) are adorable) and playing all sorts of Japanese and retro arcade games for free! Growing up playing video games myself, it was really cool to see the variety of games available and to battle random people. In my brief experience, anime con attendees are very nice, open-minded, and come from all walks of life, which makes for a really welcoming and friendly environment. (Also, pregnancy doesn’t have to stop you from having fun! And can my hair be that long, wavy purple all of the time?)
If you have ever been interested in attending an anime convention, I’d definitely recommend it. The atmosphere is fun and strange, sure to spark your creativity and revive some of your childlike wonder. We will be hitting up San Japan 009 next year, and we’re already looking forward to it!