Holy comicbooks, Batman, there’s no new manga out this week! That’s okay, since so much has come out in the past few weeks, you
probably need a little respite to catch up with all of it. Or if you’re on top of your game, you could use your regular reading time to start sewing some cosplay, because summer’s here and that means it’s convention season, baby!
I get a lot of questions from customers about conventions, and they’re lucky I’m here to answer them, as I’ve been regularly attending anime conventions for just about ten years now (and boy, have things changed in just one decade). Since I have the chance to this week, I figured I’d throw together a primer for all you FP customers who haven’t experienced a convention outside of NYAF, or are interested in starting yourself on the circuit. There are conventions all over the country of varying sizes and quality, and come summertime, there’s one pretty much every weekend somewhere, so don’t worry.
Step one is probably choosing the right con for you. I’ve found that the conventions I tend to enjoy the most are the mid-sized ones, where the attendence isn’t overwhelming and there isn’t as much of a corporate presence as there is at the larger ones. Having said that, everyone should probably visit Otakon in Baltimore at least once, as it is the biggest convention on the East Coast with over 25,000 geeks in attendence annually. Obviously, factors like time and money go into deciding what convention you’d like to attend, but there are cheap ways to make these nerdgasm fests happen, like getting together a group of friends to split the cost of hotel rooms, or running panels on a particular nerd topic you’re a pro at for a free badge, or even landing yourself a table for selling your artwork to make some extra dough.
Obviously another convention highlight is cosplay. Though there are some manufactured outfits out there, like Soul Society kimono and Edward Elric’s coat, it’s sort of an unspoken concensus that there isn’t much respect for those who don’t sew their own outfits, especially since there are so many events at most conventions like the standard Masquerade, which is geared towards craftsmanship and showmanship. Half the fun is taking the time to create a cool representation of your favourite character, and there are plenty of ways to make a decent cosplay on the cheap, even if you don’t have many sewing skills to speak of. Try hitting a thift store for old clothing you can modify, or even rummaging through Chinatown for items such as getta, tabi, boken and other such things. And New York is chock full of wig and trim shops that are a cosplayer’s dream come true. Having said that, there are still a number of specifically made accoutraments that can make your outfit pop, like Naruto headbands, pins for Sebastian Michaelis‘s tux, or Yoko Rittona‘s hair clip.
The convention scene has surely changed a lot since I started attending them. Back in the day, it used to be the one place you could go where you could talk about this Japanese thing you were super into and other people actually knew what you were on about. Now that anime is a little more widespread, you get a lot more casual fans that perhaps are entering the whole thing without the same knowledge or decorum we older fans take for granted, but that doesn’t mean that you should be intimidated if you’re new! Just remember certain ettiquite when you’re there, like asking permission to take photos or snagging a hug from your favourite character or special guest, giving up your spot in the gaming rooms after hogging a certain console for more than your allotted time, or even just remembering to shower at least once a day! And remember that you’re there to have fun and to learn, and that conventions are a great place to explore what’s new and upcoming from Japan, and perhaps to sample something you might not have otherwise tried. Being a respectful fan will gain you the respect you would like to recieve in kind, especially in the world of anime, which is about as diverse as you can get!
So grab your camera and your buddies and hit the road! There’s a fandom to explore!!