Thursday, July 16, 2015

What to do at an Anime Convention

I'm sorry for so late a post guys.  I've had a very tiring week and just couldn't finish editing anything.  I should be back to my regular posting schedule starting Saturday.  

I've written about cons for a bit now and I keep mentioning that there are all these things that you can do at cons but not saying specifically what those things are. Well, this post here is meant to rectify that.  Here is a list of things to do at an Anime Convention (because that's the only kind of con I've been to).

The Dealers Hall

I've often been dismissive of the Dealers Hall.  Mostly because I don't really need anything from there anymore, my tastes tent to go in the more mature direction (josei and seinen) than the popular shonen and shoujo trends. Also I mostly buy manga and I can get that cheaper at my local shop. Still, the Dealers Hall can be a very fun place to visit. 
A few tips:
1.   Sunday is deal day since many dealers don't want to carry merchandise back with them. The best sales happen Sunday afternoon.
2.   If you want limited edition things you should line up early on Friday because they sell out fast.
3.   Don't be afraid to ask for a discount. If you are spending a lot of money vendors may be open to giving you a better deal than the one advertised.

Artists Alley

Be careful with this one. I say that because I've managed to spend $300 there in the span of an hour before. Artists Alley is a place for people to sell their fan made art, products, toys, original comics or books, fashion, jewelry, etc. Depending on the con it may be divided between art products such as prints and bookmarks etc. and crafts such as clothing, accessories, toys, and jewelry.  It’s a great place to check out especially if you like to buy art. It's usually located in the same area or right beside the Dealers Hall.  I would suggest giving yourself a hard spending limit to avoid overspending because the temptation will be crazy. 


So, this is the main reason I go to cons. I love panels. What are they, you may ask? Well, panels are small (or large, depending on the topic) discussion groups usually moderated by or presented by a few people (can range from one to ten depending on what the topic is).  At anime cons these panels tend to be either lecture style panels or participation panels where one or two panelists moderate a discussion between the attendees through questions or activities. 

Topics can range from discussions of Pokemon games to 18+ panels about kinks in yaoi manga.  They are often run by attendees and so can be hit or miss for quality so I suggest looking through the con's forum to find out which ones were interesting. If you feel like it you may even want to try running a panel yourself. Many cons will give you a refund on your pass if you run a certain number of panels or a partial refund or prize if you run one or two.  Check out my post on tips to run a successful panel if you are interested in trying it out.


Screenings are just what they sound like, screenings of shows or movies at a specific time. They are usually organized around a theme of some sort such as best shows of the 90's or new shoujo anime released this year. Screenings are a great way to relax and sit down for a bit. I like to use them to check out things I've never seen before or even just to take a nap.

Major Events

I'm lumping many things into this category because major events tend to be one offs that will only happen once during the whole con. Things here include music guests, dances, the AMV contest (which tends to be a pretty big thing), certain display shows such as Japanese drumming, etc. The events will usually be displayed on the con website and will also be in both the program booklet and the schedule booklet that you receive along with your badge. Check the con's website every so often to see what events are planned as they often get added throughout the year as guests confirm their attendance and as the schedule begins to take shape.  Be aware that some events may have an extra free involved (Such and the Sunday Brunch) while others may have an attendance cap.


These are fun. They come in many shapes and sizes. Some, like fan fiction contests need submissions before the con and do the prize giveaways during it.  Others are more like game shows where attendees can compete for a small prize.  I don't have much more to say about these because I don't really go to them but a lot of people enjoy then so try checking one out and see how you like it.


Oooohhhh, the most visible part of the con experience! Cosplay can be tons of fun and may very well become the main reason that you attend cons. It can also get a bit frustrating if you are trying to get through a hallway and people decide that it's the best place to take photos. 
Here are some tips on enjoying cosplay from both sides of the camera lens:
1.   If you want to cosplay go ahead and do it! Never be discouraged or think that your effort is not enough. There will always be someone with a better outfit than you. What matters most is your own enjoyment and the love that you put into your work.
2.   Start work on your outfit early because these things take time.
3.   Many cons will have dedicated photo shoot times for cosplays of the most popular series. These are the perfect times to get to know others in the cosplay community and to take photos without disturbing people. Some of the most popular ones are the Tales of... series, Bleach, Attack on Titan, etc.  The schedule booklet with have the times and areas for the shoots outlined.
4.   You don't have to be a cosplayer to dress up and just because you decided to dress up doesn't mean that you need to attend all or any of the cosplay events.
5.   Always ask before taking a picture of someone.
6.   Do not be sad if no one asks to take a photo, you may just be in a not very popular area.  If you want photos then try going outside, many people will congregate there specifically for photo opportunities.
7.   Don't take photos in the dealers hall, it just created traffic jams that no one wants.
8.   Sign up early for the Masquerade as spaces fill up fast.


Anime Cons have a fantastic selection of gaming options.  LAN parties, MMOs, tabletop gaming, traditional Japanese games, Nintendo DS areas, LARP, anything you can think of you can find.  If there isn’t an organized version of your preferred game then there will usually be an area full of tables where people can set up their own thing.  Otakuthon has a whole hall set aside for all types of tabletop gaming while Anime North has many spaces in different buildings set aside for people to be able to relax and sit down, have a bite to eat, or do some gaming of their own. 

LARP is also a popular activity and different LARP groups usually hold their own events to let people try out LARP and also have booths set up if anyone is interested in joining.  I’ve done it and had a ton of fun and it’s a great time to try it out if you’re interested. There are also gaming contests, usually Counter Strike, Super Smash Bros, DDR and the like.  All you need to do is sign up for them so it’s really easy to participate.

That’s about it for things to do at a con.  The most important thing it to have fun and enjoy yourself.  Have I missed anything?  Do you guys have a favorite thing to do?  Are there parts of a con that you don’t really like?  Do any of you agree with my views on the dealer’s hall?  As always tell me your thoughts below.

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